Category Archives: 1982

Rocks In The Attic #842: Various Artists – ‘The King Of Comedy (O.S.T.)’ (1982)

RITA#842There’s an area of the internet that believes that Martin Scorsese’s The King Of Comedy is somehow a better film than Todd Phillips’ Joker. While it’s clear that without Scorsese’s film, Phillips’ film wouldn’t exit – it’s a key influence on Joker alongside Scorsese’s earlier classic, Taxi Driver – it’s also clear that Joker managed to take those key elements of The King Of Comedy and do something far more interesting with them. How much of this existed while Scorsese was initially attached to Joker as producer, before departing to announce that comic book films were the equivalent of theme park rides, is unclear, but one has to wonder if he was simply uncomfortable with referencing his own work so blatantly.

RITA#842aYou have to wonder what the point of The King Of Comedy is; what Scorsese is trying to achieve. After the success of Taxi Driver for Columbia Pictures in 1976, the director made a couple of lukewarm films for United Artists: New York, New York in 1977 and Raging Bull in 1980. While the latter has proven to be one of his strongest films, it wasn’t initially received as such, and only took $23 million against an $18 million budget.

Switching to 20th Century Fox for The King Of Comedy, it almost seems that Scorsese is trying to not only derail his own career but destroy his reputation with each of the major film studios. His cocaine addiction probably deserves some of the blame here. It wouldn’t be his first strange choice for a project, and it wouldn’t be his last.

Where De Niro’s character in Taxi Driver was to some extent an anti-hero, his Rupert Pupkin in The King Of Comedy is even more unlikable than Raging Bull’s Jake La Motta. He’s a wannabe stand-up comedian; more infatuated with the glare of the TV cameras than the audience he’s entertaining. It’s not widespread success he’s chasing, it’s merely the acceptance of Rita (Diahnne Abbott).

That was the one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb when I saw Joker in the cinema; that they had cast a black actress (Zazie Beetz) as Sophie, Arthur Fleck’s (Joaquin Phoenix) love-interest. It seemed a little too on the nose, a blatant casting choice (the fact that Beetz looks so similar to Abbott doesn’t help matters). But to his credit, Todd Phillips does something far more interesting with the nature of his film’s central relationship.

Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker’s camera-flash free-frame used for the opening credits (and over a great Ray Charles song) is particularly well done. The other great shot is the image of Jerry Lewis’ Jerry Langford catching Pupkin’s hijacked monologue on a bank of TV’s in a store window after he escapes from Sandra Bernhard’s obsessed stalker Masha. Cinematic gold.

Times Square looks wonderful, and it’s nice to spot Blade Runner up on the marquee of one of the movie theatres. It’s also great to spot three quarters of the Clash – Joe Strummer, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon – alongside Don Letts and their sometime manager Kosmo Vinyl, as extras in the scene where Masha confronts Pupkin. Topper Headon must have been busy.

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Not only did the film heavily influence Joker, but the scenes of Pupkin rehearsing / fantasising in his bedroom and hollering at his constantly interrupting mother (played by Scorsese’s mother Catherine) clearly influenced a similar trope in TV’s The Big Bang Theory.

I don’t think the needle-drops work spectacularly well in the film, but the soundtrack on its own is fantastic. Scorsese’s first collaboration with the Band’s Robbie Robertson as a de facto music supervisor sets the tone of most of the director’s soundtracks for the next three decades (right up to last year’s The Irishman): lots of blues based ‘60s and ‘70s rock interspersed with the occasional pop song.

Robertson’s own Between Trains exists as his first original song since leaving the Band, and the soundtrack also includes the only appearance of David Sanborn’s The Finer Things. Alongside Scorsese soundtrack regulars Van Morisson, B.B. King and Ray Charles, the soundtrack also features younger artists like the Cars’ Ric Ocasek, Talking Heads and the Pretenders. It’s the Pretenders’ song, Back On The Chain Gang, that feels so out of place, being such an evergreen radio hit.

Hit: Back On The Chain Gang – The Pretenders

Hidden Gem: Between Trains – Robbie Robertson

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Rocks In The Attic #831: Survivor – ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ (1982)

RITA#831Cue: training montage.

I made of a point of revisiting this record after a great article in the Guardian covering the making of the song for Rocky III. It’s definitely a brilliant song. There’s a swing to it that’s easy to miss if you take it at face value. It’s got the same kind of groove as Stephen Adler’s drum parts on Appetite For Destruction. This isn’t standard 4/4 drumming. There’s something else going on.

Every Wednesday and Friday morning at 6am I do a bootcamp session on my way to work. I usually struggle to keep up, due to a mixture of being generally lazy and eating too much junk-food, but whenever the trainer puts Eye Of The Tiger on, I always seem to find some extra juice. It fits better on Wednesday morning, when we do boxing, but it’s welcome any time.

