Kvinnan i det Låsta Rummet
Our Little Corner of the World
La Route de Salina
Urgh! A Music War
Jerry Maguire: Music From the Motion Picture (1996, 54.21) **½/T
Magic Bus (live)
His Name is Alive:
Sitting Still Moving Still Staring Outlooking
Gettin' in Tune
Pocketful of Rainbows
World on a String
We Meet Again (Theme From 'Jerry Maguire')
Rickie Lee Jones:
Momma Miss America
Shelter From the Storm (alternate)
I'll be upfront enough here to say that if a film stars Tom Cruise, it gets an immediate black mark from me; the sooner he and his nasty little cult disappear from view forever, the happier I'll be. Er, anyway... 1996's Jerry Maguire is one of seemingly millions of films in which he's starred; it seems to have something to do with sports agents, which sounds at least as exciting as watching wood warp. I dunno, maybe it's really exciting. It's got a surprisingly varied soundtrack, including several versions of the usual slop (Bruce Springsteen's tedious Secret Garden, Rickie Lee Jones' truly terrible The Horses) and a handful of real winners, including two by The Who (I think that's the Live at Leeds version of Magic Bus that opens the album), an Aimee Mann track (also on the Magnolia soundtrack) and two by Heart's Nancy Wilson, who's married to director Cameron Crowe.
Jon Brion's credited with Chamberlin, but given that the bulk of the soundtrack's pre-existing material and his long-running associateion with Aimee Mann, the only place I can hear it is on her Wise Up, with quite overt strings and flutes. Speaking of pre-existing material, Paul McCartney's Singalong Junk, from his 1970 debut, features the great man on his MkII Mellotron, too, although it shouldn't really count here.
So; a couple of exclusive tracks, including one Aimee one, complete with Chamberlin. Worth it? Only for the completist, really.
See: Heart | Bruce Springsteen | Paul McCartney | Aimee Mann | Jon Brion
Kvinnan i det Låsta Rummet: Filmmusiken (1998, 52.14) ***½/TTTTT
Ögonblick av Lycka
Or 'Woman in a Locked Room'. I've got no idea what the film's like, though I suspect it's decidedly arty, but the soundtrack is an intriguing smorgasbord of looped rhythms and more 'traditional' sounds, not least a Mellotron. And yes, it sounds quite cranky enough to be real. As you can see, it's on about half of the tracks, with highlights including Kaninen, the very upfront flutes on Linneas Tema and the flutes, strings and choir of Klinga, but almost every highlighted track is worth hearing. A couple of tracks make particularly interesting use of the instrument's mechanical idiosyncrasies, with some extremely wobbly, er, somethings at the beginning of Slinger and Intrånget, which is something you rarely hear; most players go out of their way to make it sound, well, you know, stable.
Most of Hans Åkerhjelm's 'Tron use is the ubiquitous strings, but there are flutes, choirs and cellos to be heard, too. This really is a low-key Mellotron Monster, although I had to think carefully before awarding it the full 'T' rating. Actually, Kvinnan i det Låsta Rummet is a damn' good soundtrack album, full stop, and is likely to appeal to anyone into the genre. Buy.
Maniac (1981, 32.36) ***½/T½
|Maniac's Theme (Main Title)
On the Beach
A Little Knife Music
Maniac Strikes Back
Cry for Mother
Maniac's Theme (End Titles)
Maniac is, apparently, a particularly nasty 1980 slasher flick, which I have neither seen nor have any intention of seeing. Its soundtrack, however (written by Jay Chattaway), is another matter, being an excellent, mostly electronic score, filling the listener with the appropriate level of dread, even with the film itself nowhere in sight. Highlights include the super-creepy Maniac's Theme (Main Title) and the 'moaning synth over rumbling bass' of Mannequin's Revenge, but in truth, there really isn't a bad track here.
Peter Lewis (the ex-Moby Grape guy? Probably not) plays Mellotron, with suitably unearthly choirs on Cemetery Chase and Mannequin's Revenge, the latter with extra added pitchbend for good measure. So; not really a Mellotron album as such, but a good, solid electronic horror soundtrack from the days before cheap'n'easy sampling made the form almost redundant (contentious? Moi?).
Mellodrama: The Mellotron Music (2010, 45.25) ***/TTTTT
Chamberlin Riviera Demonstration
Long Way Down 2010
A Space Oddity
Excerpt from Wizard of Kinderhaak
The Evils of Rock and Roll
Mellotron Intro and Waltz
Make Your Own Kind of Music
Sentimental Over You
Regular readers of this site can't fail to've heard about Mellodrama, Dianna Dilworth's slightly flawed yet brave, funny and, above all, interesting film concerning Chamberlins and Mellotrons. Mellodrama: The Mellotron Music is exactly what it says on the tin: the complete versions of the pieces used in the film. Since Dianna wasn't able to get clearance for anything on a major label, most of the incidental music was composed especially for the film, making it all the better that it's now available in its own right, the only exception being Bigelf's wonderful Evils Of Rock And Roll, from their 2008 opus, Cheat the Gallows.
