The Return of the Living Dead Original Soundtrack
I can’t really say how many times I have written about this soundtrack. It changed my life, or maybe it’s more that I allowed it to change my life. It was the catalyst for something in my life, A move away from rock and roll and pop tunes that extolled love with all of it’s complex highs and lows had left me low. It was in a moment of transition when things hadn’t been working out for me that I found the album on cassette and took it home to open a new chapter in my life.
The album came out at the same time as a new chapter was occurring in the underground music world. The bands represented on the soundtrack; The Cramps, The Damned, The Tallboys, The Flesheater, T.S.O.L., The Jet Black Berries and 45 Grave were all going though their own changes, reflecting differing moments in the scenes they belonged to both on the macro scale and the micro scale. Over all, Punk Rock had made it to its second wave. The early days of art rock and weird kids making a noise had given way to the Hard Core, loud, fast and out of control sound of stripped down Rawk.
The Cramps and The Tall Boys (an off shoot of The Meteors) were moving from their Psychobilly beginnings towards a sound that we now think of as Garage Punk. 45 Grave and TSOL were moving from their Deathpunk phases into a sound that was more hair metal with 45 Grave going more and more Goth as time went on. The Damned were also on the Goth train with their Punk Rawk sound getting more and more pop and smooth. The Flesheaters were headed towards becoming The Divine Horsemen and The Jet Black Berries has moved from their Dark Psych New Math days to a cowpunk sound. Most of the bands were headed for their last days of their initial run as they entered their final phases. Interestingly, all of these changes reflected new influences and refined musical skills, and even some maturity and growth as songwriters.
The Film famously is about the adventures of a group of punk who encounter the living dead while hanging out in a graveyard. It’s not that far fetched to think that the soundtrack would feature punk bands, and it’s just lucky that Enigma records was able to provide the soundtrack. Rather than getting some limp major label form of punk some true greats of the horror punk landscape were included along with some of the outliers. It’s a special soundtrack to me, and one that I hope people keep on discovering and listening to.