Saturday, January 20, 2007

Arrivederci, Amici

Well, the deletion terrorism is getting to be too obnoxious to deal with, and since the blog has ceased to be any fun to maintain now, it's time to call it a day. Thanks to all who made this a great sharing experience, and I'm sure I'll resurface again when the smoke clears. In the meantime, enjoy the files that remain; I'll keep the blog up for a while, or whatever remains of it, anyway. Best wishes to you all, and may your lives be filled with music.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gonna Have a Good Time

Better known to Something Weird viewers as Jennie: Wife/Child, the 1968 drive-in oddity Albert Peckingpaw's Revenge offers a bizarre take on the hillbilly sex comedies popular at the time, as a cuckolded husband decides to take revenge on his nymphet bride and her lover by, uh, threatening to bury them alive. Future award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (Deliverance) and director James Landis made this after their earlier partnerships on The Sadist, Deadwood '76 and Rat Fink, while the score and songs were written by Harley Hatcher, who went on to Satan's Sadists, A Bullet for Pretty Boy and Soul Hustler, among others. Some of the hottest numbers are performed by Davie Allen and the Arrows, with most of the vocal duties are handled by actor/singer Don Epperson. Some of the more choice ditties include "Gonna Have a Good Time," "Tender Grass," and the future Catanooga Cats bubblegum tune, "My Birthday Suit."


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Soap Gets In Your Ears: Part 5

Now back to paperback sleaze king Harold Robbins again; in 1970, Paramount released a mammoth version of his sleazy South American jet set novel, The Adventurers, with a bizarre cast including Candice Bergen, Olivia de Havilland, Rossano Brazzi, John Ireland, and lots of other bewildered stars. The end result featured enough nasty sex and violence to earn a hard R rating but failed to turn a profit, so Paramount replaced it with a gutted PG version that remained the only viable viewing option for decades (but thankfully the DVD is uncut). Brazilian bossa and jazz maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim (who penned "The Girl from Ipanema") offers a nice and sunny score with some great loungy moments (especially "Rome Montage"); his work was later adapted into the more easily obtained (and better-selling) Music from The Adventurers by Quincy Jones and the Ray Brown Orchestra, but here's the original for comparison.

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Monday, January 15, 2007


One of those deliriously great "with it" mod movies, 1970's The Grasshopper stars Jacqueline Bisset as a globetrotting free spirit who beds her way from one man to the next when she's not busy skywriting obscenities. Jim Brown and Joseph Cotten co-star, but perhaps most interestingly, it was directed by Jerry Paris, better known as the next-door-neighbor on The Dick Van Dyke Show! Extremely underrated '70s TV composer Billy Goldenberg (Columbo, Night Gallery, Duel) chips in with a silky-smooth score ranging from light psychedelic rock to lilting pop, with a handful of vocal variations, too.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Music Behind The Mask

An enjoyable if extremely fictionalized biopic of silent screen legend Lon Chaney, 1957's Man of a Thousand Faces stars James Cagney in the main role as the man who became famous as The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, among others. Of course, this being the '50s, you also get a lot of sentimal schmaltz thrown in for good measure. The solid, old-fashioned Hollywood score comes from composer Frank Skinner, who certainly knew his way around a monster or two thanks to his work in the '40s on films like Son of Frankenstein, Man Made Monster and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, though the warmer style here is also similar to the work he was doing for Douglas Sirk around the same time on films like Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jerry's Turn

Movie prequels are rarely a good idea, and one of the weirdest was definitely 1972's The Nightcomers, an attempt by director Michael Winner (Death Wish) to show the events leading up to the events of Henry James' famous ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. In this case, the explanation involves lots of S&M with Marlon Brando and Stephanie Beacham. Not good, really, but certainly interesting. Easily the best thing about the film is the score by the late and highly underrated Jerry Fielding, who's better known for his dissonant work with directors like Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) and Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales). The music here is very lyrical and melodic, one of his strongest and most unusual achievements.