Prog obsessives who seem to have the idea that the Mellotron was invented entirely for their delectation may well be disappointed with some of this album; many tracks hark back to the Chamberlin's and Mellotron's early days, with several examples of rather cheesy (yet exceedingly authentic) easy listening, particularly from dear old Harry Chamberlin himself. In fact, little of the music contain herein is that 'prog' at all. We also get Mattias Olsson (Änglagård, of course) showing off his Mellotronic multitracking skills, noted West Coast producer Brian Kehew doing his thing, presumably on a MkII and M400, Michael Penn and Patrick Warren (but not, notably, Jon Brion) doing things with Chamberlins and, possibly the most interesting thing here for tape-replay fans, Dave Biro taking his strange, 8-tack-driven machine through its infinitely-sustaining paces.
As for who plays what, Mattias Olsson adds MkII fills over choirs, strings and cellos to Welcome, waltz-time rhythms, Mellotron Hammond and mandolins and Chamberlin solo female voice to Winter Pumpkin and female choir, tubular bells and cellos to a martial rhythm, presumably from his Chamberlin Rhythmate, to Dark March. Harry C demonstrates Chamby sound effects and various individual sounds, as well as playing full songs from the pre-rock'n'roll era on a monster, four-manual-and-pedals Riviera machine, with massed trombones on Sentimental Over You and, as Harry explains, steel and 'slurred' guitars, a sax/harpsichord mix (!), birdsong and female voices to Sweet Leilani. Brian Kehew puts what sounds like several MkII sounds, including various brasses, oboe and rhythms onto Taped Tango, Mellotron Intro And Waltz layers thick slabs of separate male and female choir over more rhythms, plus rather muffled accordion and various string sounds to album closer Timeless.
Michael Penn gets some Chamby cellos and other string sounds, plus some great pitchbent guitar onto Long Way Down 2010, Dave Biro's two contributions run through several Birotron sounds, including strings, choirs, organ and cellos, although I don't know if the rhythm tracks have anything to do with the machine. Finally, Patrick Warren's Chamberlin Ride is pretty self-explanatory, with flutes, cellos, strings and guitar duking it out (when is this man going to record a solo album?), although Johnny Largo's Make Your Own Kind Of Music is actually an Optigan demo disc and therefore outside this site's remit.
Generally speaking, this is an album for those who wish to hear, close up, Mellotrons, Chamberlins and even a Birotron doing what they do, without particular regard for how they do it, as much of the music either belongs to another era or is written in a similar style. My personal faves? Ignoring Bigelf's easy-to-find track, I'll go for Mattias' various contributions and Dave Biro's tracks, while Kehew's Timeless really is just that. How can I award this anything less than five Ts?
See: Mellodrama | Michael Penn | Bigelf
Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls (2002, 62.06) **½/½
Waltz #1 (Cue)
What a Wonderful World
Black Box Recorder:
Know Your Onion!
The Free Design:
I Found Love
Oh My Love
Getting Married (Cue)
|Carole King/Louise Goffin:
Where You Lead I Will Follow
P J Harvey:
I'm the Man Who Murdered Love
Maybe Next Week (Cue)
I Don't Mind
Tell Her What She Wants to Know
It's Alright, Baby
God Only Knows
Grant Lee Phillips:
Rory and Lane (Cue)
Girl From Mars
Yo La Tengo:
My Little Corner of the World
The Gilmore Girls is a US series that's totally passed me by, as in, I'd never even heard of it until I stumbled across a Chamberlin-related reference to its soundtrack album. It seems to be one of those feel-good shows that women of a certain age watch, maybe like The Golden Girls for the next generation down. Actually, I couldn't care less what it's about, as I'm quite certainly never going to bother catching a repeat; I mean, is this aimed at British, male, music-obsessives in their forties? Actually, the answer to that supposedly rhetorical question could well be 'yes'... Apparently, one of the show's plus points was its welcome insistence on featuring loads of lesser-known music and giving Sam Phillips the kind of regular work the far blander Vonda Shepard got on Ally McBeal a few years earlier. Quite why the producers chose to release an hour-long compilation of the show's music when fans have worked up multi-disc sets, I'm not at all sure, but I doubt whether the casual fan would buy said multi-disc sets, when all most people want is the highlights. And it's cheaper. OK, maybe I am sure.
