Well, I apologize for the lack of posts. First, it was a lack of time because of work, and now it's a result of Hurricane Harvey coming through Houston and flooding the entire metroplex! Currently, we have the National Guard flying low all over downtown (where we live) rescuing people from their homes which are now under water. For the most part, our home has been spared, but more rain is to come. We've had an historic 30" of rain in just three days! Regardless, I now have plenty of time on my hands, as work has been, and will be cancelled for this week. Here's some pics:
Now, the post ...
One of the original rock & roll greats, Little Richard merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon. While numerous other R&B greats of the early '50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard's vocals. With his bullet-speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock & roll. Although he was only a hitmaker for a couple of years or so, his influence upon both the soul and British Invasion stars of the 1960s was vast, and his early hits remain core classics of the rock repertoire.
Richard was at the height of his commercial and artistic powers when he suddenly quit the business during an Australian tour in late 1957, enrolling in a Bible college in Alabama shortly after returning to the States. Richard had actually been feeling the call of religion for a while before his announcement, but it was nonetheless a shock to both his fans and the music industry. Specialty drew on unreleased sessions for a few more hard-rocking singles in the late '50s, but Richard virtually vanished from the public eye for a few years. When he did return to recording, it was as a gospel singer, cutting a few little-heard sacred sides for End, Mercury, and Atlantic in the early '60s.
By 1962, though, Richard had returned to rock & roll, touring Britain to an enthusiastic reception. Among the groups that supported him on those jaunts were the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, whose vocals (Paul McCartney's especially) took a lot of inspiration from Richard's. In 1964, the Beatles cut a knockout version of "Long Tall Sally," with McCartney on lead, that may have even outdone the original. It's been speculated that the success of the Beatles, and other British Invaders who idolized Richard, finally prompted the singer into making a full-scale comeback as an unapologetic rock & roller. Hooking up with Specialty once again, he had a small hit in 1964 with "Bama Lama Bama Loo." These and other sides were respectable efforts in the mold of his classic '50s sides, but tastes had changed too much for Richard to climb the charts again. He spent the rest of the '60s in a continual unsuccessful comeback, recording for Vee-Jay (accompanied on some sides by Jimi Hendrix, who was briefly in Richard's band), OKeh, and Modern (for whom he even tried recording in Memphis with Stax session musicians).
It was the rock & roll revival of the late '60s and early '70s, though, that really saved Richard's career, enabling him to play on the nostalgia circuit with great success (though he had a small hit, "Freedom Blues," in 1970). He had always been a flamboyant performer, brandishing a six-inch pompadour and mascara, and constant entertaining appearances on television talk shows seemed to ensure his continuing success as a living legend. Yet by the late '70s, he'd returned to the church again. Somewhat predictably, he eased back into rock and show business by the mid-'80s. Since then, he's maintained his profile with a role in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (the movie's soundtrack also returned him to the charts, this time with "Great Gosh a-Mighty") and guest appearances on soundtracks, compilations, and children's rock records. At this point it's safe to assume that he never will get that much-hungered-for comeback hit, but he remains one of rock & roll's most colorful icons, still capable of turning on the charm and charisma in his infrequent appearances in the limelight. -Allmusic.com
As husband and wife, Ike & Tina Turner headed up one of the most potent live acts on the R&B circuit during the '60s and early '70s. Guitarist and bandleader Ike kept his ensemble tight and well-drilled while throwing in his own distinctively twangy plucking; lead vocalist Tina was a ferocious whirlwind of power and energy, a raw sexual dynamo who was impossible to contain when she hit the stage, leading some critics to call her the first female singer to embody the true spirit of rock & roll. In their prime, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue specialized in a hard-driving, funked-up hybrid of soul and rock that, in its best moments, rose to a visceral frenzy that few R&B acts of any era could hope to match. Effusively praised by white rock luminaries like the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin, Tina was unquestionably the star of the show, with a hugely powerful, raspy voice that ranks among the all-time soul greats. For all their concert presence, the Turners sometimes had problems translating their strong points to record; they cut singles for an endless succession of large and small independent labels throughout their career, and suffered from a shortage of the strong original material that artists with more stable homes (Motown, Atlantic, Stax, etc.) often enjoyed. The couple's well-documented marital difficulties (a mild way of describing Ike's violent, drug-fueled cruelty) eventually dissolved their partnership in the mid-'70s. Tina, of course, went on to become an icon and a symbol of survival after the resurgence of her solo career in the '80s, but it was the years she spent with Ike that made the purely musical part of her legend. -Allmusic.com
Once again, I've spent too much money at the record store. This time, I walked into a small ephemera boutique in my neighborhood to see what they have. Low and behold, there were about ten crates of records. And, mostly great records at that. I couldn't resist buying this album, among others.
