Soundtrack of the Week- Arthur (1981)

Soundtrack of the Week- Arthur (1981)

Once upon a time (the early 80’s to be precise) when my family rented our first video recorder from Granada Home Video, you could rent tapes of trailers from the same shop. One tape had all of the trailers for Warner Bros  video releases on it and included such gems as The Exorcist, The Shining and Private Benjamin.

The trailer for the 1981 comedy Arthur was also on there. It featured the amazing Burt Bacharach song ‘Money’. It was only recently that I saw the trailer again and wondered if this great song was on the film’s soundtrack.

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I investigated further and found that indeed it was. I hurriedly downloaded the soundtrack and found that on first listen every track is just as great as Money.

This is prime Bacharach songwriting genius with each of his tracks displaying his skill at writing easy listening brilliance but giving it a rougher edge that proved perfect for the film as Arthur is an early 80’s Noo Yawk movie and the music perfectly embodies this.

We also get the gorgeous Christopher Cross track that he co-wrote with Burt, Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) that must be one of the best title tracks ever written for a film (the original instrumental version written by Bacharach as the theme for the film is also on the album). Theres even a rougher, rock version of Money entitled Poor Rich Boy that works perfectly well.

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Let the music do the taking and relive this fantastic film, the amazing characterisation and New York looking absolutely amazing in 1981. And then watch the movie. In my opinion, it’s one of the best comedies ever made with a cast that bounces off each other wonderfully (Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli and Sir John Gielgud were all perfect choices) and acts as a brilliant time capsule of how amazing the 80’s were in America.

Soundtrack of the Week- The Amityville Horror (1979)

Soundtrack of the Week- The Amityville Horror (1979)

This week’s Soundtrack of the Week is for the 1979 haunted house (hoax!) The Amityville Horror.

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This soundtrack is amazing as theres so much going on and so much detail and nuance that might not be noticed on first listening/viewing.

If there was music that would be perfect for such fare it would be sinister and utterly unsettling children’s voices singing a lullaby cum nursery rhyme. Thats what we get here and it works beautifully. However, this basic coda is repeated throughout the film but each time is made to sound even more disturbing with added squeals and shrieks from a waterphone being used more and more each time. This perfectly mirrors the events in the film as they get darker and much more disturbing as time goes on.

There are also sounds of screeching, white noise and static that are used to blinding effect as undercurrents for some of the compositions. Theres even a track which is just the sound of a bass-like rumble to represent the unseen, omnipresent evil presence in the house that is one of the most unsettling and disquieting things I’ve ever heard on a soundtrack.

It’s no wonder that this film music is so brilliant when you consider that it was composed by Lalo Schifrin who wrote the amazing score for Dirty Harry and also composed some pieces for the aborted score for William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Theres a story why this wasn’t used in the finished film in Friedkin’s autobiography of why they fell out over the music written and why they still unfortunately don’t speak.

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The edition of the Amityville Horror soundtrack that I have is the Quartet Records Spanish double CD edition that has the mono film score and also collects together the surviving stereo tracks along with loads of added and previously released tracks. Theres even a track of Schifrin’s SFX track that was used in the film. The number of tracks here is breathtaking. If you’re going to buy this soundtrack, look for this edition. You won’t be disappointed.

Soundtrack of the Week- American Gigolo (1980)

Soundtrack of the Week- American Gigolo (1980)

Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack for Paul Schrader’s 1980 movie about a highly sought after male escort played amazingly by Richard Gere is perfection.

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Just as the movie portrays high living, sophistication but with a gritty menacing underbelly, so does the music. Tracks Night Drive, Palm Springs Drive and Night Drive (Reprise) all effortlessly convey a decadence which is a perfect way to usher in such a decadent and affluent decade such as the Eighties. But they also convey just how incredibly tough this new era was. There are sometimes movies and pop songs that capture the zeitgeist of the time at which they’re made and this movie and it’s soundtrack encapsulate this to a tee.

But there is also room for more avant-garde fare with The Apartment being experimental but not feeling out of place on the album.

But the best song on the album is also one of the best singles ever released. Blondie recorded Call Me especially for this movie with the version on the soundtrack being longer, more epic in scope and even with an extra verse. Debbie Harry was the perfect choice of singer for a soundtrack that ushers in this exciting new decade. Debbie would also lend her vocals to the soundtrack of another masterpiece the following year, John Waters’ Polyester. Now THAT soundtrack needs to be released!

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Moroder’s score for American Gigolo was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

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Soundtrack of the Week- Blood Simple (1984)

Soundtrack of the Week- Blood Simple (1984)

This week’s soundtrack chosen to be recommended for all you lovers of film excellence is Carter Burwell’s genius soundtrack for the Coen Brother’s 1984 masterpiece Blood Simple. Their modern take on a Texan film noir has the perfect musical accompaniment with the music on this collection.

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The simmering, brooding action of the movie is matched by the simplistic and poignant soundscapes on offer here. This soundtrack features the best use of simple but effective piano music since John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The gorgeous title track, the multi-layered Chain Gang, the marimba heavy build of Monkey Chant…all of these tracks are stellar and I’m so glad that they were finally released on record 3 years after the film’s release. Paired with the similarly excellent music for the equally excellent Raising Arizona on the same album, this makes this album an essential addition to any self respecting film music fan’s collection.

And whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to download It’s The Same Old Song by The Four Tops which unfortunately isn’t on this collection but features prominently in the movie.

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Soundtrack of the Week- The Warriors (1979)- Remastered and Expanded Edition

Soundtrack of the Week- The Warriors (1979)- Remastered and Expanded Edition

I can still remember the first time I watched The Warriors. It was one of my brother’s favourite films and I was captivated from the first frames showing the neon of the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island and the following nocturnal subway scenes. Then we see different gangs from different boroughs travelling to a kind of ‘big gang summit meeting’ if you will, each with their own identities, uniforms and threats of danger. Utterly intoxicating.

