25 Greatest Soundtracks: Purple Rain, Hard Days Night, Easy Rider – Rolling Stone
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The 25 Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

From ‘Easy Rider’ to ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

Pulp Fiction

Courtesy MCA

From Elvis gyrating in prison stripes in Jailhouse Rock to Prince putting Apollonia on the back of his bike in Purple Rain, rock & roll and movies have been inseparable for going on 60 years. In making this list, we included soundtrack albums built around original songs (hey, Superfly) as well as expertly curated compilations (we see you, Quentin), but we generally favored fresh tunes over killer mixtapes. And while great movies and great soundtracks can go hand in hand (A Hard Day’s Night), sometimes a so-so film is full of historic tunes, as in our number one pick.

Purple Rain
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‘Purple Rain’ (1984)

When it comes to rock & roll myth-making at the movies, you can't get any purpler than this. The plot is your standard melodrama about a struggling musician with girl troubles, except this guy happens to be Prince, right at the moment when he's on a historic creative streak. And to tell this story, he's writing songs like "When Doves Cry" and "The Beautiful Ones" and oh, yes, "Purple Rain." It's an epic celebration of everything rock & roll, which means sex and religion and eyeliner and motorcycles and guitars and Lake Minnetonka.

Help!
1

‘Help!’ (1965)

The Beatles' second movie was a light Swinging London goof, but the real action is on the soundtrack. It was a fond farewell to mop-top sweetness, paving the way for the groundbreaking experimentation of Rubber Soul. The album peaks higher than A Hard Day's Night, too, with some of the Beatles' most mind-bogglingly great songs – including the title track, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Yesterday" and "Ticket To Ride" – surrounded by Paul McCartney's R&B burner "The Night Before" and cute, lovely tunes like "I've Just Seen a Face," a still-underrated track that sounds something like Simon and Garfunkel attempting bluegrass. The truncated American version's second side was taken up by the film's orchestral score, so Yanks had to wait until the Eighties CD reissues to hear what they'd been missing.

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