Friday, February 13, 2009

Boss Week Continues (Part 5)

In 1983, when the movie "Eddie And The Cruisers" was first released in theaters, it got very little attention. In fact, the first singles released from the soundtrack, "On The Dark Side" and "Tender Years", both bombed, peaking at #64 and #75 respectively. However, when the movie began running on cable (at up to six or seven times a week), it found a whole new audience. The soundtrack album started selling like crazy, eventually peaking at #9 and going triple-platinum!

Scotti Brothers Records quickly re-released the singles "On The Dark Side" and "Tender Years" and THIS time both records made The Top 40. In fact, "On The Dark Side" went all the way to #7! ("Tender Years", MY personal favorite, stopped at #29.)

The movie told the tale of a rock band from New Jersey that found overnight fame once Satin Records signed them to a recording contract. Led by actors Michael Pare and Tom Berenger, the movie takes us through the fictitious career of Eddie and the Cruisers. All of the musical numbers are provided by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, a Bruce Spingsteen sound-alike outfit from Rhode Island who, prior to recording the movie soundtrack, made a career of playing Springsteen covers (and sound-alike originals) in the bar circuit up and down the East Coast. (The truth is, the music from the film, with its wailing Clarence Clemons-like sax solos, sounds a WHOLE lot more like 1983 than 1963, when the whole Cruisers phenomenon was supposed to have taken place ... but the intriguing premise of Eddie disappearing ... his car went off a bridge but the body was never found ... along with the search for the missing tapes of their unreleased "Season In Hell" follow-up album ... and the fact / hope that, since Eddie's body was never found, he just MIGHT still be alive ... made for an interesting documentary of speculation, ala Jim Morrison of The Doors. In fact, the scene where the record label executive tells Eddie Wilson that the new music was crap ... the fans won't want this new stuff ... they want more "On The Dark Side" ... plays exactly like the Brian Wilson / Beach Boys real-life "Pet Sounds" scenario we told you about a few months back ... all the way down to the band members telling Eddie that even THEY don't "get" the new music ... in fact, a classic line by Sal, the bass player, proclaims "We ain't great ... we're just some guys from Jersey!")

The truth is, quite a few folks out there thought the story was true. I had a mail-order record business at the time, and received SEVERAL orders for the original "Eddie and the Cruisers" album. When I shipped the soundtrack, people mailed it back saying that they already had THAT album ... they wanted the original LP shown in the movie! I had a heck of a time convincing these customers that the movie was FICTION ... that the only album that existed WAS the soundtrack! If I had a nickel for every angry, disillusioned customer whose bubble I burst with this reality shock, I'd probably have an extra forty-five cents in my pocket right now!

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band managed a couple of other hits under their own name: "Tough All Over" went to #20 and "C-I-T-Y" peaked at #18, both in 1985. A horrible movie sequel ("Eddie Lives!") also featured the band's music and both a live LP as well as an album of movie soundtrack left-overs were also released under the Eddie and the Cruisers pseudonym.

Cafferty also went on to score a couple of movie music / minor hits with songs featured in Sylvester Stallone movies. ("Hearts On Fire" from "Rocky IV" hit #69 and "Voice Of America's Sons" from "Cobra" went to #52 .)

"Tender Years" is a personal favorite of mine from the original "Eddie and the Cruisers" film. The movie shows the song take shape as they first work out the original arrangement and then later appears in its fully realized form in a concert sequence. (It's also sung again later in the film by Eddie's girlfriend after their sax player Wendell dies and Eddie is too broken up emotionally to perform on stage that night.) It just may be the prettiest ballad ever that Bruce Springsteen didn't write!