Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Saturday, April 23, 2022

10 Music Collections to Know Me

Continuing my lists of things to know me. I now present my favorite music collections adding to my previous lists of books, movies, tv shows and comic book collected editions. It is very soundtrack heavy, so it’s an eclectic mix of individual songs. Because I doubled up some entries (or more) there is no “honorable mention” for this list (although if I were to add one it would be the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack). Being a luddite, my choices for the list was simple. I just asked myself what cassettes or CDs I popped into my player back before digital downloads moved the market back toward singles and away from albums.

10. Reservoir Dogs: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1992, MCA, Mix

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino rocketed to stardom as a unique filmmaker that could balance dialogue and action with plot and characterization. In his low budget first film he squeezed in a small but impactful soundtrack that was full of unexpected choices (I defy anyone to think of “Stuck in the Middle with You” the same way after watching it). Competing music that was of a similar era but stylistically different complimented the narrative of his story, but even on its own it makes for a satisfying and fun listening experience.

Track List:
Little Green Bag – The George Baker Selection
Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
I, Gotcha – Joe Tex
Magic Carpet Ride – Bedlam
Fool for Love – Sandy Rogers
Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel
Harvest Moon – Bedlam
Coconut – Harry Nilsson

9. Babylon 5: The Original Television Soundtracks by Christopher Franke and the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
1995 (original) 1997 (Vol. 2: Messages from Earth) 2001 (Best of), 1997-1999 (Episodic) Sonic Images, Instrumental

The music of Babylon 5 was a slow burn for me, the original opening theme was fantastic but otherwise the early episodes were a strange (I’ll even say off-putting) amalgam of 80s era European synthesized sounds but as the show progressed traditional orchestral sounds moved up in the mix resulting in a power house range of music, from season one’s tense “Requiem of the Line” music in the episode “And the Sky Full of Stars” to the sweeping notes that can been heard in the series finale “Sleeping in Light.” Franke came along way in five years going from simply managing to create and build tension with a creative mix of strings and percussion to being able to evoke the emotion of heart break with brass and woodwind.

The music of Babylon 5 was presented in suites on the full-length releases of Babylon 5 Volume 1 and Babylon 5 Vol. II: Messages from Earth with extracts from various shows, however there were also releases of episodic CDs, containing music from induvial episodes in their entire length with cues playing chronologically as originally aired with an average total time of 30 minutes (longer for the feature length episodes). Those include Chrysalis from season one. The Coming of Shadows and The Fall of Night from season two. Severed Dream, A Late Delivery from Avalon, Walkabout, Shadow Dancing, Z’Ha’Dum, Interludes and Examinations, War Without End (parts 1 and 2) and And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place from season three. Into the Fire, No Surrender No Retreat, The Face of the Enemy, Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?, The Long Night, Lines of Communication, Endgame, Falling Toward Apotheosis, Thirdspace and In the Beginning from season four. River of Souls, The Ragged Edge, Darkness Ascending, Objects at Rest and Sleeping in Light from season five. Franke also did the music for The Lost Tales, the reunion film in 2007, which also got a release (as did the spin off Crusade with controversial music by Evan Chen). These releases show that Franke wasn’t afraid to change up style, like his Celtic inspired tracks for “A Late Delivery from Avalon” or the arrangements for songs written by J. Michael Straczynski specifically for guest star Erica Gimple (Fame) in the episode “Walkabout,” the “Bar Background Music” from “Face of the Enemy” which was inspired by the Juliet Lewis performed song, “Hardly Wait,” by PJ Harvey from the film Strange Days and the new arrangement for a classic gospel song “And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place” (from the episode of the same name) performed by Marva Hicks. It was easy to underestimate Franke at first but by the end he was delivering some amazing music for the series.

Track list (Vol. 1):
Chrysalis I - IV
Mind War I & II
Parliament of Dreams I - III
The Geometry of Shadows I-III

Track list (Vol. 2):
Main Title 1st season (extended)
Messages from Earth
Main Title 2nd Season
Main Title 3rd Season
Severed Dreams
Main Title 4th Season
Voices of Authority

Track List (Best of):
Main Title 2nd Season
The Geometry of Shadows III (aka Requiem for the Line)
Sheridan & Father
The Big Battle
The Signal
Main Title 3rd Season
Into the Abyss
Begin to Attack the Shadows
Emergency Treatment
The Geometry of Shadows II
The Geometry of Shadows I
Main Title 4th Season
Main Title 5th Season
Dying Station
Sierra Theme

