Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"On the Dark Side" by Eddie and the Cruisers

Song#:  1642
Date:  10/08/1983
Debut:  94
Peak:  64
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Director Martin Davidson optioned P.F. Kluge's book Eddie and the Cruisers and in 1983 production began on his film adaptation. The plot centered around a mythic bar band and Davidson wanted to find a real band to do the music for the film. He was looking for a band that had elements of doo-wop, The Doors, and Springsteen. It all was found in the Rhode Island group Beaver Brown. Led by John Cafferty, the band were east coast favorites who released a single that sold well in the region. However, it wasn't enough to attract major label attention. Then along came the opportunity to do music for the film. Cafferty was hired on to write songs for the film and he and Beaver Brown recorded those originals plus some covers for the soundtrack. With Michael ParĂ© performing as Eddie, the film was released in September 1983. It was not well-received by critics and audiences ignored it too. It was a box office dud. The soundtrack was released and this first single, credited to the fictional Eddie and the Cruisers, got issued to promote the album and the movie. It didn't do all that well the whole project dropped out of sight quickly. However, that would not be the end of the story. Eddie and the Cruisers would experience a revival in 1984 that would lead to this song becoming a hit.

ReduxReview:  I remember when the film came out. I was interested at first, but after a critical drubbing, I ignored it. I also remember that the soundtrack was getting beaten down too because Cafferty and his band came off like cheap Springsteen/E-Street clones. Although I think the comparisons to Springsteen were not too far off the mark, they didn't deserve to be dismissed as unremarkable knock-offs. They were a solid band and this song, written specifically for the film, was their peak moment. I didn't catch it the first time around, but I did enjoy the tune when it got revived the next year. The opening of the song really grabbed my attention and it made me stay for the John Mellencamp/Mitch Ryder-ish rock out.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Beaver Brown's first single was issued in 1980. Released by the indie label Coastline, the single consisted of two songs - "Wild Summer Nights" and "Tender Years." Due to the band's popularity on the east coast, the single did very well in the region and sold around 10k copies. You'd think that would be enough for a major label to sign them, but labels were reluctant because their sound and Cafferty's voice were too often compared to Bruce Springsteen. Luckily, Eddie and the Cruisers came along and gave them a shot. The two songs from their first single were a good fit for the fictional Eddie and the Cruisers, so Cafferty and his band re-recorded them for the film's soundtrack.


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