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Pretty in Pink soundtrack still hits the right notes 30 years later


John Hughes’s classic Pretty in Pink turned 30 on February 28th. That’s 30 years of one boy dancing in a record store, another boy named Blaine (like an appliance), movie history’s worst prom dress and some of the most classic tunes ever tacked onto an 80s soundtrack. As we toast in celebration to the classic 80s movie, it’s also a time to reminisce about that perfect soundtrack.

Hughes loves to have an iconic song to close out his films. Simple Minds in The Breakfast Club with “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, Sam and Jake sharing a kiss in Sixteen Candles to the Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here” and, of course, OMD’s “If You Leave” filling the final dance scene in Pretty in Pink. The strings in OMD’s single are instantly recognisable, and so synonymous with the film it was written for.

And, of course, there’s that opening tune:

The original single “Pretty in Pink” preceded the film by nearly five years, first appearing on Psychedelic Furs’ second album Talk, Talk, Talk. Though the soundtrack would feature a much different version, fairing much better in the charts with a movie being named after it. It would help create one of the best opening montages of the 80s. And really, getting-ready montages are one of the best things about 80s movies. 

But Pretty in Pink lives on beyond its two best-known tracks. The well-constructed soundtrack includes some of the biggest names of new wave and indie of the time like The Smiths, New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen. Even still there are more subtle songs to enjoy like Suzanne Vega’s song with Joe Jackson, “Left of Center”. John Hughes fingerprints are all over it, despite director Howard Deutch originally wanting to include more theme music.

Imagine a movie about a girl who works in a record store not having a killer soundtrack.

These songs not only work within the realm of the film, but it plays like a soundtrack hand-picked by Andie Walsh herself. It’s easy to feel Duckie’s heartbreak in “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” or the pain felt in everyone in the love-triangle in Belouis Some’s “Round, Round”.

Though this soundtrack is lovely in each of its tracks, it’s safe to say the movie is truly made complete with the songs that are not included: Talk Back’s “Rudy” serves as some of the coolest “live” act music included in any movie, Andie’s dance with Iona is absolutely touching while The Association’s “Cherish” plays airily around them, and last but certainly not least is Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” playing during Jon Cryer’s lip syncing scene in TRAX.

Pretty in Pink is such a wonderful film worth celebrating on its own. It is truly a story about teenagers having to make some of their first tough decisions, and facing the stereotypes that the world will love to place on them. But it’s also a movie about finding your self-worth. And every song there will help you find your way.

Vinyl Friday #27: Mission of Burma “Vs”


When I was younger I always thought the two Ace of Hearts record labels were the same thing. Like, “How cool is it that both Mission of Burma and Ella Fitzgerald have releases on the same label?” Thankfully the internet sorted me out. But I still dream that they can be one and the same. So the non-Decca label has released a whole slew of post-punk albums.

This is a repressing, obviously. This pressing was released in 2010, issued by Matador Records with Ace of Hearts. This was the only album to be released under the band’s original line-up. Of course their EP, Signals, Calls and Marches, often gets more attention. Maybe rightly so as several of the band’s most recognisable songs. Vs is often described as a more “complicated” album compared to Signals, and I don’t think that is meant to be either a compliment or a critique.

Certainly Vs lacks the same hooks that their EP did, but if you enjoy a more layered form of music, you might even find yourself enjoying the full-length more. That being said, so much of that familiar guitar sound is still here. Mission of Burma have that quality that means you couldn’t possibly ever confuse them with any other band.

Vs is about as manic and special as you could imagine it to be. Though if you only half-listen, it can be an album that almost seems one-noted (which it isn’t in the slightest).  This is also an album that can be pretty difficult to put on a timeline. It certainly never sounds dated like it’s forever stuck 1982.

I bought this when I there seemed to be endless amounts of repressing of old post-punk albums coming out. When I previously wrote about Black Tambourine’s re-release, I spoke about veering into the path of buying new vinyl over buying used records in shops. I do have to admit that this was a pretty brief but violent phase.

All of this was due to the amount of great stock choices at the Exclusive Company on by Brady Street in Milwaukee. I suppose it’s not too surprising, really, because most cities often carry a high quality of music at independent record stores.

I always found Mission of Burma’s short career to be sad. Their end came in 1983 when Roger Miller’s tinnitus worsened. While they later reformed almost two decades later, it’s those years that form a rather large void with many thoughts of “what could have been.” But thankfully their early releases are so great and so important that I wouldn’t trade them for anything else.

Vinyl Friday #26: New Order “Blue Monday” 12″ single


The last 12″ single I wrote about was Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Silver.” The one critic I had was while it was a great song, it wasn’t a fantastic 12″ mix. This, though, this… this New Order 12″ is the fucking holy grail of early-80’s dance music. The 12″ version of this song is totally necessary, and it’s still the biggest selling 12″ single of all time.

