Sunday, May 25, 2008

Soundtrack Sunday – Under Cover (1987)

In the late 1980s, everybody was trying to get into the act.

Even those who had no business being there.

I'm talking, of course, about the easy money record companies were making by releasing soundtracks in conjunction with hit films.

There was a big caveat: The film had to be a hit.

And it wouldn't hurt if the record company knew how to do this sort of thing.

None of the above applied to Under Cover (1987), a fick produced by the shlockmeisters of the time Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus. It was designed to cash in on the craze for John Hughes/Cameron Crowe-type teen flicks – with a splash of gritty realism thrown in for good measure.

Directed and co-written by John Stockwell, who played one of Tom Cruise's colleagues Cougar in the smash Top Gun (1986) the year before, the movie also had as one of its co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) to boost its marketability.

Didn't matter. The movie made barely a dent in anyone's consciousness.

So why am I writing about this film?

Partly because of the company that released the soundtrack: Enigma Records was one of the great indie labels of the 80s alternative scene. If you were a college radio music director back then, you listened seriously to almost anything they sent you: Game Theory, Green on Red, Don Dixon, etc. This was also the label that launched the careers of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smithereens and (unfortunately) Poison.

Super-slick 80s soundtracks weren't their thing, however.

Until this one, which truth be told wasn't particularly slick. On one side were the instrumentals composed for the movie by the composer of it score, the one and only Todd Rundgren.

On the other side were five tracks from three Enigma artists: TSOL, Agent Orange and Wednesday Week.

Which brings me to the whole point of this post: To reintroduce the world to the single from the soundtrack, "Missionary" by Wednesday Week, a criminally overlooked piece of 80s power pop from a band that was unfairly compared to the Bangles.

This group – which did have a male among its four members – had a slightly harder edge. In this song particularly, I love how they fuse the garage band guitars into a song that has more hooks than a deluxe fishing lure.


Play "Missionary" by Wednesday Week

And here's the video – which differs from the one that includes clip from the film. Don't worry. You're not missing anything.

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