By: The Vagabond Apprentice
I’ve always thought of movie soundtracks by pop musicians to be merely an element of support to the visual medium of film. On the odd occasion I listen to a soundtrack separated from its original purpose, it tends to have a weaker sound; more like an album of unfinished demo tracks or B-sides. I consider it not a normal part of an artist's discography because it rarely matches the experience of a traditional finished release.
This brings me to the Spring 2015 Brooklyn WFMU Record Fair. As I was expertly going through the rows of LPs, like a good
vagabond should, I spotted a huge, cropped, solid-gold Batman logo’ed
record cover. I knew immediately it was Prince’s Batman soundtrack to the 1989 Tim Burton smash-hit film. Don’t you just
love those 80’s golden, gaudy colors? (yuck). For all you young people out
there, this film stars Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, and Jack Nicholson
(NOT Christian Bale!). Staring at that record, I was immediately was transformed into my former fourteen year old geek self.
few Bat-songs I remembered from the film were “Batdance,” “Partyman,”
and “Trust.” I recall thinking back then, that the soundtrack was
just another piece of sell-able Bat-merch, along with a million other bat-things, action
figures, keychains, mugs, underoos, etc., that Warner Bros. was hawking. Warner Bros. studio, who produced the DC comic, the movie, and the Prince record,
definitely wanted my hard earned paper-route money for the Bat-merch that Bat-summer.
Now, twenty-six years later, I realize how wrong I was. While the 1989 Batman film has not aged well, the Batman Soundtrack has become a
timeless Bat-sterpiece rivaling “Purple Rain.” Prince went “POW,” “BAM,”
and “BIF” on this one! This album is loaded with those classic Prince deep beats,
funky guitars, groovy bass lines, and synthesizer pulses. For the most part, the songs really don’t have much to do with Batman, comic books, or the movie in general. Doing some research, I found out that Prince was desperately in need of a hit album at the time, so Warner Bros. persuaded him to change a few lyrics, add a bunch of audio movie quotes clips, and
slap on a “Batman” logo cover, so that the album related in some way to
the movie. You can tell though that Prince had fun
being part of this Batman tidal wave. He seems enthusiastic and
uninhibited on the album and to this day, he still performs songs off this
record at concerts.
June 7th), does that have anything to do with it? Your guess is as good as mine.
As with Prince records, the lyrical concepts throughout the LP are mostly about sex, women, love, and partying. I mean, what does a “Lemon Crush” have to do with Batman? Absolutely nothing, but it's an amazing, kick-ass song. Another fascinating stand out is the slow, romantic duet “The Arms of
Orion,” sung by Prince and the 80’s Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton. Usually, Prince’s love songs sound like he’s on the prowl, lusting for a
woman, like a tiger lusts for bloody, raw meat. Not here. In this song
his tone is of true love and being content with his deep affection. It’s a top notch 80’s ballad. Last but not least, I must talk about “Batdance.” This bombastic, amazing track is a collage of music and audio movie quote clips that needs to be heard to be believed. It's electrifying and manic. Prince also does a guitar solo that rivals former Guns N’ Roses guitarist
Slash on it. (Don’t forget to check out the “Batdance” music video, Prince and his crew perform the movie in a seven minute interpretive dance. It is bizarre and super funny.) If you buy this record, I
guarantee you will “Go, go, go with a smile!”