Friday, December 05, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for December 5, 2014

The Meyers say: "Get your moose costume and come over for drinks!

[Better Off Cusack] -- We're into the December stretch now, so the holiday season is getting into full swing. Lights and trees are going up, ugly sweaters are going on, and holiday entertainment is streaming forth. So let's look at a holiday movie shall we? Or, rather, the music from one such movie. Now, I'm not ready to focus on a holiday-themed movie, but I am willing to look at a flick that features a holiday scene. And that movie is the 80s classic Better Off Dead (1985). This John Cusack vehicle is a teen romantic comedy with a bit of a dark streak (but, really, what John Cusack film doesn't have at least a bit of a dark side, right?). Cusack's character, Lane Meyers, is suicidal after his girlfriend, Beth, breaks up with him. He wafts between attempting to kill himself and striving to win Beth back, but ultimately he falls for Monique, the French exchange student next door (not exactly the oldest plot in the book, but whatever). The film is chock full of one-line zingers and teen angst, and the lone Christmas scene is truly a gem. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is a bit of a snoozer. That's primarily because popular tunes that appear in the movie --  Howard Jones' "Like To Get To Know You Well", Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some", Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover", Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady", Frank Sinatra singing "A Man Alone," and Hall & Oates' "She's Gone" -- do not appear on the soundtrack album, most of which was produced, arranged, and scored by Rupert Hines. The album is heavy on synthesizers and light on hooks (and devoid of Christmas songs). However, there are a few standout tracks, even if none of them will really jingle your bells. So, which tunes from the Better Off Dead score made the score this week? Read and hear more after the break!  

Flashback #1"Eyes like starlight through the darkness you came inside | when i was fighting looking for something i could not find."

The first song on the soundtrack was co-written and performed by Rupert Hines and two members of The Fixx: Cy Curnin (vocals) and Jamie West-Oram (guitar). Although it is the lead track on the album, it is actually used for the film's conclusion and credits. Enjoy the 12-inch mix! 

Flashback #2"There's a light, there's a light, it shines in you."

"Shine" was co-written and produced by Rupert Hine again, but the performance is all Martin Ansell. Ansell released one album in the 80s, The Englishman Abroad (1986), and a handful of singles and EPs. He toured with some big acts, but he never made it big himself. He's still around, however, as a singer/songwriter and ... portrait artist. And he'll forever be associated with Better Off Dead because he sang the song that was snipped into one of the skiing scenes -- no, not the epic race down the K-12 (that scene is paired with a Rupert Hines instrumental, "Race the K-12"). Unfortunately, both the film and soundtrack versions of "Shine" are faster than this one I found on YouTube, so you're not getting the full effect here. But it's better than no "Shine" at all, right?  

Flashback #3Instrumental

"The Falcon Beat" is one of three Rupert Hine instrumentals in the film. I'm inclined to believe it is the best of the three, but that's not much of a brag. "The Falcon Beat" was used in the car race scene between Lane and the Asian brothers (this occurs after Ricky's mom blew up). Although Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx plays guitar for this song, it sounds more Hines than Fixx. Actually, it sounds more like a generic 80s movie filler track, which it kind of is. Well, maybe it's a better than average soundtrack tune rather than generic. But I swear you'll think you've heard this particular piece in other movie car chases.  

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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