Monthly Archives: August 2019

Rocks In The Attic #778: Zero 7 – ‘Simple Things’ (2001)

RITA#778I love this record. It’s a beautiful slice of soulful downbeat electronica from 2001, and a chilled-out companion-piece to Bent’s Programmed To Love from 2000, or Air’s Moon Safari from 1998.

Those chill-out years, around the end of the ‘90s and the early 2000s, really produced some classic albums – far superior to what was happening in rock music at the time. It didn’t last long though, with the Strokes and the White Stripes creating a new back to basics blueprint for rock music that still resonates today. Coldplay even set the foundation for their meteoric rise with one foot firmly in the chill-out genre on their sublime 2000 debut Parachutes.

I introduced Zero 7’s Simple Things to my wife-to-be soon after we started dating, and it’s full of happy memories as a result. It’s the sound of long Sunday drives, or the soundtrack to early morning city streets when there’s nobody around, or the anticipation of a roast dinner cooking in the oven. Who needs drugs when you’ve got Yorkshire Puddings?

Hit: Destiny

Hidden Gem: I Have Seen

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Rocks In The Attic #777: Charles Bernstein – ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street (O.S.T.)’ (1984)

RITA#777Facebook recently reminded me of something great that happened a couple of years ago. One day, my wife – who is about as far from a horror fan as somebody could be – came home with a new purchase from one of our local second-hand stores.

She walked into the house in a red and green sweater, without any awareness of who’s famous for wearing such an item of clothing, and said ‘What do you think?’.

“Looks great, Freddy,’ I told her, prompting a ‘Huh?’ in response.

To be fair, she took it in good humour. She even staged her own photo, using stainless steel knives as a makeshift claw, so I could send it into the humour column of New Zealand’s daily newspaper. She never wore the sweater again, and took it back the next day (which I really regret as I should have kept it for fancy dress, particularly if I ever had a really bad acne attack).

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The Nightmare On Elm Street series feels like such a wasted opportunity to me. The original film from 1984 is very creepy and genuinely scary in parts – from the girl sliding around the ceiling of her room, falling onto a bed of blood, to Johnny Depp and his TV set being sucked into his bed, and his bed spewing a fountain of blood. But then the sequels started, and the films got less and less scary, focusing more on the humour of Freddy Krueger’s character. It went from scary to ridiculous in just a couple of films.

This soundtrack to the first film, reissued here by Mondo in a lovely red and green ‘Freddy’s sweater’ vinyl, is a nice piece of work too. Turning away from the traditionally orchestral scores of slasher films of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Charles Bernstein opts for a suite of electronic music on the soundtrack. The main theme plays with lullabies and nursery rhymes, echoing the danger of the child-killer antagonist who kills teenagers in their sleep.

I was hoping that the 2010 remake would have put the films back on course, but it was thrillingly mediocre and Jackie Earl Hayley, that nice young boy from The Love Boat, missed an opportunity to really inhabit such a famous horror character. Apparently, another remake / reboot is on the cards. Let’s hope it gets back to the thrill of the 1984 original.

Hit: Main Title

Hidden Gem: Laying The Traps

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Rocks In The Attic #776: Booker T. & The MGs – ‘Soul Limbo’ (1968)

RITA#776The front cover of this record has always bothered me for looking a little bit, erm, rapey. The group are stood around under the boardwalk, ogling a pretty girl in a bikini. It gets worse on the back cover as the group are then show following the girl as she walks along the beach. The four cats in the band are all wearing sunglasses, but the poor quality of the photo makes it look like their eyes have been blanked out like on the cover of that AC/DC album. It reeks of a Crimewatch reconstruction.

Thankfully the record itself is very innocent, and chock full of choice instrumental cuts. Eleanor Rigby, Foxy Lady and Hang ‘Em High are the most well known covers, but it’s their original composition Soul Limbo that everybody’s here for. It’s the track that will forever be connected to the most boring sport in the word, but let’s not hold that against it. It’s such a bright and sunny song, a little funk masterpiece.

RITA#776bIn place of liner notes, this album – number seven for the band – includes a jokey multiple-choice test. Six questions with either obvious or amusing answers. My favourite is the first question: WHAT is the name of the number one instrumental group in America for 1967 / 1968 according to the annual BILLBOARD poll? The answers, alongside the real name of the band of course, are ‘Cornbread & The Crumbs’, ‘Jake And The Strawberries’ and ‘Horse And The Harnesses’.

Hit: Soul Limbo

Hidden Gem: Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy

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