Music manager and record mogul Budd Carr was hired to executive produce the soundtrack album for Enigma, a punk label based in El Segundo, California. Steve Pross was given $10,000 to produce it, with Bill Hein.
Side One opens with a rockabilly
number, "Surfin' Dead", performed and produced by the Cramps.
This was recorded for the film but reissued later as a bonus track on the CD of Smell
of Female (Enigma, originally 1983). The Cramps are: Lux Interior (real
name, Erick Purkhiser on vocals),
Poison Ivy Rorschach (Kristy Wallace, on lead guitar, bass) and Nick Knox (drums). In the movie, we
hear the bass drum kicking in as the dead begin breaking into the funeral home.
Perhaps the most memorable track from the film (used in the graveyard rise-up), the hard rocking "Partytime" is next. Performed by 45 Grave - Dinah Cancer (vocals), Don Bolles (drums, vocals), Paul B. Cutler (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Paul Roessler (keyboards, vocals). The track was re-released on Sleep in Safety and originally was a 12" single b/w "School's Out" (Enigma, 1984). The version on the soundtrack is the ‘zombie version’. The other version has been used in at least two other ‘80’s films, one of which is Hardbodies.
Arguably the most well-known of all the groups on the album, True Sounds of Liberty (better known as T.S.O.L.) contribute "Nothin' For You" which was used in the first appearance of the teenagers on the sidewalk. It appears on Revenge (Enigma, 1986) and compilation Hell and Back Together 1984-1990 (Restless). The band is: Joe Wood (guitar, vocals), Ron Emory (guitar, backing vocals), Mike Roche (bass) and Mitch Dean (drums). The Flesheaters’ "Eyes Without a Face" is one of the loudest, fiercest true punk songs on the record. Produced by lead singer Chris D (Desjardins) with Don Kirk on guitar, Robyn Jameson on bass and Chris Wahl drums. This is the briefly excerpted music when Chuck turns on his radio in the cemetery. Originally recorded for No Questions Asked and Hard Road To Follow (Upsetter, 1983). An interesting side note is that former members included Stan Ridgway (Wall of Voodoo singer), DJ Bonebrake (drummer for X) and Steve Berlin (Blasters, Los Lobos).
"Burn the Flames", with its melancholy synthesized guitar was performed by Texan Roky Erickson specifically composed for the Frank suicide/cremation scene.
A year later it was released on Don't Slander Me (Pink Dust) A tribute album called "Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye" (Sire, 1990) featured a cover by Thin White Rope. There was an acoustic version recorded in 1982 but not released until 1992 on "Mad Dog" (Swordfish Records).
The sinister cackle of "Dead Beat Dance" opens side two. The Damned, the well-known English post-punk rock band composed, performed and produced this for the film. The opening was an effective shock cut when the action cuts from Colonel’s Mansion to Suicide’s maniacal driving. One of the reasons this is missing on some versions of ROTLD videos is the copyright issue regarding the band (yet the end credits retain a listing of the song). "Take a Walk" is another rockabilly tribute by Tall Boys: Nigel Lewis on vocals/rhythm guitar, Mark Robertson on drums, Kevin Green on bass. Also appearing on "Funtime" compilation on Big Beat, this is the track accompanying the teens as they run from Uneeda back to the graveyard under the rain.
"Love Under Will" (chorus can be heard in the scene leading to Tina walking out of the graveyard to Uneeda) is performed and produced by new wavers The Jet Black Berries, which was actually a song by a previous incarnation of the band (then called New Math). The Berries' Enigma release Sundown On Venus is worth checking out for two songs which were rejected for the film: "Shadowdrive" for Frank's cremation and "All is Lost" for the film's ending
(Special thanks to Tony Gautier for this info!) SSQ’s "Tonight (We'll Make Love Till We Die)" is one of the odd songs on the album, being very much an 80’s dance/rock tune with a demented twist. Trivia: Lead singer Stacey Swain went on to be Stacey Q ("Two of Hearts" and "We Connect"). "Trash's Theme", also by SSQ, is a three minute instrumental and not the title theme heard in the meltdown and cemetery scenes. That piece, "The Trioxin Theme", produced by Simon Heyworth but composed and performed by Francis Haines is the main title and was never released. Matt Clifford, a British keyboard player, who would later play sessions with Yes, Genesis and Rolling Stones, composed the unreleased score, heard in the background of the film. "Trash's Theme" actually has parts of the Clifford score in it (the background music heard in Frank's office chat with Freddy). The rest of the soundtrack remains largely identical what is heard in the film. "Tonight" is too (the instrumental section heard in the end credits before it segues into "Surfin' Dead" is not included). Hemdale continued to use this music in other films like 1985’s Howling II.
The soundtrack was issued on LP (72004-1), Cassette (72004-4) and CD (72004-2) on June 10, 1985. The LP and CD both featured the poster art. The LPs all contained an insert t-shirt offer. A "special edition" picture disc (72005-1) containing dialogue between songs, appeared August 13, 1985 just a few days before the nationwide release of the film. Side A has a photo of a scarecrow-like zombie by tombstone; Side B has Trash. The cassette depicted the same photo as the picture disc but the entire shot with the two other graveyard zombies. First pressings were white cassettes while late 80s editions had clear Chromium tapes (of a better quality).
The CDs were reissued July 31,
1990 by Restless/Metal Blade. These were identical to the original CDs but is
less sharp in definition. The zombies are brighter green on the cover but
background is very dark obscuring the faces of the background zombies. The way
to recognize the reissue other than looking for the label name
"Restless" is to identify the bar code 18777-2004-2 (1877-73223-2 is
the bar code on the original). A special edition reissue is expected sometime in
Two LPs with different covers were produced in the United Kingdom by Big Beat under distribution by Ace Records. Both were assigned the number WIK38. The first version followed the quad’s photo of the legless zombie screaming in the rain with the victimized paramedic; the second depicting a still of two zombies and white lettering. With this cover, West Germany pressed a CD for Big Beat (CDWIK38) which saw release March 1, 1989.
France pressed about 2000 copies under the New Rose label (R66) in July 1985. The cover followed the French theatrical poster. Even rarer is the picture disc version of this LP (R66P) which has a close-up of the half lady corpse’s face on the front side. Note to the collector: these picture discs did not have a jacket cover like the American picture discs.
Enigma licensed the soundtrack to Japan’s Victor company on LP (VIL-28015), Cassette (VCL-10007), and CD (VDP-1078). They were all released February 21, 1986. A 7" single (VIPX-1833) was issued of SSQ’s "Tonight (We’ll Make Love Until We Die)" b/w "Trash’s Theme". The cover was the best of all the pressings: the half lady corpse superimposed on a red net-like computerized grid. The record insert included lyrics and a bonus booklet in full color.
Surfin' Dead (4:11)
Performed and Produced by The Cramps
Composed by Rorschach and Interior
Head Cheese Music (BMI)
Partytime (zombie version) (2:48)
Performed by .45 Grave
Produced by Michael Wagener (for Double Trouble)
Composed by Cutler, Cancer and Bolles
C.E.D.S./Amgine Music/Bug Music (BMI)
Dinah from 45 Grave
Dinah Cancer: vocals
Don Bolles: drums, vocals
Paul B. Cutler: guitar, keyboards, vocals
Paul Roessler: keyboards, vocals
Nothin' For You (2:24)
Performed by TSOL
Produced by Ron Goudie, Chris Gray and TSOL
Amgine Music/Bug Music (BMI)
Eyes Without a Face
Performed by The Flesheaters
Produced by Chris D. (Desjardins)
Composed by Desjardins, Kirk, Jameson and Wahl
Shakeytown Music (BMI)
Burn the Flames (6:00)
Composed and Performed by Roky Erickson
Produced by Duane Aslaksen
Orb Music/Bleib Alien Saucer (ASCAP)
Dead Beat Dance (3:51)
Composed, Performed and Produced by The Damned
Rock Music/Anglo Music (BMI)
Take a Walk (2:28)
Performed by Tall Boys
Composed by Lewis and Robertson
Produced by Mr. Fenstein and Tall Boys
Rockin' Music/Complacent Toonz (BMI)
Love Under Will (2:56)
Performed and Produced by The Jet Black Berries
Composed by Trainer
Trainer Music/Amgine Music/Bug Music (BMI)
Track appears on "Sundown On Venus".
Tonight (We'll Make Love Till We Die) (3:37)
Performed by SSQ
Composed by Swain and St.James
Produced by Jon St. James (for Formula One Productions)
French Lick Music (BMI)
Trash's Theme (2:55)
Performed by SSQ
Composed and Produced by Jon St. James (for Formula One Productions)
French Lick Music (BMI)
Executive Soundtrack Album Production: Budd Carr
Soundtrack Album Production: Steve Pross and William Hein
Mastering: Eddie Schrayer at Capitol Studios
Color Separations: Quadcolor
Album Cover Design: Brian Ayuso
Dialogue Editing (picture disc): Steve Pross and Paul B. Cutler (of .45 Grave)
SOUNDTRACK LYRICS HERE