That being understood, learning that Orbison was cast as a sharp shooting ace in a 1967 MGM Western was a revelation.
The Fastest Guitar Alive tells the tale of Orbison’s Johnny, a Civil War era confederate spy/troubador, singing and shooting his way through a mission to steal some Union gold with his futuristic guitar-rifle.
I’ve read that MGM was so hot to recreate the success that they had with putting Elvis in the movies that they signed his Sun Records peer, Orbison, to a 5 picture deal.
The deal was quickly rescinded upon the lackluster critical and box-office response to The Fastest Guitar Alive.
Orbison’s lack of on-screen charisma must have been extremely apparent to the Studio, because you will notice that there is not one single line of dialogue from their top billed actor throughout the entire trailer. That has got to be a first.
The soundtrack was a scant 7 songs, but definitely had a few standouts. “Pistolero,” and the “There Won’t Be Many Coming Home,” which was brilliantly used in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”
One Trick Pony is a 1980 Paul Simon movie with a soundtrack that doubled as Simon’s Warner Brothers debut. The vehicle is technically a fictional biopic about a successful 1960’s rocker named Jonah Levin (Simon), as he endures the 1980s, a dwindling fan base, tepid record executives, and a marriage on the rocks. It’s part road movie, part record industry commentary, part sweat study, and part Kramer vs Kramer-lite.
There is plenty of fodder here that lend itself to pointing out the similarities of Jonah’s journey to Simon’s own career arc, but rather than focus on that, let’s look at two scenes that exemplify how this is the most acutely self-aware movie about pop music, while simultaneously being an out-of-touch vanity project, that ultimately bombed at the box office.
The following two clips are a prime example of why these “rock movies,” are so fun to chase down. Here we have the B-52s in their prime, nailing Rock Lobster in small club, followed by a young Lou Reed playing a smarmy record producer riding at the console with Rip Torn and bass legend Tony Levin. Only in the movies.
THE B-52s SCENE
I’m sure this was nothing more than Warner Brothers trying to give a little mainstream love to Simon’s new labelmates, but to write them into a newspaper review as critical darlings while the decrying the Jonah Levin band as uninspired and over the hill is just so incredibly accurate! The idea that Simon (who wrote the film) would add such a scenario into a somewhat bloated vanity film is true irony.
THE RECORDING SESSION
Reed and Torn are so good. The irony here is that while Jonah is ultimately crestfallen with the results of this session, this is exactly the type of song that the real Paul Simon would record, in fact there is a soundtrack full of these types of songs. It’s called One Trick Pony.
Not traversing any uncharted territory here, just spinning some warm Giorgio Moroder vibes to fend off the impending winter.
In 2015, Cat People probably plays like a b-movie to some, but when compared to a true changeling b-movie, like 1981’s The Howling, Cat People is a cut above. A psycho sexual horror flick with some decent acting, and a transformation scene that traumatized my young mind.
The oft celebrated wizardry of Giorgio Moroder expertly heightens the taboo nature of the feline/ incest storyline between Nastassja Kinksi and Malcolm McDowell. I just typed that.
Lately I’ve been all in on “Leopard Tree Dream,” which is one of the more impactful scenes from the movie, where Kinksi and McDowell meet in a dream and discuss their primal and familial roots. This track is essentially a fluid reprise on the main theme, seeing Moroder hop on his flying carpet and build upon his magical synthscape.
It’s somewhat blasphemous to have a post about this soundtrack and not include the David Bowie sung title track, “Cat People (Putting Out The Fire,) but that song has transcended this soundtrack with it’s inclusion on Bowie’s Let’s Dance album and the brilliant usage of the song in Inglorious Bastards.
Found this used this week for 4 dollars. Couldn’t resist. A young and happy Debbie Winger, a guy I thought was Michael O’Keefe, a murder mystery with a Joe Jackson audio backdrop? Sign me up.