I chose to write about this particular single today because Halloween is tomorrow. Growing up, my sister and I had a soundtrack with “Blue Monday” on it (because it was the early 90’s, we shared CD’s). My sister and I would pick out the music to listen to in our rooms, but I really didn’t know what to think of this song. I was probably only five when I first heard it. It’s a lot for a child to comprehend, especially when the only pop music they had heard was the sickly-sweet 90’s sort or Tejano music.

But this song slightly frightened me as a kid. It’s quite a dark song. Now that I’m older, I love the song for it’s lyrics and the very dark atmosphere that used to frighten me when I was a kid. This was released three years after Ian Curtis’s death, but the dark Joy Division sound still lingered (though not as much as it would in Movement), but this was clearly a hallmark of where the band was going with their sound.

When I first met my husband, we had a discussion about which records we’d like to own one day. Without a moments hesitation, he replied with “New Order’s “Blue Monday” single where it looks like the floppy disk.” Being the young couple we were three years ago, I kept the secret to myself that I already owned this baby. On his first trip to visit me in the States, I presented him with this, so now I guess it belongs to him.

It’s a well-known story that the packaging for “Blue Monday” were so expensive, that it actually cost Factory Records more money to produce than they made. Later copies pressed in 1988 and 1995 were made in more conventional styles. Peter Saville (who I love and worship everything he does) designed the sleeve with die-cut and a silver sleeve. The colour-block code that runs down the side states “FAC 73 BLUE MONDAY AND THE BEACH NEW ORDER”; this is the same code that would also appear on several releases, including the back of the album Power, Corruption & Lies. 

For the longest time, I told myself that I had an original pressing from 1983, but after researching it, I finally had to admit to myself that I probably just had a cheap US reprint (though I am no expert and never will claim to be). Everything I own with actual value was stolen a long time ago. Normally things like “value” hardly mean a thing to me when it comes to collecting and buy vinyl, but I suppose each of us has something that we just have to have.


Vinyl Friday #25: The Original Cast Album of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

P1010196 My thoughts for Vinyl Friday for the month of October was to choose some more “Halloween”-type albums. Turns out, I don’t really own any, but this one is orange and it certainly scares the crap out of me. So kids, here is the original cast recording of the Off-Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time now, you’ll know that I am a massive Vince Guaraldi fan. None of his Charlie Brown music is featured in this 1967 musical. The music was actually composed by Clark Gesner, who has written some rather nice songs for the production. But I hate musicals, and this isn’t an exception to the rule. I know it’s a popular production, but adults acting like small children really unsettles me instead of entertaining me. It’s a shame because I actually really like the music. I just can’t ever un-see that back cover. The music doesn’t hold a candle to anything Guaraldi did, but I suppose that’s just comparing apples and oranges.

But I think the most horrifying part of this album is the sound quality. Incidentally, the first release of this album was recorded during a live performance. The cast hated the quality so badly, they went into a studio to record it. Somehow it still ended up not being great. As I mentioned before, the songs are nice but they don’t make a great soundtrack of just stand-alone songs. There isn’t any dialogue included, so it jumps from song to song and includes all the really long, strange instrumentals.

FYI – it does NOT sound great in stereo. Thanks for that bullshit, cover.

So why do I have this album in my collection? Well, it’s one of the few things I ever inherited. My grandmother’s cousin died when I was in high school. I never met the man, but we had many similar interests. We both enjoyed the same types of classical music, enjoyed writing and of course, liked Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. He’s the man I inherited my 1990 Ford Probe from (RIP Big Red). So even though I would rather listen to the sound of nails on a chalkboard, I do feel a real sense of fondness for this particular album. I hope one day it grows on me and I’ll find more of an interest in it, but for now it just remains one part of my collection that I want to hide from.


Vinyl Friday (on Saturday) #24: Echo & the Bunnymen “Silver (Tidal Wave)” 12″ single


“Silver” is probably my favourite Echo & the Bunnymen single. I love the soaring strings and the rolling ending of “la”s. It’s just a toasty-warm single filled with so many glimmering buts to it that I love. I don’t own many 12″ singles, but this one is probably one of the more loved ones, even if it isn’t exactly the best release of the song.

The 12″ release of this single adds an additional song that wasn’t on the 7”. “Silver (Tidal Wave)” is pretty much an extended version of the 7″ single by about two minutes. The song continues as an instrumental in the beginning before McCulloch’s singing comes in. Personally, I don’t think this adds anything to the song. If it were an extended mix or strictly an instrumental, it would probably be a better release, but this sounds like the record just sort of skipped.

