Tag Archives: Nana Mouskouri

Rocks In The Attic #572: Various Artists – ‘Fletch (O.S.T.)’ (1985)

rita572Record collecting can be a rollercoaster of emotions. On the two vinyl collecting groups on Facebook that I hang around in, I regularly see posts from members who have bought something amazing, for next to nothing, from a charity shop / thrift store / op-shop (depending on where they are in the world).

These minor hauls are usually a random bunch of records, in perfect condition, that somebody has just donated to the store for reasons unknown. The accompanying photograph shows the records in all their pristine glory – first pressings of Beatles records, or a bunch of early Pink Floyd albums, or something unattainable like a plum Atlantic pressing of Led Zeppelin’s debut with turquoise lettering.

You want to be happy for the person posting their good news, but an overwhelming pang of jealousy kicks in and you want to kill the bastard instead. Why does this never happen to me, you ask yourself, as you recall the countless times you’ve sifted through the records at op-shops across New Zealand and found nothing better than the ingredients for a Nana Mouskouri / Harry Secombe  / James Last mash-up.

Recently my fortunes changed. I visited a new op-shop in my home town; a store that used to be a guitar shop until it closed down last year. I ventured into the shop cautiously and saw a bunch of records displayed on the racks that the previous shop used to display sheet music. There they were, the usual suspects; records that won’t sell in a million years. I picked up a Carly Simon compilation, and quickly put it down when I noticed the $12 price tag. Ouch! A cursory look told me that the pricing was wildly inconsistent – some were a dollar or two, some were over ten bucks.

Then I saw it, the soundtrack to one of my favourite ‘80s comedies – Fletch, starring Chevy Chase. And for the princely sum of two hundred New Zealand cents. It might not be a turquoise Led Zeppelin, but it was something I’d been looking for in the racks ever since I started purposefully collecting records in the late ‘90s.

Of course I could have easily found the record on Discogs, the global repository for record collecting, but there’s something about the thrill of finding a record in the wild. I really couldn’t believe my luck, although I’m sure nobody will share my enthusiasm for such a record.

Released a year after Beverly Hills Cop, the score to Fletch was also composed by Harold Faltermeyer – a very hot property around that mid-‘80s period. The soundtrack collects four songs performed by him, alongside a batch of typically nondescript ‘80s pop songs (a couple of which are produced by Faltermeyer). I even like these songs, by the likes of Stephanie Mills, Kim Wilde and John Farnham, as they’re just so linked to the film in my brain. Whenever I listen to Dan Hartman’s Fletch, Get Outta Town, I immediately think of Chevy Chase commandeering a sports car. Harold Faltermeyer’s Diggin’ In reminds me of Chase snooping around an office looking for clues just before being chased out of the property by a Doberman (if there were two dogs, would they be Dobermen?).

As a comedy of the 1980s, Fletch wasn’t by any means a commercial success. It isn’t Ghostbusters or The Blues Brothers or Beverly Hills Cop, but I love it. For me, it symbolises the time when I would record films off the television, to re-watch endlessly, using the VCR in my bedroom. On a four hour tape, I would record Fletch and then wait for months for the 1989 sequel, Fletch Lives, to be aired so I could record it straight after.

Hit: Bit By Bit (Theme From Fletch) – Stephanie Mills

Hidden Gem: Fletch Theme – Harold Faltermeyer

Rocks In The Attic #513: Geoff Love & His Orchestra – ‘Big Bond Movie Themes’ (1975)

RITA#513a.jpgThere’s a reason that Geoff Love isn’t remembered as a great conductor. He and his orchestra had a tidy little earner recording easy listening versions of film themes, commonly released on the Music For Pleasure label. Anything that was cool about the original source material was stripped away, and all that remains is a schmaltzy version of something that sounds weirdly familiar. It’s the same result as you would expect if James Last recorded the collected works of Kraftwerk, or if Nana Mouskouri covered Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

Of course, the Bond films were full of the odd bit of lounge music, so some of it doesn’t sound too far from the truth. John Barry’s scores are full of tiny snippets of easy listening, usually to soundtrack the moment when Bond is about to bed an exotic looking broad. As a result, Geoff Love’s version of the Thunderball theme sounds like it could have been lifted right off the soundtrack to Barry’s Diamonds Are Forever score, particularly the sections set in the Las Vegas casinos. And a theme as eternally cool as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service could be covered by anybody and it’d still be a thousand times cooler than most other pieces of recorded music.

Still, record collecting gives you the opportunity to pick up little curios in charity shops like this for next to nothing. We always had a copy of Geoff Love’s collection of sci-fi themes next to our record player when I was growing up; it’s now long-gone but I’m sure I’ll find a copy of it one day for next to nothing.

RITA#513bWhilst trying to find a photo cover of Love’s Bond compilation to accompany this blog, I found that there are two covers. The original cover features the likenesses of Roger Moore, Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, while the second pressing – the version I have in my collection – has all of these faces either completely obscured (poor Roger) or completely altered. I’m guessing that Music For Pleasure didn’t do their due diligence when it came to securing the rights for what was essentially an unofficial cash-in on EON’s intellectual property.

Hit: The James Bond Theme

Hidden Gem: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Rocks In The Attic #463: Bill Cosby – ‘I Started Out As A Child’ (1964)

RITA#463A couple of weeks ago, Real Groovy, the largest record store in Auckland moved sites – just across the road, in fact – due to their long-standing premises being redeveloped into city apartments (what else?). They took this opportunity to clear the decks and run a record sale to get rid of all the bottom-end stock. $1 a record, or 50 for $25. That’s 50c a record! I couldn’t pass this up.

There was a lot of junk in there though – I even saw the most copies of a Nana Mouskouri record in one place I’m ever likely to see:

RITA#463a(Side note – was Nana Mouskouri just decades ahead with her look? Those spectacles always defined her, but they don’t look much different to the styles of today).

To reach 50 records was a really hard slog, especially as it’s the middle of summer here. Thankfully I managed to find records I was at least interested in, or looked interesting. One thing that did help in terms of sheer numbers was that I found an almost complete Bill Cosby stand-up collection in decent condition.

Which leads me to the moral question – is it still okay to listen to Bill Cosby? As my friend Krista recently pointed out, Cosby was the greatest TV Dad of the late 1980s, which is why it’s so sad to hear all the allegations against him. The mounting evidence doesn’t look good; but if you stopped listening to artists because of what they do in their private life, then your record collection might be a constantly shrinking concern.

You’d have to throw those Beatles records away of course, due to the antics of self-confessed wife beater John Lennon, and the Who would be off limits because of Pete Townshend’s arrest. Oh, hang on, that was for “research”, wasn’t it?

I admit I’m rather partial to a bit of Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part Two, and who doesn’t go teary-eyed when they hear Rolf Harris’ Two Little Boys? If you took everything into consideration, you’d have to boycott Roman Polanski films too – so no Chinatown, no Frantic or The Pianist. And those Tippi Hedren allegations against Hitchcock might rule his films out too. Screw that. I think I’d rather be a walking contradiction – consuming their art with one side of my brain and trying my best to ignore their private lives with the other.

This is Cosby’s second album, released in 1964, but the first to include stories of his childhood which he would cover throughout most of his career, not least on 1968’s To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With. There’s a weird coliseum echo on the album, which kind of makes it even more authentic and of its time, and as with most stand-up comedy from that era, it’s not offensive or vulgar; just charming.

Cosby’s album titles make me laugh though – they sound like confessions that the prosecution team might take as evidence of his wrongdoing. I can imagine the following dialogue in court:

Prosecutor: Mr. Cosby, can you tell us when your offending began?

Cosby: I Started Out As A Child.

Prosecutor: I see. And is there any particular person in your childhood you would blame?

Cosby: My Father Confused Me… What Must I Do? What Must I Do?

Prosecutor: Interesting. Is there anybody else in your family you would point to?

Cosby: To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With.

Prosecutor: Your own brother? You can’t expect us to believe your younger brother is at fault.

Cosby: It’s True, It’s True.

Prosecutor: And what was your motivation for the offending?

Cosby: Revenge.

Prosecutor: Against women in general, or against your family?

Cosby: Those of You With Or Without Children, You’ll Understand.

Prosecutor: Please don’t address the jury, Mr. Cosby. Now, can you point to where this…sickness originated?

Cosby: Inside The Mind Of Bill Cosby.

Prosecutor: Are you saying that you weren’t thinking rationally at the time of the wrongdoing?

Cosby: Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days.

Defence: Your honour, my client pleads insanity.

Judge: Order! Order! Order in my courtroom!

*

Hit: Sneakers

Hidden Gem: Street Football

Rocks In The Attic #431: America – ‘History – America’s Greatest Hits’ (1975)

RITA#431The thrift stores / charity shops in New Zealand aren’t great. We call them op shops here, short for ‘opportunity’. I’m not really sure why. I guess it’s like jandals (flip-flops) and trundlers (trolleys) – they just decided on their own name when they started up over here.

I check the op shops every now and again, but aside from a face-full of Nana Mouskouri (and what a face!), I tend to leave empty-handed with dirty hands and a smell of dead people in my nostrils. Fingering Nana Mouskouri seldom has its rewards. I might find an album like this for a dollar; and of course the name of the producer on the back (the Beatles’ George Martin) means that a dollar will be well-spent.

If you look at George Martin’s post-Beatles’ career in the ‘70s, there seems to be a lot of material along the lines of America – safe AOR, possibly more suited to Martin’s age at the time. All accomplished musicians but hardly anything to rock the boat. He probably deserved something a little stressful after revolutionising recording techniques with the fab four. This was like his retirement. It was either this or cruising.

Oddly, the artwork for the album cover was by Phil Hartman, at the time a little-known artist who would end up on Saturday Night Live and on the early seasons of the Simpsons as Troy McClure. Hartman was eventually murdered by his wife in the middle of the night in 1998.

Gun-control might make America the country very dangerous, but America the band are very safe. It’s almost impossible to believe that George Martin produced them, given how similar every song sounds production-wise. They’re well recorded of course, but there’s just no production.  I think I bought this record on the same day as I bought Seals & Croft’s Greatest Hits, a collection of similarly radio-friendly hits and Chicago’s X album. They were probably from the same person’s collection. It’s nice that I was able to keep them together.

Hit: Horse With No Name

Hidden Gem: Woman Tonight

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)