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith (with Alexander Courage) and the Columbia Orchestra
1979, Columbia Records (original), 1999, Columbia/Soney Legacy (20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition), 2012, La-La Land Records (extended), Instrumental

While Star Trek fans may argue the quality of the film, no one questions the brilliant Academy Award nominated score. From energetic main title theme that would be recycled for Star Trek: The Next Generation, to martial quality and clicks of the Klingon anthem, to the absolutely breath takingly lovely Ilia’s Theme/Love Theme (also used as the Overture in most cuts of the film), Goldsmith set a standard for building suspense, highlighting reveals, ratcheting up tension and accompanying character moments without stepping on the dialogue, performances, or effects. It’s masterful in the same way John Williams was with Star Wars and Superman, it grounds the fantastical elements while simultaneously heralding the epic qualities.

Track List:
Overture (Extended)
Ilia’s Theme
Main Title
Klingon Battle
Total Logic (20th)
Floating Office (20th)
The Enterprise
Malfunction (Extended)
Goodbye Klingon/Goodbye Epsilon Nine/Pre-Launch (Extended)
Leaving Drydock
TV Theme/Warp Point Eight (Extended)
No Goodbyes (Extended)
Spock’s Arrival (20th)
TV Theme/Warp Point Nine (Extended)
Meet V’Ger (Extended)
The Cloud
Vejur Flyover
The Force Field (20th)
Micro Exam (Extended)
Games (20th)
Spock Walk
System Inoperative (Extended)
Hidden Information (Extended)
Inner Workings (20th)
Vejur Speaks (20th)
The Meld
A Good Start (20th)
End Title

The extended release includes everything from the first two releases plus also includes alternate takes, isolated extracts, and other extras - including the "rejected" cues.

7. Moonlighting: The Original Television Soundtrack by various
1987, MCA, Mix

Like the show itself, you can expect the unexpected from this mellow collection of soul, retro and love songs. The different styles of music work well together and even the provocative songs have an innocence to them. There is a romantic quality overall (which seems apropos) given the source.

Track list:
Moonlighting - Al Jarreau (opening and closing credits)
Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker (“My Fair David”)
This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) - The Isley Brothers (“Knowing Her”)
Blue Moon - Cybill Shepherd (“The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)
I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out! - Cybill Shepherd (“The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)
Good Lovin’ - Brice Willis (“Atomic Shakespeare”)
When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge (“I Am Curious… Maddie”)
Someone to Watch Over Me - Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (“Maddie’s Turn to Cry”)
Stormy Weather - Billie Holiday (“I Am Curious… Maddie”)

6. MCMXC a.D. by Enigma
1990 (Original), 1991 (Limited Edition) Virgin/Charisima, New Age

Meditative, relaxing, and vaguely sexy while exploring themes of good & evil and love & sadness, the album is a unique listening experience. The experimental first album from the German project plays off contrasting opposites by mixing archaic sounds with modern music, paring dance beats with Gregorian chant and religious themes with sexuality. It worked amazingly well and is most definitely different from anything else out there.

Track list:
The Voice of Enigma
Principles of Lust (Sadness/Find Love/Sadness Reprise)
Callas Went Away
Mea Culpa
The Voice and the Snake
Knocking on Forbidden Doors
Back to the Rivers of Belief (Way to Eternity/Hallelujah/The Rivers of Belief)
Meditation (LE)
Fading Shades (LE)
Everlasting Lust (LE)
The Returning Silence (LE)

The limited-edition volume released a year later added four alternate versions of previous tracks.

5. Pulp Fiction: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1994 (original), 2002 (extended), MCA, Mix

Over his career, Tarantino proved is a master of mixing genres in his movies but as early as his second film he displayed the same quality in his music selection. His selections of song not only provide a mood for the sequences but even invigorate previously out of date music. Eclectic and unconventional choices work well and like his plot twists, never fail to surprise the viewer, or in this case the listener.