Side 2 is essentially what was on the 7″ release of the single, just on one side. “Angels and Devils” is SUCH a great tune. It’s an excellent B-side and I think it compliments “Silver” quite well. But Ocean Rain is one of the best Echo & the Bunnymen releases, so none of this is really surprising.

When I was studying abroad at the University College London, I took a weekend trip by myself up to Manchester. A few of my friends were headed to Scotland on a school trip while others were leaving to visit friends who were studying abroad elsewhere in the country. Seeing Manchester was always a dream of mine, so I decided to trek ahead by myself. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that now, and I probably walked through plenty of places I shouldn’t have been, but at that point in my life I had no idea if I would ever get the chance to visit the city ever again.

I planned a massive talking trip for myself to go around the entire city to see iconic places like the Salford Lads Club (the building that appears on the sleeve of the Smiths album The Queen is Dead) and FAC251. But I only lasted about two steps outside my hostel before I found a great record shop to unload all my cash in.

The guy at the shop was super great. I don’t know if he was chuffed because a. I was a customer b. a girl c. foreign or d. obviously someone who would buy anything given to her, but he was a really pleasant fellow, even though I couldn’t understand a single word he said. I thought since I was in Manchester, I would buy a bunch of records from Manchester bands.

Echo & the Bunnymen are from Liverpool.

But still, I thought it was plenty cool and not worth leaving behind. As my husband said while I was listening to this: “Silver is such a tune.” And it is, isn’t it?


Vinyl Friday #23: Adam and the Ants “Kings of the Wild Frontier”


People love to hate Adam and the Ants. Actually, there are plenty of anti-Adam Ant quips throughout music and it’s culture – especially in late-70s, early 80s punk. NME journalist infamously tore Dirk Wears White Socks apart and (incorrectly) called Adam a Nazi-sympathiser. And of course, another example being Captain Sensible’s single “Wot” where he ‘raps’, “Well, hello Adam, where you been? / I said a’stand aside ’cause I’m feelin’ mean / I’ve had a gutful of you and I’m feelin’ bad / ‘Cause you’re an ugly old pirate and ain’t I glad.”

According to an interview with the Captain in 2001, he just admitted that he couldn’t figure Adam out. Which is fair enough because Adam Ant’s music is strange and silly. But I do like a good dose of both, so his music with the Ants always worked for me. In fact, once it grew on me, I really love the 1980 album Kings of the Wild Frontier. 

This album was released after Malcolm McLaren stole away the “Ants” from the band’s debut album, Dirk Wears White Socks. It’s a pretty well-known story that the band was essentially refurbished to be the band for Bow Wow Wow. This could have been a blessing in disguise as Adam procured guitarist Marco Pirroni, who still works with Adam – most recently on his 2013 album.

The US version of the album (which this copy is) includes two tracks instead of “Making History” – “Press Darlings” and “(You’re So) Physical”. This is one of those times where I think the US lucked out with a UK band release. And I can say with sure confidence that this album is pretty superior to the follow-up, Prince Charming.

If the whole concept of Vinyl Friday wasn’t pretentious enough, I have to say that the cassette version of this album is probably a bit more significant in my life-story than this vinyl copy.  I had a friend when I was in my high school days who had a pretty bad-ass car. Bad ass meaning it had a tape player, which was cool. My friend and I unloaded loads of cassette tapes on this poor girl, so we always had something great to listen to in the car.

I bought this album at the same resale store where the cassette was bought. For the longest time, I could really warm up to the band. For the longest time I only knew the title track, and I never warmed to it’s sound. But it was hearing the album in it’s entirety that I began to understand the band’s sound a bit better. They’re a lot more playful than “Kings of the Wild Frontier” would lead someone to believe.

This album sounds fantastic on vinyl. It’s obviously a bit of a battered copy, and it skips quite a bit but I still appreciate the sound all the same. But each time I listen to it, it reminds me of being young, howling along to Adam Ant in crappy cars in the back country roads of Wisconsin.


I don’t want to work or “5 songs to help you deal with your job”

Work is the worst. It really is. I’m currently going through that awful transition of being a student to going into my first real-adult job. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had all sorts of jobs since I was 15, almost all of them were awful (besides that one summer where I worked as an “engineer” and drive around listening to CCR all day). But everyone hates their jobs. If you like yours, well, God bless you.

Okay, I don’t hate my job by any means, but I’m currently in a position where following my dream doesn’t pay me enough to live, eat or breath in London. It’s a trap that a lot of people fall into. While many of us don’t need a lot of money to be happy, we need a paycheck large enough to keep the lights on and feed the mouths. Most jobs that allow great enjoyment honestly don’t pay as much as we’d like. I thought moving to London would give me journalism options. Instead it financially crippled me into an office job.