Sorry, link removed - an expanded CD is now commercially available.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hold Your Breath

The first English-language film from director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita), 1988's The Big Blue, had a notoriously troubled release history around the world. Intended as an eye-popping ode to the ocean as seen through the eyes of two "free divers" who push each other to dangerous extremes, it was released in the U.S. in a drastically edited, PG-rated version with a happy ending and a new score by Bill Conti, replacing the original one by Eric Serra. Eventually the original cut surfaced in theaters and on DVD, while Serra's score has been issued countless times in numerous variations on CD. However, the beautiful Conti score is actually one of his very best (with an unforgettable main theme) but sadly never got a commercial release anywhere; a few samples have turned up on compilations, but here's the whole thing for listening pleasure. Dive in...


Friday, December 29, 2006

Smile on Your Brother

One of the goofier "hip" counterculture films from Europe, Cometogether (1971) was the first and only directorial effort for oily action star Tony Anthony, who appeared in Blindman the same year and went on to infamy by kicking off the '80s 3-D craze with Comin' at Ya! and Treasure of the Four Crowns. In this film (produced by Ringo Starr!), he appears as a smarmy tourist who hooks up with two hot, groovy chicks (Thunderball's Luciana Paluzzi and Eurosleaze regular Rosemary Dexter) for a swinging time in Italy during the summer. If you find this one, don't miss the priceless "shock" ending that tries to ape Easy Rider but will most likely have you on the floor in hysterics. The catchy, pop-inspired score by Stelvio Cipriani (who was also kicking off his relationship with Mario Bava around the same time) is a lot of fun and comes sprinkled with covers of a few hit songs from the time, with enough versions of "Love Is Blue" (both instrumental and vocal) to put you off that tune for life. Don't miss the choice and (unintentionally?) hilarious dialogue passages, too.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ho, Ho, Ho!

For the last pre-Christmas post, here's the peppy Henry Mancini score for the biggest Christmas flop of all time, 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie. Producer Richard Salkind (Superman) thought he had a perennial hit on his hand thanks to a lavish budget and a cast featuring Dudley Moore (as an elf) and John Lithgow, but alas, 'twas not meant to be. The movie's kind of fun in the right frame of mind, though, and Mancini's score hits all the right notes while incorporating a few carolling standards into the mix. Of course, this being the mid-'80s, Sheena Easton even pops up for a singing cameo, too. Happy holidays, one and all!

Santa Claus: The Movie
1. Main Title: Every Christmas Eve and Santa's Theme
2. Arrival Of The Elves
3. Making Toys
4. Christmas Rhapsody
5. It's Christmas Again
6. March Of The Elves
7. Patch, Natch!
8. It's Christmas (All Over The World) (with Sheena Easton)
9. Shouldn't Do That
10. Sleigh Ride Over Manhattan
11. Sad Patch
12. Patch Versus Santa
13. Thank You, Santa


Friday, December 15, 2006

Sandy Sounds

One of the most underrated composers out there, Mike Batt is best known for some his pop song work including the theme from Watership Down ("Bright Eyes") and some fascinating concept albums including the sci-fi/new wave masterpiece, Zero Zero. One of his best straight-up film scores is for 1978's Carvans, one of those all-star exotic epics that were so in vogue at the time. Despite a cast including Anthony Quin, Christopher Lee, Michael Sarrazin, Joseph Cotten and Jennifer O'Neill, most viewers stayed away from the sandy, Iran-based action film, the second directorial effort for frequent Clint Eastwood director James Fargo (The Enforcer). However, the knockout music is absolutely worthy of rediscovery, with a beautiful main theme that gets a solid workout (and a surprisingly great pop rendition in the last track).

1. Caravans On The Move
2. Main Title
3. Russian Dance
4. Inside Sardar Khan's Palace
5. Journey To Badek
6. The Camp At Qualir
7. The Desolate Valley
8. Caravan Song
9. Qualir at Night
10. Storm In The Desert
11. Becky's Waltz
12. Kochi Dancer
13. The Aftermath
14. Theme from Caravans