Hi Sorry State fam and happy early Halloween! I’ve been trying to squeeze in some seasonal activities, so I went on one of the ghost tours they do in downtown Raleigh. They are kinda expensive but fun. And this one gave away prizes! I’m super competitive and a nerd, so I won almost all the prizes except one, and that was only because I didn’t want to be greedy. But to the person who won that last prize (as I’m sure they’re reading this), I let you win. Just saying.
OK, enough bragging about winning pens and beer koozies. First, kudos to Jeff because his Halloween enthusiasm made the newsletter and store super fun and Halloweeny this year! Don’t forget, if you come to the store in full costume Friday through Monday, you will get a discount and treats!
I love Halloween and I love a theme when it comes to music, so I was definitely on board with the theme for staff picks. I did have a hard time between picking a movie or a soundtrack, or both, so I picked the soundtrack from the 1985 classic, The Return of the Living Dead! Turns out Jeff originally picked the same album. So we had a back and forth of “you do it… no it’s cool you can do it…. no really, you do it.” And here we are. But with Jeff’s horror movie and music collection, I knew he would have no trouble with a backup plan. Great minds think alike! This 80s classic is one of my favorite movies of its kind, and the soundtrack is punk rock Halloween gold.
Let’s just nerd out for a minute about the movie as it has some pretty unique features. Not only is it the first of its kind to show zombies running, the zombies have an affinity for eating brains as opposed to your lame, garden variety human flesh. These are sophisticated zombies.
I’m not going to give a play-by-play of the movie, but it’s so funny when the old warehouse foreman is showing off to his employee Freddy by hitting the drum of toxic gas. He wanted to show him how “sturdy” it was. Unfortunately, his demonstration was more about showing Freddy how not sturdy it was, as his flex resulted in the release of toxic gas. The fatal error brings the corpses in a nearby cemetery to life, and we have ourselves a movie.
The movie is made even better by Freddy’s group of friends with amazing 80s punk names like Spider, Trash, and Scuz. That actually sounds like a really good band name. Spider, Trash, and Scuz. It’s up for grabs!
Speaking of which, let’s try to get some words in here about the music on the soundtrack. You’ve got some killer late 70s/early 80s bands like The Damned, T.S.O.L, The Cramps, and 45 Grave. 45 Grave is the first band that comes to mind when I think of this soundtrack given their legendary status as pioneers of American goth rock. What makes it super cool is 45 Grave did a heavier version of their song “Partytime.” Great track. Fun fact: members of the band got to be extras in Blade Runner!
I gotta backtrack here and talk about The Cramps kicking things off with the mid-tempo punk rock track, “Surfin’ Dead.” What kind of 80s zombie flick would it be without The Cramps? Further, what is Halloween without The Cramps? Another fun fact: Poison Ivy played both bass and guitar on that track, and I think the bass guitar became a permanent fixture for The Cramps after that, or somewhere around that timeframe.
People were kind of down on T.S.O.L. by the mid 80s because their sound wasn’t punk enough or some shit. Even if they lost some punk points, I don’t really care because “Nothing For You” is one of my favorites on the soundtrack. The intro is great, the bass sounds great, and it’s just got the perfect vibe for the genre and the time period. So what if I think of Billy Idol every time I hear it. It still rocks.
Obviously The Damned is a perfect band for this soundtrack and they definitely bring the riffs, but let’s move on.
Synth pop group SSQ rounds out the soundtrack with a couple tracks. Those songs definitely sound the most dated. I knew nothing about SSQ except for their contribution to this soundtrack, but I’m happy to report that I now know two things. I never knew that Stacy Q, the woman who would later grace our eardrums with the mega hit “Two of Hearts,” was the singer for SSQ. Personally I prefer the “Two of Hearts” Stacey Q.
I’m not lucky enough to have the original soundtrack on vinyl, but this reissue from a couple years ago is pretty cool. To be honest I’m not big on soundtracks because they are either movie scores (boringggg), or the songs are just too all over the place. When I put on a record, it’s because I want a certain sound or I’m in a certain mood. It’s a thoughtful process. The problem with most soundtracks is that they fuck up the process for me. I don’t want to hear Simon and Garfunkel and then N.W.A. back to back (I don’t think there is a soundtrack with those two bands on it, but you know what I mean). I like both styles but not at the same time. I much prefer soundtracks that capture the movie as a whole. I don’t want a bunch of random songs from random scenes that only make sense if you’re watching the movie. This soundtrack can stand on its own and its curated in a smart way that mirrors the movie’s humor, style, and fun.
OK, that’s enough of me pretending to know shit. I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!
Thanks for reading,