John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band – ‘On The Dark Side’

 

 

 

From FTVJohn Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band – On The Dark Side (1984). From the movie Eddie & The Cruisers (1983)

We want to inform all fans of “Eddie and the Cruisers” that Volcano Entertainment has  reissued the CD, complete with “Tender Years” and “Wild Summer Nights” in all their glory! This CD puts the previous Scotti Bros. release (which left these two great songs off) to shame. Thanks to everyone involved with restoring this album to classic status and long live Eddie and the Cruisers!

 

About Eddie & The Cruisers:

Eddie and the Cruisers  is a 1983 American film directed by Martin Davidson with the screenplay written by the director and Arlene Davidson, based on the novel by P.F. Kluge. It was marketed with the tagline “Rebel. Rocker. Lover. Idol. Vanished.

The film is about two different stories, one told in real time, and one told in flashbacks: the present day story concerns a television reporter named Maggie Foley (Ellen Barkin) investigating the mysterious death of musician Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) and the search for his band’s second album, which disappeared from the vaults of Satin Records the day after Eddie’s alleged death.

The story told in flashbacks portrays a 1960s rock ‘n’ roll band called Eddie and the Cruisers. The band makes a name for itself while playing regularly at a Somers Point, New Jersey club called Tony Mart’s. It is there that they meet Frank Ridgeway (Tom Berenger), whom Eddie hires to be the band’s keyboard player and lyricist, and whom he nicknames “Wordman”. Band manager Doc Robbins (Joe Pantoliano) and bassist Sal Amato (Matthew Laurance) are skeptical of hiring Frank, who is not a trained musician or experienced songwriter, but Eddie believes that Frank is crucial to the band’s development. Rounding out the Cruisers is saxophonist Wendell Newton (Michael “Tunes” Antunes), background singer and Eddie’s girlfriend Joann Carlino (Helen Schneider), and drummer Kenny Hopkins (David Wilson).

With Ridgeway’s help, the band stops playing cover songs and releases an album of original material titled Tender Years that instantly becomes a hit, especially with the songs “On the Dark Side”, “Wild Summer Nights”, and the title track. The band members spend a year recording their next album A Season in Hell, during which Eddie’s artistic and creative talents often are buried beneath his arrogant and rebellious traits, leading to arguments between him and Robbins. At one point, Amato tells Eddie he doesn’t understand what he’s looking for, to which Eddie responds that he wants to be great. Sal replies “We ain’t great. We’re just some guys from Jersey.” Eddie makes it clear that if the band cannot be great, then there is no reason to ever play music again.

The band’s second album is a culmination of all that Eddie had ever hoped to do with music, different from anything that anyone else had ever done to that point, and he was satisfied with it. However, it is controversial and considered dark and strange by the record company, Satin Records, and is rejected, not to be released. In the early morning hours after Satin refuses to release the new album, Eddie’s car crashes through the railing going over the Stainton Memorial Causeway. Eddie is declared dead, but his body is never found.

Almost 20 years later, Satin re-releases the band’s first album, which becomes a surprise hit, climbing higher on the charts than it ever did originally. The producers of a television show decide to do a documentary on the band, with an attempt to bring light to the band’s second album, which disappeared from the vaults of Satin Records the day after Eddie’s alleged death. Though the namesake of the documentary is the band’s lead singer, it revolves around the other members of the Cruisers, especially Ridgeway and their memories of the band. All of the original Cruisers have moved on with their lives except Wendell Newton, who had died of an overdose in August 1963 at age 37 (His body had been found by Hopkins in a local motel). Only Sal Amato remained in the music business, leading a new lineup of Cruisers. Ridgeway is now working as a high school teacher in Vineland, Doc is a local radio disc jockey in Asbury Park, Joann is a stage choreographer in Wildwood, and Hopkins works in an Atlantic City casino.

Much of the story takes place in flashback, prompted by Foley’s interviews with the band members. Tensions building within the Cruisers during the flashback sequences coincide with Frank’s willingness to be more open with Maggie. Frank recalls, during the interview, that he suggested the band play at Benton College where Frank was a student, but Eddie felt uncomfortable there, stating that they would not fit in because it was not “their kind of place”. Although Eddie reluctantly agrees, he gets back at Frank by referring to him as “Toby Tyler” to the audience when naming off his band members in an attempt to make Frank look bad. When Frank tries to quit, Eddie realizes his error and reconciles with him, telling Frank that they need each other.

The story’s climax involves Joann, completing the one piece of the flashback puzzle that Frank could not: what happened the night that Satin refused to release the band’s second album. After storming from the studio, Eddie brought her to the Palace of Depression, a makeshift castle made of garbage and junk that he visited often as a child. She reveals it was in fact she who took the master tapes for the album from Satin Records, hiding them in the Palace of Depression, where she felt they belonged.

Frank and Joann go back to the Palace of Depression to retrieve the master tapes. After returning to Joann’s house, she receives a phone call she believes to be from Eddie, who has been missing for almost 20 years, and with whom she remains in love. Frank does not believe it to be Eddie who called her, and hides outside and watches as a blue 57 Chevy, identical to Eddie’s, arrives at the house, and a voice that sounds like Eddie’s calls to her. Before Joann can reach the car, Frank pulls the driver from behind the wheel, who turns out to be Doc, who was using the trickery to obtain possession of the master tapes. They nonetheless give him the tapes, which he promises to release under a deal that will benefit all of them.

The film closes with Maggie’s story about the band, being viewed on televisions in a store window and watched by a crowd outside. The credits roll as a song from A Season in Hell is played for the first time, and as the lights from the television dim, the crowd walks away, leaving only one person standing at the window. The reflection appears in the store window, revealing it to be a much-older and long-lost Eddie Wilson. He smiles serenely, proud to know that his work, misunderstood all those years ago, is finally being heard, and he disappears into the night.

 

Eddie and the Cruisers – Tender Years