CLASSICS: FAMOUS MOVIES/TV THEME (SINGLES)
You know, it’s a shame. Even within my own age group, we don’t talk about Blaxploitation movies anymore. Although, I must admit, there were a lot of cheesy ones out there from back in the day, many of them were also funny as hell. They’re almost like watching silly home made movies. But, we had a few of what I considered masterpieces (in a “B” movie sense LOL). Masterpiece (you might be saying to yourself)? Well, granted “B” movies are technically low budget films; and they are no doubt an acquired taste for many of us these days. However, at the same time, a film that was a low budget was part of what made so many of them hilarious. Simply because the directors had to improvise with what they didn’t have. Then again, I think a lot of Black folk would have seen this particular movie regardless, simply because the queen of Blaxploitation was in it. The legendary Pam Grier.
Movies aside, some great soundtracks have been recorded from those Blaxploitation movies. In fact, I dare to say that some soundtracks became more popular than the movies themselves. The music from these movies had a specific unique sound that allows us to automatically pinpoint what it is, and the era it was from. A mixture of funk and blues created a sound that almost seemed to be immediately associated with Black film. One of the tracks I really dug was “Blacula Strikes.” Actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like it was written more for a cop show, rather than a Black vampire movie. LOL. I also like the piece called “Blacula (The Stalkwalk),” I think this score captures the true essence of a “Black Vampire” of the 70s (walking through Harlem). LOL.
I’d say this has got to be one of my many favorite songs of 1984. Dan Hartman released an awesome love song called “I Can Dream About You.” This was a hit theme song to the movie “Streets Of Fire.” The movie is about a mercenary guy who gets hired to save his ex-girlfriend from a motorcycle gang. The song hit #6 on the Top 100 Charts, and stayed on the charts for about 16 weeks. Another big hit I love from Hartman, is a song he released in 1978 called “Instant Replay.” Although it only hit #29 on the Top 100 Charts, it still remains one of my favorite disco dance tunes from that era.
Another great classic that is not only one of my biggest favorites, it was the biggest hit of 1987. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes came together to sing the theme song to the hit movie called “Dirty Dancing (1987),” starring the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The song is called “I Had The Time Of My life.” You know to be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about the movie; but I do remember Swayze’s serious dance movies. I’ve always been a Swayze fan, but I didn’t know he was such a talented dancer until I saw this movie.
I dare to say that the theme song was so huge, that sometimes I think that it was more popular than the movie. The song hit #1 and it stayed @ number 1 for a whopping 4 weeks! Zoinks!! Bill and Jennifer really had luck on their side, to be at the right place, time, and the right song. And let me tell you, I’ve heard a lot of Bill’s songs back in the day, and none of his songs appealed to me except for “I Had The Time Of My Life.” At least I can say that Jennifer had a couple other hits under her belt. My favorite song she released was in 1977 called “Right Time Of The Night,” which reached #6 on the Top 100 Chart.
Another lost classic and movie. Cyndi Lauper released a very fun song called “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” in 1985. It’s an unusual song, with an almost 60’s hippie sound to it. It’s the theme song to the 80s movie “The Goonies,” directed by Richard Donner. It stars Sean Austin and Jeff Cohen. Although Cyndi’s song is fun and a little bit goofy (especially if you’ve seen the music video), the movie itself is actually a great adventure movie. Cyndi’s Goonies song peaked at #10 on the Top 100 Charts, and stayed relevant for about 15 weeks. Cyndi recorded the song while she was still at the height of her career.
Did you know that the legendary Tina Turner was also an actress? Yes, the Black queen of rock ‘n’ roll was an actress for a very short time. Do you remember the second “Mad Max” series starring Mel Gibson called “Beyond Thunderdome” released in 1985? Well, the legendary Tina had a small part in this movie. She played a character named Aunty Entity, and the little she did, she was fierce, down to her clothing. I was impressed because I never pictured Tina as an actress. One thing’s for sure, she definitely looked the part.
Tina sang the movie’s theme song called “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome),” which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 Charts. It stayed on the charts for about 18 weeks. This is my favorite song from the soundtrack. Even if you’ve never seen the movie before, once you hear the song, you’re instantly reminded of the movie. Even in the movie trailer Tina had such an amazing presence.
There just isn’t enough time in the world, to go down every single hit the group “Mother Father Sister Brother” has given us! They have made MAJOR contributions to our music culture. MFSB was in essence a massive orchestra of more than 30 musicians, of different races, color and backgrounds. In my opinion, I feel as tho they’re like a soulful version of Lawrence welk’s Orchestra (if you’re old enough to remember that far back). They were originally put together as a “house band” for their Philadelphia International Records label. They’ve played music for many artists, including the legendary Jerry Butler, The Trammps. And with their brilliant talent, have help to boost the careers of female groups such as “First Choice,” and “Three Degrees.” MFSB’s most memorable song known around, is the song that would eventually become Soul Train’s opening theme song. The song is called “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia),” and I imagine that every Black bell-bottom’d person on the planet was dancing to that song by the second, or third episode of Soul Train. The very short, and limited background vocals were of none-other than “The Three Degrees.” In 1974, TSOP hit #1 and although it only stayed on the charts for 18 weeks, the medley stayed in our hearts for decades and decades. Another funky song I recommend you listen to off this same album, is a song called “Sexy,” released in 1975. Although “Sexy” only peaked at 42, it was still a very favorite instrumental of mine as a kid.
How many of you knew Sylvester Stallone had a brother? How many of you knew that his brother Frank Stallone could sing? Frank has sang quite a few songs that became hit soundtracks for a lot of movies. One of my favorites is a song called “Far From Over (1983),” it’s from the “Staying Alive” soundtrack. You may remember two songs “Take You Back,” and “Pushin'” which was on the “Rocky III (1982)” soundtrack. Honestly, “Far From Over,” was his best hit in my opinion. It’s a shame because he had such a great voice. Now it looks like he’s turned to country music; although I do like country music, I just wasn’t drawn to his music after that.
Does anybody remember the Partridge Family? This was a television show based on a real life group called The Cowsills. The stars of the show were Shirley Jones and David Cassidy. Other casted family members were Danny Bonaduce, Jeremy Gelbwaks, Suzanne Crough, Dave Madden, and Susan Dey. I’m not sure if all of them were real musicians, I know that for most if not all of the show, they pretended to play instruments. However, I do know that David Cassidy was an actual performer. Girls went goo goo gaa gaa for David. You’d think he was a Beatle or something. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of their songs, but one popular one that I liked was a song called “I Think I love You.” The song reached to number one, on Nov. 21, 1970. It’s basically an up beat song about young school love. Check the greatest hits collection on Spotify.