Track List:
Misirlou - Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
Strawberry Letter #23 - The Brothers Johnson (extended)
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
Bustin' Surfboards - The Tornadoes
Lonesome Town - Ricky Nelson
Son Of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
Bullwinkle Part II - The Centurians
Rumble - Link Wray and His Raymen (extended)
Since I First Met You - The Robins (extended)
You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry
Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon - Urge Overkill
If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags) - Maria McKee
Comanche - The Revels
Flowers On the Wall - The Statler Brothers
Out Of Limits - The Marketts (extended)
Surf Rider - The Lively Ones

4. Pump Up the Volume: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1990, MCA, Alternative

There are probably three definitive films about what a friend of mine once called “teenaged bullshit angst,” - Rebel without a Cause, The Breakfast Club and Pump Up the Volume. With all due apologies to Simple Minds fans, Pump Up the Volume is the best soundtrack as it embraces darker alternative rock songs, sometimes with deceptively upbeat music (and yes even the love ballad is depressing). It’s a fascinating mix of music that works both in the film and as a collection in its own.

Track List:
Everybody Knows – Concrete Blonde
Why Can’t I Fall in Love – Ivan Neville
Stand! – Liquid Jesus
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) – The Pixies
I’ve Got a Minatare Secret Camera – Peter Murphy
Kick Out the Jams – Bad Brain with Henry Rollins
Freedom of Speech – Above the Law
Heretic – Soundgarden
Titanium Expose – Sonic Youth
Me and the Devil Blues – Cowboy Junkies
Tale O’ the Twister – Chagall Guevara

3. Still in Hollywood and Recollection by Concrete Blonde
1994 and 1996, I.R.S., Alternative

I first noticed Concrete Blonde on the above listed Pump up the Volume soundtrack with their version of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” It wasn’t until fall of 1991 that I got a real taste of their work when when my first college roommate had all three of their albums which, to my surprise, included the song I recognized (and loved), “God is a Bullet,” from a 1989 episode of 21 Jumpstreet. I quickly became a fan. To people unfamiliar with their work, I recommend their “best of” album, Recollection, which pulls from their first five albums. It’s a great introduction to what is genuinely a great collection of their best songs, but personally I prefer a different collected edition: Still in Hollywood. Filled with alternate versions of popular tracks and previously unreleased material, it is surprisingly better. The live acoustic version of “Joey,” which is about being in love with an alcoholic, is much more haunting than the studio version because the pain and vulnerability are much more on display in the performance. Likewise, the live versions of “Gold is a Bullet,” “The Sky is a Poisonous Garden Tonight,” “Roses Grow” and especially “Tomorrow Wendy,” a story about a woman with AIDS, have a much more raw and energetic feel than the studio versions. The extended French release of “Bloodletting” is far more enjoyable than the edited version (if 4:28 is good than 7:08 is better). All the remaining tracks are certainly as good if not better than most songs released on their albums post 1990 but may fall a little short of some of the great songs on Recollection (hence the double dip). My only complaint is that “I Want You” from the Point Break soundtrack didn’t make either collection. The best thing about these collections, is that Concrete Blonde was about telling stories through music and those stories came from a personal place, making them genuine art.

Track List Still in Hollywood:
"It'll Chew You Up and Spit You Out" (alternate version of "Still in Hollywood")
"Everybody Knows"
"God Is a Bullet" (live)
"Probably Will"
"The Ship Song"
"Joey" (live/acoustic)
"Little Wing"
"Roses Grow" (live)
"The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden Tonight" (live)
"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" (extended French release)
"Simple Twist of Fate"
"Side of the Road"
"100 Games of Solitaire"
"Tomorrow, Wendy" (live)

Track List Recollections:
"God Is a Bullet"
"Tomorrow, Wendy"
"Scene Of a Perfect Crime"
"Ghost Of a Texas Ladies Man"
"Dance Along the Edge"
"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
"Happy Birthday"
"Cold Part of Town"
"Walking in London"
"Heal It Up"
"Everybody Knows"
"Mexican Moon"
"Still In Hollywood"
"Mercedes Benz (live)"

The live version of “Joey” was from MTV Unplugged while the others were from a performance from the Malibu Club on Long Island)… and seriously how did NO ONE think to use “Bloodletting” in the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Maybe someone working on the AMC adaptation will realize it's perfect.

2. Due South Volumes I & II: The Original Television Soundtracks by various
1996 (Vol. 1) and 1998 (Vol. 2), Nettwerk Records, Mix

This eclectic mix of alternative, classic rock, Canadian country and even a 13th century Christian hymn is as bizarre and wonderful as the tv show itself. While the music was usually picked to augment individual scenes in episodes, they hang together surprisingly well as collections. It’s a great way to discover a talent or style outside of your normal listening habits. The slightly darker and more obscure tracks from Volume 2 edge out the more popular Volume 1 but both make for fun and unique listening experiences hence another double dip.

