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:
… was the title of the soundtrack sampler released in Japan.
The picture sleeve is very thin paper, practically newsprint. The image is one used in the film strip on the UK soundtrack sampler. Unfortunately, I cannot read Japanese, and Google Translate does a very bad job of translating Japanese; I also have little confidence in the accuracy of the OCR program I used, which certainly contributed to Google’s poor translation. I can say that the notes consist primarily of a long synopsis of the film, a far more breathlessly detailed one than appeared on the UK sampler. And, like the UK sampler, the synopsis writer seems to have been working from an early screenplay draft: Google translates the paragraph describing the opening scene as “But, it was called a police car came immediately pop out who the shop, it will be what about that girl one of the 15-year-old, and brandishing knives also vain take the presser, and she had been admitted to hospital existence for regulating bell of mental disorder as a habitual of youth crime.” “Brandishing knives” would seem to refer to the original screenplay, in which Nicky pulls a knife to defend herself against some “roadies” at Starship Discovery One; the movie replaces the knife with a crowbar, and the roadies with Elizabeth Peña and the boss’s car.
The rest of the notes are brief descriptions of the artists, with an extra emphasis on Roxy Music. The tracklisting also has a special emphasis on Roxy Music.
There are a full twelve tracks on this sampler, but only six songs. “Same Old Scene” appears a total of four times: it opens and closes Side One, leads off Side Two, and is Track 4 on Side Two. “Help Me!” is track 2 on Side One and tracks 3 and 6 on Side Two. And “Rock Hard” is Side One’s track 4 and Side Two’s track 2. These are the three songs that make up Side Two of the US sampler; of these, only “Same Old Scene” appears on the UK version.
The other three songs are the ones performed in the film: “Damn Dog,” “Your Daughter Is One,” and “Damn Dog (Reprise-The Cleo Club).” They only appear once each. Norman Ross’s writing credit is again absent from “Damn Dog,” but is present on “Your Daughter Is One.”
If anyone is willing and able to translate the liner notes, I’d be very grateful. Meanwhile, we’re stuck with Google Translate, which can really only get across the gist of Japanese and not its detail. It does, however, occasionally come up a wonderfully evocative turn of phrase:
“Fly to take the plunge into the darkness, zombies!”
I do standing jump to the new world with sauce!
“See you in Times Square at 12:00. Miscreants go painted black around the eyes…”
… singleness of purpose, was now a star that was born out of the girls…
There’s also a fairly good chance this was actually released in 1981.
(Edit, 21 April 2017 – No, there isn’t. Even though the film opened in Japan in 1981, the Japanese edition of the soundtrack was released in 1980. So this sampler must have come out before then.)
Times Square-DJ Copy, RSO MI 4124; Japan, 1980; promotional soundtrack sampler; long-playing record (AAT 300265802) with picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) (work); Times Square-DJ Copy Japan RSO MI 4124 sleeve front_1080px.jpg, Times Square-DJ Copy Japan RSO MI 4124 sleeve rear_1080px.jpg, Times Square-DJ Copy Japan RSO MI 4124 label side 1_800px.jpg, Times Square-DJ Copy Japan RSO MI 4124 label side 2_800px.jpg (images)
TIMES SQUARE, p. 2
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman
… was, for some reason, the title of the promotional soundtrack sampler in the UK.
It’s a much more attractive package than the US sampler, with a strip of stills across the top emphasizing that yes, there’s a movie involved, as opposed to the US white sleeve that seemed to want to distance the soundtrack album from the film.
The first, fourth, and fifth photos in the strip are TS-72-8A/14, TS-57-26/1, and TS-82-30, edited from the stills in the Press Materials folder. The second one, the shot of Pammy applauding, is unique to this item as far as I know. The third and sixth ones, of Nicky during the final concert, may also be unique to this item but there were more photos taken during that shoot than at any other time during the production, and at the time of this writing I certainly haven’t collated all the ones I have.
