Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was, in many ways, the quintessential Eighties super-hero: an ordinary person obsessed by the extraordinary dream of competing professionally as a ski jumper in the 1988 Winter Olympics at Calgary. Though technically unskilled and woefully untrained compared to the professionals he would jump against, Michael Edwards gained the love of the British public through sheer force of personality and self-belief alone, not to mention a pair of glasses that looked like they had been made from milk bottles. The fact that he didn’t win doesn’t matter – he was our underdog that year, and every bit the winner in out hearts, if not on the podium.
A movie of Edwards’s audacious attempt was perhaps always inevitable; it has that quality that we love in stories of aiming high and living out your dreams, allowing us to live out our own fantasies vicariously through others’ endeavours without ever having to get off the sofa.
The soundtrack to the film could well become the proof that This Is Not Retro has always sought to offer, namely that the Eighties might be thirty years in the distant past, but that the artists from that era remain as important and creative as ever. Looking down the artists and groups involved is like a veritable who’s who of the Eighties music scene – ABC, Marc Almond, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Holly Johnson, Paul Young, Kim Wilde and so on – many of whom contributed exclusive songs to the soundtrack, including Erasure’s Andy Bell who sang the poignant title track. If collecting so many luminaries together seems as ambitious as Eddie’s own attempt to fly, consider that the soundtrack was compiled by Take That’s Gary Barlow, whose time spent with the likes of Simon Cowell has presumably given him the necessary persuasive skills required to get so many heroes into one place.
On the whole, the songs here are good opportunities to illustrate that our favourite Eighties stars are alive, well and still capable of producing quality pop songs; there’s an inevitable period sheen to proceedings, but these are also modern updates on the sound of thirty years ago. Howard Jones’s ‘Eagle Will Fly Again’ is among the best things he’s ever done, while Tony Hadley hasn’t sounded as good on ‘Moment’ since the early post-punk days of Spandau. If there’s a criticism, it’s that most of the songs here are themed around transcendence, soaring, aiming high and generally using flight as a metaphor for overcoming challenges; something of an inevitability given that’s the the theme of the film, but it just makes some of the content feel a little like an empowerment self-help book if listened to in one sitting.
But that’s just a minor gripe. If you have the remotest interest in the artists that made the Eighties such an important musical decade – and let’s be fair, that’s why you read this site – this is essential listening.
Holly Johnson – Ascension / Howard Jones – Eagle Will Fly Again / Marc Almond – Out Of The Sky / Tony Hadley – Moment / Midge Ure – Touching Hearts and Skies / Nik Kershaw – The Sky’s The Limit / ABC – Living Inside My Heart / Kim Wilde – Without Your Love / Andy Bell – Fly / Go West – Determination / Heaven 17 – Pray / Paul Young – People Like You / Taron Egerton & Hugh Jackman – Thrill Me
‘Fly (Songs Inspired By The Film Eddie The Eagle)’ is released on March 18th 2016 on CD and as a Digital Download.
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