“AFTER ALL THE MOVIE ALBUMS RELEASED THIS YEAR
COMES THE DEFINITIVE ROCK SOUNDTRACK FROM THE
FORTHCOMING ROBERT STIGWOOD FILM ‘TIMES SQUARE'”
Even as Times Square was opening and closing in the United States, the mighty RSO promotion machine was hard at work in the United Kingdom, as this full-page ad for the soundtrack shows. Running on page 21 of the November 15 Melody Maker, it featured a newsprint-style blowup of Mick Rock’s photo of Robin from the back of the album. Although it teased the impending release of the movie, it didn’t give a date for it. (The UK opening would be January 15, 1981; perhaps that date hadn’t been decided on yet. Or, maybe the movie marketing people and the record marketing people weren’t on speaking terms.)
Times Square The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/RSO. Melody Maker 15 Nov. 1980: 21. (work);
TIMES_SQUARE_Soundtrack ad, Melody Maker Nov 15 1980 p 21_1080px.jpg, 1080 px (H) x 813 px (W), 96 dpi, 507 KB (image)
MELODY MAKER, November 15, 1980 – Page 21
AFTER ALL THE MOVIE ALBUMS RELEASED THIS YEAR
COMES THE DEFINITIVE ROCK SOUNDTRACK FROM THE
FORTHCOMING ROBERT STIGWOOD FILM “TIMES SQUARE”
This Double Album Feartures Music From
…and many more
And as a
The Coupling Of The
track by XTC
“TAKE THIS TOWN”
by THE RUTS
Also on the
album ROXY MUSIC’s
“SAME OLD SCENE”
FILM TO BE RELEASED THROUGH E.M.I. FILMS.
ALBUM AVAILABLE ON R.S.O. RECORDS AND TAPES. RSO
The November Tiger Beat also came out before Times Square’s October release, judging by the full-page teaser ad that ran on page 29.
In fact we can narrow down the date it came out to sometime between the releases of the first two singles from the soundtrack, as that’s stated explicitly in the scarily enthusiastic soundtrack review found on page 59, which was apparently written by someone with a third-hand synopsis of the movie that had come from someone who’d given the film’s publicity materials the most cursory of glances.
Apparently, in 1980, RSO sent this videotape to record retailers to play in-store to promote the soundtrack to Times Square. It features the two songs performed in the film, “Your Daughter Is One” and “Damn Dog.” The fact that the lyrics to “Your Daughter Is One” consist primarily of curse words and racial slurs guaranteed that it would never be played in any store for more than thirty seconds. The fact that nobody at RSO, from the tape’s conception to its distribution, realized that would happen, boggles the mind.
The middle portion of the tape is an edit of the dance the girls do along 42nd Street to “Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads. Much of this sequence is made up of shots that do not actually appear in the film; unfortunately here they’re only four or five frames long. Even more unfortunately, this digitization is at such low resolution that individual frames turn into pretty smears of color.
There are no close-ups of the girls’ feet in the movie.
Pammy doesn’t dance with the Man in Red in the movie.
These cops are only shown from the reverse angle in the movie.
“Tiger” Haynes breaks the fourth wall.
This video was originally digitized and uploaded on February 24 2012 by “PsychoticNorman”. I’ve offered to buy or borrow the tape to make a higher quality transfer, but have not received a reply. I have fixed the aspect ratio and brightened and sharpened the image a little. You can see PsychoticNorman’s original upload here. My file is technically at a higher resolution, but that’s an artifact of my editing software refusing to save at the small resolution of the original file. I’ve tried to make it easier to look at, but there isn’t really any more detail.
