Tag Archives: Shaft

Rocks In The Attic #740: The Radio Orchestra – ’50 Academy Award Winners’ (1984)

RITA#740As we’re well into award season, I thought I’d pull this one out of the racks.

Coming after the dreadful Themes record I posted about earlier this week, this is another LP that doesn’t contain the original versions. It’s an easy-listening orchestra doing the business this time though, not some over-eager chap with a Yamaha keyboard.

I do like this record though, for its completeness. Every song that won the Best Song Oscar since the awards category was established is covered here, from 1934’s The Continental (from the film Gay Divorcee), all the way up to 1983’s Flashdance.

Just hearing fifty years’ worth of film music is interesting, as the orchestral themes of the first half of the century start to drift into more popular musical styles in the latter half. I would have liked to have been in the studio when the Radio Orchestra recorded their funk-lite version of Isaac Hayes’ Shaft, the winning song from 1971.

There are plenty of hits here, from Over The Rainbow to Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera Sera), and Moon River to Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, but for a hidden gem I just had to select Three Coins In The Fountain. Not because I like the song – I’ve never seen the film, and I doubt I ever will – but it’s the song that Steve Martin starts singing to a bewildered audience on a coach in Planes, Trains & Automobiles before John Candy saves him by launching into the theme from The Flinstones.

Hit: White Christmas

Hidden Gem: Three Coins In The Fountain

Rocks In The Attic #550: White Zombie – ‘Astro-Creep 2000 – Songs Of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions Of The Electric Head’ (1995)

rita550In 1995, I used to spend most of my time in the common room at college, listening to rock and metal, and reading magazines like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. I’d attend lessons from time to time, but the highlight of my life at this point was sitting in the common room, my feet up, controlling the stereo, and sneering at anybody brave enough to try and put any Oasis on. Life goals!

We’d also shoot home movies during our free periods, soundtracked by the likes of White Zombie, and characterised by the usual kind of hi-jinks that sixteen year olds get up to. These Not So Vulgar Videos, as we titled them, are a great time capsule of my youth although I’m naturally ashamed at some of the content.

I don’t think I’d heard Astro Creep 2000 since going to University in 1996, and it being reissued on vinyl twenty years later. My musical tastes developed beyond metal rather quickly by the time I left college, and so I looked back on this album as a product of my naive adolescence.

Listening now, it’s interesting just how enjoyable the record is. I could do without some of Rob Zombie’s ‘Morris Dancing’ vocal rhythms – something that System Of A Down stole and made a career out of – but the songwriting, playing and production on this record is awesome. Of particular interest to me are the film dialogue samples employed throughout – from the likes of Dawn Of The Dead, The Omega Man, Shaft and The Haunting. No wonder I liked this sort of thing when I was sixteen.

Hit: More Human Than Human

Hidden Gem: Electric Head Pt. 1 (The Agony)

Rocks In The Attic #532: Bill Conti – ‘Rocky (O.S.T.)’ (1976)

rita532I love the Rocky films, particularly the first one. As with everything, it’s a case of ever-decreasing circles with the sequels. I haven’t caught Creed yet, the sixth sequel-cum-spinoff-cum-reboot, which I hear is supposed to be pretty decent (and earned Sylvester Stallone a Best Supporting Actor nod – the loss of which his brother didn’t take to kindly to).

I recently re-watched the first couple of films in the series, I and II, followed by Rocky Balboa (number six in the series). Comparing the original with the sequels, it really hits home that it would really have been better off all round had they not followed the first film. It was a Best Picture and Best Director winner remember, but its strength has been diminished over successive years with a string of lesser sequels.

Stallone is probably to blame. He deserves the credit for writing the original film, earning a Best Screenplay nomination as well as a Best Actor nod in the process. But he also wrote the next four films in the series, and seemed happy to portray the character and receive a bigger pay-check each time.

Even though I love the first film, it isn’t without its flaws. There’s one particularly cringeworthy scene where to show Rocky as a man of the neighbourhood, he’s seen running down the street playing with the local kids. The over-acting in this short moment unfortunately makes him look like a retarded man-child.

Aside from the rousing main title, Gonna Fly Now, this soundtrack is full of nice grooves. It officially comes under the banner of Philly Soul, but instrumental cuts like Reflections could easily have come out of Memphis’ Stax studios, particularly from Isaac Hayes’ superb Shaft soundtrack.

Hit: Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)

Hidden Gem: Reflections