Artist: Various Artists
Pump Up the Volume (IMDB, Wikipedia) was the perfect movie to usher in the 1990s. Here was a movie about the frustration and angst of Generation X expressed through the voice of one teenager (played by Christian Slater) and the music of the American underground. There is a fantastic moment at the beginning of the film where the camera pans over a stack of cassettes by the likes of Soundgarden, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, and the Descendents (just to name a few). Little did anyone know at the time that just a little over a year later a little band from
would bring this very music to the masses of American society. Washington
The soundtrack to Pump Up the Volume stands out because it is an outstanding collection of songs from that era and the movie. The best moments are the Bad Brains and Henry Rollins cover of The MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams,” Concrete Blonde’s haunting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” the amazing UK Surf version of the Pixies “Wave of Mutilation.” It isn’t perfect though because of the songs that were in the film that were not included on the soundtrack. The most notable exclusions were the Leonard Cohen version of “Everybody Knows,” the Descendents’ “Weinerschnitzel,” Was (Not Was)’s “Dad, I’m in Jail,” Urban Dance Squad’s “Fast Lane,” and Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ "Love Comes in Spurts." I’ve been hoping that someone would do a 20th anniversary reissue of the DVD and soundtrack and include these songs.
Pump Up the Volume was notable for me personally because it was the first place that I heard the Descendents (I shan’t go into my obsessive love affair with all things Descendents/ALL here since I have written many things in the past on this very subject). This movie also really spoke to me and helped me get through the early part of high school. I’m not sure if this is something that would translate for today’s youth but it perfectly captured a segment and time period of my generation.