Sunday, August 23, 2009

DESERT ISLAND DISCS: MY TOP 25 SOUNDTRACKS. These are my favourite 25 soundtrack albums which I've returned to and listened to over and over again. Now we're talking everything from soundtracks to movies, tv shows, and even stage plays. So here we go (in alphabetical disorder):
  1. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN - Here we have Franz Waxman's seminal score released by Silva Records. Kenneth Alwyn conducts the Westminster Philharmonic. A classic any way you disect it. The cd also includes "The Invisible Ray Suite" which stitches together the various Franz Waxman leitmotifs from that Karloff-Lugosi starrer.
  2. CITY OF ANGELS - this soundtrack to the rather dire Nicolas Coppola/Meg Ryan 1998 tearjerker had surprising legs with me and even won the 1998 Penguin Award for album of the year. Shocking what an exes influence can do! Besides containing the radio fodder of U2's "If God Will Send His Angels" and Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" (as well as the appalling "Angel" by Sarah MacLachlan), this soundtrack featuring Penguin Award-winning song of the year "Uninvited" by Alanis Morissette, Jude's "I Know", Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve" and much more.
  3. THE COMMITMENTS - This soundtrack is actually in 2 volumes. Superb movie features the actual cast performing classic soul songs like "Destination Anywhere", "The Dark End of the Street", "Nowhere to Run", "Try A Little Tenderness" etc.
  4. DAZED AND CONFUSED - The classic 90's stoner comedy set in the 70's just brings back too many memories of middle school going into high school for me not to include this one. This also is a soundtrack spread out over 2 cds and includes classic 70's pop and headbanging hits like Foghat's "Slow Ride", Dr. John's "Right Place Wrong Time", Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like I Do", "Deep Purple's "Highway Star", Sweet's "Fox On the Run", The Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride" and too many more to mention.
  5. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR - Probably the most beautiful score Bernard Herrmann ever wrote. This lyrical, mystical music evokes the sea and a feeling of loss which perfectly matches the Gene Tierney/Rex Harrison classic film.
  6. GUYS AND DOLLS - This is the original Broadway recording from - oh when was it the 1950's I guess - starring Robert Alda and Vivian Blaine. I've got a soft spot for this one not only because we put on this musical in junior year of high school but also because one of the songs from this musical was also a lullaby sung to me when I was kneehigh to a humgoo: "A Bushel and a Peck". Vivian Blaine's "Adelaide's Lament" is also a standout.
  7. THE HARDER THEY COME - the classic 70's midnight movie which basically introduced America to Jamaica has recently been re-released in a 2 disc deluxe edition; which OF COURSE is the one to have. Classic Jimmy Cliff songs like the title track, "Many Rivers To Cross" and "You Can Get It If You Really Want" stand alongside other reggae classics from Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" to Desmond Dekker's "Israelites", from Scotty's "Draw Your Brakes" to the Uniques' "My Conversation" (heard also in the first season of LOST).
  8. JACKIE BROWN - Quentin Tarantino is justly famous for his wisely-chosen music tracks peppered throughout his films. One of my favourite QT movies also features one of my favourite soundtracks. This one includes Bloodstone's "Natural High", Minnie Riperton's sublime "Inside My Love", Bobby Womack's classic film song "Across 110th Street", Randy Crawford's "Street Life" and the Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time". Believe it or don't but the soundtrack also includes Pam Grier's own singing attempt "Long Time Woman".
  9. JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY - The very first modern concert film naturally would yield one of the best soundtracks. Filmed at the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival, this one has everything from Louis Armstrong's celestial "Lazy River", Anita O'Day's breathless "Tea For Two", Chuck Berry's frenetic "Sweet Little Sixteen" and Mahalia Jackson's soaring "The Lord's Prayer".
  10. THE JAZZ SINGER - Not so much a fan of the film but I've always been strangely compelled by Neil Diamond's 1980 soundtrack album. "Love On the Rocks" is still a stunning song while other easy listening gems like "America", "Hello Again", "Amazed and Confused" and "On the Robert E. Lee" make any road trip to Atlantic City worthwhile.
  11. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR - This is the original Broadway cast album with the brown cover which I've been listening to since I was 5. I'm definitely not a fan of Lord Webber but this one's the exception.
  12. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU - Wes Anderson's quirky movie features nearly nothing but David Bowie covers sung by cast member Seu Jorge in Portugese (!). But this is what propelled the singer to worldwide acclaim. Sadly, like many soundtrack albums, there's some stuff missing and you will have to also pair this with Seu Jorge's cd "Life Aquatic Studio Sessions" to get all the songs you'll hear in the film.
  13. MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR - This Beatles album also made my top 50 desert island albums but hey, it's a soundtrack to a movie, ain't it?!? A bad movie but that's beside the point. This classic album features the title track, "I Am the Walrus", "Hello Goodbye", "Baby, You're a Rich Man" and many more.
  14. MARY POPPINS - My favourite Disney movie and my favourite Disney soundtrack. It's bizarre how I absolutely hate "The Sound of Music" but love this! Julie Andrews and a Cockney (?!?!) Dick Van Dyke sing their way through "Stay Awake", "Feed the Birds", "Chim Chim Cheree", "Step In Time" and countless others.
