Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beverly Hills Cop (soundtrack)

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Sunday.

In December of 1984, the cold winter chill was cut by a hot new comedy film starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. Beverly Hills Cop was not only a smash at the box office, but its accompanying soundtrack album racked up some impressive numbers on the music charts as well. It spent sixty-two weeks on the US Billboard Album chart with two weeks at the number 1 spot in late June of 1985.

Patti LaBelle kicks off the record with “New Attitude”. That opening beat is enough to get my mood swinging into the sunny side of the scale. This was a big dance hit - everyone loved to be on the floor bouncing to this one, chanting out that chorus as if it was our mantra. For me, this song ranks four stars (out of five) in my iTunes library. The song did very well on the US Billboard Hot 100 where it reached number 17 as well as the US Billboard Dance chart where it hit number 1.

Shalamar then advises us “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills”, a song that stopped at number 79 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The song has a thumping beat and kicking synthesizer line. It is great deep track, a good choice for a dance mix when you want a song that isn’t so overplayed. Put this one in there and everyone will be going “what a minute? I know this one…“ This was Shalamar’s second soundtrack appearance in 1984 (the other was the chart busting “Dancing in the Sheets” from Footloose).

Junior asks “Do You Really (Want My Love?)”. This song is very funky and another great choice for dance mixes. In the UK, the song charted at number 47.

Are you ready to stop dancing? I don’t think so! Rockie Robbins declares an “Emergency”. Once more, great beats and synth make for another candidate for that party play list.

The side ends with the Pointer Sisters and “Neutron Dance”. This song spent fourteen weeks on the Billboard charts, reaching all the way to number 6. It also went to number 31 in the UK, number 23 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 21 in the Netherlands, number 19 in Austria, number 18 in Germany, number 17 in New Zealand, number 14 in Switzerland, number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 7 in Sweden, and number 4 in Australia and on the US Billboard Dance chart. It always gets me moving and grooving; I probably danced to this one dozens of times just in 1984/1985 alone. It combines the harmonies of the Oakland gals with a catchy synthesized hook. Again, here is another four star song in my library.

The second side fires up with Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On”. This solo member of the Eagles scored big with this one - it made it all the way up to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, blocked out from the gold by REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. It also went to number 47 in France, number 22 in Sweden, number 19 in the Netherlands, number 13 in New Zealand, number 12 in the UK, number 8 in Canada, number 5 in Switzerland, number 4 in Germany, and number 2 in Australia and Norway. The song has an incredible, driving beat to it. The saxophone adds to the power, making this a sure-fire favorite.

Danny Elfman is next with “Gratitude”. Doing a solo stint from his band, the Oingo Boingo front man serves up a solid track. It has all the musical quirkiness that you’d expect from a Boingo song. It also appears on Elfman’s own album So-Lo.

Patti LaBelle returns to “Stir It Up” once more. The song was just shy of the Top 40 (stopped at 41 on Billboard charts) but it did well on the US Billboard R&B chart (it reached number 5). I like the echoing opening of the instruments that forms the baseline of the rest of song. Patti’s attitude on this one, like her earlier track, is strong and sassy. I find it difficult to resist it - my feet are dancing right now as I sit at my computer desk typing this. Again, this was another dance floor favorite.

The System implores us to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Me Again”. Once more, heavy synthesizers and beats are at the center of the music.

The album ends with Harold Faltermeyer’s iconic instrumental “Axel F”. The song did very well, staying on US Billboard Hot 100 for twelve weeks and topping out at number 3. Around the globe, it went to number 18 in Sweden, number 5 in New Zealand, number 4 in Austria, number 2 in Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK, and number 1 in Ireland, and on the US Billboard Dance chart. You hear those opening notes and your hand instinctively goes up to play that invisible keyboard in front of you. I know mine does. In 2005, Crazy Frog released a version of this song - it was a main-staple on Radio Disney.

I remember going to see this movie during my sophomore year in college. I can even remember the group of friends I went to see it with - members of the Executive Board of our school’s Student Orientation Service for that year. We were a tight group of twelve - we worked well together to guide the whole organization that year, and we also were good friends who hung out socially. Good times.

As for this album, I had it on vinyl and played it constantly. As I‘ve outlined above, I found this to be a consistent record through and through - not a bad apple in the barrel. Beverly Hills Cop was great to throw on for parties - I could play an entire side without having to lift the needle. Or, as I often did in my single-dorm room that year, I would put it on when I was studying or getting ready for an evening out. Always guaranteed to put me in a great mood.


Noetic_Hatter said...

Here's a random story that's only loosely connected [I'll let you guess which part]:

In the summer of 1987, I had just finished 7th grade and was at a 3-week program for "gifted" students at Duke University. We lived in the dorms, went to classes during the day, and basically got to be college students. It was awesome.

Two of the things that stand out for me that trip (besides the Nightcrawler 4-issue LS I bought on our outing to the nearby comic shop and my first viewing of Holy Grail) were the endless quarters we put into the dorm's 1942 machine and the music.

My roommate and I always went to sleep with the radio on "sleep" (a practice I continue to this day, usually with my iPhone). Because of the time for lights-out, we always heard the same songs on the radio's daily countdown). Those songs included "Always" by Atlantic Starr -- a song I have not heard in over 20 years, but which I could probably sing all the way through if I heard it -- and "Wipeout" by the Fat Boys. Another song we always heard was Bob Segar's "Shakedown", from the BHC II soundtrack.

So anytime I hear the name "Beverly Hills Cop" in any context, I always think back to that summer.

Martin Maenza said...

Thanks for the story. Very much appreciated.