Rocks Off has picked up some CDs over the years at prices so low we think that it would've been less insulting to the artists if we had stolen them. Some of these have become our favorite albums, and in this column we'll tell you what they are and why!
For Rocks Off's money, there is no more under appreciated movie than Toys, starring Robin Williams. We have watched it every Christmas, and with each viewing we grow more and more attached to the story of a toy maker who has to grow up to preserve innocence and whimsy in the face of commercialism and war.
One of the things we remember so vividly as a child was the music video that Robin Williams and Joan Cusack use as a distraction to infiltrate the heart of the Toy factory. It had everything that a music video should have! Violins, red suits and bowler hats, hot female vocals, weird men falling from the sky, the works. It was simply surrealism at its finest.
One day about four years ago we were pawing through the CD racks at the Montrose Half Price Books when we stepped on our untied shoelaces and fell to the ground. Once the ringing sensation left us, we found ourselves staring right at the jewel case for the Toys soundtrack. Apparently they hide the good stuff down below at Half Price... or it's more possible we simply enjoy what no one else will buy. Regardless, we bought the CD for less than the price of a Jumbo Jack, and it has never been out of our car since.
You've got Tori Amos' semi-industrial ode to the working class in "Happy Workers," and an incredible remix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" that is one of the most stirring battle pieces ever put on film. In the movie, it's used as the background track for the war between the state of the art weaponized toys and the old children's toys, a scene that still makes us cry as we watch happy ducks and Alien Al gunned down. Hell, we're tearing up as we write this.
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You've got both Grace Jones and Pat Metheny tackling different versions of "Let Joy and Innocence Prevail." As a song for the loved ones left behind by soldiers, the song cannot be beat. It's a stirring anthem to those on the widow's walk, and a testament to the power of love.
But the real gems on the album are the two versions of the movie's Christmas song, "Closing of the Year." It should be illegal to release Christmas music without a children's chorus. It just should. Nothing brings a holiday home like the voices of children who still believe in magic, in goodness, in the miracle of snow and home.
Toys cost us almost nothing, and gave us almost everything.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.