The synopsis of the film mentions Johnny broadcasting from the top of the Allied Chemical Building, which is where WJAD was located in the May 1979 screenplay. The station was moved for the actual film to the top of the Candler Building. None of the other promotional materials for the film mention the Allied Chemical Building. The synopsis writer was apparently working from an early draft of the screenplay, and not the film itself.
About the story …
‘Times Square’ depicts the adventures of two teenage runaways, New York girls from different social backgrounds, and the all night Times Square radio personality who befriends them and gives a boost to their dream of rock stardom.
Pamela Pearl (Trini Alvarado) is the 13 year old daughter of a young New York City politician who has been given the job of cleaning up the seedy Times Square area. Nicky Marotta (Robin Johnson) age 16, is a street delinquent who dreams of becoming a rock and roll star.
Pamela is shy and awkward, inhibited. Nicky is rebellious, with a streak of explosive energy and dark humour. They meet while both are undergoing tests at a psychiatric hospital and escape by commandeering an ambulance.
Johnny La Guardia (Tim Curry) who broadcasts from a studio high atop the Allied Chemical Building, considers Times Square his personal domain. Pamela had written to him anonymously. Intrigued, he promotes the story of the runaways, urging the girls on, and turns them into minor media celebrities. It also makes things uncomfortable for Pamela’s father.
The girls hide out in an abandoned warehouse overlooking the Hudson River. Calling themselves The Sleaze Sisters, they dress in versions of down and outers, spray paint their sleaze slogans around the town, and inspire others to reject the smooth superficiality of the plastic culture and ‘go sleaze’.
They make a second home on the Deuce – the stretch of 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues – and are adopted by the locals who protect them from potential danger. Events conspire to bring their adventure to a close, but Nicky insists they ‘go down flaming’.
When Johnny publicizes their planned illegal, midnight concert in Times Square, hundreds of teenage girls arrive in ‘Sleez (sic) Sisters’ wardrobe and the scene is set for a bizarre climactic close.
The record contains six tracks like its US counterpart, but has only two in common with it (“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads and “Same Old Scene” by Roxy Music).
It leaves off the two versions of “Damn Dog” and “Help Me!” and the Pretenders’ “Talk of the Town,” replacing them with the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated,” XTC’s “Take This Town,” Joe Jackson’s “Pretty Boys,” and Garland Jeffreys’ “Innocent, Not Guilty.” “I Wanna Be Sedated” was two years old at this point, but as to the others: “Take This Town” was recorded for the movie and it would be several years before it would find another official release on the compilation Rag and Bone Buffet, and the other two songs would be released on albums by the artists within the year but in entirely new recordings. I just find it interesting that one-third of this record is recordings whose only official release was on the Times Square soundtrack.
This 6-track, white-labelled, white-sleeved record was used by RSO to promote the Times Square soundtrack in the U.S. As there was no art, it may be the most boring promotional item released. It would have been distributed to radio stations, and copies were later handed out at the film’s premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, or at the party afterward at Tavern on the Green, on October 14, 1980.
Can’t argue with the track list for Side One: “Life During Wartime” and “Talk of the Town” are two of the best songs on the soundtrack, and “Damn Dog” IS the film. Side Two starts with “Rock Hard” and closes with “Same Old Scene,” two more winners, and in between is sandwiched “Help Me!” which was Robert Stigwood hedging his bets.
Would you buy the double-album soundtrack based on this? There certainly is no incentive anywhere in this package to go see the movie. I wonder if the lack of a picture sleeve was of any note to the people who got this record at the premiere.
I do note that Norman Ross’s writing credit is absent from “Damn Dog.” Yes, I didn’t know who he was before last Christmas, but now I am righteously angry on his behalf.
