Giorgio Moroder – Cat People (1982)

CatPeople_ArtNot 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.

As creepy as McDowell’s monologue is during the Dream Sequence in question, it does add some nice texture to Moroder’s track.

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.

Leopard Tree Dream – Giorgio Moroder

Paul’s Theme (Jogging Chase) – Giorgio Moroder

Lou Reed – Something Happened (1988)

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!

Something Happened – Lou Reed

Neil Young – Where The Buffalo Roam OST

Buffalo_SDTK 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

“Home On The Range” – Neil Young

Elton John – Friends (1971)

FriendsalbumElton John fans rejoice! Friends is coming to Netflix! Netflix just announced that…oh wait, nevermind…it’s not the long forgotten 70’s movie.

A movie that is so critically reviled that reading the skewering reviews virtually tempts one to hunt down a viewing copy and subject yourself to it. 

A vehicle that we are forced to reckon with because it meets the criteria of virtually everything that piques our interest.
Out Of Print Soundtrack: Check
Out Of Print Movie: Check
Awesome Cover Art: Check
Taboo Subject Matter: Check

And while Friends passes the smell test, it is a really tough one to endorse. Let’s turn it over to Roger Ebert for a more blunt take on the film:

“Friends” is the most sickening piece of corrupt slop I’ve seen in a long time. It’s so cynical in its manipulation of youth, innocence, sunsets and all the rest that you squirm with embarrassment. And the movie is all the more horrible because you realize that its maker, Lewis Gilbert, no doubt intended this to be a “sincere personal statement” (as they say in the movies) after his “commercial” projects like “The Adventurers” and “You Only Live Twice.”

Yet, “Friends,” in its way, is more cynically commercial than “The Adventurers,” which was at least an honest piece of crap. “Friends” drips with simpering close-ups of wide-eyed young faces. It has a sound track of slightly rotten syrup, interrupted occasionally by banal songs by Elton John. It has so many idyllic romps through the fields, so many sunsets, so many phony emotional peaks and so much pandering to the youth audience in it that, finally, it becomes a grotesque parody of itself.

Oh and he’s just getting warmed up.  Roger goes for the kill in his closing paragraph.

There are probably no 14- or 15-year-olds in the entire world like these two; they seem to have been created specifically for the entertainment of subscribers to Teenage Nudist. The archness of their “innocence” toward sex is, finally, just plain dirty. And the worst thing is that the movie seems to like it that way.

Damn, Ebert is missed. Read his full review here.

Critic vitriol aside, this movie was a worldwide hit (not so much in the US), and went on to garner a Golden Globe Nomination, and Lewis Gilbert soldiered on to make an even less welcome sequel called Paul and Michelle.

The Grammy nominated soundtrack isn’t a total loss. It’s Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s fourth full length collaboration, and you can tell they were locked-in, confident, and finishing each other’s sentences at this point.  Not a huge surprise that this album precedes Madman on the Water and what went on to become their golden era.

Friends is the maudlin, yet worthy, distant cousin of Candle in the Wind, and Honey Roll showcases the New Orleans vibes that would later show up on 1972’s Honky Cat. Elton John fans rejoice!

Friends – Elton John


Kris Kristofferson – Help Me Make It Through The Night (Fat City 1970)

FatCity_kris-kristofferson1The 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

Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? – OST (1971)


Dustin Hoffman plays Georgie Soloway an extremely successful songwriter (a rock n’ roll Burt Bacharach?) who is ready to end it all.  The opening scene of the film finds Georgie editing his suicide note on the balcony of his palatial Manhattan penthouse apartment, and from there we follow him through an hour and a half long fever dream of paranoid encounters, private plane rides, childhood hallucinations, and psychiatrist visits as he recalls his past and tries to figure out why the mysterious Harry Kellerman is sabotaging his reputation.  The film comes off almost like Wild Strawberries seen through a trippy Charlie Kaufman-like filter, and is pretty well executed, despite Hoffman’s protagonist being pretty unlikable. Additionally, there are some really nice showings by Dom DeLuise, Jack Warden, and Barbara Harris.

Kellerman is an important movie, however, for no other reason than it was instrumental in getting Dr. Hook & The Medicine show a record deal.  You also get to watch Dustin Hoffman and Shel Silverstein front the band in a performance that was filmed live at the Fillmore East, prior to an actual Grateful Dead show and before actual deadheads circa 1970. (On the day Jimi Hendrix died.)

Shel Silverstein, who was a longtime fan of the unsigned band and tasked with writing all of the songs and lyrics for the film, recruited the band to be the perform his “Last Mornin'” and “Bunky & Lucille” for the soundtrack, both tracks exist only on the OST.  A more refined version of “Last Morning” was later re-recorded for their album Sloppy Seconds  but lacked the immediacy, and rolling guitar lick that makes the movie version soar. After this relationship was consummated, Silverstein and Dr. Hook went on to make chart magic in the subsequent years.

Last Morning – Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show 



Went down a big time rabbit hole after the Kellerman viewing.  Simply amazed at what a renaissance man Silverstein was, they don’t make guys like him anymore. He was like Rod McKuen for the Village crowd. Below are some highlights from my recent Hook/Silverstein bender. Enjoy!

A Boy Named Shel
Dr. Hook guitarist Rik Elswit remembers Shel Silverstein for Salon.

Live from Shel’s Houseboat
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show playing Sylvia’s Mother on Shel’s Housebout

Shel on the Johnny Cash Show

Cash and Silverstein duet on Shel’s song A Boy Named Sue on the Johnny Cash Show.

Will Sheff on Dr. Hook Live DVD from 1974
Long read from the Okkervil River singer/songwriter.