Against the Wind
All This & World War II
City of Angels
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I ♥ Huckabees
Against the Wind (1978, 44.33) ***/½
|Against the Wind (Theme)
Seeds of Fire (Sentencing and Transportation)
Unfinished Theme (Run for Dignity)
Six Ribbons (the Courtship)
The March of the Kings of Laois
Waltz Theme (the Women Are Chosen)
|Dinny and Ngilgi
Main Theme Major (the Wedding)
Death or Liberty (the Castle Hill Rebellion and Consequences)
Against the Wind was an iconic late '70s Australian historical TV series, concerning events early in the country's colonisation, starring Jon English (who also sings on the soundtrack). A certain Mario Millo (Sebastian Hardie, Windchase) was involved with the music, too, writing or co-writing (with English) most of the soundtrack, which is a pretty decent effort, utilising Celtic themes in places, accentuating their country's Scots and Irish heritage. I believe Six Ribbons was a hit for English; a ballad (of course), it's pretty harmless compared to many similar. In fact, I can hear this being tackled by Fairport Convention, should they ever become aware of its existence.
Someone (probably Millo) plays Mellotron on Seeds Of Fire, which opens with an unmistakeable 'Tron flute melody, although that would seem to be your lot. Why use it there when there's a flautist on the album? Who knows? I doubt if anyone concerned could actually remember after all this time, even if I were able to ask. Anyway, probably rather inessential for non-Aussies; actually, probably rather inessential if you are, really. Next to bugger-all Mellotron, either way.
See: Jon English | Sebastian Hardie
All This & World War II (1976, 96.48) **/½
Magical Mystery Tour
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight
I am the Walrus
She's Leaving Home
When I'm Sixty-Four
Let it Be
With a Little Help From My
Lynsey De Paul:
She Came in Through the
We Can Work it Out
The Fool on the Hill
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
The Long and Winding Road
Strawberry Fields Forever
A Day in the Life
Wil Malone & Lou Reizner:
You Never Give Me Your Money
London Symphony Orchestra:
All This & World War II (geddit? No? Never mind...) is the soundtrack to one of the more pointless films to come out of the '70s (or so I'm told - I've never seen it), apparently consisting of loads of World War II footage set to a soundtrack of Beatles covers. Um, why? Said covers were mostly recorded for the film, and are mostly pretty duff, lightweight versions with orchestral accompaniment, which does few of the tracks any favours. The artist selection is slightly odd, too; Richard Cocciante? Who he? Several flavour of the month types like David Essex and Leo Sayer, too, the latter with no less than three blandola contributions, as have the bloody Bee Gees, caught just as they entered their horrid disco phase.
In my youth, as a fanatical Status Quo fan (they were actually really good once - honest!), I actually bought this for their contribution, Getting Better, only to find that, despite presumably having been recorded recently, it actually sounded like their early cod-psych days; something of a disappointment. Now being older and wiser (?!), and having not played the bugger all the way through for many, many years, I'm more interested in hearing what Peter Gabriel did with Strawberry Fields Forever, or the barely-known-outside-the-States Ambrosia with Magical Mystery Tour (passable version, too much orchestra), but as with the Quo track, it's all pretty disappointing, to be honest.
I only played this again on spec, wondering if there might be any Mellotronic input, as you do - well, as I do. Sad fuck. Anyway, the only track that I know to have been recorded earlier ("Here's one I did earlier?"), Elton John's killer version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (no, really) is smothered in 'Tron flutes and strings, but is easily otherwise available, while Ambrosia's aforementioned Magical Mystery Tour is largely orchestral, except at the end, where a few seconds of (presumably) Chamberlin strings (from Christopher North?) can be heard over some nicely high-in-the-mix Taurus pedals, providing the nearest this album gets to 'prog' (and it ain't that near).