Rock & roll spread through the world like a glorious epidemic in the 1950s and '60s, and there was hardly a nation on Earth where the impact of the music wasn't felt, but it hardly sounded the same wherever it landed; like many invasive species, rock & roll made its way into the local ecosystem, crossbred with the culture, and took new shapes in each land. Anyone curious about the results of this process need look no further than Shadow Music of Thailand, a fascinating compilation of material recorded in Bangkok during the mid-'60s under the aegis of bandleader Payong Mukda. The local genre of "shadow music" consisted of familiar tunes from Thai folk songs performed by rock & roll combos, with the angular melody lines interpreted on electric guitars and Farfisa organs while bass and drums often percolated with an R&B-influenced rhythm underneath. To Western ears, the results seem at once foreign and familiar; this is unmistakably music from Thailand, following a melodic path that's very different from pop music in English-speaking nations, but the firm, steady pulse of the rhythm section and the guitar work suggesting the influence of the Ventures and the Shadows make it clear that rock & roll is part of this formula, even if you usually can't always dance to it. (There are also brief moments where the musicians add "Oriental" melodic flourishes, so an American corruption of Asian music stands side by side with a stylized but ultimately authentic interpretation of Thai music, demonstrating once again how popular culture makes strange bedfellows.) There's a languid power to this music that sometimes runs counter to the firm push of the rhythms, but the yin and yang of these two sides only adds to the beauty of the whole, and Shadow Music of Thailand is a curious but richly satisfying document of how rock & roll helped shape music outside the First World -- and vice versa. -Allmusic.com
You may remember The Freedom Sounds' first release, that I posted back in January. Well, here's the followup album. If you're a fan of The Jazz Crusaders/ Wayne Henderson, then you'll love this. It was cut for Atlantic Records by the nine-piece group put together by trombonist Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders. It was cut around the same time that Henderson appeared as part of Hugh Masekela's band at the Monterey International Pop Festival, and it comes from a similar multi-cultural, musical, multi-lingual sensibility. Enjoy!
This is a record that I found in the trash, and I can't figure out why! The disc and jacket are in great condition. And the content ...well, if you're into lounge/ exotica, this is the tops. Enjoy!
Arthur Lyman's unique blend of tiki and jungle-inspired instrumental exotica takes a rural detour on Cotton Fields (1963). One might not visually connect the incongruous cover art imagery -- of a fiery geyser -- with the early-'60s resurgence of folk music. But with it came yet another hue for the artist's already opulent sonic pallet. Lyman (vibraphone) is joined by Alan Soares (piano), John Kramer (bass/guitar/flute), and Harold Chang (percussion). Collectively they infuse the dozen familiar melodies on Cotton Fields with a palpable Polynesian influence. As was customary, the contents of Lyman's long-player were derived from a wide variety of sources. The jazzy "Jungle Drums" opens the effort in familiar territory for the participants as Lyman's wistful and somnolent marimba gives way to an ornate duet between Chang's tribal percussion and Kramer's invocative woodwinds. The update of "Greensleeves" remains rooted in a suitably majestic madrigal context with the intimacy of Kramer's acoustic guitar and Soares' light piano phrasings providing the folksy ambience. Turning to the silver screen, Lyman and company update the bluesy "Walk on the Wild Side," giving it a lighter, temperate feel -- especially when compared to Jimmy Smith's hit version. While not as prevalent as on other Lyman platters, the Great White Way figures into the proceedings as the upscale "Little Girl Blue" hails from the Richard Rogers/Lorenz Hart musical Jumbo (1935). To the same end, the LP's concluding number, "I Ain't Down Yet," is a spunky reworking thanks to Chang's top-shelf time-keeping. Lyman's refined vibes lead the ensemble through an airy and unmistakably bop-informed rendition. The burgeoning bossa nova craze likewise informs a fair share of Cotton Fields with the catchy Caribbean "Limbo Rock," as well as the equally uptempo groove percolating through the freewheeling "Hawaiian War Chant" and the rapid-fire update of "Brazil." Proving their considerable talents as romantic balladeers, Lyman and company decelerate the pace for the moody, sublime, and intimate "This Is My Beloved." Similarly, "Singing Bamboo" places the listener in a relaxed tropical setting. Although touted as stemming from the folk tradition, the title track "Cotton Fields" is given a rousing R&B makeover that seems to have been steeped in gospel instead of its typical Appalachian lineage. Rather than ramping things up for a big finale, Lyman settles into the haunting "Scarlet Ribbons." Kramer's evocative flute underscores the tender melody, placing it arguably as the album's most folksy entry. In 2008, Collectors Choice Music paired Cotton Fields with Blowin' in the Wind (1963) for a two-fer containing both -- making them available for the first time in decades.-Allmusic.com
This is today's find at Vinal Edge. I found the premise of the movie, and the fact that it was directed by Roman Polanski intriguing. With this post, I feel that I've assuaged my need to share soundtracks. So, the next post will be a Mystery Album #6. Until then ....