Track List (Vol. 1):
Due South Closing Theme - Jay Semko
Bone of Contention - Spirit of the West (“An Eye for an Eye”)
Cabin Music - Jay Semko (“Pilot”)
Possession (Piano Version) - Sarah McLachlan (“Victoria’s Secret”)
Horses - Ashley MacIsaac (“They Eat Horses, Don’t They?”)
Akua Tuta - Kashtin (“A Hawk and a Handsaw”)
American Woman - The Guess Who (“Diefenbaker’s Day Off”)
Henry Martin - Figgy Duff (“Gift of the Wheelman”)
Ride Forever - Paul Gross (“All the Queen’s Horses”)
Flying - Blue Rodeo (“Some Like it Red”)
Due South Opening Theme - Jay Semko (seasons one & two)
Neon Blue - Holly Cole Trio (“Chicago Holiday”)
Victoria's Secret - Jay Semko (“Victoria’s Secret”)
Calling Occupants - Interplanetary Craft - Klaatu (“Starman”)
Eia, Mater (from Stabat Mater) - Andrew Davis (“The Deal”)
Dief's In Love - Jay Semko (“The Wild Bunch”)

Track List (Vol. 2):
Oh, What A Feeling - Junkhouse (“Eclipse”)
Drunken Sailor - Captain Tractor (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Robert Mackenzie - Paul Gross (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Mind - Vibrolux (“Good for the Soul”)
Mountie on the Bounty - Jay Semko (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Song For a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan (“Hunting Season”)
Slave To Your Love - Dutch Robinson (“Mountie and Soul”)
From A Million Miles - Single Gun Theory (“Pilot”)
Take Me Out to The Ballgame - Trevor Hurst (“Dr. Longball”)
November - Mythos (“Seeing is Believing”)
Cubically Contained - Headstones (“Mountie and Soul”)
Nobody's Girl - Michelle Wright (“Mountie Sings the Blues”)
Sophia's Pipes - Ashley MacIsaac (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Western End of The Trail - Jay Semko (“Call of the Wild”)
Holy Tears - Tara MacLean (“Call of the Wild”)
Revised Due South Opening Theme - Jay Semko (season three & four)

1. Thorogood Live and Let’s Work Together by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
1986 EMI and 1995 Capitol, Rock and Roll/Blues

My wife and I disagree on live albums, she prefers studio recording because they have a better sound quality, but I like the live versions because the energy is always up. This has never been more true as it is with Geroge Throrogood and the Delaware Destroyers’ first two (of seven) live albums. Not only is the original Thorogood Live my favorite alum ever, it may be the definitive album for the band because it highlights what they do best: a high-octane boogie beat fusion of rock-n-roll and blues that shows off their own hits as well as songs from rock and blues icons
, like John Lee Hooker and Elmore James, that are sadly falling off the radars of younger generations. Their inspiration/affection for the fading classics make them more than performers; they are like fellow fans of the genre giving you a nudge saying “hey, let me play you this, you’ll love this guy’s song” or “if you dig that guy’s work listen to my song that was inspired by his work.” This love of the genre is evident and results in that infectious energy that is abundant in their live performances. I threw in Let’s Work Together because it has the same energy and stylistic mix of the previous album and combined, the two are a great anthology that highlight the best of their first dozen albums and almost two decades of work. There may smoother musicians and better voices out there but none with a better sense of history or energy. These are great if you want to tap your toes and experience rock and blues by fans for fans.

Track list Thorogood Live:
Who Do You Love?
Bottom Of the Sea
Night Time
I Drink Alone
House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Alley Oop
Madison Blues
Bad To the Bone
The Sky Is Crying
Reelin' & Rockin'

Track list Let’s Work Together:
No Particular Place To Go
Ride On Josephine
Bad Boy
Cocaine Blues
If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)
I'm Ready
I'll Change My Style
Get A Haircut
Gear Jammer
Move It on Over
You Talk Too Much
Let's Work Together
St. Louis Blues
Johnny B. Goode

Nine other albums considered along with the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack for the Honorable Mention slot, and would make a top 20 list include (in no particular order):
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – The Beatles (1967)
The Anthology: 1947-1972 – Muddy Waters (2001)
Cracked Rear View – Hootie and the Blowfish (1994)
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette (1995)
Eagles Live – Eagles (1980)
The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990) - John Lee Hooker (1991)
Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Big Ones (Special Edition) – Aerosmith (1994/1998)
Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)

No comments:

Post a Comment