SPECIAL PREVIEW OF SELECTED CUTS FROM THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK “TIMES SQUARE”, RSO RPO 1026, 1980; long-playing record (AAT ID: 300265802) (work)
NOT FOR SALE
SPECIAL PREVIEW OF SELECTED CUTS
FROM THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
“TIMES SQUARE” A ROBERT STIGWOOD PRODUCTION
(RPO 1026 AS)
1. LIFE DURING WARTIME – TALKING HEADS 3:40
℗ 1979 SIRE RECORDS COMPANY
2. TALK OF THE TOWN – THE PRETENDERS 3:16
℗ 1980 REAL RECORDS
3. DAMN DOG – ROBIN JOHNSON 2:40
(B. Mernit-J. Brackman)
℗ 1980 RSO RECORDS
MANUFACTURED & MARKETED BY RSO RECORDS, INC. 8335 SUNSET BLVD. LOS ANGELES, CA. 90069
NOT FOR SALE
SPECIAL PREVIEW OF SELECTED CUTS
FROM THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
“TIMES SQUARE” A ROBERT STIGWOOD PRODUCTION
(RPO 1026 BS)
1. ROCK HARD – SUZI QUATRO 3:18
(M. Chapman-N. Chinn)
℗ 1980 DREAMLAND RECORDS, INC.
2. HELP ME! – MARCY LEVY AND ROBIN GIBB 3:37
(R. Gibb-B. Weaver)
℗ 1980 YAM, INC.
3. SAME OLD SCENE – ROXY MUSIC 3:54
℗ 1980 ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION
MANUFACTURED & MARKETED BY RSO RECORDS, INC. 8335 SUNSET BLVD. LOS ANGELES, CA. 90069
The singles from the soundtrack started coming out before the album, which came out before the film. It was here that I realized collecting everything to do with Times Square would be hideously expensive, so since my focus was Robin Johnson, items connected to the movie but which didn’t have a picture of her or mention her name were beyond my purview. Therefore, I don’t have all the soundtrack tie-in singles, and some of these will be images from elsewhere on the Web.
The first single released was Suzi Quatro’s “Rock Hard.”
Picture sleeve, front
Picture sleeve, back
Side A (stereo)
Side B (mono)
B&W photo of Suzi Quatro
Dreamland Records’ biography of Suzi Quatro.
This may not have been the one, but it’s the one I couldn’t help myself from getting, coming as it did with the photo and bio. The front and back of the sleeve are nearly identical, and although it clearly states that the b-side is “State of Mind,” the b-side is really a monaural version of “Rock Hard.” The non-promotional editions of this single were released world-wide and all of them were slightly different, but they nearly all featured a color version of the black-and-white photo, and actually had “State of Mind” on the flip side.
Portuguese edition with photo reversed
12″ 33 1/3 RPM “Rock Hard” single
The “Help Me!” single was one of the only two to feature an image of Robin and Trini on the sleeve. It’s a collage of the two photos used on the inner sleeves of the soundtrack album.
Picture sleeve, front
Picture sleeve, back
This is an Italian pressing. The sleeve’s front and back are nearly identical, and the b-side features an instrumental version of the song, which is just as exciting as you think. That does, however, make it the only single to feature a relevant non-album track.
The first Japanese pressing of Roxy Music’s “Same Old Scene” is the other single to feature an image of the girls. This photo appears on the inside of the soundtrack gatefold; if this single came out before the album, it may be its first appearance.
Times Square is only mentioned at the top of both sides of the insert (the actual sleeve features a world map of the vast Polydor Empire): 東宝東和配給EMI映画「タイムズ•スクェア」オリジナル•サウンドトラック / Tōhōtōwa haikyū EMI eiga `Taimuzu• suku~ea’ orijinaru• saundotorakku / Toho Towa distribution EMI movie “Times • Square” Original • Sound Track — thank you Google Translate. Google Translate doesn’t do nearly as good a job when it comes to full sentences in Japanese, but the essay on the back doesn’t appear to mention Times Square at all. It seems to be a biography of Roxy Music, extolling the band’s influence on the New Wave scene, and heralding this single and the Flesh and Blood album as a triumphant comeback which will ensure that Roxy Music will live forever.
“Take This Town” by XTC, split with “Babylon’s Burning” by The Ruts, features a shot of 2 Times Square, similar but not identical to the one on the outside of the Press Folder. On the front it’s been colored to match the inner sleeves of the album, and there’s a tiny Times Square logo at the bottom.
