The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde-Quentin’s Theme

This was $1.00.  I could say I got it for the Dark  Shadows‘ Theme but in all honesty, I am sure the light blue made me go ahead with the purchase.  I m a sucker for aesthetically pleasing colors.  At the time of writing this post, Real Madrid just won their 12th European Crown over Juventus.  When I had money, I used to go watch Madrid play.  Of course, given the insanely short time span of the useful life of football players, Sergio Ramos and possibly Marcelo are the only players left from when I used to go to games.  Anyway, there that is. Back to the post.

Dark Shadows was the soap opera which ran from 1966 to 1971 portraying the ups and downs of the gothic Collins family.  Kind of a radical concept for the time.  It was made into a Tim Burton movie starring Johnny Depp in 2012.  The theme music was written by Robert Corbet and actually became quite popular. 

Charles Randolph Grean, on the other hand, worked mainly behind the scenes, spending his early years as a copyist for Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw.  His career led him to become a composer, arranger, producer, and A&R director for such labels as RCA Victor.  Among others, he worked with Nat King Cole as well as Vaughn Monroe on “Ghost Riders In The Sky”. His cover of “Quentin’s Theme” from Dark Shadows in 1969 was his first and perhaps his only foray into the charts as a performer.  The single peaked at #13 on the Billboard Pop Chart as well as #3 on the Easy Listening chart.  He would die of natural causes in 2003 at the age of 90.

This album, produced by Grean, was probably meant to capitalize on the success of the single.  It features 3 songs from Dark Shadows, two songs from the Grand Canyon Suite, two other TV theme songs, and some standards.  Overall, it is ok.  I have heard better.  I guess there is nothing that really jumps out at me on this.

For a sample, I went with “Manolito” from the TV series High Chaparral.  I thought it was the best number.  I also went with “Shadows of the Night” which is a variant of “Quentin’s Theme” because I thought I should post something from Dark Shadows after writing about it.

I thought this album was meh but in all fairness, I am doing about 20 things at the same time when writing this.

Enoch Light and the Light Brigade- Film on FIlm

This was $1.  Given the quality of work that Enoch Light has put out as well as his innovative arrangements, buying his records is usually a no brainer.  Happy Memorial Day.  Despite the fact that this post has been written in advance of the US holiday, please note that I most likely played in the annual Memorial Day Hockey Tournament here in town and am most likely pretty beat.

This record came out on Project 3 Records, a subsidiary of Light’s Command Records that specializes in what was at the time high tech recording techniques.  Keeping with this theme, this album presents soundtrack work recorded on 35mm magnetic film, aka the title Film on Film.  According to the back cover, the use of film for recording yields a high quality product, great for “stereo separation, clarity of definition, subtlety of dynamic contrast and general musical realism.”  It is also 15 times the cost of tape.  But for the purposes of the novelty of this record as well as Light’s quest for the best sound techniques, the extra cost is acceptable.

The songs are pretty good but other than “Born Free” and the “Theme from Alfie”, these are not exactly soundtrack standards compared to other numbers from the same period. As with other Light productions, there is a rather lengthy description of the songs in the gate-fold.  

For a sample, I went with French composer Maurice Jarre’s “Paris Smiles” from the film Is Paris Burning?  Pretty good track.  It features the guitar work of Tommy Mottola who was featured on this blog earlier this month.

For a buck, it is satisfactory enough.  Would have liked some more common theme songs nut what can you do.

Walt Disney Presents- Peter and The Wolf/ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

I got this for the Peter and the Wolf side.  The other side, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, conducted by Leopold Stokowski will go unmentioned for the most part during this blog.  This was $1.

Peter and The Wolf was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid and one of my favorite pieces of music. Sergei Prokofiev wrote the work in 1936 after being commissioned by the Central Children’s Theater in Moscow to write a symphony for kids.  The point of the work was to a)introduce kids to musical instruments and b) illustrate the virtues of vigilance, bravery, and resourcefulness.  Each character is given its own instrument and theme.  The work proved to be quite popular and has been adapted many time, most notably perhaps, the 1946 Walt Disney cartoon this album is taken from.

Narrated by Sterling Holloway, this is a pretty straight adaptation of the work with some slight differences.  The character’s all have names except for the wolf.  That is kind of messed up.  Maybe if he had a name, he wouldn’t be so vicious.  In the Disney version, the Duck turns out to be alive at the end. For a sample. I went with the last part of the work. It features a lot of the character themes as well as the hunter’s music (which is among my favorite) and a triumphant end theme for Peter.

Satisfactory.

 

OST- The Dirty Dozen

I no doubtly got this to write a post about Lee Marvin.  It was a bit on the high end at $4.

