Given the theme of this week, all of these choices whisk me back to my parents living room one way or another. It was there my big brother and I listened to records before either of us owned our own kit. It was there was sat before the rented colour TV to watch the big movies on Christmas day and it was there that I remember clearly having my coat on before everybody else and urging the rest of the family to get ready because we had to be on time to go and see it. It was so important you were not late to The Grays State Cinema.
You see, Dad had promised us we could go to see Ghostbusters there. I was so excited today was the day. I knew the theme song already. It was on the radio constantly. Doddle ohh doo do do! Diddle oh do doo doo! Who You Gonna Call? There were holograms of the movie scenes cut carefully off of the cereal packets and kept in a scrap book which showed us the New York City skyline awash with beams of light, The giant sailor Michelin Man stomping down fifth avenue, the green monster ghost hurtling down a hall way. There were adverts on the TV when we were allowed to watch the commercial station and Brother ForTheDeaf and I had already been down to the Sport Kit shop that day to get the glow in the dark ghost in a stop sign logo heat stenciled onto the front of two new Black T-Shirts.
It was Christmas time. Dad was back from working away. This was the first day of the school holidays. And The Grays State Cinema made a big deal of Ghostbusters. Before the feature but after the trailers and the cartoons there would be a light show and live organ performance. This is what The State was famous for. Rising up out of the floor in front of the screen a crazed phantom musician in a spangly sequin covered top hat and tails played whirly mechanical music that kept morphing into famous film themes. He did bits of Love Story, Star Wars, Maid Marian’s theme, The Dam Busters and Also Sprach Zathathustra before the finale. A projector using gels put a hand rendered version of the ghost from the logo onto the screen. Then the red circle and horizontal bar appeared. Then in a genius move of unparralled naffness two spotlights picked out the glitter ball hanging from the ceiling to cast twin shadows on the screen where the ghosts eyes should have been. The gigantic Victorian auditorium was now awash with beams of light as the wonky organ piped Ghostbuster theme riff tumbled over and over.
My parents were creased up with laughter. Most people in the room were. I’d seen films here before. I’d seen the organ rise from the pit (not a euphemism) many times. This one seemed to be the most fitting. Everyone knew this was ridiculous. Absurd fun. The organist flailed away looking serious as all hell while a thousand movie goers roared with laughter at the shoddy but charming faded grandeur and music hall tradition. Then the lights went down and the certification appeared on screen. Another roar! The kids were united. The 1980’s marketing machine had done a number on us. We were already fans.
Of course I should really be writing about Ray Parker Jr in this slot but here’s the thing… Die hard Ghostbusters fans (not Die Hard Die Hard Fans). Like 10 year old me. We weren’t treated to action figures or comic books or spin off TV shows for quite some time. So the only piece of tie in merch to be found (once you had the glow in the dark T-Shirt) was the soundtrack album. You pop that sucker on and try to relive the movie while you re-read the novelisation (OK so the only pieces of tie in merch you could get once you had the glow in the dark T-shirt we’re the soundtrack album AND the novelisation). I loved a movie novelisation in the days before we had a video. I had stacks of them. I’d get into the problems of Star Wars the novel by George Lucas and The Journal Of The Whills if we had time but who you gonna call?
So that gets you to Cleanin’ Up The Town by The Bus Boys. Sure, the album is full of 80’stastic crap like Air Supply and Thompson Twins (don’t @ me, it’s crap) not to mention Alessi’s Savin’ The Day (also horrid) with a couple of tracks of genuine movie score from Elmer Bernstein. You might think you don’t know who the Bus Boys are. I’m here to tell you that you might. See they have a real on camera scene in another 80’s action movie. The fantastic Eddie Murphy movie 48 Hours features the band playing two of their own hits. New Shoes and The Boys Are Back In Town (not that one). Murphy even sang in their backing band when they played SNL one time. If you slipped down a rabbit hole like I did and sought out a cassette of their album Minimum Wage Rock And Roll back in the day, it’s safe to say you consider Cleanin’ Up The Town to be the other big Ghostbusters song. Bobby Brown doesn’t even get a look in.
It’s recognised that Dan Aykroyd has his musical fingers in most of his projects. After The Blues Brothers 4 years earlier his drive to go contemporary on the Arista Records release for his next mega pic was a real show of support for the Soul scene by including this band of Soultrain regulars. The second movies soundtrack album is almost entirely 80’s R&B and hop stars.
It became increasingly important throughout the 80’s for the big action sequences to be set to some old time rock and roll. The coming of age of the Vietnam generation played a part for sure. It made sense in Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Full Metal Jacket and Good Morning Vietnam.
I am however anti all things Top Gun and it’s hijacking of Unchained Melody to enable dickheads to behave atrociously in bars forever more. I knew I wouldn’t like the film based on the trend for the jackets and slacks and behaving like a pillock that swept the world upon it’s release.
*SFTD Movie Triva Factoid: I never actually saw Top Gun until a few months ago. It was as dire as I had always imagined. I’m not anti Tony Scott as a rule. The homoerotic (barely) subtext didn’t bother me at all (hey, let your freak flag fly) but it’s fetishisation of weaponry and entitled behaviour passing as cool really made my teeth itch. It was like a Michael Bay film before there was such a thing. All American flags and salutes and a distinct lack of self awareness or irony.
I’ll take Ray, Winston. Peter and Spengler over Iceman and Maverick any day. As for Mr Stay Puft?
He’s a sailor. He’s in New York. Get him laid we won’t have any problems.