Going back to the 1960’s there’s been all kinds of “scary” albums released full of haunting music and scary sound effects. High winds, moaning ghosts, maniacal laughing, shrieking cats and rattling chains are par for the course. It’s only recently that I’ve discovered albums such as Sounds to Make You Shiver (1974, Pickwick International Records) and Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House (1964, Disneyland Records). From my own childhood and for many kids growing up in the 1980’s, the one horror music/effects soundtrack that made the biggest impression was the simple looking orange-and-black cassette Horror Sounds of the Night, which was released in 1986 by Danbury, Connecticut’s very own Topstone Industries.
Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [20th Anniversary Special Edition]
2007, Volcano Entertainment
(Original Release: 1987, Scotti Brothers Records)
1. “The Touch” (Stan Bush)
2. “Instruments Of Destruction” (N.R.G.)
3. “Death Of Optimus Prime” (Vince DiCola)
4. “Dare” (Stan Bush)
5. “Nothin’s Gonna Stand In Our Way” (Spectre General)
6. “The Transformers Theme” (Lion)
7. “Escape” (Vince DiCola)
8. “Hunger” (Spectre General)
9. “Autobot/Decepticon Battle” (Vince DiCola)
10. “Dare To Be Stupid” (“Weird Al” Yankovic)
11. “Unicron Medley” (Vince DiCola)
12. “Moon Base 2 – Shuttle Launch” (Vince DiCola)
13. “Megatron Must Be Stopped (Parts 1 & 2)” (Vince DiCola)
14. “The Transformers Theme [Alternate Version]” (Stan Bush)
I was a big Transformers fan back in the 1980s. In some respects, I still am, it’s just that I think the Michael Bay movies are terrible so I gave up on that film series after the second movie. 1986’s Transformers: The Movie still remains the best TF movie yet, IMO. Even if they pretty much killed off the entire classic roster of Autobots and replaced them within the span of 90 minutes or so. For my further thoughts on that controversial movie, check out the review I posted at my other blog. Just like the movie, the soundtrack is a big dumb mess (in a good way). It’s a mix of melodic rock, hair metal, instrumentals and Weird Al.
Stan Bush’s “The Touch” and “Dare” have always received high praise from AOR fans but I’ve struggled for years to understand how their connection with this movie was appropriate. Even as a kid when watching the movie, I didn’t really see what “The Touch” had to do with a battle scene. Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid” seems even less appropriate during a Autobot/Decepticon battle unless it’s meant to be some kind of commentary on how senseless violence is (I highly doubt this is the case though). On their own, these three songs are actually not bad. They just don’t seem appropriate for the scenes which they were used in during the film.
Now, onto the really good stuff. Kicking things off with a harder edge than Stan Bush could is NRG’s “Instruments of Destruction”. Great ’80s metal track. I love it. Though a legit band, this song seems to be their one moment of glory in the music world. Shame. Then we have two tracks from Spectre General: “Nothin’s Gonna Stand In Our Way” and “Hunger” (which later covered by King Kobra). Spectre General is actually Kick Axe but for legal reasons (I don’t know the details) they recorded as Spectre General for this soundtrack.
And then we have the best track on the entire album and I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of my favorite songs of all-time… “The Transformers Theme” by Lion! Lion was a glam metal act that is also best known for their participation on this but they are also known for having been one of the earliest bands for guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake/Dio/Burning Rain). The song is played during the opening credits and it’s a great way to kick off the movie. It’s a glammed up heavy metal version of the Transformers theme.
The rest of the tracks are very ’80s sounding electronic rock instrumentals that were heard in the movie and were composed by Vince DiCola. Most, if not all, of these instrumentals would go on to be used as background music during seasons three & four of the Transformers cartoon. Tracks 11-14 are exclusive to the anniversary edition of this album. Tracks 11, 12 & 13 are supposedly brand new scores (according to Wikipedia) but I’m pretty sure they can be heard in the movie. Track 14 is an alternate take of “The Transformers Theme” featuring Stan Bush. I really can’t stress enough how good DiCola’s score is. It ranges from upbeat and energetic to somber and haunting to foreboding.
Weird Al and Stan Bush still seem a bit out of place to me but the rest of the album is a great ’80s mix of metal and electronic rock. This is a fun soundtrack that really takes me back to my childhood and also brings back images of the movie itself. One of my all-time favorite soundtracks.
