The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “TIMES SQUARE”

Posted on 23rd October 2015 in "Times Square"

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:

Born and bred in Detroit, Michigan she sang as Marcy Levy with myriad bands on the rock scene in the Motor City in the early Seventies before signing to RSO Records in 1976. ‘In the beginning they put me with a great producer called David Foster, but the album was never released.

‘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.

“Flowers in the City” has never appeared anywhere else, even in a re-recorded version without Robin. It looks like starting with that song, David Johansen began a habit of making one-off recordings for other people’s projects and then moving on to something else.

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:



D.L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age is available through Amazon. The rest of his work is available from Zen Archer Records.



The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Times Square, RSO RS-2-4203; US, 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work)
©1980 Butterfly Valley NV


emails from Jnrsimmons2004, 9 and 12 February 2007


Edited 4 December 2015 to include details of the interior gatefold photographs.


Times Square – DJ Copy

Posted on 14th October 2015 in "Times Square"

… was the title of the soundtrack sampler released in Japan.

Page 3 of the "Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, 129 pp  Text:  2 CONTINUED NICKY Why don't you droolers go back in there and mind your own business. The ROADIE kicks the laundry cart.  NICKY crouches. She is half his size. NICKY (her voice trembling) Touch me and you're dead. They laugh at her. With a single motion she unflicks a switchblade and rakes the roadies' arms and stomach.  They are shocked They hesitate. NICKY rushes at the other and slashes out at his legs.  She speaks so fast it sounds like gibberish. NICKY Unsung, undone, only one place left to run.  Shaking, aching, can't stand waiting . . . The black guys freeze.  They know they have a lunatic on their hands. NICKY laughs, delighted at their confusion. EXT   THE SKYLINE OF MANHATTAN                               PRE DAWN A dark establishing shot of the city.  A hot summer night just before daybreak. We hear the intimate, unhurried voice of JOHNNY LAGUARDIA, a late night FM radio personality. He hums the famous "Dragnet Theme," JOHNNY (voice over) Dum da dum dum, dum da dum dum dummmm! There are eight million stories in the big city . . . A long beat.  A sigh. CONTINUED
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)
Screenplay by Jacob Brackman




Posted on 5th October 2015 in "Times Square"

… 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.

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