The soundtrack is a mix of the actual pop songs that several key scenes in the film hinged upon such as ‘In The City’ and ‘Love is a Fire’ and the dark, twisted psychedelia incidental music composed by Barry De Vorzon that was also a huge part of the film. Tracks such as The Fight and Baseball Furies Chase feature on the original soundtrack tracklisting and illustrated their respective scenes perfectly.

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The original Warriors soundtrack

But luckily for Warriors fans, La La Land Records released a remastered and expanded edition of the soundtrack that features a huge amount of De Vorzon’s music that featured in the original film but wasn’t included on the tracklisting for the original soundtrack. There are also tracks unused in the film that are just as brilliant and released for the first time.

Hence, we finally get the music exactly as it features in the film for the opening scene (this has been unreleased until now), the sinister and disquieting music used for the scene in which the rollerskated Punks and The Warriors confront each other in the Union Square subway station and the music used when The Riffs learn the truth about The Warriors and that they didn’t kill Cyrus.

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The remastered and expanded Warriors soundtrack

This music is absolutely essential to the film and makes this expanded edition just as brilliant as the original release. Bask in the glory of this nightmarish score that perfectly accompanied this tale of a crime-ridden Big Apple that was rotten to the core, full of criminal delinquent youth but more exciting and brilliant because of it.

And to finish, here’s some pictires of The Warriors soundtrack on 8 Track!

 

 

Soundtrack of the Week: Prom Night (1980)

Soundtrack of the Week: Prom Night (1980)

Every week I’ll be recommending one of my favourite soundtracks and why I like them. Hopefully this will inspire you to investigate more, buy the album or dig it out of your collection if you already have it so that you bask in it’s glory again.

This week is the turn of the Paul Zaza/Carl Zittrer soundtrack for the 1980 Canxploitation slasher movie, Prom Night.

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Whilst the film should have been a feeble Halloween/Saturday Night Fever/Carrie hybrid, it proved to be so much more. Great moments of terror, tension and genuine grittiness are punctuated by disco scenes (disco certainly doesn’t suck when it comes to this film!) leading up to the prom, great moments of character development and an introspection that is way too nuanced for other slasher fare of the day.

This is all perfectly manifested in the music on this soundtrack too. Firstly though I have an admission to make- I didn’t even know this soundtrack existed remastered on CD and expanded with extra tracks not included on the original vinyl LP. When I heard that some of the tracks were for pieces of music not used in the original film I thought, ‘Oh no! Filler!’ How wrong I was! The extra songs greatly embellish and expand upon the general vibe of the film.

The tracklisting works very well indeed. Theres the sturm und drang of the music used to underpin the terror scenes (the brilliant piece which accompanies the killer calling each of his future victims is here), the joyous disco songs (my life is better for knowing that there is a song titled ‘Love Me Til I Die’ in a disco inspired slasher movie) that are featured also find their way onto the CD along with others that weren’t used which are just as fantastic.

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Just as Synapse’s Blu Ray of the film helped to resurrect the film with a flawless restoration and a whole plethora of extras, this soundtrack contributes to this resurrection with Prom Night ready to rightfully takes it’s place amongst the vanguard of the slasher movement. Yes, it’s not as good as The Undisputed Champion of this subgenre (Halloween, in case you were wondering) but it’s at the forefront of the B+ movies which followed in it’s wake.

Prom Night the soundtrack is available on Perseverance Records.

‘Run, Nancy!’- A Nightmare on Elm Street Expanded Edition Available on iTunes NOW!

‘Run, Nancy!’- A Nightmare on Elm Street Expanded Edition Available on iTunes NOW!

I was superexcited but equally perplexed when I heard a few years ago that there was to be a new boxset of the soundtracks of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. The soundtracks were remastered and with bonus tracks and demos.

Alas, the CD’s weren’t being sold individually- it was the boxset or nothing. But whilst this was great news as I love the first film and it’s music, I had no desire to have to buy the soundtracks for the other films (OK, maybe I’d buy the soundtracks for Parts 2 and 3).

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The Nightmare soundtrack box set

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The box set has it’s own dirty striped jumper! An awesome touch.

However, I’m happy to report that as with the boxset of the Friday the 13th soundtracks that was released a while ago wherein the soundtracks started to be released individually, the same seems to be happening with the Nightmare soundtracks. I checked on iTunes and the expanded soundtrack for the first film is up on there now.

On downloading and listening to this album I can tell you that it greatly expands on the original soundtrack that I bought back in 1989 that was a composite of the soundtracks for the first two films.

The CD I bought in 1989 was actually in a bargain bin at a record store in York called Track Records.

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The album I bought back in the day- 1989 to be precise.

The extra tracks are actual different pieces of music that played integral and important parts within the first film. Quite a few expanded editions of soundtracks pad out their tracklistings with repetitive pieces of music that are slightly different from other tracks but not massively. In some cases it feels like a rip off.

On this expanded edition the remastering has also brought out extra layers of nuance and detail in the music. This unconventional score sounds even fresher and more brilliant to 2019 ears.

Also, some of the new added tracks show just how innovative composer Charles Bernstein was. Check out the isolated track of some of the stingers he wrote for the film and how unusual and innovatory they are. Just as Wes Craven was redefining the horror genre with the film, Bernstein was redefining the possibilities for the horror soundtrack.

It’s also great to see that the camp side of A Nightmare on Elm Street was so evident within the film’s production and what we see on the screen that it actually permeated onto the film’s soundtrack. The album has a track called ‘Run, Nancy!’ for Christsake!

This gem of a soundtrack is available on iTunes and all the other usual places.