The 1980s marked the end of an era and the dawning of a new one as compact discs were introduced as replacement for vinyl records.
But some of the best records in that era still sounded better on vinyl. It also didn’t hurt that they were packaged more intricately, with some having gatefold or variant covers, special labels and rare inner sleeves, which CDs wouldn’t have until a decade later.
As soundtracks go, the new wave-themed ones stand out not only in terms of aesthetic value but also in the tracks that are thoughtfully selected for them.
Some have songs specifically written for the film, others have exclusive versions or edits available only on the soundtrack albums, while yet others have tracks that are not available on the artists’ own albums.
To demonstrate, we pick up where we left off last week with more outstanding new wave soundtracks.
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, the 1983 romantic comedy has a now scarce and out-of-print soundtrack featuring new wave and power-pop artists The Plimsouls, Josie Cotton (both of whom appeared in the film), The Payolas, Psychedelic Furs, Men At Work and Modern English.
The film’s end credits also listed tracks from The Clash, The Jam, Bananarama, and Culture Club but none are heard in the movie. In 1994, Rhino Records released a two-volume compilation of songs from the film’s soundtrack for the first time on CD.
“The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle”
This 1980 Julien Temple film depicts the exploits and notoriety of British punk band, Sex Pistols as based on the accounts of their former manager Malcolm McLaren. Although credited to the Sex Pistols, the soundtrack album also includes solo performances by members of the band, their controversial manager Malcolm McLaren, Ten Pole Tudor’s Edward Tudor-Pole and notorious great train robber Ronald Biggs.
Standouts include genius covers of The Who’s “Substitute,” Eddie Cochrane’s “C’mon Everybody” and “Something Else,” Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock,” The Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” and Sid Vicious’ infamous cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
“The Decline of Western Civilization”
Directed by Penelope Spheeris, this 1981 documentary is made up of concert footage and interviews about the burgeoning Los Angeles hardcore punk rock underground scene.
Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs, is featured on the soundtrack’s album cover but died just shortly before the film’s release.
Leading LA hardcore bands X, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, FEAR, Alice Bag Band, Catholic Discipline and Germs all contribute a couple of songs each in this loud, fast and intense 16-track album.
“Urgh! A Music War”
This 1982 British concert film showcases top-caliber live performances from Devo, The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Gary Numan, XTC, Magazine, The Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Alleycats, Klaus Nomi, Wall Of Voodoo, The Fleshstones, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, UB40, Gang Of Four, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Police.
Among the acts who did not made the album cut are John Cooper Clarke, Chelsea, Dead Kennedys, Surf Punks, Invisible Sex and Splodgenessabounds.
Subtitled “A Film About Punks And Skinheads” this 1983 independent film centers around the second wave of Britpunk scene that consisted mostly of skinhead and Oi bands.
Its parent soundtrack includes some live recordings and future punk/oi classic tracks from The Exploited, The Business, Vice Squad, The Vibrators, Chaos UK, The Varukers, Angelic Upstarts, The Adicts and The Damned.
Finally this 1983 British comedy is about a bunch of the inner South London crowd of workers, spivs, punks and young police constables. The movie was a critical and commercial failure.
However, it does have a great soundtrack featuring cool covers by future Brit legends who were the most promising acts at the time. There’s Sting doing “Tutti Fruiti”, The Selecter’s Pauline Black doing “No Woman, No Cry”, Ultravox’s Midge Ure doing “The Man Who Sold The World”, Bad Manners performing “Yakety Yak” and Bananarama taking on “No Feelings.” Party party indeed.