I find it kind of odd that people have grown nostalgic for the nineties and got a little tinge of loathing at the news that college kids are now having nineties parties. To me it just doesn’t seem that long ago that I was dressing grunge, listening to EMF, and enjoying the Clinton Administration with all their Lewisnky-ish antics.
Ah, those were the days.
So maybe I do miss it…except for Jesus Jones and Y2K mania. But if you want an excellent snapshot of the early nineties indie/alternative scene, you need look no further than the soundtrack to “Pump Up The Volume.”
First of all, let me explain that this was the movie that started the small fire in my soul than would, several years later, lead me to purchase my first DJ set. It’s like a superhero movie about pirate DJing, where an unpopular high school kid played by Christian Slater becomes an underground hero …fighting the system with his illegal pirate radio show of awesome tunes and anti-establishment invective. But aside from my awesome DJ set up, I have yet to get that all important radio transmitter and become the pirate sensation that I was always meant to be. And maybe also get to see Samantha Mathis’s breasts.
Yet, aside from the fact that the soundtrack was released in 1990, the selection of music has stood up incredibly well, probably due to the choice not to use the period pop music that so many other teen films of the era clung too. What you are left with is a moody, dark and twisted compilation of great and mysterious music music. The compilation is sprinkled with some amazing covers such as the Henry Rollin’s and The Bad Brains cover of the MC5 classic ‘Kick Out The Jams,’ or the haunting cover of the Robert Johnson standard ‘Me and The Devil Blues’ by the Cowboy Junkies. Other strong tracks is the late eighties sound of Above The Law’s “Freedom of Speech,’ The Pixies ‘Wave of Mutilation’ and the smooth crooning of Ivan Neville’s ‘Why Can’t I Fall In Love.’
I won’t say that it’s a perfect soundtrack, as it does have it’s weak spots like the nearly un-listenable early Soundgarden’s ‘Heretic,’ which is the sonic equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, and the goofy ‘Tale of The Twister’ by Chagall Guevara. But still, they get points for even knowing about Soundgarden in 1990 and the goofiness is not unbearable.
But What really sets this soundtrack apart isn’t what music it includes as much as the music it leaves out. A good handful of awesome tunes figure prominently in the film, yet were left off the album. Used as the DJ’s opening track throughout the movie is Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows,’ yet the album only includes a Concrete Blonde cover of it. It was a sad omission, but made me track down as much Leonard Cohen as I could find afterwards.
Also missing is Was Not Was ‘Hello, Dad, I’m in Jail’, which sets me laughing maniacally every time I hear it…and the frenetic ‘Weinerschnitzel’ by the Decendents. It did take me years though, to locate the extremely rare Beastie Boy’s track called ‘The Scenario,’ as it was never released (WTF Beasties???) I’ve had a lot of fun collecting these songs and building the soundtrack out to be more complete.
What can I say? I’m a dork.
You can pick it up HERE for a pretty cheap price, and have your own 90′s party at home!