Rocks In The Attic #429: David Hentschel – ‘Educating Rita (O.S.T.)’ (1983)

RITA#429The old ball and chain regularly buys records from the local charity shop for art projects. She’s been making record dividers recently for a guy who commissioned her to make some for his collection. Usually she brings home the type of naff you’d expect – Nana Mouskouri, Max Bygraves, and country and western compilations “as seen on TV’. The other day I caught her about to use / destroy this record.

I’ve seen the film before, only once or twice and quite a while ago, but I couldn’t let a perfectly good soundtrack go to waste. I’ve since listened to it, and it’s a great little upbeat, synth-driven score. David Hentschel, as well as being a producer for Trident Studios, was a sought-after session synth player throughout the ‘70s, most notably playing on Elton John’s Rocket Man and also the synth-heavy Funeral For A Friend from the awesome Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.

Production-wise, the soundtrack doesn’t sound too far away from something like the score to Withnail & I, another gem of the British film industry released around the same time. I must try and watch Educating Rita again – remind myself that assonance means getting the rhyme wrong.

Hit: Educating Rita

Hidden Gem: Franks Theme Pt. 1 (A Dead, Good Poet)

Rocks In The Attic #428: Anthrax – ‘Euphoria’ (1988)

RITA#428Apparently it’s illegal to send this band’s records through the post…

The Big Four? Metallica? Yes. Slayer? Yes. Megadeth? Yes. Anthrax? Hmm. For some reason, these guys never got to my ears when I used to listen to metal.

It does amuse me how these four bands have been grouped together in their own little club. Isn’t thrash supposed to be full of ‘stick it to the man’ f**k you attitude, with an innate desire to avoid the mainstream? Well, Metallica’s transcendence into a household name is another story, but doesn’t branding them altogether into a nice little package sort of negate their collective manifesto?

But as always, record companies will do whatever they can to make money, and if putting a bunch of bands together to sell some tickets / live DVDs, then so be it.

Hit: Antisocial

Hidden Gem: Now It’s Dark

Rocks In The Attic #427: Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66 – ‘Greatest Hits’ (1970)

RITA#427I’ve loved Mas Que Nada ever since I heard it on the first Austin Powers soundtracks, in the days where I would immediately buy the soundtrack if I liked a film. In fact, now that I think about it, the film studios would have got a fair bit of money from me around the late ‘90s. I would go and watch a film on a Friday night, and usually if I like it enough I would go out and buy the soundtrack the next day. This makes me feel much better about the way I – ahem – watch films these days.

Given the size of Brazil – f**king massive – it’s surprising that the country hasn’t exported more musical artists to the western world. Scratching my head, the only other Brazilians I can think of are Sepultura and Seu Jorge. Yes, it’s a poor country, but that shouldn’t stop musicians upping sticks and hitchhiking north to the bright lights of North America. Instead Brazilian musicians tend to be famous for older musical styles – essentially for any instrument that doesn’t require a plug.

As much as I love Mas Que Nada, the rest of this album is made up of mostly average easy-listening covers. Unfortunately I can’t listen to this type of music without thinking of Austin Powers gyrating on a rotating circular bed.

Hit: Mas Que Nada

Hidden Gem: Night And Day

Rocks In The Attic #426: Supergrass – ‘I Should Coco’ (1995)

RITA#426I’ve been waiting a bloody long time to get my hands on a vinyl copy of this – my original pressing of In It For The Money has always been very lonely next to so many Supertramp records, and I finally have a companion piece for my 7” of Alright / Time.

Recently reissued to celebrate the album’s twentieth anniversary, the re-release comes with the record’s original bonus 7” – an energetic blast through Hendrix’s Stone Free, backed with a John Peel session of one of their own songs (the sticker on the front of the record strangely says it comes with a “one sided 7” vinyl” when in fact it’s a standard double-sided 45rpm 7”).

Although I’m more of a fan of album number two, I like I Should Coco more and more with every listen. It sounds like speed, and it’s not hard to imagine how different this sounded at the time compared to all the rest of Britpop’s dull, plodding Indie rock.

Alright? Mansize Rooster? Caught By The Fuzz? It’s choc-full of hits, but for me the real gem of the album is Time. They sound like kids on the rest of the album, but with Time they really display a maturity that’s beyond their (teenage) years. They would write more soulful material like this – Late In The Day from the second album and Moving from the third album are good examples – but their debut record is really all about the energy of their live set.