Amazingly, this has just been released on (double) CD, but I can't honestly recommend it; almost every track is a dull, watered-down version of the original, with about the only even remotely interesting arrangement quirk being the odd bar of I Want You (She's So Heavy) thrown into The Four Seasons' otherwise super-bland We Can Work It Out. So; apart from Elt's track, there's about three seconds of probable Chamby strings here. Just don't.
See: Beatles | Ambrosia | Elton John | Bee Gees | Leo Sayer | Bryan Ferry | Electric Light Orchestra | Peter Gabriel
Baraka: Music From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1993, 47.55) ***/T
Dead Can Dance:
The Host of Seraphim
|Anugama & Sebastiano:
David Hykes/The Harmonic Choir:
Monk With Bell
Broken Vows/A Prayer Of Kala Rupa/An Daorach Bheag
Baraka apparently bears similarity with Koyaanisqatsi, scored by Philip Glass, largely due to being directed by Ron Fricke, a cinematographer on that film. I haven't seen it, but its time-lapse techniques sound familiar, which isn't to say there isn't a lot more mileage to be had from them. Its score is suitably ethnic, largely written and recorded by ambient composer Michael Stearns, giving a reasonable idea of how the film might look, which makes it a successful soundtrack, I suppose. The mighty Dead Can Dance are also featured; now if ever a band should've used a Mellotron...
Mike Pinder (Moody Blues, of course) is credited with both Mellotron and Chamberlin on the soundtrack, although it's difficult to tell where they might be used. The strings on L. Subramaniam's Wandering Saint and Stearns' Finale are probably Chamby, but Mellotron? A mistake in the credits? That isn't why you'd want to hear this, anyway; it's more an album for soundtrack fans or those who like to listen to Western interpretations of various ethnic musics.
See: Mike Pinder
Boogie Nights (1997, 50.40) ***/T
|John C. Reilly & Mark Wahlberg:
Intro (Feel the Heat)
Best of My Love
Brand New Key
Spill the Wine
Got to Give it Up (Part 1)
Magnet and Steel
McFadden & Whitehead:
Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now
Electric Light Orchestra:
The Beach Boys:
God Only Knows
Michael Penn & Patrick Warren:
The Big Top (Theme From Boogie Nights)
Boogie Nights was an excellent film; a Mark Wahlberg (Rock Star) vehicle, it lampooned the late '70s disco scene beautifully, in all its hedonistic, coked-up glory. The talented Michael Penn was brought in to soundtrack it, but for reasons unknown, most of his incidental music didn't make it to either of the soundtrack albums released, in favour of a bunch of contemporaneous hits (and the sublime God Only Knows, of course) that the producers hoped would sell the albums. Idiocy.
Anyway, the one piece that made the final cut was The Big Top (Theme From Boogie Nights), performed by Penn and Patrick Warren, consisting of several minutes of weird, vaguely circusy music, played on a wobbly organ and one or more Chamberlins, with plenty of flutes and strings, with a lengthy solo passage on the latter, plus what sounds like real brass. The second half of the near-ten minute track is taken up with Wahlberg messing about, as on the album's opener, Intro (Feel The Heat), playing and singing along with a record. I forget the scene, but it makes me want to see the film again.
So; one great Chamby tracks and a bunch of '70s and '80s mainstream pop/rock. I'd try to find the track online, if I were you.
See: Michael Penn | War | Marvin Gaye | Electric Light Orchestra | Beach Boys
City of Angels (1998, 72.08) ***/½
If God Will Send His Angels
John Lee Hooker:
Mama, You Got a Daughter
Goo Goo Dolls:
Further on Up the Road
An Angel Falls
The Unfeeling Kiss
City of Angels
The City of Angels soundtrack is apparently revered in 'the biz' for the phenomenally successful marketing strategy used to sell what is, essentially, a various artists compilation. Two of its contributors, Alanis Morissette and the Goo Goo Dolls (of whom it has been said, who?) sold not only a great many copies of this, but also of their own records on the back of it, so big smiles all round. As far as we here are concerned, though, the only point of the album is the four tracks of Gabriel Yared's slushy incidental music tacked on the end as an afterthought, although the bulk of the album does actually contain a couple of worthwhile tracks, just for once.
