OST- The Story of Star Wars

With the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise coming out this month, ( The Last Jedi, opening Dec 15), I thought it might do me well to buy and post this album, from the movie that started it all. From the 1977 film, which was re-titled A New Hope, but what everybody pretty much remembers as Star Wars, this was $5.  And if I am reading his (or her) crappy cursive correctly, this was once owned by a Chris De Surro.

Star Wars was not the first movie I ever saw in the theater that I remember ( that would be Grease which I was probably disruptive during the screening).  However, it would be the first one that I lost my lunch over.  I remember being a kid and going to the theater not really understanding what I was seeing.  However, during the movie, I was glued to the screen.  I remember thinking to myself what could be better than that movie?  Well, when I found out they had action figures from the movie for sale, than I truly lost it again.

Which brings me to this story which is about my generation’s obsession with Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from The Empire Strikes Back.  Many people have asked why a character who barely had any screen time in the second and third could be so popular.  Well, that is mainly in part to the good folks at Kenner Toys who made the action figures.  Before Empire was released, Kenner had a promotion where if you send in 5 or so proofs of purchase, you would get a free Boba Fett action figure.  According to the promotion, Boba Fett was to be have a major role in the next movie.  He also was to have a projectile missile on his back which would shoot out.  All summer long, my friends and I imagined what a bad ass Boba Fett would be.

Then we got the action figure, which did not have the projectile missile due to kids shooting their eyes out.  Then came Empire, in which Boba Fett mostly stood still.  His only dialog was arguing some semantics with Darth Vader.  I think on both fronts, we were ultimately short changed.  But the excitement of Boba Fett that summer was real and I think what people my age mostly remember.

Anyway, back to this album which is basically dialog from the movie augmented by narration as well as John William’s score. What else can I say?  I mean it is a neat souvenir but really does not do much to out do the movie. The record itself was quite worn and skipped horribly.  It also came with a booklet of pictures from the movie as well.

For a sample, I went with the closing scene of Luke destroying the Death Star and the resulting medal ceremony at the end.

I really kind of hated listening to this album as it was quite tedious but what else was I excepting out of it? I bit on the high side but I will give it a satisfactory. I meant to dress this post up more and get a bit more in depth but an aggressive schedule for November and early December has crippled this effort.

Orignal Soundtrack Recording- Cabaret

I can almost taste freedom from what has been Donkey Show’s month long tribute to Broadway.  This record , the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, was in the collection of records I got from the estate of Big Al Pallister.

Cabaret was a revolutionary production when it hit Broadway in 1966.  With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff, the production, based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, Goodbye to Berlin, chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany against the backdrop of the Kit Kat Klub as well as two romantic story lines.  The story combined the club’s revue along with its society in a interweaving narrative, lead by the Master of Ceremonies, originated on Broadway by one Joel Grey.

Based on its success, the musical was adapted into a movie in 1972.  Grey remained in his role, but the parts of Sally Bowles and Brian Roberts were played by Liza Minnelli and Michael York (switching the nationalities of the actors from the musical).  A good chunk of songs from the stage were discarded and new songs, again written by Kander and Ebb were provided.

The movie made a superstar out of Minnelli for sure.  It also won 8 Oscars.  Director Bob Fosse pulled off the rare feat that year of winning the Triple Corwn of directing (an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony in that category). The following video has a lot of good information regarding the career of Fosse.

For a sample, I went with one of the new songs composed for the film, “Mein Herr”.

Nice little album.  Satisfactory. I realize I should probably state more about both the musical and the movie but I am really burned out at this point.

 

New World Orchestra-WRC Production- The Sound of Music

Broadway month is getting closer to the finish line with this, which I bought for a dollar.  I guess a bought it to write a post on the influential Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

The Sound of Music was the last piece of work for the duo as Hammerstein would die of cancer nine months after its premier on Broadway (which was 1959).  Featuring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel in the leading roles, the story of the Austrian Von Trapp Family, the original production ran 1,443 performances and won five Tony’s including Best Musical.  A film version with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer followed in 1965 which itself won five Oscars.  Numerous revivals and production followed and most every song on this has become a standard over time.

I am not sure where this came from other than a reference to the WRC (World Record Club, a UK mail subscription record club) and some information on London productions.  I believe this came out in 1961.  The credits include music by   The New World Orchestra led by Jan Cervenka, with arrangements Bobby Richards and production by Cyril Ornadel.  As far as the principal actress/actors go, that would be two London performers, Adele Leigh and Ian Wallace, both currently deceased.  I am sure I could find something more out on this if I were so inclined, which today I am not.

For some reason, Sound of Music never really took off with me. I know, even with Julie Andrews in the movie version.  I think something about seeing her as a nun probably does not do it for me.  Well, however, I feel, this was a hughly popular musical and score and as a sample I went with ” My Favorite Things”  which served as a basis for his oft-cited jazz cover which served as the basis for the Door’s Robbie Kreiger’s “Light My Fire”.

As far as this album goes though, meh.  Nothing really radical or new on this.  Have not meh’d an album all month.  Feels kind of good.

OST-Gypsy

Broadway month continues to roll on here at the show and I am still at the time of this writing waiting for Houston to dry up after the weekend that Harvey struck.  Hopefully I can go back to work in another day or so.  This was $1.  I got it mainly because I love Rosalind Russell.

