Ennio Morricone


Two soundtrack albums from the master of spaghetti western music, on RCA and EMI respectively. The first record needs little introduction, assuming you have similarly fond memories of watching these films as a kid. “This Is..” features highlights from other classics like The Good, the Bad and The Ugly and Death Rides A Horse, but opens each side somewhat jarringly with the main theme from Chi Mai, and the funky groove of  Come Maddalena. Still, beggars can’t be choosers.

Published in: on December 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm  Comments (1)  
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Disco Erotica

“20 sensual disco greats, including a selection from the original soundtrack of the exciting new film “Erotica” from the undisputed king of erotic entertainment, Paul Raymond.”

Released by Warwick Records in 1981, this is a nice mixture of Top 40 smasheroos and somewhat less successful but no less charming cuts from the likes of UK Players, Voggue (sic), Debbie Raymond and Bob Saker.  They also slipped-in that decidedly pre-disco but no less erotically stimulating classic Je T’aime by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsburg, even though it’s not on the soundtrack. In fact, a quick look at the small print reveals that only four of these tracks are actually from the soundtrack. But with a sleeve like that, who really cares?

“As advertised on T.V.”, natch.

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm  Comments (2)  
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The World At War

I used to watch this Thames Television series every week with my dad, during those war-obsessed years of the 1970s. This was serious television, and I still watch the repeats occasionally.

This vinyl spin-off features Carl Davis’ powerful theme, along with several of his incidental scores, plus a selection of contemporaneous songs from the era by the likes of Vera Lynn, although as the sleeve notes admit, most of the songs actually sung by the troops were simply “too obscene, too irreverent, too vulgar. These songs live on only in old soldiers’ memories”.

Great stuff, but I’m feeling the absence of Sir Laurence Olivier – his arresting, portentous narrative delivery was a big part of the series and it would’ve been nice to hear a few excerpts on the record.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Sounds Of Star Wars

Sticking with the Sci-fi theme, here’s something else I came across recently…

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You could always rely on Pickwick Records to leap on the latest bandwagon, and here’s their 1977 attempt to cash-in on Star Wars mania.

Credited to The Sonic All-Stars conducted by Bruce Baxter, one might get the impression that this was some grand, fully-orchestrated sound spectacular.

But no.

It’s difficult to gauge what impression this would’ve made at the time, or how much electronic wizardry might’ve been involved, but to these modern-day ears, this sounds suspiciously like the work of one guy, holed-up in a little bedroom studio, armed with a couple of synths, a drum machine, a multitrack,  the sheet music for John Williams’ score and a tight deadline. Cheap ‘n cheerful, in other words.

But therein lies it’s charm.

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The War Of The Worlds (reprise)

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Following on from my colleague’s post yesterday, it reminded me that I never got around to posting the full double-gatefold album version of Jeff Wayne’s classic which I came across last year, complete with original booklet insert featuring more superb artwork from Geoff Taylor and others…

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Back when this was released in 1978, I remember there was a real buzz about it at school. My parents never bought it, unfortunately, so I had to make-do with listening at friends’ houses whenever possible. When I found this copy for a couple of quid, it felt like closure; a resolution of a niggling resentment that had been quietly simmering in my soul since I was nine. At last! I can finally listen to my own copy!!

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I still reckon it’s a bloody good listen for about 90% of the time (sorry, I can’t agree with my colleague’s assertion that ‘Horsell Common And The Heat Ray’ ‘sucks’ – it’s wicked, but perhaps best heard in context of the overall narrative) and some of those sound effects still have the power to send a chilly ripple down the spine. In fact, the only other record designed for children’s entertainment that I can think of that makes comparable use of scary electronic sounds is “Dr. Who & the Pescatons” (more on that another time).

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Quite possibly Richard Burton’s finest hour…

Published in: on January 14, 2010 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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FM

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At £2.99, this is the most expensive record I’ve featured on the blog thus far. That’s Oxfam prices for you. In defence of such an astronomical sum I will say that (a) it’s a double album in gatefold sleeve (b) the vinyl is in immaculate condition (c) it’s an album I’ve been specifically hunting for ever since I heard Jeff Love’s discofied impersonations back here.

