Posts Tagged ‘OST’

OST: Toomorrow

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

OST_ToomorrowOlivia Newton-John on the doorstep of stardom in 1970

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]

OST: Running Wild – The Life of Dayton O. Hyde

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

StevePoltz_RunningWildSteve Poltz soundtrack for a documentary on Dayton O. Hyde

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]

Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

2012 remaster of a Christmas classic with two Thanksgiving bonuses

Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas did as much to define the Peanuts gang as it did to capture what Charles Schulz wrote in his strip. In the same way that the television special literally animated the characters, Guaraldi’s music provided an emotional soundtrack to which they moved and danced, fleshing out a whole new dimension of the characters’ personalities. Every song on the soundtrack, even the traditional tunes adapted by Guaraldi, quickly become sense memories of the special, and a few, such as “Linus and Lucy,” “Skating” and “Christmas is Coming” were indelibly wed to their animated sequences. Like the television special, the soundtrack is a perennial. It’s been reissued on CD twice before, initially in 1988, and as recently as 2006, the latter being the subject of mastering mistakes, changes from the original album and much heated discussion.

The 2012 edition features a new re-master by Joe Tarantino that returns to original stereo album master, including its mix and edits. The piano arpeggio that opened “O Tannenbaum” on the 2006 reissue is once again removed, the end of the instrumental “Christmas Time is Here” is once again faded, and the end of “Skating” once again fades before the bass solo. The bonus “Greensleeves,” which had been added to the original CD reissue is retained and augmented by two more bonuses: “Great Pumpkin Waltz” and “Thanksgiving Theme.” These latter two seem to have been drawn from the mono television soundtrack, rather than master tapes, sounding the same as they do on Charlie Brown’s Holiday Hits. Unfortunately, the 2012 release drops the alternate takes that appeared on the 2006 edition, despite there being room left at the end of this forty-five minute CD. Audiophiles can argue the merits of each remaster (the piano here feels as if it’s pushed forward to the point of harshness in spots), but what can’t be disputed is the beauty and lasting emotional resonance of Guaraldi’s music. [©2012 Hyperbolium]

Vince Guaraldi: The Very Best Of

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Much more than just “Linus & Lucy”

San Francisco jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi would have been remembered in the popular music conscience for his 1962 hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” had he not redefined his legacy three years later with the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The animated special’s annual broadcast turned Guaraldi’s score, particularly the instrumental “Linus and Lucy,” into an indelible musical signature. The two bouts of popular acclaim obscured the rest of Guaraldi’s career, which began in the 1950s backing Cal Tjader, blossomed into his own trio and first struck pay dirt with his tribute, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. It was from this latter album that the Guaraldi original “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” sprung onto the airwaves as the B-side of his cover of Luiz Bonfa’s “Samba de Orfeu.” Though the latter isn’t included here, another of the film’s themes, “Manha de Carnaval,” shows off Guaraldi’s interest in Latin rhythms, as well as the contemplative side of his playing.

Brazillian music played an on-going role in Guaraldi’s repertoire, as he covered the bossa nova “Outra Vez,” and collaborated with guitarist Bola Sete on the gentle “Star Song,” the rush-hour “Ginza” and a live recording of “El Matador.” The latter shows how easily Guaraldi transitioned back and forth from straight to swing time, much as he does in “Linus and Lucy,” his left hand beating out boogie-woogie as his right hand picks out melodies. 1964’s “Treat Street” attempted to follow-up on the commercial success of 1962, but the swinging, Latin-tinged single failed to click with fickle radio programmers and record buyers. It wouldn’t be until the 1965 Peanuts breakthrough that Guaraldi’s music would again seep into the broad public’s consciousness. Even then, it didn’t make a mark on the singles chart, though the soundtrack albums have been perennial sellers.

In addition to writing originals, Guaraldi, like his contemporaries, also reinterpreted standards, including Frank Loesser’s “The Lady’s in Love With You” and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” The collection closes out with three pieces from Guaraldi’s Peanuts repertoire, including “Christmas is Coming” (the theme to which the gang dances) and a six-minute instrumental version of “Christmas Time is Here.” The two-disc Definitive Vince Guaraldi, issued three years ago, provides a deeper helping of Guaraldi’s sound, and the A Charlie Brown Christmas Original Soundtrack is a must-have. But for those wishing to taste Guaraldi’s music beyond what you’ve heard on TV, this is a good place to start. [©2012 Hyperbolium]

Various Artists: Pan Am – Music From and Inspired by the Original Series

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Swinging collection of ‘60s jet-age pop marred by contemporary covers

The vintage picks on this fourteen-track set nicely conjure the ring-a-ding-ding jet-age culture of television’s Pan Am. Unfortunately, the inclusion of two contemporary cover versions reeks of marketing opportunism, and interrupts the vintage vibe of an otherwise finely programmed collection. Grace Potter and Nikki Jean’s fans may enjoy their renditions of, respectively, “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” but the modernity of their vocal styles sticks out among the company they’re keeping here.