RITA#831aEye Of The Tiger is Survivor’s third studio album, and the one that would set them apart from their peers due to the song’s inclusion on the Rocky III soundtrack (and its subsequent connection to the Sylvester Stallone boxing franchise in general). The single would hit the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic but exists nowadays mainly as a cliché in corporate training videos. At one supermarket company I worked for, it seemed to get rolled out every month. We need to sell more ham on the deli counter? Quick, stick Eye Of The Tiger on the staff training video!

Now I’m not saying anything untoward was going on, but Eye Of The Tiger is very similar in feel to the Frank Stallone song Far From Over, released a year after Survivor’s hit. Far From Over is another blast of testosterone-heavy AOR, and would fit perfectly in a Rocky film, but instead found a place on the soundtrack to 1983’s Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive…directed by his brother Sylvester Stallone. Hmm

Hit: Eye Of The Tiger

Hidden Gem: Hesitation Dance

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Rocks In The Attic #825: Harry Manfredini – ‘Friday The 13th Part III’ (1982)

RITA#825Jason’s back for another round of killing. We’re well into the series now; it’s the third installment and the second with Voorhees Jr. as the man with the machete. After the first two parts, it’s a step-down in terms of quality – the acting is terrible, and the sets look very cheap. It’s worth a watch though, if only to see the few new things added to the mix that would become iconic to the franchise.

First, we open on another recap: “Previously, on Friday The 13th” it might say, if it was a TV show made in the early 2000s. Do we need another recap? Well, yes and no. In the age of home video and streaming, it’d be easy to do without this, but back in 1982 and before any such luxury was commonplace, it was probably the only thing to serve as a reminder of what’s happened so far. Plus, it helps to make sense of the Lady In The Lake dream sequence at the end of the film.

RITA#825aAt the end of the recap, we see a top-down view of the aftermath inside Jason’s makeshift cabin from the end of Friday The 13th Part II. We see Jason crawl away, ready to kill again – something that would often be repeated at the start of each film going forward. Then we get some eye-popping credits.

WOAH! The titles are flying out into my eyeballs. We’re in 3-D! And there’s some crazily funky disco music playing over the credits. It’s exciting! It seems to do for Jason what Marvin Hamlisch’s Bond ’77 failed to do for James Bond five years earlier in The Spy Who Loved Me. Hamlisch’s efforts to be hip and trendy are eye-roll-inducing; Manfredini’s funky little jam, on the other hand, sounds great. The rest of the score is textbook Friday The 13th, and this reissue of Waxwork Records’ 2016 pressing with a 3-D effect lenticular cover, artwork by Ghoulish Gary Pullin and pressed on ‘3-D Glasses’ red with blue splatter double vinyl is absolutely gorgeous.

RITA#825bWe open in the aftermath of Part II – giving the franchise an opportunity to catch-up somewhat to that crazy ‘5 years later’ timeline blunder that the earlier film makes. In the first scene, we see one of a multitude of camera ticks employed throughout the film to make full use of the 3-D. A mis-cast 20-something/going-on-50 housewife badgers her long-suffering husband for knocking over the washing-line prop. POINT IT AT THE FUCKING CAMERA! It isn’t long until these shots start to feel gimmicky. More than anything, the scene serves as an opportunity for Jason to change out of his Part II dungarees, and into the more generic everyman worker clothes he dons for the rest of the series.

The film blunders on. It isn’t well-made in any respect. As well as the sub-standard acting, we also glimpse the reflection of the camera-crew in the window of the VW Beetle. It’s also the first of the Friday The 13thfilms where the audience can really start rooting for Jason, as the Final Girl Chris is just so annoying.

We see Jason stumbling around in Chris’ painful-to-endure flashback moments, with his bald head completely rewriting the scraggly long hair we see him with in the final shots of Part II. Discounting that scene as a dream-sequence makes some sense; seeing Jason in Chris’ flashbacks, dressed in the clothes we see him start to wear in Part III, makes no sense. There should be a caption at the foot of the screen, reading ‘DON’T THINK TOO HARD ABOUT THE FINER DETAILS!’.

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It’s good to see Crazy Ralph replaced by a similar Greek chorus doomsayer, and we even get to see one of the characters read an issue of Fangoria magazine – surely a great meta moment, featuring a magazine that the film would ultimately appear in once released. The most notable thing about the film though is the introduction of the hockey mask.

The mask would become the icon of not only the character of Jason, but of the Friday The 13th series in general. It’s probably one of the most iconic movie-props in the history of cinema. It’s almost magical when he takes it from practical joker Shelly, and we see him use it for the first time to murder Vera.

Mask, clothes, machete. Jason’s ready.

