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...