The set opens with the underappreciated Buddy Greco swinging “Around the World” as if he’s got Rat Pack-era Las Vegas on a string. He sports the energy of Louis Prima and the cool of a young Bobby Darin. Darin himself brings the program back on track with a terrific version of “Call Me Irresponsible.” The collection includes international space-age bachelor pad chestnuts “The Girl From Ipanema,” “Mais Que Nada,” and “Quando Quando Quando” and serves up several lesser-known, but no less superb items. Ella Fitzgerald scats brilliantly through Rodgers & Hart’s “Blue Skies” and Peggy Lee opens “New York City Blues” as a smoky ballad before bursting into joyous celebration of all things Big Apple.

Shirley Horn provides a master class in jazz vocals with “The Best is Yet to Come,” a tune famously recorded by Sinatra and Basie in ‘64. Basie’s band adds its own notes of sophistication with the horn chart for Hank Williams’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and Brenda Lee’s “Break it to Me Gently” will break listeners’ hearts with its gut-wrenching vocal. Nikki Jean has the bad fortune to follow Lee’s tour de force, sounding cute, but inconsequential in comparison. The set ends with Dinah Washington’s superb “Destination Moon,” closing a fine set of jet-age artifacts from and inspired by the television show. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

The Bumps: Playin’ Italian Cinedelics

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Organ trio riffs on ‘60s and ‘70s Italian soundtracks

Given the obscurity of the titles, all but the most devoted Italian cineastes will have to take this trio’s word that these organ-jazz arrangements are based on movie soundtracks. Their best-known inspirations, Ennio Morricone and Piero Umiliani, are augmented by Gianni Ferrio, Piero Piccioni, Luis Bacalov and others. The selections mix breezy sounds of mid-60s la dolce vita with a good measure of early-70s exploitation cinema. Vince Abbracciante’s Hammond, Farfisa and Rhodes range from jazz cool to psych-soul heat, and the rhythm section plays with sharp, percussive force. Wordless vocals add an Esquivelian touch to several tracks, and guest players add flute, sax, flugelhorn, guitar and a duet vocal on Armando Trovajoli’s “L’amore Dice Ciao.” This is a nice spin for Italian cinephiles and lovers of hot organ jazz and cool easy listening. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

The Bumps Home Page

Various Artists: The Wilburn Brothers Show

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Terrific soundtrack from the Wilburn Brothers mid-60s TV show

Little by little, the catalog of 1960s country hit-makers Teddy and Doyle Wilburn is coming back into print. Varese issued a terrific greatest hits anthology in 2006, and followed up with an album of inspirational songs earlier this year. An import anthology and original album reissues [1 2] are now joined by Varese’s first ever CD issue of the official soundtrack album from the Wilburn’s popular television show. Originally released in 1966, the album recreates the format of the duo’s half-hour show (complete with light audience applause), collecting terrific performances from the Wilburns, comedy and song by Harold Morrison, spotlights from the show’s “girl singer” Loretta Lynn, and guest appearances by Ernest Tubb. Owen Bradley produced the disc in crisp mono at the famed Bradley’s Barn, capturing live versions of several hits, including the Wilburns’ “Trouble’s Back in Town,” “It’s Another World” and “Knoxville Girl,” Lynn’s 1965 single “The Home You’re Tearing Down” and the Wilburns-Tubb collaboration “Hey, Mr. Bluebird.” The disc is filled out with singles (including the moving prison song “The Legend of the Big River Train”), old favorites, terrific harmonies, good humor and the inviting, easy-going manner of the Wilburn Brothers. You can catch reruns of the original program on on RFD-TV, but this soundtrack album is a great souvenir. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

OST: EA Sports NCAA Football 12

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Get pumped for any game

Colin O’Malley’s music cues for EA Sports’ latest edition of their NCAA football video game [PS3 Xbox] stand on their own as inspirational orchestral pieces. If you like the dramatic soundtracks of NFL Films, you’ll enjoy the rousing martial rhythms and soaring brass of these bass and percussion-heavy arrangements. It’s not clear how the musical themes actually relate to titles like “Turnover” and “Coaches Corner” – though you might absentmindedly find yourself avoiding the D-line as “Defense Wins Championships” marches through your living room, or introducing your friends to the television audience as “Pregame Show” rolls. Any one of these pieces could get you to look deeply within your athletic soul to convert a critical fourth down or tip a ball out of the end-zone with your outstretched fingers. Or they could just rouse you to the kitchen to refill the chips and dips. O’Malley’s written for the United States Airforce, CNN and DC Comics, and you can hear both world-beating dominance and military starch in these pieces. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Herman’s Hermits: Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter / Hold On

