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Friday Feature: “Dirty Dancing”

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Dirty Dancing is one of those movies that, on paper, should be a massive dud. It’s a painfully by-the-numbers tale – rich girl becomes emotionally, culturally and sexually liberated by a dashing stranger and the art of (you guessed it) dirty dancing – but it is one of those movies that will not disappear from the public eye. And frankly, it’s not hard to see why.

Yes, as a story, Dirty Dancing is nothing special. But the production is something to behold. It immortalized its two young leads, Jennifer Grey as “Baby” and the late, great Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle; it featured a phenomenal set of moves from acclaimed choreographer Kenny Ortega (enjoying a second wave of success with the High School Musical franchise and what would have been Michael Jackson’s This is It Tour). But most of all, it featured a wide array of songs that at once celebrated the early-’60s setting of the film and the best of late-’80s balladeering.

And it’s catnip for many women to a fascinating degree. One could conceivably do a scientific study on the far-reaching popularity of the film, which has spun off a semi-sequel, a dance-instruction DVD and plenty of other ephemera. (It’s a multi-generational appeal too; in my junior year of high school Dirty Dancing was somehow voted by our class to be the collective favorite movie in 2004).

Like the film itself (which was actually just reissued on DVD in time for Mother’s Day), the music from the film has seen a lot of repackaging. Join us as we provide you with a Mother’s Day treat and reflect on the many Dirty Dancing albums over the years.

Have the time of your life (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) after the jump.

The first Dirty Dancing LP was a 12-track affair with an eclectic track list. There were the modern hits that are intertwined with the film’s cultural impact (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” and Swayze’s own, not-as-ridiculous-as-you-remember “She’s Like the Wind”). You also have your ’60s jukebox hits, like The Five Satins’ unforgettable “In the Still of the Night,” “Love is Strange” by Mickey & Sylvia and The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” But then you have unusual tunes that land somewhere in between, like The Blow Monkeys’ take on Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” or new solo tracks by Tom Williams (of The Doobie Brothers) and Merry Clayton (the female vocalist on The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”). It’s perhaps not the best representation of the music of Dirty Dancing (hence all the reissues, one supposes), but it was a huge hit upon release, topping the Billboard charts for 18 weeks and going multi-platinum all over the world.

Various Artists – Dirty Dancing: Original Soundtrack from the Vestron Motion Picture (RCA 6408-1-R, 1987)

  1. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
  2. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
  3. She’s Like the Wind – Patrick Swayze
  4. Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen
  5. Stay – Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs
  6. Yes – Merry Clayton
  7. You Don’t Own Me – The Blow Monkeys
  8. Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel
  9. Overload – Zappacosta
  10. Love is Strange – Mickey & Sylvia
  11. Where Are You Tonight? – Tom Johnston
  12. In the Still of the Night – The Five Satins

“The Time of My Life,” backed with “Love is Strange,” was released as a single (RCA 5224-7-R); the 12″ single (RCA 5224-1-RD) added “In the Still of the Night” and “Overload.” Next up was “Hungry Eyes” backed by “Where Are You Tonight” (RCA 5315-7-R); a European 12″ (RCA PT 49594) included a longer film version of “The Time of My Life.” “She’s Like the Wind” was third, backed with “Stay” (RCA 5363-7-R). Finally, a special 12″ (RCA 6989-1-RD) included extended and dub versions of “Yes” that have yet to surface on CD.

So successful was the first Dirty Dancing LP that a second was quickly commissioned for 1988. This one was a bit more straightforward, offering more ’60s standards (“Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Wipeout,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”) and a few score cues by John Morris and Michael Lloyd and Le Disc.

Various Artists – More Dirty Dancing: More Original Music from the Hit Motion Picture (RCA 6965-1-R, 1988)

  1. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Instrumental) – The John Morris Orchestra
  2. Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons
  3. Merengue – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  4. Some Kind of Wonderful – The Drifters
  5. Johnny’s Mambo – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  6. Do You Love Me – The Contours
  7. Love Man – Otis Redding
  8. Wipe Out – The Surfaris
  9. These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding
  10. De Todo Un Poco – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  11. Cry to Me – Solomon Burke
  12. Trot the Fox – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  13. Will You Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles
  14. Kellerman’s Anthem – The Emile Bergsteign Chorale
  15. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Instrumental) – The John Morris Orchestra

At the tail end of the 1990s, the repackaging of Dirty Dancing began with Dirty Dancing: The Collector’s Edition. This 1999 set gathered both Dirty Dancing LPs over two discs. Two small changes were made; the original Dirty Dancing album was oddly resequenced into rough film order (this did not happen for the full set), and said disc closed out with the longer version of “The Time of My Life,” making its debut on a full album.

Various Artists – Dirty Dancing: The Collector’s Edition (RCA 07863 67786 2, 1999)

Disc 1

  1. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
  2. Where Are You Tonight? Tom Johnston
  3. Stay – Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs
  4. Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen
  5. Overload – Zappacosta
  6. Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel
  7. Love is Strange – Mickey & Sylvia
  8. You Don’t Own Me – The Blow Monkeys
  9. Yes – Merry Clayton
  10. In the Still of the Night – The Five Satins
  11. She’s Like the Wind – Patrick Swayze
  12. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Full-Length Film Version) – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Disc 2 is identical to More Dirty Dancing as read above.

Just four years later, RCA put together Ultimate Dirty Dancing, a much better buy that put the two LPs together on one disc in film order (save one of the brief “The Time of My Life” orchestral bookends).

Various Artists – Ultimate Dirty Dancing (RCA/BMG 82876 55525 2, 2003)

  1. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
  2. Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons
  3. Merengue – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  4. Trot the Fox – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  5. Johnny’s Mambo – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  6. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Instrumental) – The John Morris Orchestra
  7. Where Are You Tonight? – Tom Johnston
  8. Do You Love Me – The Contours
  9. Love Man – Otis Redding
  10. Stay – Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs
  11. Wipe Out – The Surfaris
  12. Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen
  13. Overload – Zappacosta
  14. Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel
  15. De Todo Un Poco – Michael Lloyd & Le Disc
  16. Some Kind of Wonderful – The Drifters
  17. These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding
  18. Cry to Me – Solomon Burke
  19. Will You Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles
  20. Love is Strange – Mickey & Sylvia
  21. You Don’t Own Me – The Blow Monkeys
  22. Yes – Merry Clayton
  23. In the Still of the Night – The Five Satins
  24. She’s Like the Wind – Patrick Swayze
  25. Kellerman’s Anthem – The Emile Bergsteign Chorale
  26. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Full-Length Film Version) – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Then for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2007, things took a turn for the deranged. Two more versions of the soundtracks were released, and their coexistence is crazy. First was a Legacy Edition that featured a DVD of music videos and other visual goodies. There was also a bonus track, the score cue “Gazebo Waltz” – but here’s where things get crazy: the Collector’s Edition track order (i.e.: the first LP in rough film order, then the More Dirty Dancing LP in original order) is sandwiched onto one disc. How this playlist makes sense is anyone’s guess. Then there was the 20th anniversary edition, which skipped the DVD but put all 27 tracks from the Legacy Edition back into their appropriate order. Of course, now that one can program iTunes playlists in minutes, it’s not that big a deal, but it’s still unusual, especially since both sets came out almost simultaneously.

Various Artists – Dirty Dancing: 20th Anniversary Edition (RCA/Legacy 88697 69554 2, 2007)

Tracklist is the same as Ultimate Dirty Dancing plus bonus track “Gazebo Waltz” by The John Morris Orchestra as Track 10.

Various Artists – Dirty Dancing: Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy 88697 70876 2, 2007)

Disc 1 is the playlist for Dirty Dancing: The Collector’s Edition plus bonus track “Gazebo Waltz” by The John Morris Orchestra as Track 19.

Disc 2: DVD

  1. She’s Like the Wind (Music Video)
  2. Yes (Music Video)
  3. Hungry Eyes (Music Video)
  4. Do You Love Me (Music Video)
  5. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Music Video)
  6. (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Karaoke Version)
  7. Photo Gallery

Written by Mike Duquette

May 7, 2010 at 09:30

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