What’s not to like about Supergrass? A fantastic songwriter in Gaz Coombes, a driving bass player with great backing vocals in Mick Quinn, and in Danny Goffey a madcap drummer from the Keith Moon school of percussion. The only thing not to like is that horrible rumour that Steven Spielberg saw the music video for Alright and wanted to turn the band into a Monkees-style TV experiment.

Most of the first record sounds like it was recorded in one take with very minimal production. It was actually recorded for less than the budget for the Alright video, which is a horrible example of misplaced record company investment.

Hit: Alright

Hidden Gem: I’d Like To Know

Rocks In The Attic #425: Paul McCartney – ‘The Family Way (O.S.T.)’ (1967)

RITA#425Long before any cherries were spilt, this was the first solo offering by Paul McCartney – in fact the first solo offering by any Beatle. It is entirely un-Beatle-like, and offers nothing related to the fab four’s summer of love, psychedelic state of mind except for maybe a blast of brass before Sgt. Pepper’s band tuned up.

There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about the score – most of it is simply a selection of cues to soundtrack a “nice little film” set in the north of England.  I haven’t seen the film by the way, and while I expect it would play on the BBC every once in a while, there’s absolutely no chance it would get anywhere over the cultural Berlin Wall of New Zealand’s borders so I’ll have to find it by other methods.

Certain sections of the score – which sound like they are used over city scenes showing ‘swinging London’ (London buses and Carnaby St miniskirts) – sound extremely dated with heavy bass and uptempo brass. It’s in the quieter moments that the soundtrack shines though, and while it’s not essential listening it’s definitely a must-hear for Beatle fans and completists.

Hit: Love In The Open Air

Hidden Gem: Cue 2M5

Rocks In The Attic #424: Guns N’ Roses – ‘Use Your Illusion II’ (1991)

RITA#424The companion piece to Use Your Illusion I, this one was always my favourite of the two, really just because it has You Could Be Mine on it. In the early ‘90s, when I first heard this album I was already a huge movie fan, and so I knew the song like the back of my hand from its appearance in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Listening to the album twenty four years later, it feels more and more bloated with every listen. The record kicks off with Civil War which immediately leaves a sour taste in my mouth, being the last song that Steven Adler played drums on before he was unceremoniously kicked out of the band. When they said goodbye to Adler, they also said goodbye to the one component that brought swing to the band.

Matt Sorum may be a fine replacement, but he’s nothing special – a rock by numbers drummer, with none of the groove that Adler splashed all over Appetite For Destruction. Adler is sorely missed, and instead of sounding sleazy, the overall sound is too polished, too safe to be considered dangerous. If anything, it just made me mad that people would lap this turgid crap up by the bucketload, but only a few years later one of my favourite British rock bands, the Wildhearts, would sell a decimal point worth of records in comparison – even though everything they released was innovative, energetic and more interesting. There are more riffs in one three-minute Wildhearts song than in an eight minute GNR epic like Estranged or November Rain.

Use Your Illusion II also gives us Get In The Ring – a huge, embarrassing mess of a song aimed at the band’s rock critics. In this sickeningly jolly, uptempo number, Axl Rose embraces his southern hick sensibilities and calls out several journalists who had stuck in his craw over the years. His vocals sound like the sort of thing you’d hear in a trailer park around midnight on a Friday, before the camera crew from Cops turns up, and an overweight police officer jumps on somebody and shouts “Stop resisting!” as he employs  excessive force. Instead of sounding dangerous, Axl sounds pitiful. What a way to prove your critics right.

I’ve never owned The Spaghetti Incident? I have no reason to. After this, GNR were dead to me. And I wouldn’t even consider listening to Chinese Democracy. What a fall from grace. At one point, Guns N’ Roses were the biggest rock band in the world – but history keeps confirming that they really only had one great album.

Hit: You Could Be Mine

Hidden Gem: So Fine

Rocks In The Attic #423: Imagination – ‘Night Dubbing’ (1983)

RITA#423I picked this up in a job lot once, and probably haven’t played it until today. I know absolutely nothing about the band – I don’t even know if they’re British or American (naughty me for presuming that they’re one or the other, but a large section of my record collection – maybe upwards of 95% – come from one side of the Atlantic).

Wikipedia tells me they’re British – and just two tracks in, I recognise Just An Illusion. Or at least, I recognise the bare bones of the song, this being a remix album of the band’s hits from their first two albums. If anything, it makes me want to check out their studio albums.

I can definitely hear house music and the Hacienda in these grooves – mostly in that organic, liquid bass and the Roland 808 drum sound. It’s a sound I really like, a sound from my childhood.

Hit: Just An Illusion

Hidden Gem: Flashback