In the era of the tough guy actor, there was no tougher actor than Lee Marvin.  Born in New York City in 1924, Marvin was wounded serving the Marines in the Pacific Theater of WWII.  After the war, when asked to replace an ailing actor in a local theater production, Marvin worked his way up from Off-Broadway to Broadway, and then to the big screen.  He started in small supporting roles, most times as a heel, including The Big Heat and The Wild One, playing a foil to Marlon Brando’s character (as well as perhaps influencing the Beatles along the way).

He started getting bigger parts including a stint of movies where we played heel to John Wayne (Sidenote: I always stop watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance after Marvin is done.  Eventually lead roles started coming Marvin’s way, leading to his Oscar winning performance in Cat Ballou.

I believe The Dirty Dozen is the work Marvin is best known for.  This film, released in 1967 and directed by Robert Aldrich, features a big roster of talent, including Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Robert Ryan, and football star- turned actor, Jim Brown in his first role.  I like how the army brass, for the most part are played by establishment type actors who have worked Hollywood for awhile while the Dirty Dozen are mostly newer, anti-establishment actors.  That is why it so fitting for Marvin to play the groups’ leader.

The soundtrack was done by Frank DeVol (1911-1999).  De Vol was an accomplished musician who became a composer and arranger as well as an occasional actor.  After having much success in records and radio, De Vol took his efforts to Hollywood where he worked on soundtracks for both the small and big screen.

This album is ok.  It is not like the movie was known for its music.  However, the soundtrack work is quite apt for the film.  I lot of the songs have the old standard “You’re In The Army Now” woven in to them.  It makes for a good effect during the training scenes at the beginning for the movie. For a sample, I decided to pick a song that shows this.  I chose “The Sham Battle” which played during the war-games sequence.  Not only does this song reference “In The Army”, it also quote “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”.

Since Trini Lopez was in the movie, the album also features a full out version of his song “Bramble Bush”.  This cross promotion was probably why Lopez was in the movie in the first place. I believe Lopez plays an acoustic segment of this song in one of the barrack scenes.  Lopez is still alive as of this writing. Anyway, I am using his song as a sample as well.

Satisfactory record.

Al Hirt- The Horn Meets The Hornet

This was $1.  Too cheap for this record.  No way I am passing up this for $1.  As I have posted Al Hirt’s work several times on this blog as well as professed my love for the lead song on this album, it makes for a fitting choice for this month.  One of the benefits of plugging this month with musicians who I have already featured, it cuts down on the writing time for me. And in case you have not heard, we are celebrating this blogs two year anniversary this month.

This record, released by Dynagroove in both mono and stereo (this is the mono version), this record centers around TV themes, most notably the one he did for the Green Hornet.  Also as previously mentioned and linked in this blog, this song was aptly used in Kill Bill Vol 1.

Released in 1966, this album features themes not only from Hornet, but also from Batman, The Monkees, Run For Your Life, and Get Smart among others.  I was a little let down with Batman and The Monkees’ themes as I had high hopes for them.  However, I was greatly impressed with the other songs on the album.  Overall, this record features Hirt’s trademark horn sounds and is very expressive.  I like it.

For a sample, I went with “The Hornet’s Nest” as well as the theme from “Run Buddy Run”. The original theme was performed by jazz great Jack Sheldon.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra- Music from The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, & A Fistful of Dollars & For A Few Dollars More

This was $3.20 with discount.  As most people are familiar with the soundtracks of this Spaghetti Western trilogy, I felt it would be an interesting record and at least a decent one for the collection.

Keeping in line with my Phoenix weekend pictures but jumping ahead chronologically, on Sunday, before I left for home, I climbed up to the top of Camelback Mountain with my aunt.  She really wanted to do it.  I would have been happy watching Law & Order:SVU all day, but I don’t spend much time with the family as it is so let’s make this happen. We climbed up the Cholla side which is longer and mostly a simple flat walk for 2/3’s of the trail and then a steep climb for   the last 1/3.  I had to keep my aunt slightly motivated to reach the top as well as lead conversations with those hiking down as to the ease of the hike.


But we did make it to the top and got a great view of the city.  On the way down, we took the Echo Canyon side, which is shorter, and has less peaks, but is overall a constant steep decline (or climb depending on your perspective).

Hugo Montenegro, born in New York City in 1925, was an American orchestra leader and composer, who himself, did soundtrack work for movies.  Among his work was the Elvis movie Charro! which was filmed in Arizona and features prominently at the Elvis display at the Musical Instrument Museum mentioned two days ago.  He also did TV work, most notably the I Dream of Jeanie Theme. He also made some seminal space age pop records with the Moog in the late 60’s. Montenegro would die in 1981 of complications from emphysema.

