Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Talk Hard!

Everybody knows you can’t remake it, but you need to rewatch it now!

It’s a common subject of debate among film geeks: can Movie X be remade and how? Often times the conversation becomes especially heated when, to paraphrase the legendary Dr. Ian Malcolm, we delve into studios focusing so much on whether they could remake our favorite movies that they don’t stop to consider whether they should. When stalwart affinity can be placed aside & emotion is not logical & the discussion of whether a movie could be remade is usually a question of that original film’s cultural shelf life.

Henry Rollins, Bad Brains, Kick Out The Jams (Pump Up The Volume)

The signature song of the MC5, “Kick Out The Jams” was also their rallying cry and credo. The phrase was often taken to mean “overcome obstacles,” but it wasn’t written as a song of perseverance. This song was covered by punk band Bad Brains, featuring Henry Rollins for the soundtrack for the film “Pump Up The Volume.”

Bad Brains are a punk band formed in Washington, D.C., USA in 1977. They are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk, though the band’s members have objected to this term to describe their music. They are also an adept reggae band, while later recordings featured elements of other genres like funk, heavy metal, hip-hop and soul. Bad Brains are followers of the Rastafari movement.

Originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power, Bad Brains developed a very fast and intense punk rock sound which came to be labeled “hardcore”, and was often played faster and more emphatically than many of their peers. The unique factor of the band’s music was the fact that they played more complex rhythms than other hardcore punk bands, also adapting diverse guitar styles into their songs.

Bad Brains have released nine studio albums (one of which is entirely composed of instrumental versions of their early material). The band broke up and reformed several times over the years, sometimes with different singers or drummers. Since 1994, the “classic” lineup of singer H.R.(Human Rights), guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson has reunited, albeit performing sporadically.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

By day, Mark Hunter (Christian Slater) is a quiet, studious student at an ordinary suburban high school in Arizona. But at night, Mark creeps down into his basement, fires up his pirate radio transmitter, and broadcasts to the community as Hard Harry, a sexually obsessed social commentator who passes along angry philosophy about the state of teenage life when not blasting punk rock, underground rock or gangsta rap cuts. Hard Harry’s sworn nemesis is high school principal Mrs. Cresswood (Annie Ross), who keeps SAT scores up at the expense of her students’ dignity and individuality by eliminating “troublemakers” from the student body. Hard Harry’s broadcasts, however, have become a rallying point for the school’s misfit underclass, and Mrs. Cresswood is determined to track down the mystery student and bring him to justice (broadcasting without a license, he’s not merely an annoyance, but a criminal). The war against Hard Harry intensifies when he broadcasts data from confidential school board reports; Mark’s father is a school commissioner, but he has no idea what his son is doing in the basement. Meanwhile, Mark gains the attentions of Nora (Samantha Mathis), who has figured out who he becomes at night. More serious and intelligent than the average teen film, Pump Up the Volume was written and directed by Allan Moyle, who previously dealt with disaffected, music-obsessed teens in Times Square and would return to them with Empire Records

Soundgarden, Heretic

Soundgarden once again shares the soundtrack honors with completely unrelated artists, such as Ivan Neville.

Heretic” is a non-album track that appeared earlier in Soundgarden’s career, actually as early as 1985, on the Deep Six compilation. For that recording, however, Scott Sundquist was the drummer, so it was rerecorded in December 1988 at London Bridge in Seattle with the revised lineup (which at that time included Hiro Yamamoto on bass). It was also given a new mix by Steve Fisk. Presumably, this is the version that appears on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Everyone remembers the first album that made them fall in love with music. One of mine was the soundtrack to Pump Up The Volume, a little film that opened up on August 24, 1990 at #15 in the box office—right behind Problem Child, which was in its fifth week. At the time, I was an average teen listening to MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and whatever else Top 40 radio suggested. But there was something about that soundtrack’s middle-fingered salute—a perfect companion to the film’s plot of a youth-led uprising—that rescued me from ever hearing Too Legit To Quit and Mind Blowin’.

The film is about Mark Hunter (the cool as fuck Christian Slater), a depressed high schooler in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, who hacks his shortwave radio and launches a pirate radio station. Under the moniker Happy Harry Hard-On, Mark slowly earns a cult following amongst his fellow students, doling out bullshit-free advice, dropping graffiti-worthy catch phrases (“So be it,” “Talk hard”) and challenging his school’s questionable expulsions of at-risk students.

