Merry Christmas everybody.
Hit: Mistletoe And Wine
Hidden Gem: N/A
Not only a great film, Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused also has a killer soundtrack – probably the one soundtrack that has had the greatest influence on the rest of my record collection. I’ve waited a long to get this on vinyl, and finally on Record Store Day this year it was released to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary. I had to get it shipped over from the USA by my local record store, but it was worth the wait. It’s a double vinyl, and – to borrow a line from the film, “…it’s green too!”
I first heard about Dazed And Confused on my daily walk to school when I was 15. My good friend Ant used to do the same walk – through the fields behind my parents’ house that are no longer fields (they’re a housing estate), past the Elk mill that’s no longer a mill (it was demolished to make way for a retail centre) – and onto Clayton playing fields towards North Chadderton school.
On these walks, Ant would tell me about stuff he’d picked up from his brother. I owe my love of Bill Hicks to Ant and his brother – and I also owe my love of Dazed And Confused to them. Ant probably lent me their VHS copy of the film, but it wouldn’t be long until I acquired my own copy, and played it many, many time over the next few years into my late teens. I’d take this film to University with me, and turn lots of my friends onto it over the years.
On paper, Dazed And Confused doesn’t sound very interesting. It’s the story of high-school kids in Texas on their last day of school, but nothing really happens. There’s very little plot – just a lot of good music and more of a feeling about the time and place rather than any tangible storyline. But that’s probably true of a lot of youth films – Quadrophenia, The Breakfast Club, American Graffiti, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, etc.
Other than the killer soundtrack, the film also boasts an impressive cast of actors before they hit the big time – Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Milla Jovovich, Renée Zellweger, Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg all pop up in small but memorable roles.
But let’s talk about the music. I must have bought the soundtrack on CD as soon as I saw it, and it became the soundtrack to my summer of 1995. It’s fourteen tracks of rock music – some of which was already familiar to me – Sabbath’s Paranoid, ZZ Top’s Tush, Alice Cooper’s School’s Out – but it introduced me to a whole lot more.
For me, the soundtrack acted as a sampler – it turned me onto Ted Nugent’s first solo album, Skynyrd’s debut album and deepened my love of early ZZ Top. The second iteration of the soundtrack – Even More Dazed And Confused – even showed me that it’s okay to like Frampton Comes Alive!.
In fact, I love that second CD as much as the first. I remember being at a party at Palatine Road in Manchester and using Moo’s knowledge of Bob Dylan to collectively figure out why two of the film’s songs wasn’t included on either CD – Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion and Dylan’s Hurricane are both on the Columbia record label, so there must have been some conflict of interest with The Medicine Label who brought out the soundtrack albums.
It’s almost criminal that the Aerosmith track isn’t included on the soundtrack – it’s the song that opens the film! I hear this was a last minute substitution though, after Robert Plant wouldn’t allow Linklater to use the Zeppelin song of the film’s name over those opening credits. Perhaps they just didn’t have time to think about whether they’d be able to clear Sweet Emotion for the soundtrack album.
There are a lot of hidden gems on this album. For one, the slow-burn of Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold reminds me of cruising around in a pale yellow Nissan Stanza with Stotty and Bez on Friday and Saturday nights. Good times!
Hit: Slow Ride – Foghat
Hidden Gem: Low Rider – War
My only bugbear with the Thompson Twins – and a lot of early-80s pop for that matter – is that some of the songs tend to be all big choruses and not much else to shout home about; all dessert without any main course to set it up. A song like Doctor! Doctor! really creeps up on you. It starts, with not a great deal of fanfare and a couple of verses where you really have to look out for the melody to hear it. Then the chorus hits, and it’s like the greatest thing in the world, until the chorus finishes and the sing resumes into its non-descript verse structure.
It’s like they went to songwriting school, but they only turned up on the days when they learned how to write killer pop choruses.
Hit: Hold Me Now
Hidden Gem: Day After Day
This is a long way from being my favourite Primal Scream album, but somebody bought it for me as a birthday present – and records that I’ve received as gifts are always treasured more than any of my other records.
This album was seen as a return to form after Give Out But Don’t Give Up, but that album was my favourite era of Primal Scream. I can understand why the clubbing and Ecstacy fans of Screamadelica were turned off by it, but Give Out… speaks to the rocker in me. Listening to Vanishing Point, you can hear the natural progression from Screamadelica. In retrospect, the odd-sounding rock album in-between just seems like a misstep.
I do like the strange messages scratched into the run-out grooves on this album. Side A has quotes from the film Vanishing Point: “THE QUESTION’S NOT WHEN THEY’RE GONNA’ STOP…” on side A, followed by “…BUT WHO’S GONNA’ STOP THEM” on side B. Side C has “FREE TITCH”; and side D has “SOMEDAY THIS L.P.’S GONNA END, SON”.
Hidden Gem: Get Duffy