The soundtrack opener, “Cosmopolitan,” picks up where Wings’ “Live And Let Die,” left off, with an intro that nods to the stacatto breakdown (intrigue!) of Macca’s Bond song, before settling into a catchy yet paranoid Jackson tale, complete with a steamy sax solo.
“Memphis,” is something else entirely. It might literally be the organ part from Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin'” (augmented by one note, to avoid a lawsuit) combined with the bass line of Jackson’s own “Steppin’ Out.”
Jackson flirts with some weirdness here, and that’s not a bad thing.
When Lou Reed met Keanu Reeves – The Quiz: Only one of the following statements about the above clip is true:
It’s a scene from an unseen documentary about the band Dogstar, called Dogstar Rising: A sign from Lou.
It’s a clip from Keanu’s first paying gig as an actor, from an infomercial for Reed’s ill-fated line of fingerless guitar gloves called “Satellite Of Glove.”
In 1988, while in between record deals with RCA and SIRE records, Lou Reed wrote and recorded “Something Happened,” for a teen suicide drama called Permanent Record. He even made a cameo in the movie.
I’m not sure if “Something Happened,” has been released on any compilations, or just lives on this out-of-print soundtrack, but this is a classic Lou jam. A driving four-chord stomp with approximately one couplet. Wash, rinse, and repeat for about four minutes. Let it rip!
I continue my trek on the celluloid fringe of Neil Young’s discography with the soundtrack to Where The Buffalo Roam.
Other than the factual information that is on the album sleeve, then regurgitated throughout the internet, I’ve found it hard to pinpoint any concrete information regarding Young’s involvement with the project. How did he become involved? How did the collaboration with the Wild Bill Band of Strings orchestra play out? Tell Me Why? Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself? When you’re old enough to repay but young enough to sell?
In Jimmy McDonagh’s Shakey, a throw away mention of the soundtrack appears only in context of teeing up work on Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man.
In addition to everything else, Neil also began work on his first real film score (discounting a thrown-together Where the Buffalo Roam in 1980) for Jim Jarmusch’s surreal Western, Dead Man.
Here’s what we do know:
– Neil’s total contribution to the soundtrack is approximately nine minutes worth of music.
– All nine minutes is a variation on a theme of Traditional “Home On The Range.”
– Neil’s longtime producer David Briggs was the Music Supervisor on the project.
Briggs’ track selection play like an miniature Time-Life collection of the Sixties. Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisted,” Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” and “Purple Haze,” The Four Top’s “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” The only real standout rocker is the Creedence deep cut “Keep On Chooglin’.”
Wikipedia tells us that: Because of the high cost of music licensing, most VHS and all DVD releases have retained only the Neil Young score and the Creedence song, “Keep on Chooglin'”, with the rest of the music replaced by generic approximations of the original songs. Only the theatrical release and early VHS releases contained the songs found on the soundtrack. The choice of songs for the DVD version was somewhat anachronistic, since it featured 1980s-style songs in a 1960s and 1970s setting. However, the streaming version I saw a few months back on Netflix had all the original songs.
Despite the limited minutes from Young, his “Home On The Range,” is beautiful. A few measures of pomp and circumstance followed by an acapella performance that is pure Shakey. If you can find a copy of the out-of-print soundtrack for a reasonable price, go for it.
“Buffalo Stomp” > “Ode To Wild Bill #1” – Neil Young with The Wild Bill Band of Strings
The Slugger’s Wife is a prime example of some super talented people getting sucked into the undertow of me-decade trends. Neil Simon, Caleb Deschanel, and the director Hal Ashby to name a few.
This vehicle makes me wish that Hal had battled through to the early 90’s, when indie film had it’s renaissance, and he could have had a revered late career surge ala Robert Altman.
Nonetheless, curiosity got the best of me when I saw this in the dollar bin (okay, two-dollar bin), and I started poring over the tracklist. I just had to hear Loudon Wainwright and Rebecca De Mornay’s version of Neil’s “Hey Hey, My My.”
