Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) was never one to shy away from controversy. And so was the case with his 1980 film Cruising. Al Pacino starred as NYPD Officer Steve Burns, tasked with tracking down a serial killer targeting gay men. Inspired by the novel of the same name by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker, Cruising earned largely negative reviews and protests upon its initial release, criticized both for its depiction of the gay community and for lackluster storytelling and character development. As so often happens, Cruising has been reevaluated by film critics in recent years and has even picked up a cult following for its worthwhile elements. But Friedkin made at least one crucial decision worthy of universal praise: the decision to enlist Jack Nitzsche for the music. Nitzsche, in turn, called upon artists including The Germs, The Cripples, John Hiatt, and Willy DeVille for a soundtrack fusing punk, rock, disco and glam sounds. Audio Fidelity has just reissued the original soundtrack album produced by Nitzsche for the very first time on compact disc – and even better, the release is a hybrid stereo SACD. In other words, it will play in superb sound on all CD players, but will play in high resolution stereo on those players equipped with SACD capability.
Though most renowned today for his legendary association as an architect of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, the multi-talented composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor built a stellar reputation in Hollywood with his work on diverse films including Performance, Blue Collar and Heart Beat; in 1982, he would score An Officer and a Gentleman and pick up an Academy Award for co-writing its romantic theme “Up Where We Belong.” (Ace Records has chronicled Nitzsche’s career on a series of collections.) Yet Nitzsche, a renowned string arranger who could bring majesty to pop with his lush scoring, could rock hard, too. He showed off this harder-edged side of his talent on Performance, and in his collaborations with The Rolling Stones and Crazy Horse. With Cruising, Nitzsche would create a searing snapshot of the film’s dark milieu.
Perhaps no artist brought together the various sides of Jack Nitzsche as Willy DeVille did, so it’s appropriate that he’s represented with three tracks on the Cruising soundtrack. In 1978, Willy wanted the Jack Nitzsche of the Performance soundtrack to produce his band Mink DeVille, but instead, he got the Wall of Sound Jack Nitzsche. Swirling strings, castanets, and all the trappings of the grand style permeated Nitzsche’s deliciously retro work with Mink DeVille. For Cruising, DeVille and Nitzsche flirted with rock disco on the pulsating “Heat of the Moment” and also proffered the snarling “Pullin’ My String” and the high-octane “It’s So Easy” (not the Buddy Holly tune).
California punk legends (the) Germs – with just one album to their name – reportedly wrote six songs for Cruising, only one of which made the movie and soundtrack. But “Lions Share” showcases the band’s fast and furious signature approach. Punk also gets its day on Cruising with two aggressive tracks from Shawn O’Brien’s band The Cripples: “Loneliness” and “Hypnotize.” Canadian New Wave heroes Rough Trade, fronted by Carole Pope, are heard on “Shakedown.” Rough Trade would score its biggest hit in the same year of 1980 with the sexually provocative “High School Confidential.” Troubadour John Hiatt makes an appearance on “Spy Boy,” and Mutiny, the band led by ex-Parliament-Funkadelic drummer Jerome Brailey, brings the funk on “Lump,” the lone track not overseen by Nitzsche. Madelynn Von Ritz rounds out the disc with the scorching new-wave of “When I Close My Eyes I Feel Blood.”
Audio Fidelity’s SACD package has been remastered by Kevin Gray. This crisp, crystalline sonic presentation in the SACD format likely sounds better than the original vinyl release did! The slipcased package is accompanied by a booklet containing the album artwork and full credits for the original Lorimar Records release. We would like to share this long-awaited, new-to-CD release with you! To enter to win ONE OF FIVE COPIES, simply LIKE our Facebook page, and head over to Audio Fidelity’s FB page and do the same! Just leave us a comment on the CRUISING SOUNDTRACK post on our FB page, sharing your memories about Jack Nitzsche, Germs, Willy DeVille, or anything related to the Cruising soundtrack! Once you like both pages and comment anything you’d like to share, you’ll automatically be entered to win!
If you’ve entered our previous giveaways and have already liked BOTH The Second Disc and Audio Fidelity’s Facebook page, you can still win: simply enter a comment on our thread to be entered! Only one entry per person. Remember, BOTH FB pages must be “LIKED” and a comment left on our page in order to win!
Don’t have Facebook? We’re not leaving you out in the cold! Just send an e-mail to theseconddisc AT gmail DOT com with the subject line “CRUISING SOUNDTRACK” plus your name and mailing address, and you’ll also be entered to win!
The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on the evening of Friday, December 4, at which time 5 random winners will be selected. Contest open to all. Only one entry per person either via Facebook or email. All winners at sole discretion of The Second Disc. U.S. residents only, please. This contest is NOT affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook. Winner will be notified the week of Monday, December 7 via Facebook and The Second Disc, so remember to check back! Good luck!
Various Artists, Cruising: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Lorimar JC 36410, 1980 – reissued Audio Fidelity, 2015) (Amazon U.S.)
- Heat of the Moment – Willy DeVille
- Loneliness – The Cripples
- Spy Boy – John Hiatt
- When I Close My Eyes I See Blood – Madelynn Von Ritz
- Lump – Mutiny
- Shakedown – Rough Trade
- Pullin’ My String – Willy DeVille
- Lions Share – Germs
- Hypnotize – The Cripples
- It’s So Easy – Willy DeVille