Damir Prcic and Paul Kimble are both credited with Chamberlin, although I can't say there's an awful lot of it to be heard, with the only even possible parts being some distant choirs (sounding more like a Mellotron) on The Unfeeling Kiss and the title track and the credited string part on Jude's insipid I Know. I know a Chamby can sound an awful lot like real strings, but the strings on the rest of these tracks sound exactly like real ones, to the point where that's quite clearly what they are. So; despite a few reasonable tracks, I can hardly recommend this, largely due to the practically non-existent Chamberlin.
See: Alanis Morissette | Sarah McLachlan | Peter Gabriel | U2
Donnie Darko (2002, 35.15) ***½/T
The Tangent Universe
The Artifact and Living
Philosophy of Time Travel
Liquid Spear Waltz
Burn it to the Ground
Waltz in the 4th Dimension
Did You Know Him?
Mad World (alternate mix)
Donnie Darko is the kind of film that picks up fanatical fans, who dissect it to the nth degree, trying to fathom the plot's complexities. I haven't seen it (not a great film watcher, you may've noticed), so whether it would have the same effect on me is, as yet, unknown. The soundtrack is somewhat on the confusing side, as it's been released in two entirely different versions, one of the mainstream songs included in the film and one of the incidental music, which is the one that interests us here. It actually sounds like a soundtrack, which makes a nice change, with a series of suitably dark, short, instrumental pieces, ending with Gary Jules' by-now overly-familiar version of Tears for Fears' Mad World.
Responsibility for the soundtrack was handed to Michael Andrews, along with a minuscule budget, leading to him playing most of the instrumentation himself, including Mellotron, although I've no idea whether or not he used a real one. Anyway, we get flutes on The Artifact And Living and Rosie Darko, although it's possible it's hidden away elsewhere, too. Overall, then, an interesting, claustrophobic score; just chop the last two songs off for the perfect soundtrack experience.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, 57.04) ***½/T½
Electric Light Orchestra:
Mr Blue Sky
Light & Day
It's the Sun
Wada Na Tod
Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes
Some Kinda Shuffle
Howard Makes it All Go Away
A Dream Upon Waking
The Strings That Tie to You
Down the Drain
Chamberlin (?) used:
The estimable Jon Brion was brought in to soundtrack Michel Gondry's excellent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film of considerable quirk. The first time I saw it I spent the first ten minutes moaning that 'it's just some crapola love story'. Then it got weird, despite Jim Carrey's starring role. Then again, remember The Truman Show? I've even seen this described as 'science fiction'; I suppose it does have vague SF elements to it, but it ain't exactly Star Trek...
Anyway, Brion's soundtrack includes several songs from old Hindi films, a couple each by The Polyphonic Spree (including ex-Tripping Daisy members), The Willowz and Don Nelson and ELO's creaky Mr Blue Sky, even though it doesn't appear in the final version of the film. One of its highlights, however, has to be Beck's version of The Korgis' sublime Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes (ex-Stackridge, fact fans); you really can't go wrong with a great song... Unsurprisingly, Brion gets some Chamberlin in there, with warbling flutes, pitchbent to a stop on Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes, solo female voice on A Dream Upon Waking and cranky flutes on The Strings That Tie To You, although it may well crop up elsewhere; you know how it is with Chambys... And is that an Optigan I hear on a few tracks?
Anyway, some interesting mood music mixed with some rather unnecessary contemporary stuff; typical modern soundtrack, then. Actually, most modern soundtracks skip the 'interesting mood music' bit altogether and just feature a run of shite pop and rock songs with only a tangential link to the film, if any at all, so we should be grateful that this one actually sounds like the film.
