Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Ipcress File – John Barry [#642]

If you’re one of those people who only engage with media that is no older than twenty years old, then not only are you deluding yourself, but you are missing out on a whole trove of cinema, music and literature. One such diamond in this trove is the 1965 film Ipcress File the soundtrack for which is today’s entry in the project.

The Ipcress File is pretty much how James Bond would be if he was real. Lots of form filling, shit salary and offices that have seen better days. The film follows the adventure of Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer character who is caught up in a bit of cold war era espionage involving the reprogramming of prominent scientists through sinister mind washing techniques employed by Soviet-era bad guys. There are more twists, turns and double-crosses in this film than a box of headphone cables.

The iconic music, also a diamond musically, has been sampled to death over the years by bands like Portishead and makes heavy and distinctive use of an instrument known as a Cimbalom.

The soundtrack was one of the first albums I bought through the new iTunes store back in the noughties. However, as I didn’t have a portable device capable of playing Apple’s proprietary music files, I could only listen when at my computer. This was, of course, in the time when computers where huge things that sat on your desk and not the candy bar sized multimedia devices of today. But when you see the film and the size of computers in 1965, you’ll be grateful you don’t have to cart one of those around if you want to make a phone call.

Apple Music logoAmazon music logo

Advertisements
Comments Off on Ipcress File – John Barry [#642]

In the Name of the Father (OST) – Various Artists [#628]

 

Unknown-3.jpegThe soundtrack for the 1993 film In the Name of the Father about the Guildford pub bombings of 1974.

While the film is an often harrowing study on injustice, political corruption and false convictions, the soundtrack is nothing that special. Bono, Sinead O Connor, Gavin Friday, The Kinks and Thin Lizzy (naturally with their Whisky in the Jar) give the whole set the geographical soundscape for the period piece, Bono and O’ Connor  for the Irish connection and The Kinks and Thin Lizzy to set the time.

I think around that time in the nineties there was a strong swell in Irish pop and rock surfing on the crest of which was Bono on his U2 surfboard and it seemed like any TV show or film with a vague Irish link would have featured either a song by U2 or Sinead O’ Connor.

Mrs Gnomepants v1.0 was very fond of the film and requested that I obtain the soundtrack during the Great Internet  Free For All of the early to mid noughties.

 

Comments Off on In the Name of the Father (OST) – Various Artists [#628]

Great Expectations (Original Soundtrack) – Various Artists [#549]

Great Expectations Soundtrack Like the goth genre, I came to this film late. Had I come to the film back in the time it was released, my outlook on life may have changed subtly.

Following a childhood meeting with a menacing Robert De Niro, Ethan Hawke falls for Gwyneth Paltrow, and, thanks to a mysterious benefactor becomes a successful artist in New York. Lots of painting and nookie ensues.

As well as being an awesome adaptation of a thought provoking classic piece of literature, the soundtrack is also well presented with songs by contemporary bands such as Mono, Pulp, Reef  and Poe, coupled with contemporary artists such as Scott Weiland, Tori Amos, Duncan Sheik and Chris Cornell. All compiled deliciously in an angsty way.

In a pre-Twilight late 1990s, this movie was instrument in the blossoming of many a youth emerging from the fiction of a post teenage world into adulthood. Much in the same way that the BBC’s nineties soaparama This Life did. Sadly I was too busy with work and other life distractions to notice but as soon as I did, I was out buying the Soundtrack and waiting for the DVD of the film to drop in price.

Comments Off on Great Expectations (Original Soundtrack) – Various Artists [#549]

Grand Theft Auto (Original Soundtrack) [#546] & Grand Theft Auto: London (Original Soundtrack) [#547]

Possibly one of the best, well thought out and inventive game franchises began back in the late nineties with the release of Grand Theft Auto a game noted, not just for it’s violence and adult themes, for its soundtrack.

I spent many late evenings playing the game driving round the fictional cities of San Andreas, Liberty and Vice Cities, with the soundtrack blaring out to the annoyance of any neighbours. I even popped the CD from my Playstation into my CD player and ripped the soundtrack to cassette to listen to while on the bus or on foot. A cassette that joined me later in my car. A cassette I regret making because, as we all know, home taping killed music (and computer games).