Black Roses – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1988, Metal Blade Records)
1. “Dance on Fire” – Black Roses … 3:47
2. “Soldiers of the Night” – Black Roses … 3:46
3. “I’m No Stranger” – Bang Tango … 4:07
4. “Rock Invasion” – Black Roses … 4:27
5. “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)” – Black Roses … 4:05
6. “Me Against the World” – Lizzy Borden … 4:36
7. “Take It Off” – King Kobra … 3:55
8. “King of Kool” – David Michael Phillips … 3:26
9. “Streetlife Warrior” – Tempest … 3:47
10. “D.I.E.” – Hallow’s Eve … 3:25
This is the soundtrack to the movie Black Roses, which was just one of a handful of heavy metal horror flicks from the 1980s (Trick or Treat will always be my favorite from that sub-genre). I have wanted to see the movie since the early ’00s (when I first learned of its existence) but it was out-of-print on VHS and didn’t get a DVD release in 2007. Thanks to Netflix, I recently watched it. The movie itself was okay. I can see why it’s a considered a cult fave and it was entertaining enough for a one-time viewing. It was typically cheesy and full of unintentional comedy but it featured some of those cool latex creatures and costumes that are extremely rare in this day and age of CGI.
This is one of those soundtracks where a fake/temporary band is put together. (Steel Dragon for Rock Star, The Dudes of Wrath for Shocker, etc). According to information I keep coming across online, the Black Roses group on the album is comprised of King Kobra members Mark Free (vocals) & Carmine Appice (drums) with Chuck Wright (bass) and Alex Masi (guitar). This is where things get hazy though. The King Kobra song on this soundtrack is “Take It Off”. “Take It Off” is from 1988’s King Kobra III which featured Johnny Edwards on vocals. Also, David Michael Phillips (who contributes “King of Kool”) was a member of King Kobra throughout the ’80s so he very well may have been in Black Roses recording group too. Mark Free left King Kobra in ’86 and formed Signal in 1987 but it definitely sounds like Mark Free during the Black Roses songs. Just seems odd to hear him contribute to a soundtrack featuring his former band and to collaborate with them as well.
Most of the Black Roses songs could have easily fit on any King Kobra release. Even “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)”, which is a huge wedge of AOR cheese balladry, could pass for one of Kobra’s more guiltier pleasures and certainly sounds like the norm for something that would come from Signal. I didn’t like it it first in the movie but it’s grown on me in a disturbing way. It’s actually somewhat humorous when you pay attention to the lyrics and keep in mind that this is a demonic band from Hell playing this song: “my hometown is a page that’s turning, way deep down there’s a fire burning…”
I think this is actually a pretty good album. The cheese factor is high but if you love ’80s rock/metal, that’s never really going to be a problem. All of the Black Roses songs are actually pretty good and full of energy featuring great vocals performances from Free and then Lizzy Borden and King Kobra offer up two of their better songs from their catalog. I really enjoy “King of Kool” too. The vocals sound a lot like Kevin DuBrow, in fact, the whole song sounds like Quiet Riot. I wonder if that is David Michael Phillips’ voice?
Really, the only disappointing tracks are from Bang Tango and Tempest. The only song I’ve ever liked from Bang Tango is “Someone Like You” and I’m not familiar with Tempest but I don’t care for the vocals. The Hallows Eve song is okay, it reminds me of Anthrax, but I wouldn’t say it’s an album highlight.
While the movie is available for about $20 on DVD now, regretfully, this album is now out-of-print. I’ve done some looking around online and have seen prices ranging from $50 to $300! Yikes !! C’mon, Metal Blade, put this album back in circulation!
Highlights: “Dance on Fire”, “Soldiers of the Night”, “Rock Invasion”, “Paradise (We’re On Our Way)”, “Me Against the World”, “Take It Off”, “King of Kool”
The Scorpion King – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2002, Universal Music)
1. “I Stand Alone” – Godsmack … 4:05
2. “Set It Off (Tweaker Remix)” – P.O.D. … 4:11
3. “Break You” – Drowning Pool … 2:48
4. “Streamline” – System of a Down … 3:36
5. “To Whom It May Concern” – Creed … 5:10
6. “Yanking Out My Heart” – Nickelback … 3:36
7. “Losing My Grip” – Hoobastank … 3:56
8. “Only the Strong” – Flaw … 4:18
9. “Iron Head” – Rob Zombie Feat. Ozzy Osbourne … 4:11
10. “My Life” – 12 Stones … 3:03
11. “Along the Way” – Mushroomhead … 3:17
12. “Breathless” – Lifer … 4:40
13. “Corrected” – Sevendust … 4:31
14. “Burn It Black” – Injected … 2:43
15. “27” – Breaking Point … 3:38
16. “Glow” – Coal Chamber … 3:08
Most “original motion picture soundtracks” are made up of filler. Previously released songs or songs that weren’t good enough to make the artists’ album get dumped onto these releases and it’s no different here. The line-up of bands is actually really strong collection of popular late 90s/early 00s rock & metal acts (with a few “who are they” groups thrown in) but let’s be honest– that era doesn’t really have an impressive resume of bands or originality.
The whole album just kinda blends together and comes off as generic despite the names involved. It’s also sports a bloated number of tracks. Did we really need 16 songs for THE SCORPION KING? The fact that most of these songs are generic and filler is fitting because that’s exactly what the movie was as well.
Highlights: “I Stand Alone”, “Set It Off (Tweaker Remix)”, “Iron Head”