TIMES SQUARE soundtrack promotional video (trailer (motion picture) AAT ID: 300263866), videotape promoting the film and soundtrack for use in record stores, 5:29 (work); H264 – MPEG-4 AVC (part 10) (avc 1), 480 px (W) x 386 px (H), 19.4 MB (video); MPEG AAC (mp4a) stereo 48000 Hz (audio) (video modified 25 December 2015 from the file digitized by PsychoticNorman at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S38UzHtkmeA)
RSO Promo Video Image4.png, RSO Promo Video Image5.png, RSO Promo Video Image15.png, RSO Promo Video Image17.png, RSO Promo Video Image21.png, RSO Promo Video Image22.png: frame captures from “TIMES SQUARE soundtrack promotional video”, 655 px (W) x 486 px (H), 72 dpi (images)
… is exactly what it sounds like, a squarebound book collecting the sheet music for all the songs appearing on the Times Square soundtrack album. This of course excludes “Dangerous Type” by The Cars, which although heard for quite a bit longer in the film than some of the other songs (“Grinding Halt” and “Pretty Boys” spring to mind), wasn’t included on the record and so didn’t make it into the songbook.
The cover looks unfinished, somehow… it’s the album cover extended vertically, but in my opinion the Times Square logo should have been enlarged… there’s just too much empty space there in the middle. Most interestingly, though, it’s not just the album cover, it’s the UK album cover, without Nicky’s Johnny LaGuardia pin. This continues on the inside: the first few pages of the songbook are larger versions of the photos that appear on the inner gatefold of the record cover, and again, it’s the set as they appear on the UK edition. Tim Curry is nowhere to be seen, his photograph replaced with a group of sign-wielding Sleez Girls. The song listing also contains the same typo as the UK album cover. The no-prize for identifying it is still unclaimed.
The pictures in the songbook are cropped differently from the ones in the album, generally showing more at the top and bottom and less on the sides. This is most visible in the tv-dropping shot, and in the Sleez Girls shot, where the songbook version loses entirely the girls holding the “I’m a Monster” and “T.V. Sucks” signs. The exception is the Times Square Theater marquee shot, which shows more of all four sides in the songbook.
For your convenience, here’s the text that appears in near-unreadable blue type on pages 3 and 4:
TIMES SQUARE a contemporary drama with music, stars the brightest new talents of
Tim Curry, British performer best known for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Trini
Alvarado, who scored a remarkable screen bow in Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids,” and
introduces Robin Johnson, a dynamic 16-year old Brooklyn actress and singer in her
TIMES SQUARE depicts the misadventures of two rebellious teenage girls, one from
an affluent environment, the other a product of the streets. Together, they flee from
their room in a neurological hospital, commandeer an ambulance and begin a series of
wild and bizarre escapades with their behavior reported by an all-night disc jockey,
played by Tim Curry, who urges them on as their antics turn them into minor media
celebrities. Dubbed “The Sleez Sisters,” their flight from authority of any kind is
climaxed in a nerve-tingling dramatic conclusion atop the marquee of a Times Square
theater as hundreds of their teenage followers below cheer in tribute.
The TIMES SQUARE soundtrack is one of the most exciting ever compiled. It presents
a unique anthology of original songs written expressly for the film plus rock classics by
major contemporary artists from both England and the United States. Featured artists
are Suzi Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe
Jackson, Patti Smith, XTC, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The
Ruts, Desmond Child and Rouge, Marcy Levy and Robin Gibb, D.L. Byron and David
Johansen. “Rock Hard,” “Help Me!,” “Pretty Boys,” “Take This Town,” “Damn Dog,”
“Flowers of the City,” and “Your Daughter Is One” are just some of the original titles
from the film.
Rock classics include “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Life During Wartime,” “I Wanna Be
Sedated,” and an amazing new rendition of the Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
The motion picture and the brilliantly compiled soundtrack recording portray the
colorful and restless segment of a young, contemporary generation and its music.
Unfortunately, the printing of the photos in the songbook isn’t all that great. The record cover versions of the photos can be seen in the US Soundtrack post; the Tim Curry-replacing Sleez Girls photo can be seen in the UK Soundtrack post.
If you’re hoping to see the sheet music here, sorry; there are some things that would almost certainly be an indefensible violation of copyright and which I will not post here, such as the actual soundtrack music, the entire film, and, yes, any song’s complete sheet music, let alone the entire songbook. I will post one page of it, just as an example. As I’ve noted before, the first page of the sheet music to “Damn Dog” is one of the few places that Norman Ross’ writing credit appears. The first four measures therefore are his riff.