Indeed, when I was able to do the same to the soundtrack of the less than successful London themed spin-off, I further damaged the whole industry which, as we now know, is worthless.

While the original game’s soundtrack was inventive with a variety of music genres parodied by the game’s designers with original songs by fictional bands such as Slumpussy’s Gangster Friday and The Ballad of Chapped Lips Calhoon by Sideways Hank O Malley and Alabama Bible Boys , the London spin-off existed as a blend of 60’s pastiches without the same wicked streak of humour. As a result I felt a little let down by the quality and lack of attention to detail that went into the spin-off game.

The London spin-off was to be a harbinger of things to come, the soundtracks for sequels to the game, like San Andrea, GTA IV and V all relied heavily on existing real music by real bands. The humorous sly digs at the music industry lacking saved only by the sly digs at the radio advertising industry.

Comments Off on Grand Theft Auto (Original Soundtrack) [#546] & Grand Theft Auto: London (Original Soundtrack) [#547]

Go: Music from the Motion Picture – Various Artists [#529]

Go_1999_filmGo is one of those films that tried to capture the zeitgeist of the innovation created by Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction. Three entwined stories about young people involved in a drugs deal.
While not a fan of the movie as such, I appreciate the stylistic  90’s celluloid portmanteau vibe, but I did like the soundtrack. Not only does Len’s enigmatic Steal My Sunshine feature, but so does Natalie Imbruglia, Fat Boy Slim’s Gangster Tripping  and Air’s Talisman (from their album Moon Safari) which, although mostly used to death in “teen” films of the time, do still get the toes-a-tapping.

Comments Off on Go: Music from the Motion Picture – Various Artists [#529]

Gladiator: More Music from the Motion Picture – Lisa Gerrard & Hans Zimmer [#525]

Gladiatorsoundtrack2Lisa Gerrard lends her voice to another Zimmer soundtrack. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her work with Dead Can Dance I’d probably have given up on Ms Gerrard’s caterwauling, although maybe that is a little harsh.

In case you’ve been living in a cellar for the past sixteen years, Gladiator is a film about a Roman general (Russell Crowe) reduced into slavery, seeking revenge on the guy  (Joaquin Phoenix) who murdered his father (Richard Harris). I’ve only seen Gladiator once, and to be quite honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by it. I suppose this was because, at the time, my head was buzzing still from the story of Spartacus and I felt that the Spartacus story would have been a better choice to make into a movie (again).

The movie was a box office smash (just check out the rather lengthy Wikipedia page) and the soundtrack won awards and brought Gerrard’s voice to the masses. So much so, the Original Soundtrack spawned today’s entry, which didn’t sell as many copies. Indeed, Gladiator: More Music reeks so much of over-milked cash cow, I’m surprised heaps of unsellable follow up merchandise such as Gladiator cook books and Build your own Forum kits didn’t pollute the shops.

1 Comment »

Ghosts of Oxford Street – Various Artists [#522]

Unknown-5 The soundtrack to Malcolm Maclaren’s Christmas film for Channel 4.

Like with the Kinks’ Return to Waterloo, I have an off-air recording of the film on VHS that I treasure. I’d even go as far to say it is one of the primary reasons that I still have a VHS tape recorder tucked away in the loft. Sure there are probably versions of this on Youtube or Vimeo, but they’ll only last as long as the copyright nazis allow them to stay up.

Home video taping is killing music.

That said, I did buy this (and still have it) on CD.

The film has Maclaren poncing around London’s Oxford Street at Christmas telling tales about the dark history of the world famous street of consumerism with each of the “ghosts” played (sung) by different artists. Tom Jones pulls off a great Gordon Selfridge while the Happy Mondays manage an excellent cover of the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive. While Sinead O’Connor, Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues remind us of the festive season with their  songs with a slightly Christmassy feel.