See: Jon Brion | Electric Light Orchestra | Beck
Godzilla: The Album (1998, 59.12) ***/TT½
Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page:
Come With Me
Rage Against the Machine:
Ben Folds Five:
|Days of the New:
Macy Day Parade
Walk the Sky
Brain Stew" (the Godzilla Remix)
Looking for Clues
The American 1998 remake of Godzilla was a pretty stinky effort, all things considered; merely so-so CGI, poor storyline, iffy acting... The film eventually made a profit, but couldn't be considered a runaway success. Its soundtrack album is full of the usual dodgy remakes, although at least that's preferable to just re-running 'classics', I suppose. The best-known (and worst) is Puff Daddy (as he was known at the time)'s appalling Kashmir remake, titled Come With Me, featuring Jimmy Page on guitar; it's essentially an instrumental version of the track with the Puffster grunting some bollocks over the iconic riff for no obvious reason. It played over the end credits, as far as I can remember, also for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Benmont Tench, from Tom Petty's band, plays Chamberlin on a few of the new recordings, presumably brought in to give some sort of sonic consistency to the project. Anyway, we get strings and cellos on The Wallflowers' Bowie cover, Heroes (actually played by Patrick Warren), Michael Penn's Macy Day Parade, the Foo Fighters' A320, plus flutes on Silverchair's imaginatively-titled Untitled, although it's possible there's more hidden away here and there.
Overall, then, a halfway house between the 'old faves' type of soundtrack and the 'incidental music' variety, with several Chamberlin-heavy tracks, which isn't to say you'll necessarily want to listen to them. More tape-replay than expected, though.
See: Wallflowers | Ben Folds | Michael Penn | Foo Fighters
Hard Eight [a.k.a. Sydney] (1996, 24.58) ***/TT½
|Cash to Tokens
Tokens to Cash
Sydney's Work Walk
Leaving the Motel
Leaving the City
|The Phone Call, Waiting for Jimmy
Sydney Doesn't Speak
Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight (a.k.a. Sydney, after one of the central protagonists, although I've no idea why it's known by two different titles) is a film about gambling and how it can go horribly wrong, as far as I can ascertain. The soundtrack was written and assembled by our old friends Jon Brion and Michael Penn, with help from Patrick Warren, so it's hardly a surprise to hear that the last-named adds Chamberlin to several tracks. The material itself has a sleazy, gambling dive feel to it, as you'd both expect and want, although whether it works out of context is something of a moot point.
Warren's Chamberlin turns up on at least four tracks, with vibes and strings on Sydney's Work Walk, sleazy brass and flutes on Craps Table, strings on Leaving The Motel and upfront flutes and cellos on The Phone Call, Waiting For Jimmy, while the repetitive church bell on Clementine's Loop is more than likely to emanate from it, too. As with so many soundtrack albums, it's difficult to recommend it to anything other than fans of the genre, although at least we're looking at all-original music here. Anderson went on to write and direct Boogie Nights and Magnolia, amongst others, while Brion and Penn's careers are summarised in their entries on this site. Overall, Hard Eight/Sydney is a pretty decent soundtrack of its type, with some nice Chamberlin use into the bargain.
See: Jon Brion | Michael Penn
I ♥ Huckabees (2004, 43.29) ***½/TTT
Knock Yourself Out
Didn't Think it Would Turn Out Bad
Over Our Heads
Wouldn't Have it Any Other Way
Huckabees Jingle (50's Version)
|True to Yourself
Didn't Think it Would Turn Out Bad (String Quartet Version)
Get What it's About
Monday (End Credits)
Ah, now this is a proper soundtrack, not just some excuse to stick a bunch of FM staples or, alternatively, new, 'hot' tracks together, in the pretence that you'll actually hear them in the film. I've never seen I ♥ Huckabees (listed as 'I Heart Huckabees' or 'I Love Huckabees', more often than not) and I've no idea if it's any good, but Jon Brion's soundtrack does all the things that soundtracks should do, being a collection of little musical vignettes, with the occasional song thrown in for good measure.
