Today’s album came from much earlier in the decade and came from a completely different mindset. Instead of US teens living in the “alternative music” scene of the mid-80s, our next soundtrack was from a British holiday comedy about a raucous party thrown on New Year’s Eve with a cast full of actors that I would not recognize, except for Daniel Peacock, who worked occasionally with The Comic Strip. So it’s wacky teen hijinx from a British perspective. The album was filled with enough core collection bands doing one-off covers that it was something that I bought on LP immediately. In America I’m assuming the presence of Sting solo material was what led A+M Records [who also made the film] to release the soundtrack here, even though the film has never been released here to this day. In 1995 our friends in Germany saw fit to issue the album on the silver disc. Along with Japan seven years earlier, these two countries were the only ones to see fit to do so.
Various: Party Party OST – US – LP 
- Elvis Costello + The Attractions: Party Party
- Dave Edmunds: Run, Rudolph, Run
- Altered Images: Little Town Flirt
- Bad Manners: Yakkity Yak
- Sting: Tutti Frutti
- Bananarama: No Feelings
- Madness: Driving In My Car
- Modern Romance: Band of Gold
- Bad Manners: Elizabethan Reggae
- Pauline Black: No Woman, No Cry
- Sting: Need your Love So bad
- Midge Ure: The Man Who Sold the World
- Chas + Dave: Auld Lang Syne
The lead off title single was an outlier to the immediate future of Elvis Costello + The Attractions. I believe that this was the first time that they strapped on a horn section and EC went for a loose-limbed approximation of the Allen Toussaint vibe he’s so enamored of. This one was a rare example of Elvis having a bit of fun with no other underlying motives. I’m sure he used this track to plan out the upcoming vibe he’d pursue on “Punch the Clock.” Hardly deathless, but also far from the worst we’d hear from Costello’s pen.
Dave Edmunds having a stab at some near-classic Chuck Berry xmas cheer meant that “Run, Rudolph, Run” set the needle in the “comfort music” vibe that this album offered. One got the impression that the covers here were possibly picked out by the artists themselves as I’ve never seen the film to see if they had any thematic tie-in to the characters and plot.
In 1982, I was all about collecting Altered Images, and that year the band had thrown in with Martin Rushent making the band sound not too far removed from The Human League, whom he had just helped conquer planet earth. The Del Shannon cover of “Little Town Flirt” here offered an intriguing road less traveled for Altered Images, who sounded fairly happy and thriving to not be produced in the heavy handed manner of their first and second albums. Alas, their third album would feature two more heavy-handed production teams battling for supremacy. It’s good to hear the band proffering pop music that’s not buried under session pros or machines.
Bad Manners was one of the British Ska bands who never got a commercial foothold in the US but based on their two tracks here, maybe that was a mistake? It took the band until 1984 that they had a US label to bother trying! The band sound like they had a ball blasting thorough The Coasters’ classic “Yakkity Yak” and their instrumental of “Elizabethan Reggae” [Mantovani’s “Elizabethan Serenade” via Earl Grant’s reggaefied cover] was an early Song Of The Day here at PPM! I know Madness have been called the Nutty Boys from day one, but I’d wager that Bad Manners might be more deserving of the moniker.
The pair of Sting songs here varied widely in scope, to put it mildly. A blues cover of Little Willi John’s “Need Your Love Tonight” was sort of what one would expect from Sting. A rich white man singing a blues standard. Far more interesting was a energized take on Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruitti.” Nothing classic, but having heard it you won’t forget it easily. Dave Edmunds produced these two tracks one one wonders if Jools Holland was tickling the ivories on the latter tune?
Bananarama sounded still close to their lo-fi shambolic origins on their take on The Sex Pistols “No Feelings.” And therefore, this was another of the tracks that really made me buy a copy early on. I loved the middle eight where the ladies whistled the melody to “All creatures Great And Small.” One big difference was that the band apparently had cold feet with one of the more blasphemous lyrics that Rotten thought nothing of putting in the song. The ladies were fine with the grievous bodily harm earlier in the song, but saw fit to change the following:
I look around your house and you got nothing to steal
I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel
And pray, you pray to your [insert scatting instead of “god”]
I spoke of Madness earlier, and they’re here too, but for some reason, they have one of their singles on the album instead of performing a cover version. “Driving In My Car” was a typical Madness single of the period. More Music Hall than Ska and not yet up to the standard of their mature phase that saw them frequently compared to Ray Davies a few years later. Madness are a band like Squeeze that are quintessentially British and fail to touch me much one way or another. This song changed nothing there.
The brief 1982 UK vogue for salsa coughed up bands like Blue Rondo Ala Turk and one featured on this album; Modern Romance. Somehow Geoffrey Deane managed to find time to make the occasional record betwixt being a scenester and contributing articles to The Face and Arena. As for me, I’ll take the Freida Payne original over any 80s attempt at “Band Of Gold.” This was the musical equivalent of Olestra®. Synthetic fat for people too squeamish for the real thing.
I recently really appreciated all of the material I’ve heard by The Selecter and I’ve pencilled in their first two albums for the Want List. But this stab by singer Pauline Black on Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” just sounded flat to these ears. Her timbre here somehow did not gel for me while the material of The Selecter and her vocals were a fantastic fit. I’m still confused by this one.
In 1982 I would have bought a bag of warm entrails with Midge Ure’s name on it! Such was my fandom, so when I first heard about this album on MTV I perked up when they featured the news that it would have Mr. Ure covering Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World.” Flash forward to the actual hearing of said track and I’ve never been convinced. In 1982 I’d still never heard the Bowie original so I had no point of comparison. Once I had that Bowie album [thanks to Rykodisc eight years later] I then realized that there might be no good versions of this turgid song; which Ure lovingly followed the Bowie template on.
At 5:50, it seemed to last forever, and the lurching slow motion synth riffs made it seem even longer still. All of the technology and drum machines drenching the track stuck out on this album like a sore thumb against all of the very live sounding other material here. I realize that Midge Ure was very successful in the UK charts at this time, but he was very much the odd one out in this program. A few years later one of Ure’s solo 12″ers also featured the track but scuttlebutt has it that there are two different recordings or mixes of this track, but I’ve never been motivated enough to determine if that was the case or not!
Finally, the very British phenomenon of Chas + Dave cover “Auld Lang Syne” to wrap the program up. Hearing their casual boogie woogie following the frosty Midge Ure track was sonic whiplash of the strongest kind, but that didn’t mean that I liked it any more. Frankly, I have no need to ever hear this song. Strangely enough, Midge Ure was a Chas + Dave fan who ended up directing a music video for them not long after this but I can’t confirm this under my tight deadline.
This was a very English soundtrack album that gelled together by the non-homogenized production that saw lots of organic sounds and loose performances given little in the way of gloss by the producers involved. Except for Midge Ure who sounded completely unintegrated with this program. Almost half of the album was produced by Richard Hartley and most of those numbers were my favorites here. I liked side one more than side two, looking at it now. Only Bad Manners came to my rescue there.
The all covers conceit should have been carried through even more strongly and the Madness single should have been swapped out for a cover of some kind. As it stood, they broke the rhythm with “Driving In My Car.” Having Elvis Costello + The Attractions kick it off with the theme song was fine, but that should have been the only new song here. Still, 39 years later I have two copies of this in my Record Cell, and that must count for something.
Next: …Bring Out Your Dead…