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


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yug Yug

Here's one for all you kids of the '80s. During the early part of that decade, movie-theme-disco-maestro Meco was still cranking out albums offering his own dancefloor-friendly interpretations of the biggest box office hits, and let's just say that if disco hadn't died already, this 1983 album surely would have singlehandedly killed it off. Once again he returns to Star Wars territory courtesy of two, err, "vocal" numbers from Return of the Jedi (both completely omitted from George Lucas' dunderheaded "Special Edition" version years later). First up is "Ewok Celebration," a jaw-dropping dance version of the climactic Ewok song complete with, yes, a Star Wars rap. I really couldn't make this up. Then you get a pop version of that Jabba the Hut number, "Lapti Nek." But wait, there's more! Aiming for every demographic possible, the album also includes a cover of Michael Sembello's "Maniac" (from Flashdance), another extended Star Wars suite, and... well... just look at the tracklist for the rest, and prepare to be amazed.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bless You

Following their groovy score for 1970's forgotten R.P.M., Barry DeVorzon (future composer of The Warriors and Dillinger) and Perry Botkin, Jr. got the plum scoring assigment for Bless the Beasts & Children, Stanley Kramer's impassioned statement about animal killing that's probably the closest American cinema has ever come to an Italian mondo film (for the whole family, natch). The film stars Billy Mumy from The Twilight Zone in this tale about a bunch of boys who run away from summer camp and wind up wrangling with a bunch of buffalo killers, complete with a theme song by The Carpenters. Perhaps more famously, the melodic track "Cotton's Dream" was appropriated two years later as the famous theme song for the TV soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Soap Gets in Your Ears: Part 4

The indisputable queen of literary trash, Jackie Collins (sister of Joan) ruled the '70s with string of "steamy, yummy bestsellers" (in the words of French & Saunders) with titles like The Bitch and The Stud. Fortunately the movie adaptations are just as OTT and hilarious, and one of the most overripe of the bunch is 1979's The World Is Full of Married Men. Almost a musical, this full-strength wallow in glitzy excess features many on-screen dance performers including a young Bonnie Tyler (who sings the title track, later issued in a different version on CD), Paul Nicholas (still fresh off his turns as Cousin Kevin in Ken Russell's Tommy and Wagner in Lisztomania), and even space-disco Brit-group Hot Gossip, whose one-time lead singer, future stage and vocal chart star Sarah Brightman, also contributes a song (the ultra-rare horror disco ditty, "Madame Hyde"). The "normal" actors in the film include an obviously fearless Anthony Franciosa (pre-Tenebrae), Caroll Baker, and even Story of O's Anthony Steel. The UK-issued double-LP soundtrack ("As Seen on TV!") was released by Ronco, best known for hawking chintzy kitchen utensils on television, who apparently decided to compete with K-Tel in the late '70s and lost. The album quickly disappeared and has become quite a curiosity item thanks to a dizzying roster of songs, most of them pleasingly weird and obscure (just skip past the occasional overworn chestnut like "Copacabana").

The World Is Full of Married Men - Part 1
1. The World Is Full Of Married Men (Bonnie Tyler)
2. Get Down (Gene Chandler)
3. Shame (Evelyn "Champagne" King)
4. Weekend (Mick Jackson)
5. Love Clone (Hot Gossip)
6. We Don't Make Each Other Laugh Anymore (Gladys Knight)
7. Copacabana (Barry Manilow)
8. Woman In Love (The Three Degrees)

9. Boogie Town (F.L.B.)
10. Take That To The Bank (Shalamar)
11. Boogie Oogie Oogie (Taste Of Honey)
12. Makin' It (Paul Nicholas)
13. Snakes Alive (Nona Hendricks)
14. Disco Nights (G.Q.)
The World Is Full of Married Men - Part II
15. Now That We've Found Love (Third World)
16. Contact (Edwin Starr)
17. Lovely Day (Bill Withers)
18. Right Back Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale)
19. Crazy (The Glass Family)
20. Madame Hyde (Sarah Brightman)
21. Best Of My Love (The Emotions)
22. Mind Blowing Decisions (Heatwave)
23. Every Woman In The World (Billy Ocean)
24. You make Me Feel Mighty Real (Sylvester)
25. Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (Tavares)
26. Disco Concerto (Jasmin)
27. Loveline (Paul Nicholas)
28. The World Is Full Of Married Men (Mick Jackson)

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