Jon Brion wrote and recorded the soundtrack and of course he gets his Chamberlin in all over the place; opener Monday features what sounds like a plethora of Chamby sounds, with oboe, violins, cellos and maybe others, with flutes on Knock Yourself Out, solo male voice on Cubes, strings on Later Monday, flutes on Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way and various combinations of flutes and strings on the other highlighted tracks, with Monday (End Credits) repeating the film/album opener's Chamby parts. Of course, chances are it's used on several other tracks, but given that the Chamberlin's the chameleon of the tape-replay world, who knows?
Overall, then, a welcome change from the usual so-called 'soundtrack' drivel, with some nice Chamberlin work to boot. All hail Jon Brion!
See: Jon Brion
Idiot Box (1997, 56.48) ***/0
World in a Box
You am I:
Idiot Box I
Cats and Dogs
Mark of Cain:
The Bullshit Never Ends
|You am I:
Idiot Box II
You am I:
Gasoline for Two
Love in Motion
You am I:
Mark of Cain:
You am I:
Idiot Box III
Idiot Box appears to be an Antipodean slacker movie (I hate the word 'movie', but 'film' simply doesn't fit in this context), soundtracked by a host of 'never 'eard of 'ems' and our friends You am I, who provide a half dozen otherwise-unavailable tracks, including a couple of instrumentals. I've no idea about the film (although, from the snippets of dialogue on the disc, it sounds like it might be fun, if nothing else), but the soundtrack's actually pretty good, in a punky kind of way, non-You am I highlights including My Pal's Magic Dirt and Hoss' Simple Love.
Now, You am I's Tim Rogers is credited with Mellotron, but I'll be fucked if I can work out where, leaving me no option but to give this a big, fat '0' on the Melltoron front. Not a bad album in its own right, then, particularly as the contributors all wrote new material for it, but not one for anything remotely Mellotronic.
See: You am I
The In-Laws (2003, 59.49) **½/½
A Love for You
No Matter What
Electric Light Orchestra:
Don't Bring Me Down
Live and Let Die
It's Now or Never
KC & the Sunshine Band:
Get Down Tonight
All Too Much:
More Than a Friend
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head
Sunshine of Your Love
Too Close for Comfort
A Man and a Woman (Un Homme et une Femme)
2003's The In-Laws is a remake of a 1979 film, but having seen neither version, I find myself unable to comment on their respective merits or lack of same. Suffice to say, the schizophrenic soundtrack includes several 'wedding party' favourites (KC & the Sunshine Band, Chic, Cameo), lounge (Ella Fitzgerald's outrageous Sunshine Of Your Love, Michel Legrand, Yma Sumac) and some welcome powerpop (Badfinger, ELO, the previously unknown All Too Much), not to mention no fewer than two previously unreleased Paul McCartney ditties (third contribution I'm Carrying is from '78's London Town), enough to make any Macca fan salivate uncontrollably.
Of the two, the one that'll have 'em swooning in the aisles, album opener A Love For You ('71, Ram sessions) is, well, fairly typical, although I prefer the rawer take on Live And Let Die, with Macca on Rhodes and Linda on Moog and Mellotron, although all I can hear are a few seconds of strings towards the end of the song. This almost sounds like a demo version, only it has the finished take's orchestral overdubs, so its provenance will have to remain unknown, at least for now. There's supposed to be a four-disc Macca rarities set appearing at some point, which would include A Love For You, at least, but like so many similar efforts (the ongoing Neil Young saga springs to mind), it's currently unknown when this magnus opus might finally appear.
Anyway, if it wasn't for the Macca tracks, this soundtrack, like so many others, is essentially worthless, a few seconds of previously unheard Mellotron making no difference to its desirability.
See: Paul McCartney | Electric Light Orchestra | Bee Gees