Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Soundtrack Week: Something Wild

The soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's excellent 1986 film 'Something Wild' has always felt like an opportunity lost. There are nearly 50 songs heard in the 114-minute story, but only 10 appear on the album. This is not a critical assessment of the collection, but nobody is going to suggest these are the 10 best songs or even the 10 most critical to the tale. In fact, "Temptation" is heard for less than five seconds as a convertible passes the house of Lulu's mother. It feels like Demme just liked New Order and threw them in there so they could be on the soundtrack. How would you like to have the power to do that?

At the bare minimum, the Feelies should have been on the soundtrack with "Loveless Love." That's the ominous song you hear as Ray makes his first appearance on screen. Of course, proper recordings of the Feelies (as the Willies at the high school reunion) covering "I'm a Believer" and "Fame" would take the listener back to the most memorable scenes in the movie. Demme got John Cale and Laurie Anderson to contribute to the score, but there isn't even a snippet of their work on the soundtrack. Songs by Big Audio Dynamite, X and many others would have been icing on the cake, but the absence of "Spring Rain" was the most painful. I didn't know who performed the mysterious song that grabbed my heart, and it took quite a bit of investigative work in the pre-Internet age before I discovered it was the Go-Betweens. A year later, the Aussies would be my favorite band.

Enough of the negativity. Let's get to what is on the soundtrack. Demme reunites with David Byrne for the first time since the concert film 'Stop Making Sense' for a great opener. I love how the song takes us from scenes of New York and transitions to a boom box in the neighborhood where Charles Driggs is eating lunch. For fans of Oingo Boingo and New Order, listeners get unique mixes of songs for which they are well known. Another Talking Head, Jerry Harrison, has the perfect song for the road trip back to New York as Ray tails Lulu and Charlie to Stony Brook. Other artists on the soundtrack include, Fine Young Cannibals, UB40, Steve Jones, Sister Carol and Jimmy Cliff.

David Byrne With Celia Cruz - Loco De Amor (Crazy For Love)
Oingo Boingo - Not My Slave
New Order - Temptation
Jerry Harrison - Man With a Gun


slovenlyeric said...

I still have a copy of this on CD. Some great tracks. I think you found the best for this post. Thank you for reminding me of this one.

drew said...

You are right about it being a bit of a disappointment. My mate Ben brought this back on one of his holidays with his folks to Florida and I remember looking at the track listing and thinking is that it.

I still get shivers when I think of just how evil Ray Liotta was in this film.

I have a soft spot for Sister Carol's version of Wild Thing.

The jerky arrived today Max is very chuffed and thanks for the stickers, big smiles. For nearly the whole of the last decade I was a pledger to KEXP.

Swiss Adam said...

Good stuff Brian- this soundtrack clearly needs a wider ranging re-issue.

Brian said...

slovenlyeric, My copy is on vinyl. Too bad your CD edition didn't have at least a few extra songs on it.

Drew, Hope that package made it in one piece and that Max is feeling better. I swung by KEXP hoping to get you some swag, but the stickers were all they had.

SA, I would love to see this get a reissue with all 49 songs on it. Sorry you had to hear my Go-Betweens story again.