Because of the Christmas bias, it feels odd listening to the soundtrack out of season but it’s not impossible to do so. Skipping the four Christmas centric songs still allows the listener a good twenty minutes of interesting music. Even Ponchielli’s  Dance of the Hours (performed on the CD by the Academy of St Martin’s in the Field) isn’t too festive in feeling and is a really piece of driving Classical music.

Comments Off on Ghosts of Oxford Street – Various Artists [#522]

Ghostbusters OST – Various Artists [#518]

Ghostbusters soundtrack - various artistsThis is the soundtrack to the classic 1980s blockbusting movie Ghostbusters.

As a regular downloader from the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.soundtrack newsgroup in the late noughties, I would frequently smugly mark for download the soundtracks for movies I’d always wanted but had been unable to obtain from crappy HMV or Virgin Megastores. One such prize was todays album.

I remember my brother taking me to see Ghostbusters in the Lime Street Odeon in Liverpool. I remember queuing up (in the cold) for hours before the doors opened so that we would be some of the first in the theatre and be able to get the best seats. I remember being excited to rent the video when it became available, and I still remember the anticipation and thrill of being able to video record it off the telly when it was eventually shown over Christmas for the first time on network television.

I also remember the disappointment at being unable to find the soundtrack on CD, a dissipating disappointment when I located it on Usenet.

Classic 80s soundtrack for a classic 80s film. Not sure why they feel the need to “reboot” it.

 

Comments Off on Ghostbusters OST – Various Artists [#518]

Forrest Gump: OST – Various Artists [#492]

Low_res_cover_Forrest_GumpI was never a fan of Tom Hank’s lumbering buffoon Forrest Gump. The film was a little too whimsical for my liking but I felt that the soundtrack was well researched and included a good few classic popular songs from the period of history in which the film is set.

A nice compilation of tracks featuring classic songs from the sixties by The Byrds, Beach Boys, The Doors and Dylan.

 

Comments Off on Forrest Gump: OST – Various Artists [#492]

Flash Gordon OST – Queen [#480]

220px-Queen_Flash_GordonIt’s thirty five years old and still a fantastic film. I must have seen the film more times than I can count to such an extent I often find myself finishing people’s lines and quoting bits for ages.

So it’s no surprise that I have the soundtrack in my music collection. However, I’m not a Queen fan. Freddie Mercury et al did nothing for me musically with perhaps the exception of Love Kills in Moroder’s Metropolis and though Bohemian Rhapsody has its place in music history, Queen’s other output just does not feature in my collection. At school it was the rougher types that liked Queen, the Paul Midgleys and Nick Gosneys of the world who’s fathers subjected them to Queen’s greatest hits on every car journey in their Ford Sierras.  My dad played Glen Miller while my elder brothers force fed me prog and new romance from a very early age but never Queen.

Flash Gordon is a piece of its time. It should remain so and deserves no remakes or reimagining. Whedon and Abrams had better keep their mits off it. The soundtrack, like the film, remains firmly stuck in the eighties psyche like a can of Quattro and tub of Lyons Maid ice cream.

Comments Off on Flash Gordon OST – Queen [#480]

Electric Dreams – OST [#418]

Unknown-1A film ahead of its time was the little known eighties film Electric Dreams. Possibly more familiar is the song from the closing credits performed by former Human League and car stereo buyer Phil Oakey.

Electric Dreams tells the story of Miles (Twin Peaks’ Lenny von Dohlen), a geeky architect nerd who happens to fancy his new neighbour Madeline (played by Dune Princess Virginia Madsen) just at the same moment he buys himself a home computer and accidentally makes it sentient by spilling wine all over it. As you do.

The music is a perfect eighties music time capsule with songs by Culture Club, ELO’s Jeff Lynne and P.P.Arnold (currently doing the Caribbean Cruise circuit).

I love this soundtrack. I love the film too. It’s such a shame that it’s hardly ever shown on TV these days and it’s pricey on DVD.

Comments Off on Electric Dreams – OST [#418]

Dune – OST [#401]

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 20.20.28The beginning is a very delicate time. Know then that it is the year 2015, and I’m still only a hundred albums shy of being a third of the way through this music project.