Let me tell you, working in an office all day is not my thing. I’ve never worked in one full-time before and it’s an awe-inspiring soap opera every day. Long-gone are my days of factory work and sandwich-making. And I’m a far cry from those jobs. Unfortunately, no job exists where I get to go where I want and eat chocolate cake all day while watching old Soul Train episodes. So reality it is.

If you hate your job – no fear, because we definitely aren’t alone. There are plenty of musicians throughout the years who have also felt the struggle of being under the thumb of the man (well, until they started making loads of money off getting drunk and singing every night). These are songs for when singing “It was just another manic Monday” to yourself just isn’t enough to sooth your soul.

1. Todd Rundgren “Bang Your Drum All Day” (1983)

In this Rundgren classic, the narrator of the song talks about how he’d doesn’t want to do anything but bang the drum all day. I guess that was probably the most literal explanation of a song I could give, but that’s why a classic is a classic. It pretty much speaks for itself. Each day I have a work day that is particularly bad or anxiety-filled, I literally listen to this song and begin to feel an old sense of jubilation again.

2. Dolly Parton “9 to 5” (1980)

I love Dolly Parton. Absolutely love her. I hope that one day she spots me on the street and demands I be her best friend because I would gladly agree. This song, which is also the title of the film it comes from, is the only reason you need to adore the crap out of her. “9 to 5” is a song still so very prevalent today as women still fight for work equality. It might be a thirty-year-old single, but it doesn’t sound the least bit dated to me because of that empowering message.

But one of the best parts goes, “They let you dream just to watch ’em shatter / You’re just a step on the boss-man’s ladder / But you got dreams he’ll never take away”. Even though Dolly is literally living everyone’s dream of wearing sparkly jumpsuits and playing a tiny saxophone, she gives a sweet little reminder that you’re never too old or too far gone to get exactly what you want out of life. And there’s no way any job could stop us.

3. Ramones “The Job That Ate My Brain” (1992)

This is the song that 17-year-old me would have loved working my two crappy jobs in high school. As far as punk picks go, there are plenty of angry children who sang about their frustrations with their work choices. I think many people would choose The Clash’s “Work Opportunities” as their pick, but this Ramones song pretty much says everything there is about the constant mental-drive it takes to pull your ass into the office every day. “Out of bed at 6:15 In a rush and you can’t think / Gotta catch the bus and train / I’m in a rush and feelin’ insane / I can’t take this crazy pace / I’ve become a mental case / Yeah, this is the job that ate my brain.”

This track, penned by Marky Ramone and Garrett “Skinny Bones” Uhlenbrock, completely encapsulates the manic rush and strain of a city commute. It was released in 1992 on the band’s 12 studio album, Mondo Bizarro. The velocity is typical Ramones, and only has to mirror the sort of constant struggle the band had already been dealing with for years.

4.  Loverboy “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” (1982)

This song. If you live anywhere in America, this song will be playing either Monday morning or on a Friday afternoon on any given radio station. Is the song utterly ridiculous? Yes. Entirely. It’s soaked in 80’s-ness, but the best part of pop music is when they sing exactly what everyone is already thinking: is it the weekend yet? It’s the ultimate in cliche, but not too many songs really say it more plainly than Loverboy does here.

The rest of the lyrics outside of the chorus don’t really have much to day. It’s about waiting for an ever-popular love interest showing up and going out at the weekend. Pretty simple. But who really cares about the content of a verse? Not me!

I can’t actually find a shortened version of this video. So enjoy a confusingly long version below! For those who just want to get right to the juicy 80’s action, skip right on up to 2:24.

5. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “Takin’ Care of Business”

Like “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend”, this BTO classic is synonymous with the working week. And there are few songs with a more memorable riff than “Takin’ Care of Business”. But really, this song is essentially about a man rubbing it in the working-man’s face. You have to go to the office every day? Well, I’m in self-employed! I’m a musician!

“You get up every morning / From your ‘larm clock’s warning / Take the 8:15 into the city / There’s a whistle up above / And people pushin’, people shovin’ / And the girls who try to look pretty / And if your train’s on time / You can get to work by nine / And start your slaving job to get your pay / If you ever get annoyed / Look at me I’m self-employed / I love to work at nothing all day / And I’ll be / Taking care of business”

Does it make you green with envy? Well it should. I’m already drooling.

This was going to be a top 10 list, then started to grow wildly out of control. I had a conversation with my flatmates last night over a pint where they both reminded me that I’m still only in my first job. You don’t reach where you want to be right away. The message is uplifting and all, but until I finally get to where I want to be, there are the tunes that are just going to have to hold me over until I finally escape those florescent lights.