 

My Space Age Pop page

It is a bit odd that someone who did soundtrack work would gain his highest fame by covering the soundtrack work of others but that is what happened.  Montenegro had great success with his version of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”.  It would go to #2 on the Billboard charts.  And that is what I really like about this album.  As compared to yesterday’s work that simply copied what has already been done, Montenegro take a piece of work that is already prolific and puts his own stamp on it.  The whole album is full of great interpretations of interesting pieces of Morricone’s. It makes exciting music exciting in a different manner. Personally, I think it is the drums that really make these songs.

There are a lot of high points with this.  All three theme songs from the movies are great,  I also really liked “March with Hope” and “The Ecstasy of Gold”as well.  I was well on my way to choosing on of these two when I heard “Aces High” from For A Few Dollars More, at which point, I knew this was the song.   Montenegto’s version became #11 of the hits of the year for 1968 (I am already sick of typing that name).

Great album in stark contrast to yesterdays.  Satisfactory.

Nat King Cole- Sings His Songs From Cat Ballou and Other Motion Pictures

This was $1.00.  I probably bought it for the Lee Marvin connection.  For Marvin, the Purple Heart recipient and inventor or Palimony, he would win an Oscar for his work on this film, Cat Ballou.

I initially thought this was a collection of songs from the movie.  However, it is as the title states, a collection of songs from the many movies Nat King Cole has provided work for.  I was a bit disappointed as I wanted to hear the .”Silver and Gold” song from the  brothel scene.

But given this, it is still a pretty good album.  Released in 1965 from Capital Records, it  features songs from several of his soundtracks, including “St Louis Blues”.  Pretty good album.  The songs feature that silky Cole voice which made him famous.  

Sadly enough, Cole never got to see his role in Cat Ballou on -screen as he would die in 1965 during post production.  Complications from lung cancer would  take his life at age 45.

I went back and forth on what to use as a samples but decided to go with the reason I bought the record, “The Ballad Of Cat Ballou” with Stubby Kaye.  I also deiced to throw in “Hajji Baba” from the movie of the same name.

Satisfactory record.

OST- Hootenanny Hoot

dscn5571This was $3.00.  I got it for a song that is not on the record.  Sounds strange, huh?mpw-41919

Hootenanny Hoot was a movie from 1963 featuring Peter Breck and Ruta Lee. In an attempt to cash in on the growing folk music craze, the movie is about a big city producer who travels to the backwoods to put on a show about folk music.  Not a whole lot of story but there is a  love sub plot involved.  Johnny Cash had the closing segment of the film with a breif song.  Other artists include The Brothers Four, Chris Crosby,Joe & Eddie, Cathie Taylor, and The Gateway Trio.  The movie also featured two songs by Judy Henske .jh

Henske’s Webpage

Judy Henske, born in 1936 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was once known as the Queen of the Beatniks.  She had a minor hit with “High Flying Bird” and released several albums that are quite excellent.  She was part of the Greenwich Village scene and I believe she is still somewhat active today. Anyway, she is a favorite of mine.

For whatever reason, this soundtrack omits Henske’s work (probably due to publishing issues).  This is a real shame as they are some of the better moments in the movie.  “Wade In the Water” , shown above,is performed excellently and is just visually stunning. “The Ballad of Little Rommie Wise” is also quite good. Anyway, I knew these songs were omitted from the album when I got this.  I mean I can read, although sometime I choose not to.  And at the very least, I always read the front cover (the back not so much).

Well, for the record, the Johnny Cash song did not make the album either.  What we have left is a collection of songs used for the film as well as a handful of tunes by one Mark Dinning and Sheb Wooley  used to supplement the soundtrack. The songs are quite good. Some of the better moments include the songs I will use as samples as well as “Frozen Logger” by Cathie Taylor.  dscn5572

There is also this silly moment from the movie, the song “Foolish Questions”.  For some reason, this song stuck in my mind when buying the album.

For samples, I went with the theme song sung by Sheb Wooley and the rousing “There’s A Meeting Here Tonight” by Joe and Eddie.  I felt these were both good tracks.  I also included Mark Dinning’s take on “The Lost Highway” which if you recall was posted on the Hank Thompson album I did earlier this month.  In comparison, I felt this version falls flat.  There is none of the honky tonk sound that makes this song great.hootenannyhoot1963_2568_678x380_11212014041007

Meh.  There are some good songs on here but I am still reeling from the omission of the Henske tunes.