With Steely Dan providing the title track and the awesome “Do It Again”, Joe Walsh‘s (full length) “Life’s Been Good”, the spacey grooves of Steve Miller‘s “Fly Like An Eagle”, The Doobie Brothers‘ charming  “It Keeps You Runnin'” plus top tunes from Boz Scaggs, Boston, Tom Petty and Foreigner, this is a great cross-section of late-70s A.O.R. at the height of its powers, evoking hazy memories of the days when these songs were on heavy rotation on the FM stations of the time.

Okay so there’s a couple of duffers by Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor, and I’ve heard better from Linda Ronstadt and Bob Seger, and familiarity does tend to breed contempt when talking about Queen‘s “We Will Rock You”, but you gotta admit “Just The Way You Are” is probably the best song Billy Joel ever wrote.

File under ‘Guilty Pleasures’.

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Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 11:51 am  Comments (1)  
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Camberwick Green/Trumpton

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I would buy more kids’ records, but the problem is finding them in good (ie, ‘playable’) condition. Having despairingly observed my own children’s careless handling of their CDs and DVDs, it comes as little surprise that most vinyl records designed for, and used by, kids will be scratched to buggery by the time they’ve finished with them. In my experience, the only media that are reasonably kid-proof are cassette and video tapes.

I found these two together, so thought I’d post them together as well. Although the sleeves have been quite badly sun-bleached, the platters within are remarkably well preserved considering their age (1966 and 1967 respectively).

Anyone who was a child in Britain during the ’60s will be familiar with these charming shows created by Gordon Murray, as will ’70s kids like me, thanks to their creator’s astute decision to film the shows in colour, thus ensuring their repeat potential in the following decade.

Listening to these audio-only versions helps to focus attention on the timeless qualities of Freddie Philips’ musical accompaniment, plus the eerie sound effects provided by Music Features. Then of course there’s the reassuring tones of narrator Brian Cant – a man so ubiquitous on kids TV in the seventies, he was practically a second father-figure for many of us.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 8:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Bitch OST

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Following on from an earlier post, this week I came across yet another soundtrack to a Jackie Collins film, in fact this one is the follow-up to The Stud, and features sister Joan in her prime, returning as lead character Fontaine Khalid. The soundtrack is almost uniformly excellent, title track written by ’70s disco legend Biddu (more on whom another day) with special mention for Quantum Jump‘s highly irreverent tribute to “The Lone Ranger”, which I hadn’t heard for years, and I’m pleased to report that time has not diminished it’s unique flavour.

Back in 1979, this record cost £4.99 in Woolworths. Mine for £1.00 from CLIC Sargent in 2009. Huzzah!

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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SHAFT – Mack Brown & The Brothers

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A classic slab of funk-disco-soul comin at yah from 1971…

Not having got a copy of the Issac Hayes orginal double-LP, I am in no position to comment on how this single-sided cover compares.  It is however very tasty indeed to these ears – I guess the production is somewhat scaled down due to the ever reliable budget label Hallmark Records having no where near the funds for a full orchestra etc etc.  No problem to me – I love my funk/soul  stripped back – the tracks are played deep-and dirty with some superb bass/drum workouts in evidence.   

Classic stuff ……

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Published in: on November 2, 2009 at 6:53 am  Comments (1)  
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Travelling Man OST

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I have a thing about telly-related records, but I was particularly attracted to this one because it was from a long-forgotten series that I used to watch religiously with my dad every week. I can’t really remember what it was about, other than being a drama involving canal boats, starring Leigh Lawson. The music screams ‘mid-eighties’, with Linn drums, Fairlights, synthesised pan-pipes etc, though the overall quality of the writing and arrangments, dominated by spanish guitar, is still very listenable and actually quite soothing on a drab Wednesday afternoon. But the photo of composer/performers Duncan Browne and Sebastian Graham-Jones reveals that it wasn’t just the sounds that screamed ‘mid-80s’…

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Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm  Comments (3)  
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