Many of the above are previously-available, but quite a few were specially recorded, particularly Sam Phillips' contributions, most of which are brief cue tracks that barely feature her at all. It's good to hear classics like XTC's I'm the Man Who Murdered Love and Big Star's Thirteen on a mainstream compilation that will sell to people who would probably otherwise be unaware of them, while fans of several other acts featured here will be pleased to be able to get hold of exclusive tracks, making the set a bit of a winner, much to my surprise. Yeah, there's some dreck on it, but despite its overall blandness, I've heard considerably worse soundtrack albums, although I wouldn't actually take that as a recommendation, if I were you.
Patrick Warren does his usual Chamberlin thing, although I wouldn't say he overuses it; in fact, all I can hear are some strings on Carole King/Louise Goffin's mother/daughter duet on Where You Lead I Will Follow, the series' title music. It may be elsewhere on the disc, but you know how it is with Chamberlins... So; not worth it for the tape-replay, not really worth it for the music, definitely worth it if you're a fan of the series.
See: Sam Phillips | John Lennon | P J Harvey | XTC | Big Star | Grant Lee Phillips | Yoko Ono
Phantasm (1979, 55.17) ****/TT½
|Intro and Main Title
Welcome to Morningside/Hand in Box
Phantasmagoria/Silver Sphere Disco
Spacegate to Infinity
Jody at Morningside/On the Move
The Tall Man on Main Street
Funeral Organ/Dwarf in Hearse
Under the Car
Mike on the Road
A Dwarf Named Buford
Overturned Ice Cream Truck
Just a Dream?
End of the Game (or is it?)
I've never seen Phantasm (horror films not being my thing), but hearing its soundtrack in isolation is as good as hearing Goblin's early Dario Argento OSTs. Suitably eerie music throughout, with a killer main theme, even if it does owe a smallish debt to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (used, of course, in The Exorcist).
Don't know for certain who played the Mellotron on the soundtrack, not to mention the rest of the cool keys, although Malcolm Seagrave and Fred Myrow wrote the thing, so it could've been either/both of them. Although a 'definitive' edition has been released recently, I'm reviewing this from the 1991 Phantasm/Phantasm II version, although I've ignored the lesser II tracks. Basically, the album's 'Tron work is on the Main Title (choirs), then on the parts where the title theme reiterates, with a massive choir part on Phantasmagoria, flutes on The Tall Man On Main Street, choirs again on Mike On The Road, Mineshaft Chase and Just A Dream?
The definitive edition's tracklisting is slightly different, but I suspect that's the one you want to go for, and go for it you should; a damn' good soundtrack with some great keyboard work. Buy.
Pleasantville (1998, 47.36) ***/T½
Across the Universe
Robert & Johnny:
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Billy Ward & His Dominoes:
Sixty Minute Man
Dave Brubeck Quartet:
(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear
Buddy Holly & the Crickets:
Please Send Me Someone to Love
Suite From Pleasantville
Pleasantville is a film that's passed me by so far, although after reading a plot summary, I'll admit it looks intriguing. Most of the action's set in a '50s TV show, with a soundtrack to match, although I note that the tracks used are probably more how we see the decade in hindsight than how it actually was. What, no crooners? And how did Billy Ward, not to mention his Dominoes, get away with the (relative) filth-fest of Sixty Minute Man? "...And fifteen minutes of blowing my top", indeed. You wouldn't have heard that on mainstream '50s radio... The album also features a handful of modern recordings amongst the historical stuff, including two by the inimitable Fiona Apple and Randy Newman's lengthy orchestral Suite From Pleasantville, which are, unsurprisingly, what concerns us here.
Patrick Warren and Jon Brion are both credited with Chamberlin, hardly surprising given that they were both concurrently working on Apple's second album, When the Pawn.... I've no idea who does what, of course, but there are shedloads of flutes and strings to be heard on both her contributions, her take on The Beatles' Across The Universe and Percy Mayfield's multiply-covered Please Send Me Someone To Love, the former being more 'listenable' to the modern ear than the latter, of course.
A soundtrack with a (minor) difference, then, thankfully, largely due to its recent-historical setting, making the usual re-run of '70s-to-'90s hits a no-no. Two reasonable Chamby tracks, although they don't really make it worth hearing for them alone, but Fiona Apple fans need to invest for her otherwise-unavailable material.
