Sunday, July 19, 2009

Desperate Teenage Lovedolls Soundtrack

Misguided soundbites mar overall impact of music...

Desperate Teenage Lovedolls is perhaps one of my all-time favorite films. I remember picking this up at Tower Records in the Summer of 1997 (a pleasant surprise indeed as I had no idea this had been released on CD). Good liner-notes and photos but the cover art is altered for some misguided reason as the original was pretty ace. I have to say this soundtrack is nearly an aural photograph of the last gasp of the early 80's LA punk scene. It's perhaps even more effective than many purposeful compilations could be as it's seemingly unaware of what it is capturing. Half of this soundtrack are purely Redd Kross tracks. Some of which have only seen release here ("Out Of Focus", "Legend" and the original version of "Ballad Of A Lovedoll"). Lone tracks by Black Flag, DTLD director Dave Markey's band Sin 34, and a wonderful acoustic track by Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin and ex-Redd Kross guitarist Greg Hetson (billed on the original LP as Greg/Greg) called "Running Fast".

Here's the rub (someone had to screw this up I suppose), every single track is prefaced with dialog from the film (or faux applause)...on the actual track itself!! The ending of "Ballad" also overlaps entirely onto "Legend" (but not without an asinine soundbite from the film - lest we forget about the film for two minutes). Talk about a shortsighted idea. This is the sort of thing that may have been funny, once, to the people involved (and rightfully so - some of the dialog is classic). But any sort of momentum or cohesiveness is virtually ruined for anyone who wants to listen to this soundtrack more than once. Which is a real shame because the songs work so well together and probably flow better than they have any business to. Other mid 90's soundtracks did this too (Mallrats, The Brady Bunch Movie, Friends, etc). The popularity of this heinously obnoxious act was thankfully short-lived.

One wonders what the compiler of this soundtrack was even trying to achieve with such a seemingly crass, if not self-indulgent, act. Their only real intention was that of selling the film to the purchaser of the soundtrack - if that person didn't already own the home video (doubtful) or know anything about the film (again, doubtful). Sell, sell, sell I guess.

Lovedolls Superstar Motion Picture Soundtrack

Great showcase for Redd Kross, Annette Zilinskas and Painted Wille...

The sequel to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls is perhaps superior to the original. The music too is almost superior. Unlike the soundtrack to that film these don't contain any ridiculous soundbites from the film. The songs themselves come from the mid-80's Southern California scene.

The Redd Kross songs are easily the best things on the soundtrack. They supply the wonderful title track to the film. They also contribute 'The Lovedolls' tracks: the wonderfully trashy "Rex Smith 9 (I Wanna Be a Cholo Chick)", the groovy rocker "Beer & Ludes" (with Cheap Trick's "Hello There" in the bridge) and the Brady Bunch cover "Sunshine Day". Lead vocals on these three songs are regrettably shared with the way-too nasally and off-key Jennifer Schwartz (who plays Kitty Carryall in both films). Their cover of "Purple Haze" is also included here as well (although that song was featured in DTLD not LDS).

There's also some truly great material supplied by others. Ex-Bangle Annette Zilinskas' beautiful Sonny & Cher cover "Baby Don't Go", Painted Willie cover Prince & The Revolution's Nikki ("Darling Shelah") and back Jennifer Schwartz on "Now That I've Tasted Blood". There are also unremarkable tracks by Dead Kennedys, Meat Puppets and Sonic Youth included as well.

Black Flag contribute the lifeless "Kickin' and Stickin'" and also back Schwartz on "The Love Machine". The wholly unimaginative score was done by Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's side project Gone. Ginn would later inexplicably deny the use of this material on the 2006 DVD release/soundtrack those eight these tracks are only available here on the original SST soundtrack.

Aside from the fantastic Redd Kross tracks, Painted Willie and the Annette Zilinskas stunner, these songs tend to work better within the context of the film than they do on their own on the soundtrack. The soundtrack is also an unwitting document of a fine time in the history of alternative music.