Various Artists | Transformers: The Movie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 20th Anniv. Ed.

cd_transformersBoth "The Touch" and its companion piece "Dare" feature Stan Bush's wailing vocals—think Sammy Hagar and Journey's Steve Perry smooshed together—over anthemic, fist-pump-inducing hair metal that will give any child of the '80s the same warm fuzzies as blasting "Pour Some Sugar on Me" out of a redneck bar jukebox.

 

 

 

Way back in those halcyon days of 1986, two franchises dominated the lives every boy under the age of 13: GI Joe and the Transformers. When Transformers: The Movie hit theater screens that year featuring stars like Leonard Nimoy, Judd Nelson, Eric Idle, Robert Stack, and, in his final role, Orson Welles as the planet-devouring robot Unicron, the result was a pop culture event that captured the hearts and minds of millions of impressionable children. Now that we've passed 2005 (the year the film supposedly takes place, and boy did that seem a loooong time away in 1986) and those children are grown adults with disposable income it is, of course, time for toy giant Hasbro to cash in on that nostalgia with a 20th anniversary edition of the original film's soundtrack, a year late for the actual anniversary but just in time for the release of Michael Bay's live-action update of the franchise, due in theaters July 4.

Shockingly, the soundtrack to Transformers: The Movie holds up surprisingly well. Make no mistake, the songs contained herein were a product of the 1980s and they very much sound like it. But musically, there's nothing particularly embarrassing here, no worry that the crappiness of the music will somehow ruin your nostalgia trip. Let's face it, there are exactly four reasons why most people who have read this far would want to snag this collection, and those four songs, fortunately, will still fill the same musical comfort food niche as that copy of Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet that you lost under the passenger seat of your Firebird back in 1988. The big draw here is Stan Bush's "The Touch," the gloriously cheesy victory theme that's remembered fondly not just for its role in this film but also its cameo in the Mark Wahlberg classic Boogie Nights. Both "The Touch" and its companion piece "Dare" feature Bush's wailing vocals—think Sammy Hagar and Journey's Steve Perry smooshed together—over anthemic, fist-pump-inducing hair metal that will give any child of the '80s the same warm fuzzies as blasting "Pour Some Sugar on Me" out of a redneck bar jukebox. Also here for the party are the metal-ified version of The Transformers TV show theme song by Lion (not to be confused with White Lion) and "Weird Al" Yankovic's utterly brilliant Devo send-up "Dare to Be Stupid," easily one of the most inventive songs in his catalog and a welcome addition here.

As for what's left, there are a trio of songs from Vince DiCola's new age-y movie score (very dated, but very fun for fans of the film all the same) and a trio of largely forgettable hair metal songs by no-names N.R.G. and Spectre General that are about as generic as '80s metal gets. For the 20th anniversary edition, Legacy has tacked on three additional tracks from Vince DiCola's score that are actually superior to the tracks that made the original album. The bonus most likely to excite fans is another appearance by Bush, this time singing his own version of "The Transformers Theme," but his take lacks the added movie-centric lyrics of Lion's version and as a result gets a little dull and repetitive as it stretches a song with a chorus and no verses for over two and a half minutes.

This release is obviously geared toward those already on the Transformers nostalgia astrotrain, and any listener who doesn't already obsess about the show enough to, say, know the universal greeting (that'd be "bah weep graaagnah wheep ni ni bong," incidentally) probably won't get a damn thing out of this CD. But the addition of the new DiCola tracks is probably more than enough for diehard Transformers fans to invest in the updated soundtrack and revel in their childhood memories as they await Michael Bay's new take on the franchise later this summer. B | Jason Green

RIYL: The Transformers (duh)

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