After my last dalliance with a blogpost on cover artists I decided to show you all just how much of a square I am when it comes to music. I’ve pretty much been listening to the same stuff for 20 years and I’m quite happy in my rut!
These are some of my favourites plus some well thought of others
Once Upon A Time in the West
Ennio! When you get the composer to make the music first and then direct the film to said music there really isn’t much more you can say. This feels like the story itself, perfectly entwined.
I could have chosen at least four other movies that Morricone composed on. The Mission, OUATIA, work he did on the Dollars trilogy with Leone, various stuff he’s done with QT. Spoiled for choice really. I chose this because it is my favourite.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
I will return to Bond in more excruciatingly boring detail some other time but this soundtrack deserves to be singled out for extra praise. Although he had been there since the beginning, John Barry only really hit his stride in Goldfinger, when the producers were able to match his full orchestra ambitions. There were some truly great moments before OHMSS but this was THE one.
As so often has been said with a new Bond in the role, everyone had to up their game. There is the instrumental title track( which hasn’t happened in the 51 years since) then wonderful pieces such as Try and Journey to Piz Gloria. Barry was getting to grips with one of the coolest machines ever made; a moog keyboard. These are still quite popular in certain circles but at the time it was cutting edge and a risk. Much like the casting of George it wasn’t without its criticism either. People of course, can and often are very wrong.
Also, did I mention Louis Armstrong ..
Saturday Night Fever
This film was in the public consciousness for so long it’s easy to forget how adult the themes in it actually were. Then again there was a specific PG version aimed at gentler souls in the US market.
Music wise, this is very much a Gibbs brothers’ production, with only a couple of tunes not coming from them.
Three tunes in particular shot them right into disco superstardom and a wealth they had never known before. Staying Alive obviously, You Should Be Dancing and How Deep Is Your Love. Bell bottom tastic.
Also a note on A Fifth of Beethoven. Very funky remix. Not the first time that decade had seen Ludvig Van modernised. Which is almost a segway to…
Kubrick had better films and arguably better soundtracks but this is lovely Sunday afternoon, do some pottering around the house stuff.
Much like its Irish setting there were unheralded pieces Sean O’Riada with Women of Ireland as well as more European fare with Sarabande from Igor Kipnis.
It felt really authentic. For period pieces you can either go one way or another. Stanley wanted it to be paired back as his lighting set-ups.
A movie built on style, about one Britain’s most notorious criminals of the 20th century. There was a lot of things that could have gone wrong here but Tom Hardy is uber charismatic throughout.
He is accompanied by some choice pop music from the Pet Shop Boys and New Order as well as more classical staples from the likes of Verdi and The Flower Duet. And not forgetting The Walker Brothers either.
Also Glass Candy, Digital Versicolour is (insert picture of a chef really happy with his work)
Grosse Pointe Blank
John Cusack makes good on his 80s teen threats to grow up and be the consummate adult anti-hero. In a film where there are so many silky smooth edits, an 80s era pop tastic soundtrack with the likes of Bowie, A-Ha and The English Beat is all fine but the real heroes are Joe Strummer and the Violent Femmes.
So good they needed two volumes. The Orange and the Green. A who’s who of 90s Britpop means that the strictly literary setting of the 80s is compromised, but look what you get in return. Pulp, Blur, Elastica, Sleeper( doing a very decent Blondie cover) to add to the likes of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. But that’s not even counting the dance music. Underworld, Bedrock etc.
Also full disclosure/ honest opinion; I really liked the sequel. You can @ me if you want to discuss that. I really hate when people say dont@me, so rude!
And boy will I get pelters for this. My QT choice was not to go with the obvious Pulp Fiction, which is great but instead the film directly after it. I always felt that both albums summed up each movie perfectly. Pulp Fiction is super cool but doesn’t make me think too much, I just enjoy it. Jackie Brown oozes danger, disappointment and redemption.
I didn’t rush out and buy a bunch of motown records right after this, but the door was opened and I definitely had a good peak. Delfonics, Four Seasons, Bobby Womack, Bill Withers and Randy Crawford (with a strange but welcome outlier in Johnny Cash). I always felt this was QTs most focused film. The only one to date adapted from a novel. I don’t know if he enjoyed the experience but I think he should consider doing that again.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Ridiculously long and over the top, but hey, last days of Rome and all that. The playlist on youtube stands at 42 tracks( quite a few of which are unfortunately deleted now)
I don’t know where to start with it. Scorsese is relentless in his pursuit of breakneck energy throughout this film and very few songs get more than 30 seconds. Which is fine, he had a similar rule with Goodfellas and Casino and that worked out fine.
This setlist is almost like a mini history of 20th century American Music, going from Howling Wolf and Lee Hooker all the way through to the Foo Fighters and The Lemonheads. Bizarrely in his cokiest film ever he actually discards The Rolling Stones. But that’s okay. This album is very cool if a little bit inconsistent in tone. If you played it at a poker game or something you might get compliments. Give it a go..
Here are some movie soundtracks that have excellent music but are often very short pieces or simply title tracks.
The Graduate: Simon and Garfunkel greatness
McCabe and Mrs Miler: A couple of cracking Leonard Cohen tunes on this epic frontier film
Bullitt: Lalo Schifrin is so cool. Actually just buy a greatest hits of his to get you started(Mission Impossible, Dirty Harry etc)
The Conversation: Ridiculously cool instrumentals by David Shire. He’s had some great stuff. Check out All The President’s Men too
Get Carter: See above, unfortunately too short to rate but the opening tune is class. He also did a kicking tune for the low budget but well regarded SAS film Who Dares Wins
Taxi Driver: Hermann’s music is class but again the album is very short. I bought a special edition CD in HMV one time and it was all kinds of weird funky nonsense.
Superman: Again , a John Williams compilation album is a sound investment.
Rocky IV: Yes, yes YES! America 1 Russia…didn’t !
O Brother Where Art Thou: A delightful compendium of everything from Gospel to cajun
The Royal Tenenbaums: A very solid selection ( Dylan, Nico, Elliott Smith) accompanied by chunks of film narration. Some folk like that.
Garden State: Zero 7, The Shins, Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel again and yes.. Coldplay
Into The Wild: Plenty of life affirming Eddie Vedder goodness.
Inside Llewyn Davis; lovely stuff.
Would love to hear from you and tell me what I forgot!
I never saw Purple Rain but Prince is great. I have watched Guardians of the Galaxy and acknowledge its existence. Good soundtrack but like me, is probably trying too hard to be cool.