Finally… one last longing look at the magnificent photo by Mick Rock that adorns the back cover of the album and songbook. As I noted last time, there are three other photos I know of where Robin is in that outfit, holding that particular Kent guitar. Mr. Rock has not as yet replied to my inquiry about them.
From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE; songbook (AAT ID: 300026432), 9 in (W) x 12 in (H); 90 pp. (work); front and back covers, pp 1-9, 47 displayed
Just like the title says, this is an ad for the soundtrack that ran in 11 x 14 industry magazines.
The first one was laminated for display by the person I purchased it from; the yellow border may not be part of the original page. The back is solid yellow, so it may be mounted on a piece of yellow paper or thin board.
The second one was torn directly from some magazine and is printed much lighter (although the first’s darker appearance may be a result of the lamination/backing); the back is a paid ad by an artist thanking all his industry contacts for the success of his record. Unfortunately, neither side has the name of the magazine, a date, or even a page number.
I would much rather have had the actual issue of whatever it is, because music magazines from 1980 often contain all sorts of cool stuff unrelated to Times Square. But, since I have two copies of the ad itself, I’m not looking very hard for whatever they were published in.
JUST RELEASED The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture TIMES SQUARE, 1980; advertisement (AAT ID: 300193993), 11 in (W) x 14 in (H) (work) inscription:
8-track tapes would be pretty much gone from U.S. music stores by 1982 (almost the same time as CD players made their debut), but in 1980 they were still a viable release format.
As did the cassette, the 8-track loses the back cover and interior gatefold artwork. The front cover has all the text removed from the image and placed below it on the back background, and crops the art at the top of Nicky’s hair, making this the most art-deficient version of the soundtrack.
But 8-track’s biggest deficiency is visible in the track listing on the back. Each side of the record had to fit on a single length of tape, that had to fit inside the cartridge. This tape is evidently 16:49 long, and the last songs of what would have been Sides One and Two are split across “Programs”: there would be a noticeable pause in the middle of “Down in the Park” and “Damn Dog” as the player shifted to the next two tracks. (Cassettes would sometimes deal with varying record-side lengths by changing the song order; that was also annoying, but far less so.)
This particular copy was sealed until 8 October 2015, when I opened it to scan it. Here’s what it looked like in its box, in its cellophane wrap. The price is obviously an attempt to mark it way down to move it out of the store, an unsuccessful attempt it would seem, as I’m pretty sure I paid a bit more than that and as I said, it hadn’t been opened.
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Times Square, 8T-2-4203; US, 1980; 8-track cartridge (FRC ID: SRE) (work);
Cassettes may have already overtaken records as the biggest selling format by 1980. They didn’t sound as good, but they were portable and convenient, and that’s always more important. There was rarely an effort to duplicate the full art of a record album on the relatively tiny insert, though.
We get the front cover, scaled way down to fit on the rectangular insert, and partly obscured by the assurance that both records are on the tape. We lose the inner gatefold, and especially the beautiful glamour photo of Robin by Mick Rock from the back of the album.
This is a Canadian edition. I doubt the U.S. version is significantly different, other than the lack of French copyright warnings and mentions of Multiplier N.V. as owner of the RSO recordings. In fact, Nicky’s Johnny badge is back instead of the blank red circle that appears on the Canadian record cover. They were so cheap in assembling the cassette art that they just used the U.S. cover image instead of their own.
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Times Square, RS4 2-4203; Canada, 1980; audiocassette (AAT ID: 300028661) with insert (work);
The biggest difference here is that Tim Curry is completely gone. There isn’t even a red circle where Nicky’s badge would be.
We’ve seen that before on the promotional “slick”, which was displayed in record stores in the United States. Why each country had their own idea as to this aspect of the cover art is a mystery to me.
The inner gatefold is nearly identical to the US and Canadian versions, although the yellow background seems to be getting lighter. I can’t promise that isn’t an artifact of my scanning, and I can’t be arsed to check, so if it’s important to you, let me know in the comments and I’ll dig them back out and do a proper side-by-side comparison.
