TV Soundtrack

China Beach TV Soundtrack: Music & Memories

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If a movie or television series is about the '60s, its soundtrack should contain some definitive examples of '60s music -- songs that scream '60s in no uncertain terms. China Beach, a series that ran on ABC-TV in the late '80s and early '90s, was about the Vietnam War -- and this soundtrack does contain some definitive examples of rock and soul classics from the '60s and early '70s. Unfortunately, the disc also has its share of filler and is slightly uneven. The definitive songs range from the McCoys' "Hang on Sloopy" and Big Brother & the Holding Company's "Piece of My Heart" (which features the late Janis Joplin) to Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Reflections" and the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet "You're All I Need to Get By." These are gems that immediately transport the listener back to the Vietnam War years -- if Glenn Miller, the Ink Spots, the Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers, and Bing Crosby defined popular music during World War II, artists like Gaye, Ross, and Joplin certainly provided the soundtrack to the baby boomer generation. However, not everything on this CD was actually recorded in the '60s or early '70s. The China Beach soundtrack also contains several covers, and the most noteworthy is Katrina & the Waves' excellent remake of the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (a song that became an anthem for Vietnam Vets -- the jungles of Vietnam were the place that they longed to get out of). The weakest cover, meanwhile, is Wilson Phillips' version of "A Reason to Believe"; that track and Greg Goggins' "Wheelchair Ballet" are equally unnecessary. But the China Beach soundtrack has more ups than downs, and fans of the ABC series will probably want a copy despite its shortcomings and imperfections.

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