Friday, June 24th, 2011

OST two-fer featuring tunes from Sloan, Barri and Gouldman

With oldies radio having reduced Herman’s Hermits catalog to only a couple of their hit singles, many listeners may be unaware of the group’s immense mid-60s popularity. The Hermits were the top-selling British group in 1965, besting even the Beatles, spurred manic responses from female fans, and starred in two feature-length films. ABKCO’s two-fer pulls together the soundtracks from both 1966’s Hold On! And 1968’s Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. To be fair to the Fab Four, neither of the Hermits’ films holds a creative candle to A Hard Day’s Night (or even Help, really), and while the soundtracks haven’t the brilliance of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, they do combine charming hit singles, interesting explorations of folk-rock, good album tracks, and yes, some filler.

Hold On spun off two hit singles, the music-hall styled “Leaning on the Lamp Post” and the folk-rock “A Must to Avoid.” The latter is one of four titles penned by ace Los Angeles writers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. The Hermits’ original version of Sloan & Barri’s “Where Were You When I Needed You” hasn’t the venom of the Grass Roots’ subsequent hit, but Peter Noone’s double tracked vocal is a nice touch, and the band cuts an interesting groove that marries British Invasion beat music and West Coast folk-rock. The title track quickly reveals Sloan’s fascination with Dylan, and the tambourine, hand-claps and waltz-time of “All the Things I Do for You Baby” suggest the Sunset Strip sound of the Leaves and Byrds.

The remainder of Hold On includes the novelty “The George and Dragon” and a generous helping of tunes written by soundtrack specialists Fred Karger, Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne. Wayne and Weisman wrote several of the more passable songs for Elvis Presley’s films, and here they work up the foot-stomping “Got a Feeling,” Zombies-styled “Wild Love,” and, for film co-star Shelley Fabares, the mid-tempo ballad “Make Me Happy.” Mickey Most’s productions, heard here in true stereo, hold up well, sounding punchier and more nuanced than one might have heard through an AM radio in 1966. The entire album clocks in at just over twenty-two minutes, and so it pairs nicely with the Hermits’ second soundtrack.

The Hermits scored their second feature film two years later, but by this time the music scene had moved on from cute mod style to hippie couture, and the band’s commercial fortunes had waned. The soundtrack’s single, “The Most Beautiful Thing in My Life,” managed a measly #131 in the U.S. and didn’t chart at all in the UK. Still, the album contained several interesting songs from ace pop songwriter (and then soon-to-be 10cc founder) Graham Gouldman, including the Hollies-influenced “It’s Nice to be Out in the Morning.” Filling out the track list were the band’s 1965 title hit (reproduced here in mono) and their last top-five, 1967’s “There’s a Kind of Hush.”

ABKCO’s reissue (with fantastic digital transfers by Peter Mew, Teri Landi and Steve Rosenthal) adds a bonus rehearsal session of “Mrs. Brown” in which Peter Noone tries out an a cappella introduction and pins down the tempo. Noone was among the most charming front-men of the British Invasion, and his good nature and hard-work shines through on both the hits and album tracks. Much like the recent Herman’s Hermits documentary, these soundtracks show off an endearing band that cannily picked their material from top-flight writers. The two-fer CD is also available as individual album downloads [1 2], but both soundtracks are recommended, and the two-fer is the way to go. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Barney Kessel: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Kessel reinterprets Mancini’s film soundtrack

Those seeking Barney Kessel’s legendary jazz stylings should look elsewhere. As a guitarist in the ‘50s, Kessel was renowned for his cool, bop-inspired playing in small quartets on sessions with the Contemporary label. But in the early ‘60s he signed with Reprise and embarked on a series of pop records. This was hardly new territory for Kessel, as he’d been backing pop musicians for years, and was a first-call guitarist for pop titans like Phil Spector; but as a front-man, this was a break from the jazz sessions he’d previously led. On his debut for Reprise, Kessel reinterpreted Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for Breakfast at Tiffany’s with a septet that included the superb playing of Paul Horn on saxophone and flute. This is a fair distance from the harder jazz Kessel had been recording, but not nearly as out-and-out pop as his next album, Bossa Nova. Here he leans on the jazz roots of Mancini’s compositions and swings some original solos on “The Big Blow Out” and “Loose Caboose.” Surprisingly, the soundtrack’s centerpiece, “Moon River,” is rendered pedestrian here, as if Kessel couldn’t find anything new to say with it. This album is likely to disappoint those seeking hard-bop, in line with the guitarist’s earlier works, but if you seek a variation on the original soundtrack, this is worth hearing. This album is also available on CD as a 3-fer with Bossa Nova and Contemporary Latin Rhythms. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]