Tag Archives: Withnail And I

Rocks In The Attic #672: Various Artists – ‘More Pennies From Heaven (O.S.T.)’ (1979)

RITA#672.jpgI think I might be reincarnated from some 1930’s Big Band musician or something; this kind of music really resonates with me for some reason. I always get the same feeling of intense familiarity when I hear Hang Out The Stars In Indiana from the Withnail & I soundtrack.

Either that, or I was asleep in my cot while my Mum & Dad watched this show after I was born in 1978. That sounds more believable I guess, with the old-timey music seeping into my DNA as they watched Bob Hoskins on the telly.

Hit: Cheek To Cheek – Lew Stone & His Band

Hidden Gem: Down Sunnyside Lane – Jack Payne & His BBC Dance Orchestra

Rocks In The Attic #534: Various Artists – ‘Clerks (O.S.T.)’ (1994)

rita534After finding Aerosmith – and starting to unlock the rest of the music world – in 1993, the following year was the first year where I completely submerged myself into this weird new world from the first day of January to the last day of December. As such, 1994 has really ended up becoming Year Zero for me.

If I see an album listed with the year 1994 in brackets after it, it instantly raises my eyebrows like a Roger Moore double entendre. It might not be the most attractive year to have as a starting point – by this time grunge was in a nursing home, and the empty and vacuous Britpop genre was starting to snowball in my native England – but you have to take what you’re given, don’t you?

I can’t remember when I saw Clerks – or even how I saw it – but it instantly became a favourite of mine along with Dazed And Confused from the prior year. Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater really became the spokesmen for those post-grunge, slacker times. They’ve both creeped more and more into the mainstream with every release since, but both of these films were really regarded as the embodiment of the counterculture in the early- to mid-‘90s.
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Of the two, I feel the most let down by Kevin Smith. His output has been very patchy since, to such an extent that I gave up on him altogether after 2010’s Cop Out. Linklater, meanwhile, has taken the Steven Soderbergh route of just trying to do something different with every film (okay, let’s ignore Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, the Ocean’s Eleven sequels and a few other duffers). Anybody who goes to the effort of directing Boyhood, a film where the principal photography was spread out over eleven years, deserves major respect.

Of course, the magic in Clerks and Dazed And Confused is in the scripts, and both films stand up really well to the other well-scripted comedies I would watch endlessly around this time: This Is Spinal Tap and Withnail & I.

Hit: Clerks – Love Among Freaks

Hidden Gem: Chewbacca – Supernova

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Rocks In The Attic #292: Various Artists – ‘The Doctor Who 25th Anniversary Album’ (1988)

RITA#292A quarter of a century ago – talk about travelling through time! A relic from my childhood, I remember buying this on vinyl when I was ten years old and very much into Dr. Who. If I remember correctly, I bought it from WH Smith on Market Street in Oldham – and I can almost picture the corner of the store where the music section was.

Sadly this album is also a relic of the era when Dr. Who was very, very naff – the era of the seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy. A couple of years ago I met the man himself, together with his second companion Sophie “Ace” Aldred at a convention. I really wasn’t that excited to meet him – almost as if I blamed him personally for being a lame duck Doctor. Sophie Aldred was still as hot as hell though.

And anyway, I was more excited about meeting the eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, sat further along the signing table. It wasn’t his connection to Dr. Who I was bothered about – it was his role as the titular “I” (or Marwood) in Withnail And I. McGann autographed a black and white publicity still from the film, scrawled “PONCE”, and drew an arrow to his character. Fantastic!

But anyway, back to Dr. Who. This album of incidental music from the McCoy years (bookended by some earlier versions of the title theme) is delightfully naff. It’s almost nostalgically naff – and that’s the one thing that’s wrong about the current incarnation of the series on the TV at the moment. It’s too modern, too sexy and just not naff enough.

I have other problems with the modern Dr. Who – the absence of cliffhanger endings, the overuse of the Daleks, the fact that the Doctor can now control where the TARDIS lands, the overuse of the sonic screwdriver as deus ex machina – but I guess overall it’s just too damn slick.

Stop messing with my childhood, BBC. It’s Dr. Who – it’s supposed to be a bit crappy!

Hit: Dr. Who (1980)

Hidden Gem: Gavrok’s Search

Rocks In The Attic #233: Various Artists – ‘Withnail And I (O.S.T.)’ (1987)

RITA#233In memory of the recently departed Richard Griffiths. Monty, you cunt!

Earlier in the year, I got an email newsletter from Amoebe Records in San Fransciso, the world-famous record store. They had one copy of this soundtrack album, on vinyl, still sealed. I jumped at the chance to buy it – but the newsletter would have gone to thousands of people around the world, right? There was no chance it’d still be available, but it was, and I’m listening to it right now.

The reason I was so eager to get my hands on this soundtrack was that for a very long time, it’s been out of print. The estate of Jimi Hendrix pulled the release because they didn’t want his music to be associated with a film depicting drug use. I guess they should have thought about that when they licensed his two songs to be used in the film in the first place, but maybe that was just an oversight.

I don’t think this is the original release from 1987. I don’t think it would have spent so long, sealed, in such a high-profile record store. Instead, I think it might be a reissue, especially since it’s on DRG Records, a New York label, rather than the original 1987 release on the British Silva Screen Records imprint.

The two Hendrix songs, All Along The Watchtower and Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), used so devastatingly in the film, are replaced here with inferior live versions (possibly as an attempt to get past Hendrix’s estate?), so it’s not a perfect reproduction of the film’s soundtrack. The 1931 song Hang Out The Stars In Indiana, used to soundtrack Withnail, Marwood and Monty’s trip into Penryth ‘to get fitted with some good quality rubber boots’ is also dreadfully cut short to only what you hear in the film, so they’ve taken a few liberties in compiling this album.

Before I left the UK, I bought a bootleg version of the soundtrack on CD, subtitled The Embalmer, from a guy on eBay who, as it turned out, lived around the corner from me in Chorlton. A quick Google search suggests that this is now a well-sought after item, and it should be – it has all the instrumental score sections used in the film, together with all the unabridged, original versions of the ‘pop’ songs used in the film.

I can’t say enough about the film, Withnail And I. Ever since I saw it on the big screen at University (as part of our Film Society, although it did have a minor re-release in the UK at that time around 1999), it’s been a constant favourite of mine. I think I’ve owned it on all home video formats over the years too. I originally bought it on VHS, then on DVD, and now I own a Blu-Ray copy autographed by Paul McGann from a couple of years ago when I saw a screening in Auckland in which he was in attendance.

As far as scripts go, Bruce Robinson’s script for Withnail And I might be almost perfect. It’s of such high quality, that it’s intensely rewarding for repeat viewings, and for me is up there with This Is Spinal Tap – even if it isn’t lauded as much as that film.

Hit: While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles

Hidden Gem: Marwood Walks – David Dundas & Rick Wentworth