Soundtracks, library music & all that jazz...

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Rockford Kabine - Copenhagen Climax
151 plays

Four cues from the OST lp ‘Copenhagen Climax’ by Rockford Kabine and Marcella & The Forget Me Nots, Salon Elegance Recordings, 2013.

Yes! 2013. Blimey O’Reilly, an up to the minute contemporary soundtrack has found its way into my home and onto these pages. I was tipped off about this record by some idle chatter on a rather silly online forum devoted mostly to endless images of coloured vinyl horror soundtracks. Not my thing- I really don’t get it, the multi variant coloured wax collecting craze. But hey, mustn’t bitch, as without those odd bods I would never have come across this scary beast.

I’ve written before about the danger of seeing films because one enjoys the music. It can invariably lead to disappointment. In the case of ‘Copenhagen Climax’ I would suggest it may lead to revulsion (depending on your disposition) as the movie is billed as a ‘fuck film’, and I don’t think they’re exaggerating, judging by the image found on the film’s home page that I visited in order to place my online order for this lp.

Buying it also lead me to acquire Rockford Kabine’s equally murderous electronic soundtrack to the doubtlessly charming super 8 porn flick ‘HoxXxton’ (see what they did there?). Soon afterwards, related but unsolicited postcards began to arrive in the mail for me- I suspect that I was being invited, or worse, welcomed into the fold. The images were such that I felt a little uneasy about just popping them on top of the paper recycling. Neighbours will talk you know….

Anyway, enjoy the music, steer clear of the film, and do grab a vinyl copy online. It still seems to be under the radar and they’ll send it to you for a tenner all in.

Lastly, I copied the image above from the internet rather than take a snap of the album as it’s still in shrink wrap and therefore too reflective to photograph. I’m leaving it that way- it feels safer (and seems appropriate) to keep an impervious protective layer between this record and myself.

Kenny Burrell - Hot Bossa
289 plays

Kenny Burrell, ‘Hot Bossa’, Cadet Records, USA, 1966.

Little gem of a 7” that unexpectedly turned up in a box of 45s at my local vinyl shop. From the first bar, with its infectiously catchy drum beat, we just know we’re going to love this tune.

Staring through the centre hole is one of those creepy aliens from John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’.

John Carpenter, Alan Howarth - John Carpenter, They Live
119 plays

Listen to four tracks from the ‘They Live’ OST. Enigma Records (7-73367-1), USA, 1988. All music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

Open for business as usual, John Carpenter (along with collaborator Howarth) turns out another great score for one of his own movies. Carpenter had a habit of writing the soundtracks for his films, undoubtably due to budget constraints early in his career and maybe, later on, once he’d developed a taste for it, because he just didn’t trust anybody else to do as good a job as he could. And rightly so, although Morricone was deemed a safe enough pair of hands for ‘The Thing’ (must have had a big budget too!)

As with many of his scores, Carpenter keeps it simple, (all in one key) because he knows what works, and here, what works is the recurring bass hook and lonesome harmonica which I hear as the international (well Western at least) call of the drifter. The drifter. He’s our hero in ‘They Live’, moving from town to town, looking for honest work until one day he finds a pair of sunglasses. He puts them on (well I suppose it was sunny) and, low and behold, he sees the world as it truly is- a doomed planet inhabited by a human race unknowingly brainwashed and enslaved by aliens. Hah! you think to yourself, sounds like something David Icke would dream up, but funnily enough, when one searches youtube for ‘They Live, John Carpenter’, it doesn’t take long for David to pop up: he actually references the film as some sort of companion piece to his deeply held belief that the world we live in is controlled by blood sucking lizards dressed in human skin. He’s fab, our Dave, especially when he moves on to enthuse over George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ with the words “C’mon George! It’s not happening in a galaxy far, far away! It’s happening right here, right now!” as though the director was somehow ducking his responsibilities by setting his story in another time and place.

One can waste a lot of time on the internet listening to David Icke, but after a while he just makes you sad. 

Carter Burwell - Raising Arizona
74 plays

As promised recently, selections from Carter Burwell’s soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ ‘Raising Arizona’. Find it alongside Burwell’s score for ‘Blood Simple’, both released on one lp by TER in 1987 (UK).

The sometimes naive, sunny nature of these cues acts as a welcome contrast to Blood Simple’s deep dark heart.

Franco Micalizzi - Chi Sei?
109 plays

Listen to three tracks from the OST “Chi Sei?”. CAM records (SAG 9062), Italy, 1974. Music by Franco Micalizzi. Also released on the Barclay label in Canada under the film’s English title “Beyond The Door”.

Original soundtrack to what looks to be a low grade pile of cinematic schlock, that shamelessly manages to rip off the central plot ideas of both Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Happily for the soundtrack connoisseur, a terrible film can often mean a superb musical experience…

Ever since I began to take an interest in film soundtracks I’ve had a yen to hear and own this record. Whilst trawling online shops and auction sites its creepy cover would appear regularly, but with a price higher than I was prepared to pay. After all, it was always going to be a punt: just because it ticked all the boxes in terms of country, label, composer, year and film genre, didn’t mean that it would deliver musically.

Several years pass and youtube morphs slowly from an online cinema streaming rare archive footage, into a vast virtual juke box where obsessive (or shall we be kind and say ‘enthusiastic’?) music fans upload their favourite treasures. Suddenly one can hear samples of, or even entire albums that had hitherto remained mythical beasts cloaked in shrouds of secrecy.  So, I finally get to hear what all the fuss is about regarding “Chi Sei?” (translation- Who Are You?) and buy the first one I come across on the strength of some low bit rate youtube clips. It’s a stunner from start to finish, a goody bag filled to the brim with slow jam grooves, hypnotic bass lines, moog hooks, sleazy sax motifs and much much more. Listening to the record in its entirety is such a low down dirty experience that I sometimes need a bath afterwards.

Horace Silver, ‘Song For My Father’. Denmark, 1968.

Dudley Moore - Dudley Moore Today
71 plays

The best bits from the ‘Today’ lp, Dudley Moore Trio, Atlantic Records (K40379), UK, 1972.

Aah, bless his little cotton socks, all wrapped up in that fur coat sporting a soppy smile. How appropriate that Dudley and cuddly rhyme.

I won’t lie to you, this record doesn’t set the world on fire although it does contain moments of brilliance, notably the opening track in the sound clip. ‘Song For Suzy’ is an irresistible jazz groover with a confident rolling gait and scat vocals performed, I believe, by Dudley Moore himself. It’s one of at least three tunes Moore wrote with ‘Suzy’ or ‘Sooze’ in the title for his wife Suzy Kendall, to whom he was married from 1968 until 1972. Kendall, an actress, had roles in many swinging 60s films (Thunderball, The Liquidator, Up The Junction to name a few) before moving over to Giallo horror in ‘Torso’ and ‘The Bird With The Crystal Plummage’ (stunning Morricone soundtrack there, worth tracking down). She recently popped up in the much-hyped but ultimately disappointing ‘Berberian Sound Studio’.

There is a hilarious youtube film of the trio miming to ‘Song For Suzy’ on a UK television programme presented by Roger Whittaker- watch it here:

I did a little spot on the decks recently (in public!) and thought this track was worth playing out, as they say. I was very pleased to see a table of three hard looking men in their mid fifties tapping their feet and nodding along approvingly to Mr. Moore. Then things looked up as a couple began to dance! Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to the general mood of the room because the next record I played saw my dancing couple leave and the man responsible for the music that night hastily bounce into the dj booth saying that he needed to “rescue the dancefloor”! There were only two people dancing in the first place and it was just a pub, but hey, playing records can be a life or death situation.

Carter Burwell - Blood Simple
102 plays

Having briefly mentioned the Coen brothers in my last post I was reminded of this top notch record that has nestled far too quietly on my shelves of late: the original soundtrack to ‘Blood Simple’, TER Records, UK, 1987. This ost takes up one side of the record- on the other is the score for ‘Raising Arizona’ which will appear here soon.

There is not really much I can tell you about the Coen brothers’ 1984 directorial debut that you don’t already know. It sticks in my mind for many reasons, not least for its plot (which strikes me as a perfect meld of simplicity and sophistication) but also for M. Emmet Walsh’s dead eyed portrayal of amoral Texan private dick Loren Visser. And who can forget the shocking buried alive scene? Suffice to say it is a deeply satisfying helping of modern film noir that bears repeated viewing well, so I will simply leave you with a taster of the appropriately dark sounds created by Coen brothers regular, Carter Burwell. You really need to get Carter.

By the way, Coen brothers? I thought it was only East End Jews who dropped their aitches…



Edgar Froese - Kamikaze 1989
133 plays

Hear ten minutes of the soundtrack to Kamikaze 1989 by Egdar Froese. UK Virgin Records, V2255, 1982.

Excellent early 80s electro soundtrack lp composed by Tangerine Dream synth man Edgar Froese. A contemporary of ‘Season Of The Witch’ and other John Carpenter minimalist scores, Froese’s work here is by comparison a much warmer soundscape to inhabit. It shimmers, it bounces and heck, you can even dance to it, although in my case this should perhaps be done in private.

The film is based on Swedish writer Per Fredrik Wahlöö’s 1966 detective novel “Murder On The Thirty-First Floor” in which a deliberately dull, colourless middle aged detective investigates a shocking killing on the top floor of a building that houses the all powerful media conglomerate holding the country together. Fast forward to 1982 and the last thing that we could accuse our detective of (played shortly before his untimely death by controversial torch bearer of German New Wave Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder) is being dull or colourless. Check him out! Sleazy, greasy and donned head to toe in fake animal skin, he even has the self same leopard print fake fur on the butt of his gun. You can see this in the opening frames of the film which can be found in its entirety on youtube (This opening sequence could so easily be transplanted into a Coen Brothers movie). Sadly, if you are not up on your modern European languages you may well struggle with the plot as the only youtube hit for the entire film is in German, with French subtitles. 

J. Asher, P. Willsher & T.Kelly. - Devil's Disco, Oriental Workload, Damp And Swampy
93 plays

Action Disco. 1981, UK,  Studio G Library, LPSG 4001 VOL. 4.

Another library lp surfaces in my local second hand record shop. Sadly, the days when the staff there knew almost nothing about library music have faded into memory. I still have some very tasty titles that were bought there for under a tenner and even once witnessed with horror, a fellow shopper get to a £100 Telemusic record before I did- it was priced up at £7. The stuff of nightmares.
Still, I’m happy to pay £20 for this little oddity if it helps keep one of the few thriving record shops we have left alive and well.

Action Disco is a strange little record in that it can drift by almost unnoticed if one listens casually while say, cooking dinner or cleaning the toilet. Sit down however, pour yourself a nice cup of tea, turn it up a bit and it reveals itself to be quite mad; and in reality, completely unconnected to disco!

Michel Polnareff - Lipstick
82 plays

Michel Polnareff, OST to the film ‘Lipstick’. Released on Atlantic, France, 1976.

Well, it’s not often I find an interesting film score in my local record shop, so this was a bit of a treat for me last Saturday. Never heard or seen the record before, but handy listening decks in-store made this a quick and easy decision: this record is beguiling and essential.

The opening cue would have us believe that we are in for a disco treat, but bar these first three minutes, that’s it. What follows is a ride and a half. The title track gives way to a twelve minute montage that encompasses orchestral schmaltz, gentle piano, celestial harp, Parisien accordion and heavy doses of tight, tense, beat and bass laden cinematic drama. Side one ends….breathe again.