And, finally, The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” was re-released in a combined Sire-RSO edition, and the Spanish pressing at least had a design matching the soundtrack album, using part of the pixellated image from the inside of the album gatefold and the bottoms of the promotional posters.
“I Wanna Be Sedated” was two years old. The b-side of this single, “The Return of Jackie and Judy,” was taken from the Ramones’ then-current album, the Phil Spector-produced End of the Century, and now that I think of it, would have made a good thematic fit with Times Square.
And, I think those all the singles released from the soundtrack, if not nearly all the variant versions, especially of “Rock Hard.” Let me know if I’m wrong, and if you want to translate the back of the “Same Old Scene” insert into English.
Roxy Music “The Same Old Scene” b/w “My Only Love”, 45 rpm record with picture sleeve and color insert, Japan, 1980 (work);
[front] 1080 px (W) x 1077 px (H), 96 dpi, 656 kb; [rear] 1080 px (W) x 1075 px (H), 96 dpi, 466 kb (images)
Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated”, Spain, 1980: $_12_undistorted.jpg (original image $_12.JPG by “virgitrout,” retrieved 23 March 2015 from http://www.ebay.com/itm/RAMONES-SG-TIMES-SQUARE-UNIQUE-SPAIN-ED-1980-/111627655734?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19fd86da36; lens distortion corrected and file renamed 2 August 2015)
“O” is for “oversized,” I assume. This image is the same size as the image of the last poster, but trust me, the actual poster is double the size — just as tall and twice as wide. At four feet wide, it may be the largest poster in my collection; the UK “Quad” movie poster may be larger… we’ll see when we get there.
You can see for yourself how the elements from the previous poster, themselves rearranged from the album cover (as seen on the promotional slick), have been rearranged here. The very background is still yellow, but it’s been overlaid with a blue rectangle. Nicky and Pammy have been moved into the upper right corner, and the RSO cow removed from Nicky’s Johnny LaGuardia button. The title has been enlarged and moved into the upper left. The bottom half is the pixellated photo of the final concert, just like in the last poster, but nearly all of it is visible here. The red paint streak here stretches all across the bottom, and serves as a background to highlight the artist names.
The biggest difference here, though… no mention of the movie’s opening date. This double-sized poster promotes the record and the record only.
I never saw this poster in its natural habitat (on the wall of a record store), but I find it more visually pleasing than most of the other posters, except for the poster-side of the 2-sided poster. I guess my eye just likes the red and the blue better than the yellow. I sincerely doubt I’ll ever live somewhere with enough wall space to hang it up, though.
“Times Square” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack promotional poster OP-200
poster, AAT ID: 300027221; color, 32 in (H) x 48 in (W) (work);
1080 px (H) x 715 px (W), 96 dpi, 622 kb (image) 1980 inscription:
The top of this poster uses the elements of the album cover art. The text strips have been moved, and the title has been enlarged, tilted to the right rather than the left, and has had most of its color removed, all to take advantage of the larger space and to be more legible from a distance. Pammy and Nicky have also been tilted sightly to the right. Where we expect to see Tim Curry’s face, we have the RSO cow on a yellow blob, itself atop a red circle. The bottom of the poster is the purple pixellated art from the inside of the album gatefold. The text strips listing the bands have been spaced out, and the punctuation at their ends removed.
This poster is promoting “A 2-Record Set.” Almost offhandedly it mentions that Times Square is “Coming to a Theatre Near You Oct. 17th.”
You know, I may have talked one of these off the wall of the upstairs record store at the Quakerbridge Mall, but I can’t remember for sure anymore.
“Times Square” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack promotional poster p-201
color, 36″ (H) x 24″ (W) (work); 1080 px (H) x 718 px (W), 96 dpi, 571 kb (image) 1980 inscription:
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
A Robert Stigwood Production
RSO® Records, Inc.
Coming to a Theatre Near You Oct. 17th
A 2-RECORD SET
Featuring Music Of:
SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC, GARY NUMAN
MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON
XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO
THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE
GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN
PRINTED IN USA P-201
RSO® Records, Inc.
