I love soundtracks. I've written about 'em before, and I'll certainly do so again. For this go-round, I'm selecting songs from the other end of the spectrum from your "Eye of the Tiger"s and your "St. Elmo's Fire"s. Tracks like the eight that follow: tunes from dusty little corners of the entertainment world that often require a fair amount of digging to uncover.
After much internal debate, I present you with some of my personal favorites. I hope you enjoy 'em as much as I do...
The Slaverlords, "Psychocrystal," from The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (1986)
The general consensus seems to be that the Canadian band Refugee (originally known as Michael Fury, and sans Wikipedia page) performs "Psychocrystal"—without question the greatest cartoon-related song in the history of all living things—represented amidst the show's storyline as a "hit single" by The Slaverlords. As hard as I've fallen for the track's fist-raising, sing-along chorus as an adult, I can only imagine how violently it would have made my head explode (in a good way) back when I was a kid. Had I only known...
Fun fact: a sure sign that someone involved had great taste in hard rock, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers also featured material by UK outfit FM.
Bezerk (with Chris Lancelot) "Stockholmsnatt," from Stockholmsnatt (1987)
Apparently a cult classic in Sweden, Stockholmsnatt is a 1987 film loosely based on the younger days of Swedish boxer Paolo Roberto. Judging by its trailer, it kinda looks like a weird Swedish combo of The Warriors meets Body Rock or something, but the entire soundtrack is an absolutely incredible blend of rock-tinged synth-pop and post-punk—predominantly consisting of tracks by Bezerk and the slightly more prolific group Criss 99. I can't find any evidence to suggest that Bezerk released additional material beyond this soundtrack, which is a damn shame, 'cause its title track gets stuck in my head for days, despite the fact that I can't speak a lick of Swedish!
Billy Sherwood, "You Can Count on Me," from Plain Clothes (1988)
Still active as a solo artist, Billy Sherwood got his start in the band Lodgic with his older brother, Michael, before moving on to World Trade and eventually Yes, among numerous others. Recorded between the Lodgic and World Trade days, "You Can Count on Me" is a kickass song from a kickass movie (Arliss Howard's finest moment, for my money—yes, even better than Full Metal Jacket). That's all there is to it. Billy's one hell of a vocalist, so it's hard not to fall for that uplifting beat and those lush vocal harmonies.
Fun fact: Sherwood has also been responsible for production/engineering work for the likes of Motörhead and Dangerous Toys.
Dragon Sound, "Friends," from Miami Connection (1987)
How can you go wrong with a movie about biker ninjas terrorizing a group of Tae Kwon Do-loving college students who also happen to be in a band together? That movie would be Miami Connection, which shit the bed upon its original release, and was resurrected by Drafthouse Films in 2012. Said fictitious band would be Dragon Sound, and "Friends" is off-the-charts incredible. In an ironic sense? Sort of. I mean, those awkward lyrics and vocal arrangements are one thing:
Friends through eternity, loyalty, honesty. We'll stay together through thick or thin. Friends forever, we'll be together. We're on top, 'cause we play to win...
But I can personally guarantee that you'll be humming that damn chorus for the rest of the day. You just can't shake it!
Joe Lamont, "Flesh to Flesh," from Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)
Joe Lamont had quite a soundtrack run in the mid- to late-'80s, with appearances in Heavenly Bodies (1984), Quiet Cool (1986), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)—in addition to penning the title track from Fright Night (1985), which was performed by The J. Geils Band. Above 'em all, though, is "Flesh to Flesh," from Return of the Living Dead Part II: big chorus, screamin' guitars, and just the right amount of dramatic '80s cheese. I don't know why the hell this guy's not more of a "name," 'cause his lone solo album, 1985's Secrets You Keep, rules pretty hard.
Tony Carey, "All in the Family," from Der Joker (1987)
California native Tony Carey joined up with Rainbow in the mid-'70s to play keyboards, before eventually relocating to Germany (where he still resides) in 1978, and has since released loads of solo albums. "All in the Family" comes from his 1987 set, Bedtime Story, which was the soundtrack to the German film Der Joker. It's a little darker than the other tracks herein, but—being from the late-'80s—still manages to boast a catchy energy. You've gotta love those just-barely-funky background guitars, too! And yet, so obscure that I can't find the damn thing on YouTube, but... you can stream it via this random-ass Vietnamese website!?
Fun fact: Bedtime Story features backing vocals by the almighty Chris Thompson!
Tommy Nilsson, "Maybe We're About to Fall in Love," from Strul (1988)
This impeccable R&B ballad (with keyboard melodies reminiscent of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love") almost sounds like Jeffrey Osborne or something, but it's actually a Swedish dude who—at the time—looked like this. Yep, Tommy Nilsson started out fronting the progressive rock band Horizont in the late-'70s, before going solo in the '80s—during which he also recorded one album with Stockholm hard rock outfit Easy Action. In addition to appearing in the Swedish film Strul, "Maybe We're About to Fall in Love" was included on Nilsson's third solo album, It!
Steven McClintock, "The Edge of a Dream," from Space Mutiny (1988)
Featured in a 1988 South African sci-fi flick I'm sure few have ever heard of, "The Edge of a Dream" is—despite what Mystery Science Theater 3000 might think—a perfectly solid tune: oddly uplifting despite its somewhat ominous atmosphere, and complete with requisite '80s guitar solos. Throughout his decades-long career, McClintock has had a hand in writing, publishing, producing, managing, and then some. That being said, his only other soundtrack performance seems to have been an adequate but nowhere near as good track from Jetsons: The Movie.
And that's that. There are hundreds of other options, sure, but my hope is that these eight selections are both mind-blowingly awesome and criminally obscure enough to turn some heads.
As always, please do post your own personal favorites and recommendations in the comments below!