  15. THE MUSIC OF COSMOS - In 1980, Carl Sagan's monumental PBS series changed the way science programmes are done on TV. It was also renowned for the exceptionally fine choice of music featured in the programme (some of which has criminally been replaced by inferior music on the recent DVD box set of the series due, no doubt, to royalty issues). Since the dawn of compact discs, this soundtrack has been released THREE TIMES on cd; with the most recent being the definitive 2 disc set combining classical pieces by J.S. Bach and Stravinsky to new age electronica such as Vangelis' "Alpha" and Isao Tomita's "The Sea Named Solaris".
  16. PETER'S FRIENDS - is a fine example of perfectly chosen popular songs inserted into a film. Kenneth Branagh's early 90's comedy concerning a group of 80's college students getting together after 10 years has been called "the British Big Chill" but that's, I think, a mistake. The soundtrack features songs which perfectly compliment the scenes in which they're used: The Pretenders' "Don't Get Me Wrong", Eric Clapton's "Give Me Strength", Queen's "You're My Best Friend" and Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares For Me".
  17. PUMP UP THE VOLUME - this 1990 dawn-of-grunge movie concerning freedom of speech and of the airwaves starred Christian Slater as a high school student secretly broadcasting an underground pirate radio station while dodging the FCC. Songs include the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf), the Cowboy Junkies' Robert Johnson cover "Me and the Devil Blues", Above the Law's "Freedom of Speech" and Ivan Neville's "Why Can't I Fall in Love?". This however is another example of an incomplete soundtrack; shockingly such uber-important songs in the movie as Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" (Slater's radio theme song) and "If It Be Your Will" as well as the Descendents' "Der Weinerschnitzel" are nowhere to be found.
  18. RESERVOIR DOGS - Another great Tarantino soundtrack featuring The George Baker Selection's "Little Green Bag", Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You" and Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling". The soundtrack also contains Steven Wright's radio DJing from the film.
  19. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW - another iconic midnight movie features the songwriting genius of Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff himself) on such eternal tracks as "Time Warp", "Over at the Frankenstein Place", "Super Heroes", "I'm Going Home" and "Science Fiction/Double Feature". Don't dream it, be it!
  20. ROLLERBALL - I listened to this soundtrack record over and over when I was a kiddie. A typical downbeat 70's movie starring James Caan has a rather odd soundtrack album combining loungy Andre Previn tracks such as "Executive Party" (which would be at home in any space age bachelor pad) with classical pieces like J.S. Bach's "Toccata & Fugue" and Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty Waltz". It also had really cool cover art.
  21. THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS - Wes Anderson's classic film features another soundtrack uniquely sympatico with the movie itself. Elliot Smith's "Needle in the Hay" and Nick Drake's "Fly" are standouts.
  22. SAY IT LOUD! A CELEBRATION OF BLACK MUSIC IN AMERICA - was a TV documentary series a few years ago. A lavish 6 disc cd box set soundtrack was released compiling everything from Scott Joplin to Public Enemy. The songs on the cd are arranged chronologically and there's obviously too many songs to list here but it's indeed a treasure trove of music.
  23. THE SINGING DETECTIVE - Actually released as a 2 cd set called "Songs from the Singing Detective", this soundtrack brings together all the many old songs (from the 1920s-1940s) featured in the Dennis Potter TV mini-series starring Sir Michael Gambon. Henry Hall's "Teddy Bear's Picnic", Al Jolson's "After You've Gone", Flanagan and Allen's "The Umbrella Man", The Mills Brother's "Paper Doll" and Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" are featured.
  24. STAR WARS - None of this episode four nonsense. This is the soundtrack 2-record set I bought back in 1977 when I was 11 years old. John Williams' thundering score frankly got Hollywood to start using orchestra scores again after having abandoned them for about 10 years. This is one I listened to from start to finish. Luckily I have the original cd release BEFORE George Lucas muddled around with the movies; the later cd release of the soundtrack (with the annoying "A New Hope" title) has also been muddled around with and the original is the only one for me.
  25. THREE LITTLE WORDS - this limited edition numbered cd soundtrack is probably extremely hard to find. One of my favourite MGM musicals depicts the (largely fictionalized) life of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby played by Fred Astaire and Red Skelton respectively. The soundtrack features all the songs from the movie (many times in more complete versions than appeared in the film) such as "Who's Sorry Now", "Nevertheless", "Thinking of You" and "I Wanna Be Loved By You" performed on the cd by Astaire, Skelton, Vera-Ellen (actually frequent celebrity dubber Anita Ellis), Gloria DeHaven, Arlene Dahl and Helen Kane (Betty Boop herself).


Weaverman said...

That was quick! Oddly, I've never been a collector of soundtracks - why? I don't know. If I did it would be the Waxman, Hermann, Steiner variety with some Morricone and Bernstein thown in. The one I listen to most however is Nino Rota's THE GODFATHER...AND I love Ron Stein's THE HAUNTED PALACE. Surprised not to see Max Steiner's KING KONG in there.

Cerpts said...

Yes indeed Ronald Stein's THE HAUNTED PALACE cd ALMOST made it onto my list. And yes Steiner's KING KONG was considered as well. Especially since I have TWO cd recordings of the score.