Flashback Friday: 34 Years Later, Is "Heavy Metal" Still The Best Rock Soundtrack EVER?


I must be the only one who cares that the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack will turn 34 years old this July because I mentioned it to three of my music-writing brethren, two of which are fucking LEGENDS in the world of rock journalism, and none of them had the foggiest idea what album I was talking about.

That, I must say, is unacceptable.

I went so far as to show one of the "fucking legends" the album itself just to see if might help jar their recollection.  It did: they remembered spanking it to "Heavy Metal" magazine as a teenager.  That such a "faithful" reader of said mag wasn't fully aware that an entire MOVIE of the very same highly imaginative sci-fi-based, universe-hopping animation that was made even more irresistibly to teenage boys thanks the artists' admiration for beautiful women.



I was aware of the magazine, never actually owned one, but I did love Cheap Trick, so when the Heavy Metal soundtrack came out, it immediately found a home in the Robbins household.

But a funny thing happened after I spun the two kick-ass Cheap Trick tunes included on the two-album soundtrack, I gave a curious listen to the rest of the album - all four sides of it - and kept listening for almost 34 years.

Now, I've listened to the rest of other soundtrack albums Cheap Trick has been a part of over the years, and there are many, but none that I ever came back to after checking out the rest of the album.

What I dug about the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack was how they somehow managed to get truly inspired results from artists whose best days, admittedly, were behind them by '81 - Grand Funk, anyone?

Blue Oyster Cult took their invitation to submit music to the film so seriously that they cut an entire album's worth of material and then released those songs as Fire Of Unknown Origin after only "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars" was used for the film and soundtrack.



New band Riggs, who were signed to Full Moon Records (the label releasing the soundtrack), obviously had an inside line with label head (and soundtrack coordinator) Irving Azoff, who put them in the studio with the same producer working on Cheap Trick and Devo's contributions to the project, Roy Thomas Baker.  As a result, their two songs "Radar Rider" and "Heartbeat" are both standouts.



Heck, when South Park spoofed the movie, they went so far as to include the same Riggs tune that appears in the original version of the film.

The "Most Inspired Tune On The Whole Album From A Band Nobody Was Expecting anything From" award goes to Nazareth, who, by '81 were six years removed from their Top 10 hit "Love Hurts".  On "Crazy", Dan McCafferty's trademark rasp is used to such great effect here, bringing a real lunacy and tension to the song's overall sense of foreboding.  The only explanation for why this tune wasn't a hit was...well, there is none.

What song is the album's best, you ask?  Truth be told, ten different people could listen to this soundtrack and each be blown away by a different tune. In other words, of the 16 songs found here, there is no wrong answer!

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