Dune is a very special film and soundtrack for me. My oldest brother used to scoff that I couldn’t possibly have understood the concepts dealt with by the film, especially as Lynch’s version was edited to bits. The weird thing is, I got Lynch from a very early age. In fact, I got Dune on a deeper level through the film than I ever did with the novel. I think Lynch did a bloody good job making a sci-fi snob’s book accessible to many people.

My oldest brother repeatedly tried to “explain” his interpretation of the novel to me, but he had no need as I already understood what the author was trying to say. I understood the hidden depths, the concept of the Kwisatz Haderach, the Fremen and what the spice really was. Even the trope of the sandworms.

The film is also important to me because of how the music actually makes a good accompaniment in the way that Queen’s soundtrack to Flash Gordon makes Flash Gordon what it is. Toto do an outstanding job of the soundtrack especially considering their only other significant contribution to the soundtrack of my life is their hit song Africa and Brian Eno’s atmospherics also add to the whole parcel of the film.

Soundtracks for Lynch’s films appear several times in this music project but if asked to save one from deletion it would definitely be the soundtrack for Dune. A film that still sends shivers down my spine and, in some respects, seen by many as a premonition/allegory/parable for the events in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East as we live right now and, I believe, has been since it was written.

 

1 Comment »

Donnie Darko – OST [#384]

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 14.28.54I missed Donnie Darko on the cinema. First time I knew of its existence was when I saw it on the shelf in the Rialto News video library on Upper Parliament Street looking unloved.

Watching the film had me transfixed in a way a film hadn’t had me transfixed since Lost Highway. Here was a film that was so intricate that one viewing would not suffice. Several viewings would be needed and so, as it should be, I nipped into HMV and treated myself to a copy of the film on DVD. I went round telling people that this film was one they should watch and digest, a suggestion that was met with the usual dismissive shrug.

Since then, the film had an almost viral spread. Months would pass and the people I suggested the film to would say to me “Hey, have you ever seen Donnie Darko?” excited by the prospect that they may have seen something enlightening that would appeal to me before me. Then people started talking about it in the mainstream press, on the mainstream television, even a song from the soundtrack, the Michael Andrews version of Tears for Fears’ Mad World reached number 1 in the UK.

The film, previously a slightly unknown cult movie, was rereleased to capitalise on its growing success with a Director’s cut. Unfortunately, the directors cut didn’t add anything to the original apart from time. In fact it watered the content down if anything. Made it easier to digest and over explained bits that didn’t need explaining. Then there was the sequel,  S.Darko but we don’t talk about that. In fact, let’s not even admit to it existing…

Still, like all good capitalists the owners of the film rights released an extended version of the soundtrack too and today’s album is that very same. The soundtrack features a number of popular contemporary songs from the time in which the film is set interwoven with nice hauntological piano led intermissions. The original soundtrack release featured less of the plinky plonky and focussed more on the atmospherics and contemporary sounds than this version. Still good though.

 

Comments Off on Donnie Darko – OST [#384]

Dirty Dancing – OST [#372]

DIRTY+DANCINGDirty Dancing – OST

Hello again. It’s Steelrattus here with the first of seven consecutive guest posts. This time around I am helping Stegzy out for a whole week, so I have essentially got whatever seven albums are scheduled for this week. So this is why I’m utterly blameless for the first of these posts.

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I’m not sure I have ever seen the film. In fact my only real memory of the film is my sister being a huge fan back when it must have been at the cinema in 1987, and subsequently home cinema. But in the interests of… science (and blogging) I have forced myself to listen to the soundtrack. For review purposes I appear to have the 20th Anniversary Edition of the soundtrack, which is twenty seven tracks versus the 1987 original edition’s twelve, to add insult to injury. So the beers that Stegzy owes me have just increased I feel. By an order of magnitude.

The soundtrack itself appears to be a mix of 1950/60s rock and roll, reflecting the 60s setting of the film, and 80s power ballads. I don’t mind the 1950/60s tracks so much, but the 80s stuff doesn’t do so much for me. Listening to the album it all tends to bleed together. And that’s about all I’ve got to say about the music.