[aka The Fearless Vampire Killers] The score for The Dance of the Vampires probably sounded just as strange in 1967 as it does today. The film was marketed as a horror farce, but it sounds like Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda had slightly different thoughts in mind. The score is not completely macabre nor is it completely tongue-in-cheek. Instead it inhabits this weird space in between that draws on both traits at the same time. It’s eerie but not frightening, legitimate but not serious. And some of its main themes ride upon instrumentation that could strike listeners today as almost alien. Harpsichord and upright bass with wordless incantations from a wavering choir sitting just a few tracks away from strings and woodwinds and drum-backed kitsch reminiscent of Rocky Horror—it begs the questions “Is this a joke?” and “Are you trying to freak me out?” simultaneously. It sounds slightly dated, but not in the ways one would think.
With 19 tracks clocking in at just a hair over thirty minutes, The Dance of the Vampires is not a large score. Shortening it even more is the fact that many of the themes are repeated with sometimes very little variation. For instance, the “Main Title” at the start is almost identical to the closing number “Herbert’s Song” (the latter is longer by about two minutes). The slowed minor key vibratos of the choir are the driving force on these two tracks, using the harpsichord as a piece of archaic window-dressing. “Sarah in Bath” is an acappella “Snowman” sped up to a moderate tempo. And “Snowman” is a guitar and oboe waltz that mutates into a minor-key chant for “Koukol Laughs”. Then it goes back to being “Snowman” for the start of “Sarah’s Song”. “Sarah Asks for a Bath - Love Tune”, which appropriates the opening theme, is probably the least romantic twenty-two seconds of the program. Between these numbers are incidental cues that visually set scenes (as they should).
World premiere release of vibrant 1971 soundtrack to third and final film starring Sidney Poitier as Police Lt. Virgil Tibbs, a commanding role begun with IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Gil Melle takes over scoring reins from Quincy Jones, creates dynamic, exciting score for orchestra with meld of jazz flavor, complex orchestral color. Evidence found in master tape boxes plus correspondence with late composer's spouse suggests discussions were in play to release brief album at time of initial film release, during heyday of United Artists Records 25-29 minute souvenirs of UA movies, albeit LP never materialized. Short running time is offset by vivid stereo audio from 1/4" two-track masters courtesy of MGM which feature most of score's major set-pieces. Gil Melle conducts. Intrada Special Collection release limited to 1000 copies! -Amazon.com
First off, I've two requested re-ups: the Abbey Lincoln, and William Onyeabor posts. I appreciate all of you who visit and enjoy this blog, and I'm never bothered by requests. I always try to fulfill them in a timely manner, so don't hesitate asking. The easiest method for me is to message this blogs Facebook page. And now, today's album... Very typical of Piero, this soundtrack contains elements of Jazz, Funk, Big Band, and Pop. Even if film scores really aren't your thing, his work is worth adding to your library. I have shared this album before back in 2013, but the link is long dead, and it fits in with my recent theme of OSTs. So, here we are :) Enjoy!