Hit: Theme From Friday The 13th Part 3

Hidden Gem: Part 2 Flashback

Body Count: 12

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Rocks In The Attic #808: The Cure – ‘Pornography’ (1982)

RITA#808I’m usually a big fan of pornography, but not this time. Being fairly allergic to all things goth, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my first Cure purchase. But at only $13NZD ($8USD / £6GBP) for a shiny, new 2016 reissue from our country’s biggest general merchandiser, I couldn’t say no.

The first line of album opener One Hundred Years – ‘It doesn’t matter if we all die’ – sets the tone of what’s to follow. Sixth-form poetry set to doomy, repetitive dirges. Robert Smith’s unique voice and clear enunciation is clearly the highlight of the band.

It’s not for me, but I admit it’s sounding much better on its second listen. I’ll keep it in case we ever adopt a goth.

Hit: The Hanging Garden

Hidden Gem: A Short Term Effect

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Rocks In The Attic #736: Willie Nelson – ‘Always On My Mind’ (1982)

rita#736News has just come in that Willie Nelson has been hit by a car. He was playing on the road again.

Jokes aside, is there a musician more associated with marijuana than Willie Nelson? Bob Marley maybe, but I can’t think of anybody else. Sure, every musician has smoked it, but Willie and Bob made a personal religion out of it. Maybe they should have taxed marijuana – would Willie have partaken then?

This 1982 studio album finds the tax-dodging Nelson playing Trigger, his trusty (and battered) acoustic guitar, on a number of covers aimed to attract a different audience – including the title song (made world famous by Elvis in 1972), Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, and Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

rita#736aDespite my dislike of country and western, I can just about manage to sit through this.

Hit: Always On My Mind

Hidden Gem: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

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Rocks In The Attic #715: Rod Stewart – ‘Body Wishes’ (1982)

RITA#715My Rod Stewart collection continues to grow and grow, despite me never having bought a Rod Stewart record in my life. I just keep acquiring them.

Even though his later records are junk compared to his more fruitful earlier material, both solo and with the Faces, I really don’t mind these later ones. I guess they could be described as mid-period albums, with his truly awful output these days being the ones to avoid like the plague.

I saw a documentary filmed at Rod’s house once. The guy loves football so much, he has a full-sized football pitch at the bottom of his house. I always thought that was a little extreme. It’s not like a snooker table or a dart board. You need twenty-one friends to come over and play on it to make it worthwhile. Not a problem, it seems, as he gets ten of his mates over and takes on the local amateur teams. Legend.

I’ve since seen that he’s bought another house and put a 7-a-side pitch in that one, so it looks like he’s slowly trading down.

This is Rod’s twelfth solo studio album and wasn’t received well despite a stonker of a lead single in Baby Jane, and a ‘so-1980s-it-hurts’ cover image paying homage to 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.

Hit: Baby Jane

Hidden Gem: Move Me

Rocks In The Attic #682: Fleetwood Mac – ‘Alternate Mirage’ (1982)

RITA#682It’s Record Store Day tomorrow. Independent record stores around the world get to increase their coffers as thousands of casual music fans race in for an extremely limited picture-disc of Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing in the shape of Mark Knopfler’s sweaty headband.

Among the many reasons to visit participating stores on RSD – giveaways, food and drink, in-house performances by local bands – are the exclusive releases themselves. These range from the unbelievably awesome (such as the rare Foo Fighters’ Laundry Room EP from a few years ago, featuring demos from their great first record) to the unbelievably gimmicky (such as last year’s reissue of Nilsson Schmilsson, pressed on split yellow / white vinyl – yours for only $80).

I’ve learnt over the last 10 years or so to steer away from the gimmicky cash-in releases (I had my eyes on that Nilsson Schmilsson record last year, as I didn’t have the album in my collection at the time, but found a nice second-hand copy in the wild just a few weeks later for $2). These days, I look at the list, spot one or two releases and look for them online. Yes, it defeats the purpose of the day – getting people in-store – but it’s not really a day for diehard record collectors, who prop up these shops the other 51 weekends of the year.

Some of my favourite releases over the last couple of years have been the alternate Fleetwood Mac records. Lifted from the material previously available on the Super Deluxe box sets, these exclusive RSD releases present demos and alternate takes for each album, with the songs presented in the same running order.

Record Store Day in 2016 gave us The Alternate Tusk, 2017 gave us this, Alternate Mirage (strangely without the definite article), and this year the release is The Alternate Tango In The Night. I’m really looking forward to hearing alternate takes of what is probably their polished, over-produced album.

With Lindsey Buckingham (reportedly) fired from the band, and replaced by Crowded House’s Neil Finn, and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, the alternate Fleetwood Mac will be touring the world later this year.

Hit: Gypsy

Hidden Gem: Can’t Go Back

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