His name is still there in the cast list, but all photographic evidence of Tim Curry has been purged from the U.K. record sleeve.
And the photo that’s there in his place is from a shot that didn’t make it into the film. One of the girls is holding a sign reading “Na Na Na,” which is a reference to a song Nicky sang intermittently in the screenplay that was removed from the story after the concert sequence was shot. All the shots the sign appeared in were cut, but there’s still this photo to prove it existed.
It’s always spelled “nah nah nah” in the screenplay, and was rather a major undercurrent running through the story. Nicky and Pammy used it to signal each other, Nicky spray painted it on things, and by the end the Sleez Grrls picked up on it (as we see in the picture in the album gatefold). It was originally to be part of the soundtrack, but was replaced by XTC’s “Take This Town” (in the page shown here), the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated”, and Suzi Quatro’s “Rock Hard” (explaining why “Rock Hard” is called the girls’ “favorite song” by Johnny, despite it never having been heard before in the film; Johnny was supposed to be talking about “Nah Nah Nah” which would have been heard at least twice already).
The wording of the small print on the back cover is different, and again all the mentions of recordings owned by RSO are attributed to Multiplier N.V. According to Wikipedia, N.V. stands for “Naamloze vennootschap” (“nameless partnership”) and is a public company whose shareholders are “not directly known.” Why Butterfly Alley and RSO’s international interests were incorporated as N.V.’s… well, are there any corporate tax lawyers out there?
The font on the spine is changed from the typewriter-style one to a sans-serif that may be more legible but doesn’t fit as well with the rest of the artistic direction.
The inner sleeves again have the RSO sound recording copyright notices replaced with attributions to Multiplier, although this time they’re in an approximation of the original typeface. There are also a few other changes, such as the recording of Joe Jackson’s “Pretty Boys,” owned by RSO in the US, being owned by his label A&M in the UK, and The Cure’s “Grinding Halt” changing from Fiction Records to 16 Age Record Co.
Otherwise, the sleeves are identical to the US versions, down to the notice “Printed in USA.” They are a much lighter color though (and this color difference is accurate), and there’s one other difference that also appears on the back cover and on the Side 4 record label. I’ll award a brass figlagee with bronze oak-leaf palm to the first person to identify it in the comments.
The labels rearrange the information into an unreadable mishmash, but add the names of the songwriting publishing companies.
You may be able to see why I stopped collecting copies of the records. I’m interested in Robin, not the minutiae of international music publishing. Well, I am interested in that, but enough to blog about it. Yet, here I am.
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Times Square”, RSO 2658-145; U.K., 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work);
TIMES SQUARE, Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, Story by Allan Moyle and Leanne Ungar; 1979; p. 23
The music on the Canadian edition of the Times Square soundtrack is identical to the US version. All the international editions are musically identical. (I suppose some might sound better or worse than others, but none of the actual tracks are different.) That’s why, other than the few examples I’ll be sharing here, I haven’t bothered collecting all the variant editions: musically they’re identical, the artwork differs in the most inconsequential ways, and the text differs in only slightly less inconsequential ways. Among editions I don’t have, there are promotional copies with white labels, and there’s a Japanese edition with an obi. Supposedly there was an edition that came with 8x10s of some of the artists, but I’ve only ever come across it once, and I suspect someone placed the photos in after the fact. Now, if something turns up with a different picture of Robin on the back, that I’ll be interested in. Otherwise, nah.
The most obvious difference is Tim Curry’s image on the front cover being replaced by a blank red circle. There’s also an assurance in English and French that there are two records inside. On the back cover, RSO’s credits for manufacturing and distribution have been given to Polygram. And most interestingly, although I don’t really know what it means, the sound recording copyright, belonging to RSO in the United States, is attributed to a company named Multiplier N.V. (this is the case with all the non-US editions). The inner gatefold is identical to the US edition, although in my opinion it (and the entire package) is printed better. (The yellow seems brighter on all the non-US pressings; that could just be because my US copy is faded through lots of handling.) And on the spine, “Printed in USA” is gone, but there is a small logo consisting of the letters “ER” in a circle. I don’t know what that means either.