GDM Music presents for the first absolute time on CD the OST by Piero Piccioni for the movie "Anastasia mio fratello ovvero il presunto capo dell'anonima Assassini" (aka" My Brother Anastasia") directed in 1973 by Steno and starring Alberto Sordi and Richard Conte. Don Salvatore (Sordi) leaves Calabria to fly to New York where he is assumed as vice-parish priest in Santa Lucia, Little Italy. His brother Alberto, known as Big Al among friends, is believed the boss of Italian criminal organization specializing in murders, but Don Salvatore does not realize about this situation. When Alberto is put on a trial (and later is killed after detention), Don Salvatore comes back to Italy, still convinced about his brother's innocence. Piero Piccioni has written one of the best scores of his long artistic relationship with Alberto Sordi alternating American flavoured Beat style music to extremely melodic music. For this CD, besides the original album stereo master tape, the complete stereo session master tapes were used that gave the chance to use beyond half hour of extra music previously unreleased and properly restored and remastered in digital. -Amazon.com
I recently bought this soundtrack on a whim while making a pit stop at Vinal Edge Records here in Houston, which is honestly the best record store in town. I didn't look it up on Youtube, since I tend to buy records the old fashion way: take a chance and hear whatever it may be. It's pressed on beautiful clear vinyl, and came with not one, but two posters from the film. Enjoy ...
Unavailable since the film's release in 1982, Susan Justin’s music for FORBIDDEN WORLD – produced by the legendary Roger Corman – mixes the electronic influences of the time with splashes of new wave, creating a score that fuses the eerie tonalities and avant-garde sensibility of ALIEN with the straight-up funk of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Birthed from this is a cult classic score that deserves to be held up alongside the works of Richard Band and Alan Howarth.
What immediately stands out from the score is the amazing main theme, a melodic groove firmly embedded in the 80s synth movement, complete with creepy vocal effects overlaying its driving keyboard line. Originally a parody that Corman turned into a straight horror, the score is used typically to create tension with isolated piano and harsh electronic tones, acting as a stereotypical precursor to the horror moments. Amidst all this is also the ‘Blaster Beam’, a unique instrument famous for its use in Jerry Goldsmith’s STAR TREK – THE MOTION PICTURE. A fantastic voyage amongst the stars full of offbeat melodies and alien tones, this is a musical world that demands multiple visits. -Mondotees.com
France, 1984. A Shakespearian quotation opens the hostilities of a film that claims to be the bearer of a disturbing truth and a neutral look at the unavowable taboos of French society. Over the hour and a half, the film unfolds without transitions scenes following episodes of the lives of people frequenting the "under" of France, these deviant spaces where anonymous indulge in unlimited freedom of manners.
André Georget's incredible music also contributes to this ambiguity, making film fiction a reality, until it ends up integrating a field almost mythological, enriching the Countries of a shadow zone just waiting to be cleared. It is not for nothing that the film ends with the unusual and exalting image of a young woman naked galloping on horseback: a scene can only be inspired by myths and folk legends, yet coming to be part of the supposed Reality unveiled by La France Interdite . -Film Exposure
Well, I'm back into another major soundtrack binge. And, so it begins ... Expect plenty of them for many posts to come. Some are albums I've already had up years ago, so it's a chance to re-up links that you may have missed out on, or didn't know you wanted. Enjoy!
Colpo Rovente was released a couple of years before the Giallo boom in the early seventies, and the film is more like the American film noir movement than Italy's finest cinematic export. Indeed, the film is often called a 'psychedelic noir' and this atmosphere is achieved through some bizarre set design and the soundtrack. The film also features a voice-over, which serves in giving it that classic noir feel. Colpo Rovente is set in New York, and unlike a lot of Italian films set in America; actually does a decent job of making New York the central location. The plot reminded me more of the later Italian 'Polizi' films than a Giallo, and focuses on crime in New York. Frank is a police inspector that was on the case of MacBrown; the head of a pharmaceutical company, and suspected of dealing in drugs. However, Frank was pulled off the case and shortly thereafter; MacBrown is murdered in the middle of a group of people by an unseen assassin. Frank is called in to investigate the murder. But the dead bodies soon start to pile up...
