[Review] FM: The Original Movie Soundtrack (1978)

The music to the movie about the music on the radio, featuring the day’s radio stars.

Kronomyth x.x: If you can’t beat ‘em, FM.

The soundtrack to the film FM is pretty much a rotating time capsule of the late 70s. I suppose the only thing missing is some Fleetwood Mac. The movie, which centered on the tumultuous life of an FM radio station, helped set the stage for the popular TV series, WKRP in Cincinnati. The soundtrack simply acknowledges the most popular music of the day: Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Foreigner, Tom Petty, etc.

My interest in the soundtrack begins and ends with the Steely Dan song, FM, featured here in its original version and a reprised instrumental version. It’s kind of “Josie” meets “Deacon Blues.” (Pete Christlieb plays the saxophone solo on both “FM” and “Deacon Blues,” and I’d be hard-pressed to say which one I like better.) At the time of the soundtrack’s release, Randy Meisner’s “Bad Man” also had yet to appear on an album. The rest of the songs were already in regular radio rotation, with the caveat that Linda Ronstadt and Jimmy Buffett took the extra trouble to perform their songs in the movie.

As someone who listened predominantly to prog and punk in the late Seventies, I don’t have any earthly use for this soundtrack. I like Queen, Steve Miller, Eagles and even Boston, but not enough to slough through songs by Dan Fogelberg and Doobie Brothers. In fact, for me, FM is reminder of why I bought all those albums as a kid: because I couldn’t find what I wanted on the radio. That is, until midnight, when the local college radio station would play “alternative” music. And, yes, I actually stayed up until midnight just to hear them. That and to watch the old Hammer films on PBS.

Original 2LP version

A1. Steely Dan: FM (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen) (4:50)
A2. Bob Seger: Night Moves (Bob Seger) (3:23)
A3. Steve Miller: Fly Like an Eagle (Steve Miller) (3:23)
A4. Foreigner: Cold As Ice (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm) (3:15)
A5. Tom Petty: Breakdown (Tom Petty) (2:42)
A6. Randy Meisner: Bad Man (J.D. Souther/Glenn Frey) (2:34)
B1. Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane (Joe Walsh/Don Henley/Glenn Frey) (4:45)
B2. Steely Dan: Do It Again (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen) (5:50)
B3. Boz Scaggs: Lido Shuffle (Boz Scaggs/David Paich) (3:38)
B4. Boston: More Than a Feeling (Tom Scholz) (4:40)
C1. Linda Ronstadt: Tumbling Dice (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) (4:42)
C2. Linda Ronstadt: Poor Poor Pitiful Me (Warren Zevon) (4:15)
C3. Jimmy Buffett: Livingston Saturday Night (Jimmy Buffett) (3:06)
C4. Dan Fogelberg: There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler (Dan Fogelberg) (5:41)
C5. Billy Joel: Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel) (4:42)
D1. Doobie Brothers: It Keeps You Runnin’ (Michael McDonald) (4:12)
D2. James Taylor: Your Smiling Face (James Taylor) (2:41)
D3. Joe Walsh: Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh) (8:00)
D4. Queen: We Will Rock You (Brian May/Freddie Mercury) (2:01)
D5. Steely Dan: FM Reprise (Walter Becker/Donald Fagen) (2:53)

The Players

Compiled by Bob Buziak. Mastered by Gary Katz.

The Pictures

Photography by Kathy Fields except Linda Ronstadt by Bonnie Liffell. Design & art direction by Kosh.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP, cassette and 8-track on April 12, 1978 in the US (MCA, MCA2-12000) and the UK (MCA, MCF 2841, TC2/8X2-MCSP 284) with gatefold cover and poster. Also released on 2CS in 1978 in Italy (MCA, MCAK 74033) as Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Reached #5 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record) and #37 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on 2LP in the UK (MCA, MCLD 621) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-released on 24-bit remastered 2CD in 2013 in Europe (Culture Factory).

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