On the inner sleeves, all the attributions to sound recordings being owned by RSO are replaced by notices of copyright to Multiplier N.V., in a different typeface, as if they had simply been pasted over. And the line “Mastered at STERLING SOUND by George Marino” has been deleted.
The color of the labels is slightly darker than the US edition. The information has been slightly reformatted, and RSO is replaced by Multiplier in the song information and by Polygram in the manufacturing and distribution credit. And Bill Oakes’ credit has changed from Album Executive Producer to simply Executive Producer.
I wonder if the original recordings being owned by RSO, Inc. in the US and by Multiplier N.V. in the rest of the world has anything to do with the soundtrack never being re-released. Does anyone have a non-US edition of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, to check the copyright information there?
I think that’s enough Canadian excitement. Wherever shall we go next?
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Times Square”, RSO RS-2-4203; Canada, 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work);
Finally, here’s what all the fuss was about. The 2 record set containing all but one of the songs from the film. In their haste to load the film with soundtrack material, they actually added one too many, and for some reason lost to time, the excellent “Dangerous Type” by The Cars was cut.
All but one of the photos on the inside gatefold were used at least once more, some several times – for instance, we’ve already seen the shot of Pammy and Nicky singing “Your Daughter Is One” on the cover of the Japanese “Same Old Scene” 45.
The album was released worldwide in 1980 and 1981, and never re-pressed or re-issued in any form. (If you have a CD, it’s a pirated copy.) Whether Robert Stigwood met his goal of reaping massive profits from the soundtrack, leaving the movie to act only as a bit of publicity for the record, I don’t know. I do know that for years, you could go into Sounds on St. Mark’s Place and be assured of finding at least one copy for $1.00. I also know that, unlike the movie, the soundtrack garnered nothing but good reviews, and gained cult status as a great collection of music long before the film achieved its own cult status.
“Talk of the Town” is the single version, not the edited version released on the Pretenders’ Extended Play and Pretenders II. It’s the version used in the video and eventually found a home on the collection The Singles.
The version of “Down in the Park” seems to be the same basic recording as the version on the album Replicas, but is missing a number of effects and synthesizer tracks. It’s also quite a bit different from the “early version” on Disc 2 of the Replicas Redux 2008 expanded edition. It has never been released on CD as far as I know.
“Help Me!” probably would have found a home on Marcy Levy’s debut album, had that ever been completed. She’d been signed with RSO since 1976 but that project never came out, and apparently she’s not exactly disappointed about that:
‘It was an R’n’B album because I’ve always been involved in blues and soul, but they were always trying to pigeonhole me.’
“Damn Dog” is still missing Norman Ross’ writing credit. It’s on the sheet music, as we’ve seen, but for some reason it only appears intermittently on the records. It is there front and center on “Your Daughter is One,” at least.
I’ve long had a theory that “Flowers in the City,” the one song on the soundtrack that doesn’t appear in the film, was supposed to be the original closing theme, not “Help Me!”, but attractive as this idea still is I’ve yet to some across any real evidence for it.
Joe Jackson’s “Pretty Boys” and Garland Jeffreys’ “Innocent, Not Guilty” both seem to have been recorded expressly for the soundtrack. The sound recordings of both are copyrighted to RSO, and “Innocent” was engineered by the same person who engineered “Your Daughter is One.” Both songs would appear in totally new versions on the artists’ next albums, but to my knowledge these RSO-owned recordings have never been re-released.
Jimmy Iovine had recently come from producing Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes album when he was brought in board to help produce the Times Square soundtrack, leading to the announcements that Tom Petty would appear on the soundtrack. That didn’t happen of course, but Iovine was producing D. L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age at the time, and tapped him and his band to provide the backing tracks for both versions of “Damn Dog,” and a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love.”
“Actually, ‘Shadows of the Night’ was written for Times Square. Jimmy [Iovine] had just finished mis-producing my first record. He was the Musical Coordinator/ Director for the film. I asked him about the plot… he gave me a brief synopsis… rich girl meets poor girl, they run away, hide on a pier, hook up with a late night FM DJ, and begin these strange communications, etc. So I took all that in, went home and sat down at the piano with my legal pad and pen, and ‘Shadows’ popped out in only what seemed like twenty minutes. Those are the best songs. The ones that don’t require any labor or crafting. They just write themselves, if you’re willing to get out of the way.
