OST (Herman’s Hermits)- Hold On!

This was one dollar.  Or possibly 80 cents.  I think I got it on sale. I definitely remember that I got a spat of Herman’s Hermits’ records at the time. This comes around the same time that 24 Hour Party People has been playing on the TV.  Of course the Madchester scene in the movie was different from the Manchester of the Hermits but at some level, there is a correlation between the types of music emanating from the city north of London.

I have been to Manchester, once, for a day.  I went to see the Pogues.  I stayed in a pub-hotel, the Mitre, which was affordable yet pretty low on amenities.  The cab driver on the way to the hotel kept asking why I would stay at the Mitre.  Kept laboring the point.  Said I could have got a better deal at a newer hotel (for the record, I had a lovely stay at the Mitre).  Also for the record, I think the renovated  since then as this story took place in 2004.

So for 15 mins, the cab driver just kept berating me for staying at the hotel.  Other than walking around the city and checking out the Christmas market, I saw the Pogues play at what was at the time, the Manchester Evening News Arena, the now Manchester Arena and site of recent suicide bombing.  Can not remember which pubs I went to which is a shame, but it was up and early in the morning to take the train to London.

Well enough rambling about the city.  This was the soundtrack to the second Herman’s Hermits’ movie, Hold On! .  Released in 1966 and featuring a plot that centered around NASA, the movie was set (and filmed I believe) mostly in the US, featuring clips from recent American performances.  Greatly influenced by Help!, the film got mixed reviews but has received more acceptance over time.

The US record features 10 songs including one with actress Shelley Fabares, Donna Reed’s TV daughter,  on lead vocals.  Decent stuff.  Kind of falls in line with the rest of Herman’s catalog. The other albums I bought at the time from the group were better, but this is not bad.

For a sample, I went with “A Must To Avoid” which was released as a single that went to the UK top ten.  I also included the B side, a re-recording of an earlier hit for the group, George Formby’s “Leaning On  A Lamppost”.  If you have been reading this blog, you may recognize this song as I posted it some months earlier from a camp album.

Anyway, decent enough record.  Satisfactory.

 

 

OST-My Fair Lady

This was $1.  I had seen a spot on TCM of Andrew Lloyd Weber discussing the importance and significance of this work, based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion with book and lyrics by Alan Lerner and music by Fred Loewe.  I took it quite a compliment that an Englishman would give such reverence to an American musical about British Class-ism.  At the time, it was the longest running Broadway musical at 2,717 shows. Now it is #20.  Oddly enough, Cats is at #4 with 7,485 shows. As the number 1, 2, and 3 spots are Phantom of the OperaChicago, and The Lion King, I think the longer run of more recent productions is due to advances and cost reduction of travel allow more people to see productions for a longer run of time.

Despite being a fan of Broadway, I never particularly like My Fair Lady which Weber and critics have called the perfect musical (which is amazing given the fact that early stagers of this adaptation thought the source material was not structured to produce a proper musical).  There are  various reasons.  partly because of the movie version which stars Audrey Hepburn (whose voice was overdubbed for the movie for all songs except “Just You Wait” ).

This was done as Warner Brothers wanted a big name star and at the time, Julie Andrews, who originated the role on Broadway, was not a big name.  Despite being nominated for a Tony, and delivering what many felt was a perfect portrayal of the character, Hepburn got the job.

Andrews had the last laugh, winning an Oscar that year for her role in Mary Poppins and therefore setting her self up for major big screen stardom. Her success in MFL also led to her work in Lowe and Lerner’s Camelot. Also, Andrews got her own chance to screw a broadway actress out of work when she took the lead role in the movie version of Sound of Music.   And finally, on AFI’s list of greatest movie musicals, Sound of Music rates 4th, Mary Poppins rates 8th, and My Fair Lady ranks 10th.  So take that, Audrey Hepburn’s corpse.

 

Also, among my criticisms of the musical, is that I did not find Rex Harrison (as a uptight confirmed bachelor who when not making bets with other bachelors, sings songs about how he does not need women) as a believable love interest.  This point was made light of in an episode of the Simpson when they were in London.  Harrison, himself was a bit of a ladies man, marrying 6 times and driving Carole Landis to suicide.  He is also noted for his flatulence.  In one antidote, during rehearsals, he apparently ripped one of the loudest farts in the history of Broadway.

 

But that being said, I gave this record a spin with an open mind and was quite taken back with Andrews’ performance.  And the songs are quite good. The musical won a Tony as did Harrison. Harrison also won an Oscar for the movie version.  Coincidentally,  this album, was the number one seller of 1956.  Due to its success, this work has been parodied quite a bit, again most notably on the Simpsons.

Anyway, for a sample, I wanted to highlight Andrews’ work so I went with the vengeful “Just You Wait”.  I also went with “The Street Where You Live” as it has always been a favorite of mine.

Okay, I will give credit where credit is due and so this is a satisfactory record.

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.