Given the time in which it was made, Piero Zuffi's only feature film as a director isn't as sordid or as gory as what we would later come to associate Italian cult films with. But the film makes up for its lack of sex and blood with a fairly engaging plot line and some great visuals. It has to be said that the plot line moves a little sluggishly in places, and in typical Italian style; it doesn't always make sense, but generally it has enough to keep the audience watching and patience is rewarded with a great little twist at the end. The cast isn't very notable, but future Giallo heroine Barbara Bouchet stands out. Bouchet looks particularly tasty in this one, as she gets to don a stylish black wig! The plot takes in ideas of the 'horrors' of organised crime, and although it doesn't quite analyse them to any substantial extent; Colpo Rovente does feel like a film that has had some thought put into it. Overall, I can't say that this is one of the best Italian movies I've seen, but it's certainly one of the more unique ones and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to the cult fan! -IMDB.com
Bobby Troup is better known as a composer ("Route 66") than performer, but the English CD reissue of Bobby Troup Sings Johnny Mercer, a mid-'50s studio session made for Bethlehem, showcases his vocals. Accompanying himself on piano on some of the tracks and accompanied by bassist Red Mitchell, guitarist Howard Roberts, drummer Don Heath, and valve trombonist Bob Enevoldsen, Troup explores a dozens pieces with lyrics by the masterful Mercer. Troup doesn't have a great vocal range, but his smooth singing style is very appealing. The selection of material includes rarities like the happy-go-lucky "Jamboree Jones" (a piece which also has music by Mercer), "I'm With You" (which he co-composed with Mercer), and the equally fun "Cuckoo in the Clock." Among the many standards present are the swinging but subtle take of "That Old Black Magic," cool instrumental arrangements of "Laura" and "Jeepers Creepers," and a mellow "Skylark." This mellow album is easily recommended. -Allmusic.com
Earl Bostic was the king of the King record label prior to the arrival of James Brown. As a disciple of Louis Jordan, Bostic's approach to the alto saxophone was a departure, straddling the line between bar walking honking and an out-and-out instrumental crooning style. This collection is a very good one in that it expresses the many types of jazz, blues and R&B Bostic embraced. And one has to remember when these tunes were recorded -- 1951 to 1956 -- years of transitions from swing and bop to race records where more sophisticated tastes were at odds with the putatively square music being presented on a new thing called television. Bostic's music, as the title suggests, was also danceable. His easy swinging big hit from 1951 "Flamingo" kicks off the set, defining smooth well before illegitimate "smooth jazz" was coined. A few jazz standards are included, with an interesting take of "Always" as Bostic comes in late, a rocking shuffle swing ideal for the normally rendered ballad "Deep Purple," a vibrato laden Bostic with shimmering vibraphone behind him during "I Cant Give You Anything but Love," and an outstanding, slow, heart melting rendition of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." "Steam Whistle Jump" is clearly a knock-off of "Take the 'A' Train." Where Bostic expertly excels in a manner as potent as Gene Ammons is on the soul-jazz side of things. His energetic "What, No Pearls?" is a rocking time capsule for the era, and "Seven Steps" grooves with a Latin twist. Bostic's saxophone trades quick melody snippets with guitar on the most intriguing cut of the date, the jam "Don't You Do It." Not a definitive collection, but a fine cross-section of the meatier and substantive side of Earl Bostic, with no filler or the string dominated pop style music he eventually presented. -Allmusic.com
Bass – Bill Anthony (tracks: A5 to B2), Bill Crow (tracks: B5), Bob Whitlock (tracks: B3, B4), Leroy Vinnegar (tracks: A1 to A4) Drums – Al Levitt (tracks: B5), Frank Isola (tracks: A5 to B2), Max Roach (tracks: B3, B4), Shelly Manne (tracks: A1 to A4) Piano – Jimmy Rowles (tracks: B3, B4), John Williams (5) (tracks: A5 to B2, B5), Lou Levy (tracks: A1 to A4) Tenor Saxophone – Stan Getz (tracks: A1 to A5) Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer (tracks: A5) Trumpet – Tony Fruscella (tracks: B1, B2) Valve Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer (tracks: B5)
Big Bend photos: What a vacation! Big Bend is absolutely gorgeous! Underneath are photos of the National Park, if you're interested.
It was a cool 85°F in the heat of the day (very atypical for far
southern Texas in midsummer). And ...we had a bear visitor! Of all the places I've been, this is one of the most beautiful, and desolate. Thanks again for your kind words, and patience while I was away :) -Ed aka ETHICS