“The producers of the film couldn’t find an appropriate placement for the song. They came to me with a cassette of Graham Parker performing ‘Can’t Hurry Love’ live. So I suppose it can be said that my version was modeled on Parker’s.”
— D. L. Byron, 19 April 2013 and 13 September 2015
Graham Parker’s version had been recorded in 1976 and released on the promo only album Live at Marble Arch. That album itself had achieved its own cult status and was widely taped and bootlegged, but unlike Times Square it finally got a digital release in 1996 as part of the second disc of the greatest hits compilation Vertigo. It is recognizably the same arrangement, but much as I love Graham Parker, I think Byron plays it better. I may be biased.
Byron told the above story in this interview from 2012, in much the same words but with a few more details, such as that the original interest in “Shadows of the Night” (yes, the “Shadows of the Night” that would become a massive hit for Pat Benatar two years later) (can you imagine? “Shadows of the Night” making its debut in Times Square?) was as the opening number (which is Roxy Music’s “Same Old Scene” in the film, and was The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” in the May 1979 screenplay). And, again in my opinion, there is a good place for the song and, like “Flowers in the City,” it’s in place of “Help Me!” It would have been a perfect closing anthem for the movie. But, I suppose the fix was already in with Stigwood for anyone named Gibb.
And, last but not least, returning to announced songs that are missing from the soundtrack — whatever happened to David Bowie? I have a theory about that, too…
But first — I could have sworn that I’d found a reference in text to Bowie being included on the soundtrack while it was still in production, but if so I’ve mislaid it. The only references in print of a song that didn’t make it are to Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” If I’ve double-crossed myself and there is one such that I’ve posted and forgotten about, please someone point me to it. Otherwise, the only real clue is Allan Moyle’s recollection on the Anchor Bay DVD commentary track that there had been a Bowie song planned.
The only confirmation I ever got was in the form of an email from a Robin fan, who said
The Bowie song omitted from the soundtrack was a version of “Life On Mars?” which I have heard is quite different from the classic that we all know and love. He also recorded an alternate version of “The Night Was Not” (My personal fave on the soundtrack) with Desmond Child. A few years ago my wife recounted to me an interview she read in some rock magazine with Desmond Child in which he discussed the music he has done for film. The names of the movie and song struck her (as she’s heard me prattle on about it), as did his mention of Bowie, so she told me about it and it’s one of those things that just sticks in the back of your mind, you know?
I’ve searched for such a magazine/interview with no luck, and several inquiries to Desmond Child have gone unanswered.
As far as I know no such rerecording of “Life on Mars?” has ever surfaced, and there don’t seem to even be any promising bootlegs from that time; no evidence that anything at all was recorded. Now, this would have been just after the time Bowie had been recording Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). When the video for “Fashion” was shot in October, it featured among its cast G. E. Smith, who had not played on the track or the album. He had been, however, a member of Desmond Child & Rouge for the album Runners in the Night, from which “The Night was Not” came. If Child and Bowie had been collaborating on a track, it’s likely that’s how Bowie and Smith met.
And that would be how Smith came to be in Bowie’s band on September 3, 1980, playing “Life on Mars?” and “Ashes to Ashes” on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson introduced the songs as both being about space, but “Ashes to Ashes” is more about heroin addiction, and “Life on Mars” is about… a young girl escaping her awful home life by running to the movies.
In trying to do research for this post, I saw many posts about Bowie’s Tonight Show performance, wondering about the strange choice Bowie made in pairing the nine-year-old “Life on Mars?” with the new single. I think he had both the arrangement and G. E. Smith handy, because a new recording of “Life on Mars?” had been in the works for the Times Square soundtrack. This performance is as close as we’ll get to the mystery track. — In my highly speculative opinion. I point out again, there is absolutely no proof for any of this. But, it is a good excuse to watch this again: