Porky's Revenge! [Expanded]

Who knows what Dave Edmunds was thinking when he agreed to produce and assemble the soundtrack to 1985's Porky's Revenge! It's easier to see the motives of the movie's producers -- they were flush with cash after two successful teen-sex comedies set in the '50s, and who would be better to create a new soundtrack of old-time rock & roll than Edmunds, who was not only well-known for his retro-rock, but was riding a wave of popularity after a pair of MTV-friendly Jeff Lynne-produced albums in the mid-'80s. That makes sense. What boggles the mind is that Edmunds, after accepting the job, decided to treat this soundtrack -- which, let's remember, is the second sequel to a film best known for a scene of horny teenage boys spying on the girls in a gym shower and for a female character called "Lassie" who howls like a dog during orgasm -- as a prestige project, recruiting such superstars as George Harrison, Carl Perkins, Jeff Beck, Willie Nelson, and Robert Plant (performing under the Crawling King Snakes moniker with Phil Collins on drums!), along with the up-and-coming Fabulous Thunderbirds, to record new material for this exploitation film! And they agreed to do it! Most amazingly of all, they wound up with a neat little record, something that's far more fun than the accompanying film. Edmunds keeps it simple here, never straying from his own aesthetic of modernizing classic rock & roll, hiring a house band and letting his guest stars do their thing. Apart from Harrison, who cut a previously unrecorded Bob Dylan song "I Don't Want to Do It" (which is quite nice), and Plant, who does a nifty revival of Charlie Rich's rockabilly nugget "Philadelphia Baby," there aren't too many surprises in song selection, but all the performances are infectious -- Perkins is having fun with "Blue Suede Shoes," Kim Wilson sings "Stagger Lee" with vigor, Beck's re-creation of "Sleepwalk" is uncanny -- and the result is simply a good time. Yes, the production has dated a little bit, particularly on the blah instrumental theme song but to a lesser extent on Edmunds' otherwise fun new tune "High School Nights," but that's a minor flaw, because records often do sound like the year they were recorded in. It's far better to dwell on the fact that a third-rate sequel like Porky's Revenge! could produce a soundtrack this good, because that is a mystery for the ages. [Columbia/Legacy's 2004 reissue contains two bonus tracks: a version of "Honey Don't" cut by Carl Perkins at the same Porky's Revenge! session that produced "Blue Suede Shoes," and Dave Edmunds' "Don't Call Me Tonight," which was also released on his 1983 album Information as well as the B-side of the "Do You Wanna Dance" single from Porky's Revenge!] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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