 

OST- La Leysenda De La Cuidad Sin Nombre (Paint Your Wagon)

dscn5555Vacation officially started two days ago. As you read this, I am currently abroad.  Where am I?  I am sure that will be the subject of December posts.  For the meantime, here I am today churning out the rest of November’s posts so proper spelling be damned.  This was $2.50. I suppose I can classify this musical as one of my favorites. The album title incidentally, translates to ” The Legend of the City Without Name”.paint-your-wagon

I recall seeing the musical as a kid. Written by Alan Lerner and Frederick Lowe and debuting on Broadway in 1951, the musical tells the story of a miner and his daughter and their lives in a mining town.  The musical as well as the music was well received at the time. I think I enjoyed the musical as well.
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The movie version, released in 1969 is radically different from the stage version.  Focusing on the love triangle between Ben Rumson, his wife and his partner, it is a 180 degree turn to be precise.  Most of the original music is used, however.  Andre Previn also composed a few new numbers as well.  The movie did not do well with critics and only modestly well with movie goers, mainly because at that point in time, movie musicals were on their way out.  The movie has also been famously spoofed by the Simpsons.

But in contrast to the movie, the soundtrack was a hit. There are many great musical instances on the record and many choice for a sample. For instance, there is the number “Hand Me Down The Can Of Beans”, a hoe down number performed by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who were up and coming at the time. The band also made an appearance in the film.

Then there is perhaps the most famous number , “They Call The Wind Maria”, a solemn piece made famous by Vaughn Monroe.  In the movie it is sung by Rotten Luck Willie, who was played by Harve Presnell.  Presnell also played the stingy father in law in the movie Fargo.

“There’s A Coach Comin’ In” is reminicent to The Music Man’s “Wells Fargo Wagon” (which came out later).  However, whereas the people of River City are singing about getting instruments and uniforms for their children, the miners of No Name City are singing about getting whores.  I found that comparison funny.

“The Gospel of No Name City” was one of the tunes written for the movie by Previn.  It is a pretty decent number.

Likewise, “Best Things” is a pretty good number with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood talking about the dirty things in life.

And on that note, one of the best numbers of the movie, is “Wand’rin Star” sung by Marvin.  The ultimate loner song sung by the rugged Marvin, it became a #1 single in the UK.  Oddly enough, it relegated the Beatles’ “Let It Be” to the #2 spot.  Marvin was adamant about singing his own parts.  It was noted some time ago that Marvin turned down the lead in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch to do this movie.   I like William Holden in the picture alright but I can’t help thinking how the movie would have turned out, especially the ending, with Marvin.

Anyhoo, with all these choice to pick, I decided to go with the “Finale” which is a collage of many of the movie’s numbers.  Is this a lazy way out? Perhaps.

Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, and Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon, 1969.
Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, and Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon, 1969.

Satisfactory record despite the vocal limitations of the movie’s principals. Whew, that is a lot of video on today’s post.

 

OST- Easy Rider

dscn5383This was $3.20.  It was a pretty iconic soundtrack that I was familiar with. I spent this last week going thru old blog post, namely all 52 pages worth.  The early days make me laugh a bit going back a bit back when I could not get pictures to come up the right way,  I noticed a good number of video links went dead but I am not going thru the effort of re-linking them.

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IMDB entry for Easy Rider

Easy Rider, released in 1968, was a landmark of independent film, a strong counter-culture statement, the rise of Jack Nicholson’s career, blah, blah, blah, blah , blah, blah, blah.  What can I write about this that has not already been said?  Brought to you by the people who brought you the Monkees, this film, while revolutionary when it was released seems a bit uneven and dated today.  But in fairness, all movies, even one I like from the 1990’s suffer the same fate.

Less talked about than how this movie helped catapult Jack Nicholson is how its success ruined Dennis Hopper.  Flush from this movie’s success, his career stalled in the 70’s as he was unable to match the film’s success and his closet effort, The Last Movie, was marred by excessive drug use.  Also on screen buddies Hopper and Fonda off screen were not so much.  Fonda did all he could during filming to get Hopper fired. The two would also sue each other after production.dscn5384

But on to the music, this album’s soundtrack is pretty decent.  According to IMDB, this was one of the first movies to utilize existing material for the soundtrack rather than a specialized score. A song by the Byrds and two from leader Roger McGuinn, two from Steppenwolf as well as a tune from the Holy Modal Rounders and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the album is a collection of popular mainstream counter culture songs of the time.  The Band contributed “The Weight” to the movie but was unable to include a version on the sidetrack so a version of the song is performed by Smith.  9689251_1

For a sample, I went with “Kyrie Eleison” by the Electric Prunes followed by some dialog and a street band playing “When The Saints Go Marching In”.  The song was used during the New Orleans montage.  As for the song itself, it came from an album Mass in F Minor.  This was the band’s third album and in a departure (or perhaps a compliment) to their psychedelic sounds, they released an album of Greek and Latin mass sounding songs.  Kind of weird direction to take and as a result, the album was somewhat of a disaster.  The band, incidentally was a garage type unit from Los Angeles whose biggest hit was “I Had To Much To Dream Last Night”.

AllMusic review of Mass In F Minor

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Satisfactory Record