This was the very first item of Times Square memorabilia I ever got (although, like the double-sided poster, not this specific copy of it). I saw the film twice at the Quakerbridge Mall, which had two record stores in it (later there were three, if you can imagine such a thing!). The one on the first floor had a more middle-of-the-road selection, as well as stereo equipment and a selection of cheap guitars in the back. The one upstairs was part head shop and had a dedicated punk/New Wave section. It was where I bought my first copy of the soundtrack to Times Square, and in late 1980 it had these copies of the album cover stapled to the walls all over.
Either after the second time I saw the film, or sometime shortly after that, when the film was gone but the soundtrack was still selling, I asked about these items, what would happen to them when they came down, when they were going to come down, how much would it cost to reserve one so I could buy it when it did come down, and made such a pest of myself that whoever I was bugging just took one down and gave it to me. (Of course, I was probably carrying an armful of records to buy, so it was more of a customer reward than a brush-off.)
It immediately went up on my bedroom wall and stayed there until we moved (more or less). It had staple holes on its corners which I probably made worse with push pins. I must still have it, but I don’t know offhand where it is.
Sometime in the last 15 years, much like happened with the double-sided posters, someone on eBay sold me a pile of these in uncirculated condition. The seller called them “slicks,” but they aren’t really — a slick is technically an album cover printed on thin paper to be pasted onto a cardboard album sleeve, and this is the front of the album cover printed on thin cardboard. I tend to refer to this thing as a slick, though, so if I ever mention a Times Square promo slick, this is what I’m talking about. (If I’m wrong and “slick” is the appropriate word for all promotional album cover art, let me know.)
RSO took the movie poster art design — the collage of the photos of Trini and Robin with Robin’s right shoulder erased — and made it a watercolor painting. The logo is aligned with itself, and the text is typewriter lettering against strips of black. If you’re familiar with the American edition of the soundtrack album, you may have noticed the one big difference here: no Tim Curry. The button with the image of Johnny — floating in space on the double-sided poster, affixed to Nicky’s lapel on the movie poster — is here nowhere to be seen.
The most significant change though, as far as I’m concerned: Robin’s eyes are now green, as they should be, and not blue. Trini’s are now brown.
Times Square Original Soundtrack Promotional “Slick”
color, 12″ x 12″ (work); 1080 px (W) x 1076 px (H), 96 dpi, 759 kb (image) 1980 inscription:
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
A Robert Stigwood Production
Featuring Music Of:
SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC,
GARY NUMAN, MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON,
XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO,
THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE,
GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN.
I think this was the first promotional piece I found after Times Square had come, been, and gone. (Not this copy, but I’ll get to that.) I don’t recall exactly where it came from… it was a tiny store dealing in rock memorabilia in Manhattan somewhere, probably between 34th and 4th Streets, west of Broadway… The poster wasn’t in great shape, but it had a bunch of pictures I’d never seen, so I immediately bought it and took it home and encountered the dilemma of which side to display. I filled the corners with pinholes and “Fun-Tak” stains as I flipped it over every month or so, but eventually settled on the red side (next post, hee hee) because I found it more aesthetically pleasing, in no small part because no matter how I hung this side, part of it was always upside down. Eventually, we moved, and I took it down, rolled it up, and put it away.
Years later, God invented the Internet, and I stumbled across someone selling this same item, in unused mint condition. I purchased it immediately of course, and during the transaction he mentioned he had more of them, and since at the time I could afford to do such silly things, I bought them all. They arrived in a single heavy envelope that remained unopened until a few weeks ago when I decided I needed good scans of all my Times Square posters.
I opened the envelope for the first time, and discovered an extremely nice letter from the seller that I’m sorry I hadn’t seen before. I slid out a few copies of the poster, checked to find one with the least damage from the machine that had folded them, and gingerly started to unfold it to see how to do it without accidentally tearing something, and that’s when I noticed…
(If it’s obvious to you, congratulations, you’re more observant than I. I’d never even suspected there was anything to notice.)