For fact fans, apparently the original 1987 soundtrack was a huge success, sold 32 million copies worldwide, and is one of the best-selling albums of all time, proving there is no God. Apparently it spent 18 weeks at number one in the US Billboard chart. Its performance spawned a follow-up called More Dirty Dancing in 1988. Ultimate Dirty Dancing was released in and contains every song in the order played in the film (great for OCD nuts like me… well it would be if I would ever listen to it. Which I won’t. Ever). It transpires that the version I’ve listened to, the 20th Anniversary Edition (unsurprisingly released in 2007), contains remastered and additional tracks in a different order. *shrugs*

Anywhere, here’s the obligatory YouTube video, of what is presumably the most popular track.

1 Comment »

Darkman: OST – Danny Elfman [#339]

440px-DarkmansoundtrackBack in the 1990s movie studios saw, from the success of Tim Burton’s Batman, that superhero movies worked and were popular. The race was on to find the next big thing. Would it be Tank Girl? Would it be Phantom? Would it be Swamp Thing? Or would it be Darkman?

Sam Raimi, unable to secure the rights to make his own version of Batman or The Shadow, went off and did what anyone else would do and created his own superhero. The Darkman tells the tale of a talented scientist who, while working on a synthetic polymer skin, is attacked by thugs, burnt, disfigured and left for dead forcing the scientist to go forth and seek revenge and administer justice.  The film was released in 1990 and stars Liam Neeson as the scientist Peyton Westlake alongside Frances McDormand and Larry Drake. I loved the film. It was one of the last films I went to see at the Liverpool Lime Street Canon Cinema.

Composer of the moment, Danny Elfman, who seems to have spent most of the 1990s writing soundtracks for films about superheroes or people with scissors for hands,  works wonders with his talents. It’s not quite Batman but has essences of Batman tonally. It probably influenced Elfman’s other works such as Spiderman and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but this is not a bad thing. Instead it shows us how composers have themes that reemerge throughout their work kind of like a signature and if you can detect it you can have a cookie.

Comments Off on Darkman: OST – Danny Elfman [#339]

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Original Soundtrack(#268)

Chitty Chitty Bang BangChitty Chitty Bang Bang – Original Soundtrack

As the family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was out several years before I was born by the time I was old enough to really appreciate it it was being shown on the telly regularly.  Just thinking about the film counjures up evocative memories of laying in front of the telly on Bank Holiday Mondays and Easter afternoons, the precious extra spare time before being back at school again.
 
Like any musical of the time it has a big impressive sound, written to be experienced on the silver screen, and from the style it feels like it could actually have been made any time between about 1930 and 1975.
Despite not having seen the film for about 30 years I found that when I listened to it I could cheerfully sing along with 90%+ accuracy to the entire album, which is just how it should be for a kiddy film.  The songs took me straight back to the feelings it created, fear for the characters – would Truly get found out as she pretended she was a music box figure? Or the rousing chorus of the onomatopoeic title track Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the thrill of seeing this characterful old car fly or float.
 
It is impossible to separate the film from the soundtrack, so I apologise if this seems to have had too much film and not enough music,  but I challenge you not to do the same in my shoes.  
I’ve put the track listing below, why not have a nostalgic little hum along to yourself?
  1. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” – Caractacus Potts, Jemima, Jeremy and Truly
  2. Truly Scrumptious” – Jemima, Jeremy and Truly
  3. Hushabye Mountain” – Mr. Potts and Truly
  4. Me Ol’ Bamboo” – Mr. Potts and chorus
  5. Toot Sweets” – Mr. Potts and Truly
  6. The Roses of Success” – Grandpa Potts and Inventors
  7. Lovely Lonely Man” – Truly
  8. You Two” – Potts, Jemima and Jeremy
  9. Chu-Chi Face” – Baron and Baroness Bomburst
  10. Posh!” – Grandpa Potts
  11. Doll on a Music Box” – Truly
  12. Doll on a Music Box / Truly Scrumptious” – Truly and Mr. Potts
  13. Come to the Funfair

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: