The soundtrack to the film Wheeler makes real the fictional Wheeler Bryson. Written and sung by screenwriter, producer and actor Stephen Dorff, the songs are neither workmanlike imitations nor certified hits – laying somewhere in between studied craft and the bottled lightning of stardom. In that sense, they’re perfectly tuned to a story of Nashville aspiration that sits on the precipice of success. Dorff has a bit of rock ‘n’ roll husk in his voice, and it serves both the up-tempo numbers and the ballads. The album’s single, “Pour Me Out of This Town,” was co-written by Dorff’s late Nashville songwriter brother Andrew, and Kris Kristofferson (who appears in the film) adds “New Mister Me” to the soundtrack. If the film struck a chord with you, this thirteen song soundtrack will be a nice souvenir; but even if you’re haven’t seen the film, there’s still something here to catch your ear. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
Posts Tagged ‘OST’
Muhammad Ali’s 1977 biopic was drawn from his like-titled biography, and though Ali was arguably the greatest boxer of all time, he wasn’t the greatest actor, even when playing himself. Which is strange, because in real life he played the character of Muhammad Ali with incredible creativity, charisma and panache. Perhaps it was a disconnect with the script (courtesy of noted journalist and screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr.) or director, but the physical and intellectual poetry of his real life didn’t come through on the screen. The film’s soundtrack is remembered largely for the song “The Greatest Love of All,” a #2 R&B hit for George Benson, and even more famously taken to the top of the charts by Whitney Houston in 1985. Others may remember the song from Eddie Murphy’s performance in Coming to America.
The original soundtrack album also includes an instrumental version of the hit and two versions of Benson performing “I Always Knew I Had It in Me,” once with a driving rhythm and jazzy guitar, and once as a ballad. The remainder of the soundtrack is filled out with atmospheric instrumentals by Michael Masser that revolve around the riff from “I Always Knew I Had It in Me.” Labeling the last of them “Variation on Theme” is about as on-the-nose as you can get. Varese’s 2017 reissue adds four bonus tracks, highlighted by Cassius Clay’s charming, melody-challenged cover of “Stand By Me” and the original recitation “I Am the Greatest.” The remaining bonuses are the DJ 7” of Benson’s “The Greatest Love of All” and a disco 12” of “Ali Bombaye.” This is a nice upgrade to a period piece. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
If you were making a documentary on a renegade 1960s LSD collective, Huntington Beach singer-songwriter Matt Costa might not be your first thought for a period-evoking soundtrack. But Costa’s roots in Orange County match those of the Brotherhood at the film’s center, and the seeds of his nostalgic musical constructions can be found in his catalog. The resulting soundtrack for the film Orange Sunshine is the sort of ersatz experience one gained from AIP’s exploitation films – music that is of the era, but doesn’t define it. Costa deftly evokes the ‘60s with fuzzed guitars, hallucinogenic flights, West Coast jazz odysseys, blue funk, folk fingerpicking, ragas and even a touch of strategically placed vinyl surface noise.
The compositions lean to mood-setting instrumentals, but the vocal tracks – particularly the Airplane-styled “Born in My Mind” – are spot-on. What rats this out as homage rather than artifact is the crisp fidelity – something that couldn’t easily be achieved on a shoestring budget in 1968. Most impressive is that Costa wrote, engineered, produced and performed the entire album – especially remarkable on “ensemble” jams like “The Fuzz.” Several of the cuts are under two minutes – often leaving you wanting more – but this works nicely as a standalone album of ‘60s-tinged psych, jazz, soul and rock, and provides a terrific complement to the film. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
The most notable element of Sonny & Cher’s 1967 film Good Times wasn’t the duo’s move into acting, the skit-based humor or even the meta-conceptual plot of a movie about making a movie. The film’s most lasting contribution to the arts was the introduction of William Friedkin as a mainstream director. Friedkin had been directing documentaries, but it was this collaboration with Sonny Bono that launched his feature filmmaking career. The film is an interesting lark, capturing mid-60s mood, design and a bit of artistic ennui, but without the acidic bite of Head. The original eight-song soundtrack gave Bono a chance to stretch out, and added several excellent titles to the Sonny & Cher catalog.
Leading off is a waltz-time instrumental version of the duo’s signature “I Got You Babe,” a title that appears again at the soundtrack’s end in a fetching acoustic arrangement. In between is Sonny’s perfectly self-deprecating “It’s the Little Things” in all its proto-Spectorian grandeur, its B-side Cher showcase “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” the sultry B-side “I’m Gonna Love You” (originally released as a Cher solo on Imperial in 1965), and several songs lifted from the soundtrack with lead-in dialogue. The latter include the stage-hall styled title tune and another of Sonny’s self-deprecating, average-guy love songs, “Just a Name.”
The bonus tracks include the single “Plastic Man” and its B-side edit of “It’s the Little Things.” The latter shortens the album track by dropping the middle stanza of the refrain. Earlier reissues have included only the edited version, so the full album take turns out to be the real bonus. Varese has used the true mono master, unlike One Way’s 1999 reissue, and though quite listenable, the fidelity still isn’t the best that the era offered. Friedkin’s original liners are included alongside new notes by Larry R. Watts, rounding out an obscure entry in Sonny and Cher’s catalog, but one that harbors several top-notch tunes. [©2016 Hyperbolium]
Few remember – or even knew – that Gene Pitney’s breakthrough hit, “Town Without Pity,” was both the title and title song of a 1961 film. Even more surprisingly, the melody was written by Dimitri Tiomkin, who scored dozens of westerns, five films for Frank Capra (including It’s a Wonderful Life), and composed the score and theme song for Fred Zinneman’s High Noon. He not only wrote the melody for High Noon‘s “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling,” he believed in it enough to buy the rights back and release it as a Frankie Laine single. It was recorded by Tex Ritter for the film and won Tiomkin an academy award for best song.
Tiomkin’s other enduring Western classic is the theme song to the late-50s television show Rawhide, which Frankie Laine also took up the charts. Two years later, Tiomkin wrote the score and title track for “Town Without Pity,” gaining another Oscar nomination, winning a Golden Globe, and giving Gene Pitney his first Top 20 single. Pitney’s recording is included in the film, but the song is also rendered as a jazz instrumental and as a transitional theme. Tiomkin garnered several more Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and awards, but never again cracked the pop or country charts!
Although pop music was a key element of American International’s beach party films, it was surprisingly elusive on record. Perhaps the value of cross-marketing hadn’t yet fully developed by the mid-60s, as the music from these films was only spottily released as singles and album tracks, often in studio versions that differed from those featured in the film. In fact, this cast album for How to Stuff a Wild Bikini is the only original soundtrack recording released in conjunction with any of the seven AIP beach party films, but it’s an excellent example of the musical variety offered by the films.
By the time this sixth entry in the series was cast, singer-actor Frankie Avalon’s busy schedule had moved him into a supporting role, where he was not featured as a vocalist. Annette Funicello was still starring, and got two superb songs from the pens of Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner. Sung in her trademarked double-vocals, “Better Be Ready” has a sweet bubblegum melody and superb guitar hook, and “The Perfect Boy” includes clever rhymes that are memorably fractured by the background singers. The album’s ballad, “If It’s Gonna Happen,” is sung by one-time Arthur Godfrey show regular Lu Ann Simms, but this solo version differs from the four-part vocal heard in the film. The version heard here was also released as a single, backed with a solo recording of this film’s group-sung “After the Party.”
The bulk of the soundtrack is taken up by group and novelty numbers that gave the film a lot of its flavor. Harvey Lembeck lays on a broad Brooklyn accent for his turn as Eric von Zipper singing “Follow Your Leader” and the ironic “The Boy Next Door,” and guest stars Mickey Rooney and Brian Donlevy each get campy Broadway-styled songs. Co-star John Ashley, who’d recorded rockabilly in the ’50s, leads the cast on the title theme, the country-rocker “That’s What I Call a Healthy Girl” and the closing “After the Party.” The latter is particularly effective in communicating the film’s idealized summer beach mood. The Kingsmen close out the album with an original garage-rock tune, “Give Her Lovin’,” and a drums-and-organ take on the title theme.
The album runs a scant 24 minutes, but it’s 24 minutes of musical bliss for fans of the beach party films. The vinyl has long since become a collectors’ item, and the rare stereo release – as reproduced here from the master tapes – was hard to find even at the time of its original release. Real Gone’s reissue includes the original cover art and a 12-page booklet that features detailed liner notes by Tom Pickles and several full-panel photos. It’s a shame that the film version of “If It’s Gonna Happen” wasn’t available as a bonus track, but for those who maintain a soft spot for beach party films and their kitschy soundtracks, this is a truly welcome reissue. [©2014 Hyperbolium]
If you don’t remember, or never knew, the film Porky’s Revenge, don’t be surprised. As the third film in the Porky’s trilogy (filled in the middle by Porky’s II: The Next Day), its sophomoric humor was a tired rehash that had little of the original film’s raunchy charm. What this sequel did have is an inexplicably fine period-influenced soundtrack piloted by Dave Edmunds and stocked with A-list talents that include Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Carl Perkins, Clarence Clemons, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Phil Collins, Slim Jim Phantom, Lee Rocker and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Edmunds was initially hired to produce only the film’s theme song, but he grew the project into a full original soundtrack – the only one of the series. And by selecting songs and then drafting friends and colleagues to perform (including a backing band of Chuck Leavell, Michael Shrieve and Kenny Aaronson), he elevated the soundtrack well beyond the artistic qualities of the film itself. At the time of the soundtrack’s mid-80s recording, Edmunds was a few years past a commercial run that began with 1979’s “Girls Talk.” But he’d maintained his well-earned reputation for modern-edged roots music, and had recently worked on projects with the Everly Brothers and the Sun class of 1955, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins.
The original album included two Edmunds originals – the bouncy “High School Nights” and the synth-laden instrumental “Porky’s Revenge.” The 2014 CD reissue adds “Don’t Call Me Tonight” (which had appeared two years earlier on Edmunds’ Information), and a Carl Perkins remake of “Honey Don’t.” The bulk of the album is filled with lovingly crafted covers, including Jeff Beck’s impressive take on Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk,” George Harrison’s recording of the obscure Bob Dylan title, “I Don’t Want to Do It,” the Fabulous Thunderbirds torrid version of Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee,” Carl Perkins remake of “Blue Suede Shoes” with Perkins’ guitar and the Stray Cats’ rhythm section dialing up some real heat, and Clarence Clemons blowing his thunderous sax on “Peter Gunn Theme.”
Edmunds finishes out his contributions with a bright, double-tracked cover of Bobby Darin’s “Queen of the Hop,” which was also released as a B-side to Harrison’s track. The album included two tracks not overseen by Edmunds: a Chips Moman production of Willie Nelson covering “Love Me Tender,” and a Robert Plant-led cover of Charlie Rich’s “Philadelphia Baby.” Other than the closing instrumental, everything here resounds with Edmunds retro sensibility and the talent of his guests. Perkins shines especially bright, with Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker stoking the rockabilly rhythm. If you missed this the first time around – and most probably did – here’s a chance to get your hands on a truly unexpected treat. [©2014 Hyperbolium]
Actor-director Clint Eastwood has a surprisingly rich musical history. In 1961 he leveraged his burgeoning acting fame for a shot at recording with the forgettable pop ballad “Unknown Girl,” a couple of years later he found a more suitable vehicle in a pleasant album of Cowboy Favorites, in 1969 he starred in the film version of the musical Paint Your Wagon and in 1970 he sang “Burning Bridges” for the film Kelly’s Heroes. Eastwood continued to dabble in music, participating in the soundtracks of Any Which Way You Can, Honkytonk Man, Bronco Billy and more recently, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The first two of these soundtracks have now been reissued for the first time on CD.
The 1980 soundtrack of Any Which Way You Can features Glen Campbell’s hit title track alongside David Frizzell and Shelly West’s chart-topping “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.” The latter was written by a rare pairing of Felice & Bordleaux Bryant with the Collins Kids’ Larry Collins, the latter of whom also co-wrote Johnny Duncan’s Margaritaville-styled “Acapulco” and Jim Stafford’s “Cow Patti.” Clint Eastwood appears with Ray Charles on the playful lead-off “Beers to You,” and the album is filled out with tracks by Fats Domino (his last single, the New Orleans’ tinged country “Whiskey Heaven”), Gene Watson and Eastwood’s co-star, Sandra Lockhart.
Many of Snuff Garrett’s productions have the gloss of late ’70s Nashville, and include string-lined country-pop and gospel-tinged ballads. Domino and Stafford get rootsier treatment, and “Cotton-Eyed Clint” is a straightforward fiddle and steel instrumental. Locke, like Eastwood, is game, but no match for the album’s stars, who rang up seven chart hits among the album’s dozen tracks. This is a nice sampling of the commercial side of the era’s country music, as well as a reminder of the film’s lighthearted tone. Varese’s reissue includes the album’s original dozen tracks and a four-panel booklet with liner notes by Laurence Zwisohn.
The 1982 soundtrack of Honkytonk Man was led onto the charts by Marty Robbins’ top-ten title track, and followed by charting sides by David Frizzell & Shelly West (“Please Surrender”), Ray Price (“San Antonio Rose” and “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle”) and Porter Wagoner (“Turn the Pencil Over”). Also on board are Marty Robbins, Johnny Gimble, John Anderson and Linda Hopkins. Gimble’s western swing, Anderson’s acoustic country and Hopkins closing blues provide the selections least dated by Snuff Garret’s early-80s production. Varese’s reissue includes the album’s original dozen tracks and a four-panel booklet with liner notes by Laurence Zwisohn. [©2014 Hyperbolium]
This 1970 soundtrack to a blink-and-you-missed-it Don Kirshner-produced film would likely have remained a quick blip on the pop landscape, had the like-named group, film and soundtrack not featured a young Olivia Newton-John. At the time of the film’s release, John was still a year away from breaking through internationally with the Dylan-penned “If Not for You,” but she already had plenty of experience under her belt. She’d recorded a terrific cover of Jackie DeShannon’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine” and was gaining notice from club performances when Kirshner (who’d found success assembling the Archies and Cuff Links after being booted as the Monkees’ producer) brought her into the group.
The film was part of a deal Kirshner struck with James Bond producer Harry Saltzman, and after funding troubles sank the picture’s prospects, it was shelved shortly after release. The soundtrack album was released concurrently on RCA, but given the film’s vanishing act, the vinyl quickly followed suit. The group released a follow-up single and B-side on Decca, but Newton-John was soon off to the beginning of her superstar solo career. Real Gone’s first-ever reissue of the soundtrack, struck from the original master tape, includes the album’s original dozen tracks.
The film stars Toomorrow as the only band with the “curative vibrations” that can save an alien race dying from a lack of emotion. The screenplay is filled with late ’60s tropes, faux hipster dialog and science fiction cliches, which, of course, makes it worth screening. But the project seems to have really been a launching pad for the group, as had been the Monkees television show and the Archies’ animated series; unfortunately, there was no commercial lift-off. The soundtrack, written and produced by veteran pop songsmiths Mark Barkan (“She’s a Fool,” “Pretty Flamingo,” “The Tra La La Song”) and Ritchie Adams (“Tossin’ and Turnin'”), is an amalgam of bubblegum sounds that include pop, soul and lite psych, hints of folk and country, and is threaded lightly with primitive synth.
Olivia Newton-John is featured on the Motown-inflected “Walkin’ on Air” and the closing “Goin’ Back.” She’s also sings harmonies and takes a verse on the title theme. Guitarist Ben Cooper provides lead vocal for the space-age garage-rocker “Taking Our Own Sweet Time,” the pop-blues “Let’s Move On,” and the hippie themed “HappinessValley.” A trio of instrumentals includes Hugo Montenegro’s bachelor pad-styled “Spaceport,” and orchestral arrangements of “Toomorrow” and “Walkin’ on Air” that sound as if they’re drawn from a commercial production music library. This doesn’t measure up to ONJ’s later hits, but as a quirky start to her career, it’s great find for fans. Real Music’s reissue includes a six-panel booklet with extensive liner notes and full-panel front- and back-cover reproductions. [©2014 Hyperbolium]
Steve Poltz’s soundtrack for Suzanne Mitchell’s documentary Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, features eight new lyrical songs interspersed among seventeen short instrumentals. Poltz wrote his songs after visiting with Dayton Hyde at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary he’d founded in 1988. The instrumentals tend to atmospheric and contemplative, though a few longer tracks, “Happier Hour” and “El Centro,” are full-band arrangements; the former is a bouncy country tune, the latter a growling rocker. Hyde’s background as a cowboy, rancher, rodeo rider, photographer and author were perhaps the only possible path to his ultimate role as a savior of wild horses. His accomplishments are extensive, often extending far beyond his personal well-being, and his gratitude is both deep and widespread.
Poltz employs country, rock and blues, collaborating with director Mitchell to fine-tune his songs to the film’s take on its subject’s character. The only track not written by Poltz is Lily Kaminsk’s “Phantom Love,” a haunting, lo-fi pop ballad performed by her band She Rose, and originally released in 2012. Poltz is a prolific artist and well-traveled troubadour, having released more than a dozen solo albums, including a disc full of answering machine recordings and a live CD/DVD package. But with all that under his belt, this is his first venture into soundtracks, and the flexibility of his style turns out to be well suited to both the needs of a film soundtrack and the strong character and fine shadings of this story’s protagonist. [©2013 Hyperbolium]