I guess it was because the copy I had back in the day had never been folded in its natural state, or if it had I was too eager to get it open, and when I stored it I rolled it up like you’re supposed to do with posters, but… as I was wondering how best to approach scanning such a huge item (in pieces stitched together with Microsoft Image Composite Editor, If you’re wondering), I noticed that the front and back of the folded item were complete images by themselves. And opening it, there was another complete image. And opening it once more, another one. And the next unfold revealed the other side.
It wasn’t a 2-sided poster, it was a 5-sided poster. This thing is an interactive promotional presentation for Times Square, the movie and the soundtrack. It’s a little movie trailer on paper. That explained something I’d always wondered about: what exactly was this thing for? Evidently it was distributed to theater owners, and maybe record stores, to drum up interest in booking the film and pre-ordering the record, with the red side an option to hang as a teaser poster.
The reason part of it was always upside down was, the blue side was never intended to be seen all at once. Only the other side was a poster. The blue side is supposed to be looked at as it unfolds, as I’m going to try to show below. In real life, each unfolding results in doubling the size of the image, but these images are all going to be about the same size, because it’s the Internet. If you pay me enough I’ll try to do more to replicate the experience of unfolding a big piece of paper.
2-sided TIMES SQUARE poster, folded front.
2-sided TIMES SQUARE poster, folded rear.
Times Square 2-sided promotional poster, unfolded once.
Times Square 2-sided poster, unfolded twice.
The “front cover” shows the final promotional logo for the movie. (The logo as used on and in the US Press Materials folder became the logo for the soundtrack.) The back has the movie credits.
The double-sided poster, designed by Seiniger & Associates, is the pinnacle of the artistic design for the film’s promotional materials. This is the only time that the text appears as strips of DYMO hand-embossed labels, a brilliant move to signify that you’re looking at something made cheaply by hand. (I was surprised and gratified to find they’re still being made; they were the height of label-making technology in the 1970s.) In all future posters, the text would be distressed typewriter-style lettering on uneven black stripes, and sometimes just white lettering on black stripes. Strangely, I didn’t realize that until this project: I always pictured all of the posters’ text appearing as it does here, evoking a punk DIY aesthetic echoing yet totally different from the cut-out ransom-note letters in Jamie Reid’s designs for the Sex Pistols.
The line using the DYMO typeface shown in the first unfolding (“There’s only one way and that’s running away and hanging out and setting yourself free”) does not appear in the film. It is, however, on page 127 of the May 1979 draft of the screenplay. The dialogue in the scene as shot is far better than what appears on the page, so it would appear that this was heavily rewritten and the poster designers were working from photos and an outdated screenplay. Although the soundtrack was locked (as is seen on the next unfold), no one had yet seen the movie, which was probably still being edited and re-edited. I don’t think any of the photos on this page appear anywhere else. I would love a full print of Nicky and Pammy in front of the adult book store.
The next unfolding reveals an ad for the soundtrack. The line here (“There’s nothing to do but play music and scream your lungs out”) is misquoted from the film, and oddly the screenplay has the line correctly. Either someone at Seiniger made an editorial decision, or the draft they were working from was an intermediate one in which Jacob Brackman had changed the line to this, and then changed it back before shooting. The photos again are immediately recognizable, but aren’t the shots from the film, and as of this writing I don’t think they appear anywhere else. The shot of Nicky and Pammy at the microphone is from before they blacked out the word “Rickenbacker” from the guitar’s headstock.
The image is split through the middle with a bit of the red poster showing through. Getting the poster’s edges to meet perfectly would have been extremely difficult, plus it was a good idea to make it obvious that there’s more unfolding to do. This is what really proved to me what this item was: I’d been looking at this for years without realizing that the top and bottom of the unfolded blue side were really the middle strip of a single image when it was folded this way. And a circular splatter of day-glo color, whose edges become musical notes… where have we seen something like that before? Oh yeah, here, where it’s a cloud of smoke. That’s another thing that makes me think that rejected poster is real: this design element that survives in a vastly improved form on the first official poster.
Coming up next: the full poster side.
[“Times Square” double-sided promotional poster, outside]
color, 39 in (H) x 25.75 in (W) (work);
715 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 518 kb (image) 1980 inscription: