The soundtrack to director Brad Anderson’s debut film about looking for love in modern-day Boston is 100% bossa nova. Evenly weighted between classic tracks and specially-recorded cover versions and incidental music, this is perfect music for a hot summer day: easy on the ears but harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated. 1998 marks the 40th anniversary of the bossa nova; what better time to acquaint or re-acquaint yourself with its many charms?
As the subtitle confirms, Volume 4 in the Easy Tempo series presents “a kaleidoscopic collection of exciting and diverse cinematic themes.” From bossa nova to blaxploitation, that’s no lie! Highlights of this volume include a super-funky version of Desmond Dekker’s classic “Israelites”, plus those waka-waka guitars and wordless vocals we love so well. Keep ’em coming!
This latest release from the great John Lurie combines two original film scores. Twenty-five tracks total, most of them short, featuring many of the usual downtown suspects: Marc Ribot, Calvin Weston, Doug Wieselman, Bill Ware, and even Medeski, Martin and Wood. The more atypical highlights have Lurie: plucking a banjo on track 1, recounting a humorous hard-luck tale in his best Barry White voice on track 3, and punking out on the all-too-brief track 17. Beyond that, the African-influenced title theme for “Manny & Lo” (tracks 13 & 25) ranks right up there with the very BEST Lurie compositions. Another wonderful release from John Lurie.
“The Italian Job” is an obscure British caper comedy from the late 60’s about a gang of cockney criminals who attempt to rob a shipment of gold bullion in Turin, Italy. Until now, the Quincy Jones soundtrack has been EXTREMELY collectible due to the film’s poor box office performance in America. Fortunately, this French reissue sets things right. The soundtrack album contains three vocal tracks, notated as such in the liner notes, and a variety of instrumentals, of which the highlight for me was the jazz arrangement of “Greensleeves.” The music is light, airy, and generally in character for a British comedy.
James Brown and Fred Wesley scored this blaxploitation gangster flick from 1973 that was written, produced, and directed by Larry “It’s Alive” Cohen. The album is fairly evenly balanced between instrumentals featuring the J.B.’s and vocal numbers from the Godfather of Soul. Singer Lyn Collins also features on one track, “Mama Feelgood.” The tracks that will make you feel REAL good are the openers and closers on each side. The rest is mostly filler.
Dagur Kari wrote/directed the film from whence this music
floes. Even by Icelandic standards, this music is chilly.
The pump organ seems to have an arctic wind blowing through
it at times (especially on “Another Hole”). Hmmm, somehow
in writing a track title with caps, I feel I have betrayed
this release. This wants to be lower than lower case, well
with the exception of the faux muzak on “Morgun” which was
written/performed by Sigridur Nielsdottir, a 73-year old
outsider musician who has allegedly issued near 30 albums
of her casiotone-for-the-plainfully-happy. Check out her
work on “Komdu Litla Barnid” that is a sweet lullabye that
just suspends time. “Groove” thaws out the drum kit, and
drags some nice neanderthal knuckles along a rock riff.
Weird and welcome to hear that dirtbag rock amidst all
the pristine iciness. Less out of its element, though
different is the licensed Shostakovich “Elegy” as done
by the Rubio Quartet. Aside from the Nielsdottir, the
only other vox are at the end, with the other Slowblower
Orri Jonsson. Iced-aged.
From this you would almost expect every track to be to
a different film. Extremely broad in sonic scope. Not
that much classic Ribot stagger guitar (check “House of
Mirrors”), but some good carney sounds (“Nausea”, is
that a calliope?), a little industrial robo-spy rivet
fest (“Prowler”), and “Green Party” (#12/#22) sounds
like an FM/AM tribute to “Love and Happiness.” Many
times we are left wanting more (especially on “Miles
Behind”) but “The Persistence of Memory” does get a
chance to stretch its legs and our ears, that track
sounds like an attempt to tunnel through the planet.
More costume changes here than a pop diva, and none
of the artifical drama.
Hey! This sounds like cartoon music! Well, it is…
Nik Phelps started the Sprocket Ensemble out of the Clubfoot Orchestra roster – it is a varied group of San Fran musicians that play well in any style. These tracks are from various performances making live soundtrack music for some independent cartoons and short subject films. This stuff is all over the place, from classic 1930’s sounding tracks to bits of jazz, klez, Raymond Scott/Carl Stalling flavor and improvish things. Check inside the liner page for more deets. Goofy, but no Pluto ;-) *review by Studebaker Hawk
The accent is always on the “MORE” with Morricone, composing
since 1959 for film, and staggeringly prolific. His style
which originally might have seemed a bit patchwork is now
his signature. No one knew just how frightening a little
girl’s voice could be until Morricone worked with it…his
use of jagged violins drew me as a major latecomer when I
first heard him on John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing”
well after he was the spice in the Western spaghetti sauce
that Leone poured over his victims. He’s a trumpet player
by training, but its his relentless juxtaposition of sound
that marks him most of all. “Four Velvet Flies” starts off
with seven seconds of a jazz-church “Alleluiah” into harp
and before its over we’ve heard those wordless, bodiless
vocals over harpsichord, ridden past a calliope into R&B
vamping towards a dual piano romp ending up with a psyche
jam. That’s *one* track. I love how he can write such
sweet innocence (#8, #11) but then embrace the twisted
and wonderful as in #3, #10. He does dizzying panic with
a sure and untouchable hand, #12. And I still can’t get
that jaw-harp on #13 out of my ear, that’s sexier than
the orgiastic climax of this collection.
Scottish pop band led by Stephen Pastel release this
sdtk on his own label. The film, a Scottish independent
as well, gets a lot of comparisons to “The Wicker Man.”
It would be nice to see it (because of that reference &
to see how well things work here.) The cover of Sly and
the Family Stone’s “Everybody is a Star” leaves little
discernible buzz. Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker croons on the
last track. Going with the non vocal tracks I think
is the best bet here. “Flora’s Theme” gets briefly
haunted by “Tubular Bells” and “Dark Vincente” has a
sort of Harold Budd chill to it. Basically any time
the ghost of glockenspiel shows up, we get pretty
waiting-for-trouble music. Katrina Mitchell’s non
lyric vocalizing I should say are most welcome on
various tracks, and maybe that account for elements
of Wickery, but really this is a clean and curvy
soundtrack to an upscale bar with John McEntire mixing
drinks and sound. S’alright.
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