Tag Archives: Steve Martin

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 #433: Ray Charles – ‘Tell The Truth’ (1984)

RITA#433A great mid-‘80s compilation of everybody’s favourite saxophonist (?!?!?) Ray Charles, I bought this after What’d I Say got stuck in my head once. I picked up the 7” of What’d I Say, but I needed more. And this gave me everything I needed – his band-stomping singles throughout the 1950s. Rock n’ roll in everything but name, before rock n’ roll even existed.

I’d always loved Mess Around ever since I’d seen John Candy come across it on a late-night radio station in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. It’s a great scene, with Candy playing air piano, air saxophone and generally having a great old time while Steve Martin slept in the seat next to him.

Some of these singles have aged a little better than others. I’ve Got A Woman sounds like it was written yesterday; helped along by Kanye West’s recent “re-imagining” of the song with Jamie Foxx. On the other hand, a song like It Should’ve Been Me sounds like it’s stuck in the 1950s; the sound of a musical artist filling the need for material, maybe just doing what’s asked of him, while still trying to find his true voice.

That voice was well and truly in place by the time That’s Enough came around in 1959. Just six years after he exploded onto the R&B charts with Mess Around, Ray sounds masterful.

But What’d I Say? Man, I could listen to that electric piano intro on a loop for the rest of my life and I’d never get bored of it.

Hit: I’ve Got A Woman

Hidden Gem: Losing Hand