Pump Up The Volume went on to earn a modest $11.5 million in the U.S. and earn critical acclaim, not to mention help Christian Slater capitalize on his bad-assery in Heathers and become the hottest young actor in the universe. But perhaps more than anything, the film’s soundtrack introduced unsuspecting viewers like myself to a whole group of artists that were on the verge of bringing alternative music to the masses. On the album were Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Pixies, and three fantastic covers: Concrete Blonde covering Leonard Cohen, Cowboy Junkies doing Robert Johnson, and Bad Brains with Henry Rollins offering a disorderly take on the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.” Artists that weren’t on the album, but appeared in the film included Leonard Cohen, Descendents, Was (Not Was) and Beastie Boys with an outtake from the Licensed To Ill called “The Scenario,” which to date has never received a commercial release.

Pixies, Wave Of Mutilation. Album: Doolittle (1989)

Lead singer Black Francis (Frank Black) described this song as being about “Japanese businessmen doing murder-suicides with their families because they’d failed in business, and they’re driving off a pier into the ocean.”

In a concert in 2004 Frank Black stated half-jokingly, “This song is from about 30 years ago and while I didn’t invent it, I was the first guy to sing about El Niño before it became all popular and everything. I just wanted to take credit for that.”

Pixes drummer David Lovering describes this as a very “un-Pixies-like” song, calling it “gentle and dreamy.” He told MusicRadar: “It’s an easy song to play, but it’s very effective in the way it grabs people. It’s got a very odd, arresting spirit. There’s nothing else that sounds quite like it.”

This song was featured in the film, “Pump Up The Volume.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Pump Up The Volume

In Arizona, an introverted and insightful teenager, Mark Hunter (Christian Slater), finds an outlet for his viewpoints through a shortwave radio. Broadcasting as “Hard Harry,” Hunter uses his pirate radio show to rant against the injustices and hypocrisies taking place in the area, and in society in general. Hunter conceals his off-air identity, but a determined student (Samantha Mathis) discovers the truth, while Principal Creswood (Annie Ross) seeks to shut down Hunter once and for all.

Still pumping after all these years.

I like the idea that a voice can just go somewhere, uninvited, and just kinda hang out like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind. Maybe a thought is like a virus, you know, it can… it can… kill all the healthy thoughts and just take over. That would be serious.

– Happy Harry Hard-On, 1990

This week we will revisit some of the songs from the “Pump Up The Volume” soundtrack that took us on a journey through exploration, teen angst, political revolution and forward thinking from cool and edgy 90’s rock songs.

Everybody Knows By Leonard Cohen, Album: Im Your Man(1988)

  • This grimly funny study of exploitation introduced Sharon Robinson, who become a frequent writing collaborator of Leonard Cohen. She recalled to Uncut: “Leonard had most of the lyric done when he handed it to me. There’s a profound honesty in it. He’s exposing something we all know and talk about with those close to us, but not publicly. It says we’re not really in control of our destiny, there are others running things, and we go about our daily lives with that in the background.”

    “It’s a protest song, so Leonard wanted something tough. I’d bring home verses, and go to the grand piano in my living room, as his lyrics require that purity of melody.”

    “There are synths on the record as he likes the contrast with that very organic-sounding deep human voice of his. I tried to match the tone of the lyric with music I knew Leonard could sing, and want to. Leonard always says he has a three-note range, and those limitations on the melody and the importance of words, make you look for music that’s going to propel a lyric forward and give the listener time to digest all its layers. That simplicity leads to something wonderful.”
  • The song has been frequently covered. Artists that have recorded the tune include Concrete Blonde for the 1990 film Pump Up the Volume, Don Henley, on his 1995 set Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits and Rufus Wainwright (Cohen’s son in law) in Lian Lunson’s 2005 documentary film Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man.
  • This has been widely used in television and film. Allan Moyle’s 1990 film Pump Up the Volume and Atom Egoyan’s 1994 movie Exotica, both featured the song prominently.

    Don Henley’s version was heard in episode 219 of the television series Judging Amy, which aired in 2001.
  • This was used in a June 2008 anti-smoking advertisement commissioned by the New South Wales government in Australia with the theme “everybody knows smoking causes these diseases… yet you still do it.”
  • Norwegian pop star Sigrid covered this for the 2017 Justice League superhero movie. She told NME:

    “I didn’t grow up listening to him – my parents listened more to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – but I lived in a flatshare for two years and my flatmate loved Leonard Cohen. He would always play him when he got home from the studio or something. He’s one of the great songwriters of all time, so it’s a huge honor to be able to cover him. You’re always nervous of what people will think when you release something new, but mostly I’m happy that I’m now in the Justice League!”

Psychedelic Lunch