Tag Archives: Grand Theft Auto

Rocks In The Attic #627: Jean-Michel Jarre – ‘Oxygène’ (1976)

RITA#627It is the year 1976. Or should that be 2076?

Oxygène Part IV – another song recently utilised to great effect on the Grand Theft Auto soundtracks, on the similarly numbered GTA IV.

This record features no song-titles, just Oxygène parts I through VI. In 1997, Jarre released a follow-up, Oxygène 7 – 13, and he’s still going strong, recently releasing Oxygène 3 in 2016, which features Oxygène parts 14 to 20.

Here’s to synths, futuristic French musicians, and a lazy song-numbering system.

Hit: Oxygène Part IV

Hidden Gem: Oxygène Part VI

Rocks In The Attic #451: Cliff Martinez – ‘Drive (O.S.T.)’ (2011)

RITA#450Drive was my film of the year in 2011. Anybody who has spent a good deal of time playing Grand Theft Auto since the game-changing third iteration of the series in 2001 should like Drive. In fact, if they licensed it as a Grand Theft Auto film, it’d probably be the best video game adaptation ever to set foot in cinemas.

The film has a great cast – Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, and Oscar Issac (General Organa’s most daring pilot) – and a fairly simple plot, revolving around a stunt-driving anti-hero pulled into the world of small-time mobsters.

One of the standout aspects of the film though is the music. Cliff Martinez – a former Red Hot Chili Pepper – always constructs his scores around the feel of a film, rather than writing the music to fit certain cues, and Drive displays this approach perfectly. It doesn’t sound too far away from video gae music in fact. The ‘80s tinged vocal tracks which kick off the soundtrack are mesmerising in their effortless simplicity and sheer coolness. They fit perfectly with Ladyhawke’s eponymous 2008 debut album – another retro sounding record which helped bring the ‘80s back into the zeitgeist.

If there was ever a film that made me want imitate art, it’s this one. Although, finding a reason to evade police in a fast car, while wearing driving gloves and a white satin jacket with a scorpion on the back, might not be the easiest thing to do.

Hit: Nightcall – Kavinsky

Hidden Gem: Tick Of The Clock – The Chromatics

Rocks In The Attic #449: Toto – ‘Toto IV’ (1982)

RITA#449Africa has a permanent place in my favourite songs of all time. I’ve always liked it, but its inclusion on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City secured its spot in my list of guilty pleasures. Another reason why it’s such a great song is this incredible rendition of it by Perpetuum Jazzile – a vocal group from Slovenia. How clever is that?

What other song rhymes the word ‘company’ with the word ‘serengeti’? It’s just ridiculous. They should have rhymed ‘spaghetti’ with ‘serengeti’ – although quite how they could have explained why they were eating pasta on an African safari is anybody’s guess.

I was lucky (?) enough to see a couple of songs from this record – Rosanna and Africa – performed by Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band in 2012. At the time, Steve Lukather was one of the guitarists in the extremely soft-rock tinged band (alongside Todd Rundgren, Richard Page from Mr. Mister and Gregg Rolie from Santana and Kansas). By Lukather’s own admission on the night, Toto amounted to “party music” – “Hey Auckland – who wants to hear some party music?!?!?” – and he was right. Of all the covers played by the band that night, the Toto songs – Rosanna and Africa, naturally – really got the crowd on their feet.

I imagine this record was massive when it was released in 1982. People would have bought it for the hit singles that bookend the album, but the rest of the songs are great. I Won’t Hold You Back was sampled by Roger Sanchez on his 2001 number one Another Chance, and Make Believe also has a GTA connection, being picked up for the Vice City Stories soundtrack.

However, it was another album released around this time that overshadowed Toto IV. Once the album was in the can, the band delayed touring so that they could play on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, creating a beast of a record and making Lukather one of the hottest players in the world.

Hit: Africa

Hidden Gem: It’s A Feeling

Rocks In The Attic #189: The Pointer Sisters – ‘Break Out’ (1983)

RITA#189This album (credited to ‘Pointer Sisters’, without the definitive article) just makes me happy. It’s chock-full of hits – Jump, Automatic, Neutron Dance – and is just a very happy record, bringing the positive demeanour of 1970’s soul into the 1980s.

Being a child of the ‘80s, I recognise Neutron Dance from Beverly Hills Cop (it’s the energetic song that opens the film, as Eddie Murphy is hanging off the back of the truck full of stolen cigarettes), but Jump is still played regularly on the radio (despite its ‘revival’ by Girls Aloud and that version appearing in Love Actually). It’s the song Automatic that is the highlight of the album for me though. I knew the song before it appeared in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but like most of the songs on that soundtrack, the song now reminds me so much of the video game that I find it hard to disassociate the two.

The Pointer Sisters recently played in New Zealand (around the same time that Bonnie Pointer, one of the original members of the band, had been arrested in LA for possession of crack cocaine). Only one of the original four sisters was present, which kind of speaks for itself. I didn’t go and see them, as I truly believed I would have been disappointed – these revival tours can be really damaging to the memory and nostalgia you can have for a band. My love for Blondie has barely survived seeing the band play live twice in the last decade, and I wouldn’t want the same thing to happen here.

Hit: Jump

Hidden Gem: Nightline

Rocks In The Attic #126: The Edgar Winter Group – ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ (1972)

Rocks In The Attic #126: The Edgar Winter Group - ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ (1972)Ah, Edgar Winter, my favourite albino multi-instrumentalist.

For about three decades I’d say Frankenstein was the hit of this album. It was a US#1, it’s a truly fantastic song, and remains firmly as one of my favourite instrumentals. However, over the last ten or so years, Free Ride has really emerged as the standout track on this album. I’m not sure why, but it seems to encapsulate the 70s better than Frankenstein does. Frankenstein is just sick, to borrow the common parlance of today, but Free Ride is much more accessible. Ask a teenager today, and I reckon they’ll recognise Free Ride, but not Frankenstein.

I first heard Free Ride on the soundtrack to Richard Linklater’s Dazed And Confused. Since then, I’ve heard it on the soundtracks to countless films – it even popped up on one of the classic rock radio stations on a recent Grand Theft Auto video game. It straddles the fence between 70s pop silliness and edgy, ambiguous progressive rock, with that atmospheric break before the end of the song.

I can’t remember when I first heard Frankenstein though. I remember owning it on the soundtrack to one of the Wayne’s World films, but I’d heard it long before then. I remember having it on cassette at some point in my childhood – and I think I had presumed it was a TV or film theme. It could be really – it fits perfectly alongside those jazzy 70s TV themes by the likes of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

Hit: Free Ride

Hidden Gem: Alta Mira

Rocks In The Attic #118: Flowers – ‘Icehouse’ (1980)

Rocks In The Attic #118: Flowers - ‘Icehouse’ (1980)Australian synth-pop band Icehouse were originally called Flowers, for this, their debut release. They changed their name to the title of this album not long after, and they’re still called that today.

With a sound not too dissimilar to fellow New Wave bands like Martha & The Muffins, Devo and Flock of Seagulls, they sound pretty cutting-edge for 1980, especially for a backwater country like Australia. Like most New Wave bands, you can hear the Bowie and Lou Reed influences dripping out of the stereo. They actually remind of the sort of bands that feature on the New Wave radio station in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Their two later singles – Hey Little Girl and Great Southern Land – would make them world famous a few years later. Well, world famous in the South Pacific, if you can call that fame.

Hit: We Can Get Together

Hidden Gem: Icehouse

Rocks In The Attic #25: Lionel Richie – ‘Can’t Slow Down’ (1983)

Rocks In The Attic #25: Lionel Richie - ‘Can’t Slow Down’ (1983)I’m not sure why I have this – I think it may have something I pilfered from my parent’s collection when I was starting to listen to vinyl in a big way. For years it remained on my shelf, unlistened to, and then I noticed it had a song – Running With The Night – that featured on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I’m glad I finally listened to it, as the rest of the album isn’t half-bad.

Bookended by his big US #1 solo hits – All Night Long (All Night) and Hello – the album is his second solo output after leaving The Commodores, and is full of hits. Each of the five singles taken from the album charted in the US Top 10 – not a bad start for somebody described by one critic as ‘the black Barry Manilow’.

My good friend Roger used to use a ticket stub from a Lionel Richie concert as a bookmark, mainly as a conversation starter to meet girls on the train during his commute to work. Apparently it worked most of the time.

Hit: Hello

Hidden Gem: Running With The Night