But….. flipping the LP over we enter another world, a strange and harrowing realm of deep electronic pulses, drones and stabs that make up the ten minute electronica beast charmingly entitled “The Rapist”. Well, that’s what the film is about and as usual, I’ve not seen it. A brief spot of online research has lead me to the conclusion that it’s a relatively early example of that rather nasty, gratuitous and exploitative genre, the ‘revenge thriller’ that has soiled mainstream cinema for the last decade or more. I’ll state my position: an act, or series of acts so repugnant and morally reprehensible take place, thus slaking an audience’s thirst for violence, rape, murder or preferably all three. So foul are these deeds that unspeakably brutal retribution is required in order to return our moral and ethical equilibrium to some sort or norm. We can therefore enjoy the terror, twice, without the guilt.

Remember the Liam Neeson vehicle, ‘Taken’? Yes, you know the one- that utter piece of shit which required us all to revel in the big man’s trail of savage vengeance and bloody carnage just because someone had kidnapped his daughter. Yup, that’s the trash I’m talking about.

Sorry if I sound cross. I’ve just drunk two dry martinis and gotten a little carried away…

 - 3 tracks from 'Theorem'
171 plays

Listen to three cues composed by Ennio Morricone for Pasolini’s 1968 film ‘Teorema’ (Theorem, Theoreme).  Japanese reissue, Barclay/ London Records, 1983.

Whilst Parcelforce and my local sub-post office were busy fouling up the delivery of this record, the ensuing delay meant that I found myself seeing the film at the BFI on London’s Southbank before hearing the soundtrack- an unusual sequence of events for me.

In Pier Paolo Pasolini’s groundbreaking and experimental film, a beautiful guest (Terence Stamp) arrives at the home of a wealthy industrialist, enchants and seduces in turn, all members of the family, one house maid and then leaves. Immediately, all are transformed as they struggle to establish anything meaningful in their lives beyond the shattering experience that the nameless guest has visited upon them. The son becomes a charlatan artist while his sister enters into a catatonic state and is carted off by the men in white coats. The father gives his factory away to the workers and is last seen running naked, howling in anguish, across a barren landscape that may or may not represent the wasteland of the bourgeois soul. His wife on the other hand, begins to trawl the local streets for young men with whom to have joyless sex, be it in sad little rooms or ditches within the church yard. After a self imposed diet of cooked nettles, only the faithful maid comes out on top (literally), suspended with her arms outstretched like Christ on the cross in mid-air, performing healing miracles upon sick children. Oh, and then she has herself buried alive: the worker sainted and martyred, the middle classes reduced to empty vessels, dried up husks. Go, Pier Paolo, lay it on the line!

When the film ended, the audience were delighted to welcome Terence Stamp himself onstage for a ‘Q & A’, whereas I , being a tad husk-like, an empty vessel and very hungry was hoping to make a fast exit and have a tasty dinner somewhere. No such luck. I was hemmed in by cinema goers who were all too happy to listen to the recollections of a lovely old thespian, complete with meaningful, piercing stares into the middle distance and long dramatic pauses. So long, in fact that I genuinely thought he’d forgotten what it was that he had been going to say next. Well, he is getting on. I don’t remember most of what he talked about because I was too busy thinking about food, but I do recall him saying, more than once, that the only reason he took the part in the first place was that he was guaranteed to get his grubby little mitts on gorgeous co-star Silvana Mangano.

Curiously, the soundtrack lp does not contain the stately, funereal  jazz piece that opens the film and reoccurs at several points throughout. I’ve since discovered that it is a tribute to jazz musician Eric Dolphy who died it seems, needlessly, from diabetes in Berlin whilst on tour in 1964. Entitled ‘Tears For Dolphy’, it was recorded in the year of his death and written by Ted Curson. It is uncredited in the film. The three tracks that I have included above, plus two more suspenseful atmospheric pieces, are all the Morricone we get with this record, the other side being devoted to sections of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ which also grace the movie.