See: Fiona Apple | Jon Brion
La Route de Salina (1970, 33.08) ***/T
The Girl From Salina (vocal)
Sunshine on You
If All the City's Watching
The Girl From Salina (instrumental)
Bernard Gérard Orchestra:
The Road to Salina (générique)
Sunny Road to Salina
The Girl From Salina (orchestral)
La Route de Salina (The Road to Salina) was a psychological thriller released in 1970, starring Rita Hayworth in one of her last screen appearances, memorably described in a contemporaneous review as, "...70s actors having 60s sex in a 50s film so that a 40s star can suffer". The soundtrack was provided by French star Christophe and British unknowns Clinic, who, I presume, also back Christophe on his contributions. It shifts between slightly dated orchestral (or pseudo-orchestral) material and then-current rock, better examples including what I take to be Christophe's main theme, The Girl From Salina, Sunny Road To Salina and Green Dream, while Clinic's The Chase isn't too bad for a piece of incidental music.
Clinic's Alan Reeves is credited with Mellotron, although there's nothing obvious to be heard on their own contributions. However, although we don't appear to be hearing a 'standard' machine, it could well be an M300 (different and more authentic string tapes) used on a few of Christophe's songs, with string parts on the instrumental version of The Girl From Salina, Green Dream and Red Mountain. Then again, it could be a very wooden string section who never use glissando; I'd imagine the truth is shrouded in the mists of time by now, so I doubt if we'll ever know for sure. Anyway, a decent enough soundtrack, if a little inessential.
Shrek 2 (2004, 48.14) **½/½
Accidentally in Love
Holding Out for a Hero
Butterfly Boucher & David Bowie:
As Lovers Go
I'm on My Way
I Need Some Sleep
Ever Fallen in Love (With
Someone You Shouldn't've)
Little Drop of Poison
You're So True
|Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds:
People Ain't No Good
I Need a Hero
Antonio Banderas & Eddie Murphy:
Livin' la Vida Loca
Holding Out for a Hero
The soundtrack to the immensely successful Shrek 2 was, itself, immensely successful, making it fortunate that it isn't all dreadful. In fact, parts of it are really quite good, notably The Eels' and Tom Waits' contributions, as you'd expect, although Counting Crows' Accidentally In Love (a major hit in its own right) is pretty gruesome, ditto both (!) versions of Bonnie Tyler's buttock-clenching Holding Out For A Hero. The usually terrible Pete Yorn surprises with a decent, thrashy acoustic take on The Buzzcocks' iconic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've), although Joseph Arthur's You're So True is more typical, being almost instantly forgettable.
Despite a couple of 'is it/isn't it' tape-replay moments, notably the strings on The Eels' I Need Some Sleep, the only credited Mellotron is Counting Crows' Charlie Gillingham's minor string part on Accidentally In Love, which barely counts. So; another album full of songs from the film rather than the actual music (yawn). No, it's not terrible, but no, it's not worth hearing, either.
See: Counting Crows | David Bowie | Eels | Pete Yorn | Tom Waits | Joseph Arthur
Urgh! A Music War (1981, 96.02) ***½/½
Driven to Tears
Wall of Voodoo:
Back in Flesh
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark:
Ain't This the Life
Offshore Banking Business
We Got the Beat
Where's Captain Kirk
Nothing Means Nothing Anymore
Foolish I Know
Ku Klux Klan
Echo & the Bunnymen:
The Au Pairs:
Tear it Up
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts:
Down in the Park
Gang of Four:
He'd Send in the Army
Cheryl's Going Home
Beyond and Back
Sign of the Cross
Urgh! A Music War was originally a 1981 film, A&M simultaneously releasing a soundtrack album with a few minor changes to the contents. The project celebrates the 'New Wave' period (early '60s French cinema?), featured artists including The Police (their manager, Miles Copeland, was instrumental in its compilation), Toyah (Wilcox), XTC, not long before they stopped touring, The Gang of Four and the mighty Devo, in otherwise unavailable live versions. It wouldn't be unkind to point out that the recording quality across the album is highly variable, Toyah's Dance sounding like it was recorded through a blanket, although at least half of the tracks are pretty good for unedited live recordings.
Highlights of the set include the sadly late Klaus Nomi's quite bonkers Total Eclipse, The Spizzles (a.k.a. Spizzenergi, a.k.a. Spizzoil, a.k.a. Athletico Spizz 80)' iconic Where's Captain Kirk, Steel Pulse's pointed Ku Klux Klan and Gary Numan's haunted Down In The Park. Its finest moment (possibly), though, has to be the very strange Skafish's Sign Of The Cross, that closes the set, complete with gothic Mellotron choirs, interspersed with anarchic riffing, making this album one of this site's less likely inclusions, given the bulk of its contents.
I believe the film is finally (sort-of) available on DVD, but the album version is long out of print, sadly. Come on, Mr. Copeland, what about a proper, expanded reissue of both film and album? Go on...
See: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark | XTC | Go-Go's | Echo & the Bunnymen | X | Skafish