Which is strange as the vocals on this record are not 100% hers.  Rather, they are blended with contro-alto Lisa Kirk.  Russell, who was not stranger to singing having performed on Broadway in Wonderful Town, found that the vocals were beyond her scope (or more likely this was found for her).  Oddly enough, Russell and her husband had flirted with a straight drama adaptation of the source material. the 1957 autobiography of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee but were unable to get the rights.  The actress who played Gypsy Rose Lee, Natalie Wood, sung her own songs, which is surprising as she did not do so on West Side Story.

But here is this 1962 movie, based on the 1959 production of which some critics have called the perfect musical.  With a script written by Leonard Spigelgass based on the original book by Arthur Laurents with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Jules Styne, the film was a critical and financial success, earning three Oscar nominations.  The film also stared Karl Malden and was produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

For a sample, I went with “Some People”.

Satisfactory.  Again, I would expect to hear more about the Broadway production when that album comes up. For the record, I liked Russell’s version of “Rose’s Turn” better then Merman’s but felt perhaps that song should go to the originator.

 

Kenny Rogers and The First Edition- Rollin’

Starting another month of Donkey Show with this record I got for $2.40.  A lot of good songs on this.  So we are into September. Plus it is Labor Day, so when you read this, I am at home doing nothing (or perhaps getting even further ahead in writing this blog).  That is if we still have a country when this post comes out.  Let’s see how this month plays out. I am good and ahead of the game as far as post writing goes.  However, still erring on the side of brevity so if you have any questions, I would suggest Google.

This record is from The First Edition, a band formed in 1967 from members of The New Christy Minstrels who wanted more freedom from a constricting repertoire .  Led by Kenny Rogers, who played bass and vocals, and Terry Williams, guitar and vocals, as well as Mary Arnold on vocals and occasional actor Micky Jones on drums, the band had some decent hits including “I Just Dropped In” and ” Ruby” blending the worlds of psychedelic pop and country together.    I did not realize this but when the band disbanded in 1976, there was some doubt as to if Rogers could maintain a solo career.

Well, during the height of their fame, they had their own TV Show, Rollin, produced by CTV in Canada.  As a counterweight to the Sonny and Cher Show with decidedly more rocking acts, the show began to paint the band as TV personalities rather than musicians, to the ire of certain band members.  Anyway, it ran from 1971 to 1973 with generally good ratings.

This album, released in 1973, features songs from the show as perfromed by the group.  There are songs that feature individual vocal performances by Rogers, Williams, Arnold, and guirist Jim Hassell, as well as an instrumental rocking piece on keyboards by Gene Lorenzo, Bach’s “Joy (Jeso, Joy Of Man’s Desiring), an arrangement that had been a hit for Apollo 100.  Pretty decent stuff.  A whole lot of Beatles’ content.

Well, from this record, here is the band with “Get Back”.  Also, might as well give Kenny some spotlight with “The Long And Winding Road”.

Probably could have done with some original content, but this perhaps defeats the purpose of this record, which is satisfactory.

VA-Fonzie Favorites

Ayyyy… Don’t sit on it.  I am not sure when I bought this but one day, while goign thru records in my pile, I noticed this.  $4 I paid for it.

Yes Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as the Fonz, was a minor character on the sitcom Happy Days before exploding into a national sensation and a main protagonist.  Played by Henry Winkler, who in real life was the complete opposite of his TV persona, Fonzie was the 1970’s adaption of 1950’s cool.  He was definitely one of my favorites as a kid and much to my parent’s chagrin, probably led to the ongoing friction I have with authority figures (which is quite funny given that it was a family TV show).

Here is a fun fact that I learned while writing this post.  Originally, the role of Fonzie was supposed to go to Ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz, based on the strength of a similar one time part he played on the TV show Adam 12. However, as Dolenz was 6 foot, producers wanted the character to be at the same level as other characters, and so the 5-6 Winkler was cast.  Poor Mickey.

So here is an album put out to capitalize on the Fonz’s popularity.  It consists of mostly 50’s songs, the Happy Days’ theme song, and three novelty songs.  The back of the album has a fold out easel so the cover can be used a picture. The 50’s songs are pretty good an run a good range from The Everly Brothers to The Coasters, to Little Anthony and the Imperials to the original theme song “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. There is also an impressions track with expressed instruction for you to learn all of Fonzie’s favorite phrases.  This cam out in 1976 at a manufacturer’s suggested list price of $5.99 as advertised on TV and radio.

Of course for posting purposes, I am going to go with two of the novelty tunes.  First off, in what is quite strange, we have “The Fonzarelli Slide” which features the Fonz making an appearance at James Buchanan High with the Sweathogs from another 70’s hit, Welcome Back Kotter.  Although for the record, the impression of Horshack at times sounds more like Jerry Lewis.  Anyway, here it is as a strange time capsule of 70’s television.  It is credited to Frank Lyndon who I am guessing did all three Fonz impressions on this album.

Also, I went with a slightly more saner and straighter novelty number, ” The Fonz Song” by the Heyettes? .  Also to put something on that was not a joke, here is Lee Dorsey and “Ya Ya”.

The 1950’s hits are actually pretty good and I found the novelty songs entertaining.  Satisfactory.

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.