Now I know. Here it is, in all it’s tinny, reverb, programmed drum-fill glory.
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – Loudon Wainwright III & Rebecca De Mornay
I may have discovered why Led Zeppelin became so notoriously draconian about licensing their music to films.
Homer is a pretty text book film about a teen coming of age amidst the backdrop of the vietnam war, small town conservatism, and a rising anti-establishment zeitgeist.
It is also the first movie to ever license Led Zeppelin’s music.
We open the movie on a dark highway, where we find the titular character attempting to thumb his way out of his small Wisconsin farm town to San Francisco, only to be picked up by the sheriff and driven home to his disapproving folks. From there the movie breaks out every cliché trope in the book: War Veteran Dad vs. hippie son, repressed young love, garage rock, pot experimentation, and the local golden boy that gets drafted to Vietnam war and sent back in a casket.
The soundtrack is a good smattering of heavy hitters, including three Buffalo Springfield songs (all Stills tracks), The Byrds, Steve Miller Band, Cream, and The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times,” hits during the beginning of a “boy becomes a man” montage, when Homer’s Dad burns all his rock posters (Abbey Road!) and is trying to farmhand him into becoming a respectable adult. The opening shot of Homer milking a cow to the opening chord is not what Led Zeppelin’s people had in mind when they licensed their eight-minute jam to the film’s producers. Adding insult to injury Homer’s dad turn off Zep to listen to Crop Futures, then Homer tunes into The Byrds on his headset! This is the type of gross misuse of Zeppelin that drove Peter Grant to dressing up like a 30’s gangster.”
Flash forward to 2013 when the mighty Zeppelin forced Ben Affleck to digitally alter Tate Donavon’s hand in Argo in order to clear “When The Levee Breaks.”
One of the deeper cuts on the soundtrack is “Rock & Roll Gypsies,” by Hearts and Flowers. A catchy number that has one foot firmly rooted in the east coast village folk, but whose chorus and harmonies seem to sway to the west coast stylings of the Byrds.
After poring through a few tributes to the late Mike Nichols this weekend, I was reminded that he directed Silkwood, the moving biopic on nuclear power plant worker turned activist Karen Silkwood.
I have not seen the movie in decades, but I did pick up the soundtrack earlier this year because I was curious to revisit Meryl Streep’s rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and not at all because of the smoldering looks that Meryl, Kurt, and Cher were throwing my way.
For the most part, musical scores are a little too highbrow for me, but I am most definitely glad I forked over a few dollars for this LP. The selections below made me want to revisit the movie, think of it as an emotional sampler. Per usual Meryl delivers.
The opening sequence of John Huston’s Fat City is a perfect storm of music supervision, cinematography, editing, and casting.We open on the desolate outskirts of Stockton, California in 1970. Famed cinematographer Conrad Hall weaves images of razed buildings, migrant workers, bums and drunks into a skid row tapestry as compelling as any Hopper or Rockwell around. As the camera pushes into a seedy transient hotel, we find Stacy Keach’s Billy Tully laying in bed, staring listlessly at the ceiling, and reaching past the half empty bottle of whiskey on his nightstand for his first cigarette of the day.
The inclusion of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” nails it here. The tune could not only be the mantra of Keach’s maudlin amateur boxer, as he stumbles through another week of sparring, drinking, and working as a day laborer picking fruit, but could also work for Susan Tyrell’s fantastic co-dependent wino, or fresh faced boxing newbie played by Jeff Bridges, or any of the sad sacks we see in the periphery of this film.This whiskey soaked and more down tempo version seems almost custom tailored to our protagonist, more fitting than any of the versions that seem to be included on Kristofferson’s studio albums and compilations. I’m guessing this was recorded specifically for the movie, as it is also accompanied by a melancholic guitar and keyboard laden instrumental bed that precedes Kristofferson’s recording. Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down indeed.
Help Me Make It Through The Night – Kris Kristofferson