Monday, January 30, 2012

1987-Angel Heart

                                                               Click for Angel Heart

Over the years I've taken to compiling complete soundtracks to films I love, including songs that, most likely for licensing reasons, appeared in the movie but were not included on the official soundtrack and attempting to place the songs in chronological order of how they appeared in the film. 1987's Angel Heart, directed by Alan Parker, is a firm favorite of mine that despite its occasional silliness (even Parker concedes sheepishly on the DVD's commentary track that the bit with the glowing eyes at the end was too much) is still one of the better films of the 1980's and one which succeeds in combining the hardboiled and horror genres -a rarity that really works here and makes you wonder why it hasn't been done more.

The film features strong performances by Robert DeNiro, Charlotte Rampling, Lisa Bonet (limited but believably natural and beautiful) and most especially the star of the film, Mickey Rourke. This is arguably Rourke's best performance, a great actor, whose performances in most of his films considerably outdistance the material he's given.  In Angel Heart he gets another chance to shine and it's unquestionably Rourke's spot on, lived in and ultimately doomed portrayal of PI Harry Angel, worthy of a David Goodis novel, that holds the center of the film and makes it all work. I certainly can't imagine any other actor working at the time pulling it off.

Angel Heart is based on the 1978 novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, a good read, currently out of print, but worth seeking out.  One crucial change that Parker made in scripting the novel was moving the setting halfway through the story, from New York to New Orleans, the novel takes place soley in New York.  This move to N.O. allows Parker to really lay on a smokey Southern noir atmosphere; fog, rain, blues clubs, fat sweaty cops, bayous, voodoo, gumbo, chickens etc.  This film, shot on location in New Orleans by DP Michael Seresin, is extremely beautiful to look at. Director Parker recruited Trevor Jones to compose the evocative and haunting score (with saxophone courtesy of Courtney Pine), which adds immeasurably to the mood and overall impact of the movie, effectively updating Noir for the 1980's without sacrificing any of its essentials.

In this more complete version of the soundtrack I've added to the original score all of the additional songs featured in the film that I could hunt down, including songs by LaVern Baker, Glen Gray, John Lee Hooker and Dr. John. The majority of the music featured in the film will be found here. Hope you enjoy it, and for more great 1980's noir hybrids, this time blended with Sci-Fi, watch the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner (the voice over being a crucial Film Noir device) that finally made its way to DVD in 2007.

Trailer which includes scenes that didn't make the final cut

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The Byrds Are Divine"- Lou Reed

I've been reading, off and on, Clinton Heylin's  All Yesterdays' Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971, which, as the title alludes, collects all the press on the band contemporaneous with their lifespan.  The book includes a considerable amount of worthwhile pieces albeit sandwiched between some pretty dry and rote press notices. One of my favorites is an interview with Lou Reed by Ramblin' Jim Martin from Open City # 78 circa 1969 in which the following exchange caught my attention.

Lou Reed: I think Jim McGuinn is a very good guitar player, really exciting, you know: to this day, no one has done a better solo than "Eight Miles High." I mean, people should really support the Byrds; the Byrds are divine.

Jim: But they keep changing all the time------

Lou Reed: So WHAT?  People are so fucked up, they say "You changed, you didn't stay the same": so? Yeah, so WHAT?  It's the Byrds.

The Byrds were indeed divine, and with that endorsement ringing lets cue some clips-

                                   Notice McGuinn and Crosby have swapped outfits and guitars in this clip.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers

1. London Homesick Blues (live)- Gary P. Nunn- Back in the days when country music still displayed considerable wit - "even London Bridge has fallen down and moved to Arizona".  This rousing live rendition is from an Austin City Limits appearance in the late 70's or early 80's.  It makes me homesick for a place I have, in truth, spent far too much time in, but for better or worse I'm accustomed to the environs.  Clip below appears to be from sometime in the 1980's and is different from the one in the mix, good but the one in the mix is better.

2. Amarillo By Morning- Terry Stafford-  George Strait had the big hit with this in the 80's but Stafford wrote the song (with Paul Fraser) and recorded it first in the early 1970's.

3. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain- Willie Nelson- First recorded by Roy Acuff, Willie really made this song his own, lovely guitar playing.

4. Luckenbach Texas- Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson- This was a staple on the radio when I was growing up, you heard it everywhere in Texas in the 1970's.  

5. Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother- Jerry Jeff Walker- An affectionate (and funny) parody of Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" that was probably lost on some people genuinely attracted to the concept of "kicking hippies asses and raising hell".   The song's composer Ray Wylie Hubbard explains more below, followed by another rendition.

6.  Ravishing Ruby- Tom T. Hall- My father grew up in Shreveport LA and was taught guitar by Tillman Franks who also taught Jerry Kennedy who went on to produce both Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall two of country and western's greatest and most unique songwriters.  I love the mariachi style horns on this one.  

7. That's The Way Love Goes- Lefty Frizzell- Speaking of my Dad he turned me on to this song, one of the last recordings by Lefty in the early 70's. Beautiful song and my Dad sings it well too- my father was in a band as a young man in Shreveport called, no lie, the Hogback Mountain Boys, they were named by classmate Merle Kilgore, writer of many hits including "Ring of Fire".

8. Pancho & Lefty- Townes Van Zandt- What to say....just watch the clip.

9. Ain't No God in Mexico- Waylon Jennings- there are many gods in Mexico.

10. Me & Paul- Willie Nelson- "They said we looked suspicious"-Willie and his drummer Paul English below, would you trust these men?

11. The Pilgrim, Chapter 33- Kris Kristofferson- "wearing yesterday's misfortunes like a smile"

12. Pissin' in the Wind- Jerry Jeff Walker- A little good natured piss take on Kristofferson at the beginning of the song. "The answer my friend is pissin' in the wind" rings truer to me than blowin' in the wind.

13. Salute to a Switchblade- Tom T. Hall- Though a master storyteller, Tom's German ain't that hot.

14. Behind Closed Doors- Charlie Rich- The Silver Fox. Even country pop was great in the 1970's!  "She never makes a scene by hanging all over me in a crowd". 

15.  Here You Come Again- Dolly Parton- Speaking of pop, here's another one I remember hearing on the radio all the time as a little kid.  Sweet song, written by the legendary Brill Building songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

16. Good Hearted Woman- Waylon & Willie-  Sounds like the woman might be getting the short end of the stick here.

17. Turnstyled, Junkpiled- Townes Van Zandt- This record, Delta Momma Blues, was the first one I bought by Townes, I think the cover (specifically Van Zandt looking so hip in his suede jacket and white jeans) is what drew me to it originally.

18. Whiskey River- Willie Nelson-  Wish I could still drink, I especially miss whiskey and its "amber current".

19.  I Like Beer- Tom T. Hall- Another tune I heard a lot around the house as a kid.  My parents met him once after a show and he was stumbling drunk they said, so he is indeed singing from his own experience.

20. Sunday Morning Coming Down- Kris Kristofferson- One good thing about not drinking anymore is no more hangovers!

21. Hairy Ass Hillbillies- Jerry Jeff Walker-  

My Dad and I pulling faces together on property we had in Cistern Texas 1976- note Dad's beer can (and beer belly) and my awesome jacket and as always action figure in hand, looks like the Thing. That's how I rolled in them days!

22. The Future's Not What It Used to Be- Mickey Newbury- Tell me about it.