Sunday, July 28, 2013

National Lampoon’s Vacation (soundtrack)

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Sunday.

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, the hilarious cross-country family road trip tale that introduced us to the Griswold family. Written by John Hughes and directed by Harold Ramis, it starred Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Randy Quaid, and Imogene Coca. Also making appearances were John Candy, Jane Krakowski and super-model Christie Brinkley.

Side one opens with Lindsey Buckingham and “Holiday Road”. Released as a single to promote the film, it stalled at number 82 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Despite that, it has such an infectious, rowdy rhythm to it that instantly puts me in a great mood from the opening chords. Whenever I hear it, I am transported back to the bright sunny carefree summer days of being a teenager in the 80’s.

“Mister Blue” by the Fleetwoods is next. As the title track of the group’s debut album, this gentle doo-wop classic was a number 1 hit in November of 1959

The Ramones are here with “Blitzkrieg Bop”, a track that first appeared on their 1976 self-titled debut album Ramones. The rapid-fire, two plus minute song was ranked at number 92 on Rolling Stone magazines list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ralph Burns, the movie’s composer, presents the instrumental “Deep River Blues”. As you would expect, this is done very much in the traditional blues style with gentle drums, a pensive piano, a moving guitar and a sorrowful saxophone.

Nicolette Larson closes the side with “Summer Hearts”, a beautiful romantic ballad.

Side two begins with “Little Boy Sweet” by June Pointer. She had left the Pointer Sisters in the mid-70’s due to a cocaine addiction and returned to music in the early 80’s as a solo artist. This one is a bouncy pop/R&B tune with strong synth elements and a soulful saxophone.

Burns returns with “The Trip (Theme from Vacation)”. This instrumental has an eclectic 70’s groove to it and sounds like something you would hear when you are put on hold.

Vanity 6 makes an appearance with “He’s So Dull” from their self-titled 1982 debut album (click here for that review). The beat is very bouncy, and it has a 60’s girl-group feel to it with a bit of modernization for the 80’s.

Burns has one more instrumental for us with “Christie’s Song”, a slinky and sexy little number.

The album closes with Buckingham and “Dancin’ Across the U.S.A.”, a rambling rocker with some hints of country-western elements to it. It bring to mind the wide-open expanse of the US mid-western plains.


HERC said...

"Holiday Road" was third song played in shuffle mode this morning.

Sweet serendipity.

Martin Maenza said...

Indeed. Your iPod knows what day it is. ;)

Cory Funk said...

Do you have this on vinyl? As far as I can tell it never made the jump to CD. I dubbed a copy from vinyl on to tape when I was in college.

Martin Maenza said...

Cory, nope. I do not have a copy of this at all. I used the Internet (YouTube and the like) to allow me to hear the tracks from it.

HERC said...


Nice site, man. Digging the poetry. You've gained a reader.

In my post on Vacation I briefly mentioned the lack of an official CD release of the Vacation soundtrack despite repeated attempts by some to convince us otherwise. I have copies of those discs (from friends who were duped) as well as the original vinyl. If you seek on the net, ye shall find superior sounding vinyl rips of the soundtrack album as well as a promo 12" of "Holiday Road" if you anted to freshen up your cassette dub.

A similar state of affairs exists with Christmas Vacation but it had no official release at all.