Question: What would a soundtrack to a dramatic thriller composed by master vocal manipulator and genre-bending pioneer sound like? Answer: Well, if you’re talking about the potent Mike Patton, it would sound exactly like The Place Beyond the Pines (Music from the Motion Picture). Ominous, foreboding, dismal, with a hint of underlining grim, this 2013 soundtrack makes it eerily clear that any place beyond the tree line is about as uneasy and unsettling as anything imaginable. Now, I just hope the film holds up to this record.
Alex North led a profoundly prolific career, this much is obvious. His work on the original 2001: A Space Odyssey score alone sets him a head above the cinematic competition, but here are a few other Alex North projects you may have overlooked (if you’re anything like me): A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Spartacus (1960), The Misfits (1961), Cleopatra (1963), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), to name only a short few. This Spartacus soundtrack is a 1980 reissue of the original 1960 release, but a quick look on Discogs yields a fairly reasonable price for both versions (in the $6 range). Although soundtracks aren’t my immediate go to, they are a nifty little orchestral oasis once in a while.
For being such a staple, or unquestionable necessity, I rarely ever listen to this 1994 musical masterpiece of cinematic wisdom. I remember discovering this soundtrack at a small-time Milwaukee record shop back, some 12+ years ago, and thinking how unbelievably underpriced it was at $4. Double that with the fact that I’ve never crossed paths with another copy makes me shamefully realize that I should spin the ol’ girl much more often than I do.
Desperado needs a vinyl release. I’m just going to put that out there and let the potential fate of Antonio Banderas-admiring record collectors (such as myself) scurry amongst the hopes and dreams of wishful thoughts, until it becomes a reality, if only within the confines of our own imaginations.
200 days ago I had a stupid, ridiculous, time-suck of an idea that (reluctantly) set itself free into this world… this illustrious (and regrettable) collection of short-tempered blurbs known as, The Prudent Groove.
Do I offer free downloads? No… (unless you email me). Do I solve even a smidge of the world’s problems with this 365 consecutive day project? Hello no, and I don’t even attempt to pretend that I do… except, yeah, I have unwarranted and unstable proof that my daily ramblings bring a bit of black (groove-intensive) sunshine to each and every reader, by way of my precise, personal (albeit strikingly intimate), subdued, and voyeuristic means.
Take The Groove for what it is… pure, unadulterated drivel.
The Groove is a self-deprecating dead-end that serves the purpose of one man, and one man alone… some wayward chap in Belfast, Ireland… I’m just kidding… I wanted to further my communal expressions, and I gave myself a daily task. Well, it’s been 200 days, and you may be asking, “Was it worth it?” The quick answer is, “Dear God, no!” But the truth… as far as I’m willing to admit is, “Yeah, I’ve had my moments.”
Like the Westward bound forefathers, and/or the curious, and moderately insane settlers of early Americana, The Prudent Groove marches on. Let’s just hope Typhoid doesn’t rear its ugly head while I’m attempting to forge across this self-imposed river of creative nonsense. If I’ve learned anything from The Oregon Trail, it’s that Malaria is a bitch, and hunting is better left to the experts. Choose your grooves cautiously, ladies and gentlemen, and always, I’m not joking here, ALWAYS feed your oxen.
Today, why not try a bit of big band swing from Charlie Barnet’s 1959 album, More Charlie Barnet? After all, it was made from 35mm Magnetic Film, and the cover sports an artist’s rendering of vintage headphones… and the “R” in Charlie is made up of a saxophone, so you know it’s a winner.
This is 1959, and size matters. Until the launch of “the remarkable Everest sound”, we’ve all been, collectively and obliviously, shortchanged when it comes to the quality of our audio recordings. You see, standard tape size for recording audio (that will later be transferred, then pressed into a platter spinning, groove disc) is ¼” or 6.35mm. Conventional stereo recording is ½” or 12.7mm (feel free to view the picture for tape scale). But Everest, with its 1) No distortion from print through, 2) No distortion from lack of channel width, 3) Absolute minimum of “wow or flutter”, 4) Highest possible signal to noise ratio, and 5) Greatest quality and dynamic range ever recorded, well tape stock used by Everest clocks in at a whopping 35mm! How you feeling now, standard and conventional stereo recording? Not so good, huh? Once you go thick, you’ll never get sick. Once you drop thin, you can’t help but grin. Or how about, once you go fat, you’ll never look back… I give up.
This is Everest… the peak of achievement in recorded sound!
I remember being ecstatic upon hearing the news that Daft Punk was to do the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy (2010). I, as well as the rest of Western Civilization felt this was the perfect amalgamation of sophisticated electro-dance-upside-your-head-man and cutting edge motion picture special effects. But what seemed like a Ben & Jerry marriage turned out to be one resembling Ben & Jennifer (Lopez… remember Bennifer?).
Needless to say I was distraught with disappointment towards the lack of hard hitting, head crushing, swift musical justice that Daft Punk is known for (and quiet honestly the type of music that is expected of them). Don’t get me wrong and think I disliked the soundtrack. On the contrary. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but felt (to put it in baseball terms) it echoed a bunt single instead of the home run I was expecting.
I remember Los Angeles in late 2010 into early 2011 being absolutely, and undeniably Tron stupid. Billboards, stories of Comic-Con viral previews, murmurs in back alleys of the soundtrack being Daft Punk’s greatest album, billboards, news of Disney opening a Tron store, a cartoon series, everybody and their brother wearing Flynn’s Arcade t-shirts, and oh, did I mention billboards? It was arguably impossible to ignore.
Jump a few months ahead to April 16, the Christmas morning for record collectors, Record Store Day. Three versions of Daft Punk’s Translucence were released on 10” picture disc with blue, yellow and red rings. Featured here is the blue copy, which I think most resembles the actual Tron identity disc. Containing three tracks from the soundtrack, Translucence was a must for Daft Punk/Tron fans not only because it perfectly resembled an identity disc, but also because it featured a fourth track that wasn’t offered on the soundtrack; side 2’s Castor.
I will add, as an aside, that I feel The Chemical Brothers’ effort with the Hanna Soundtrack was far superior to the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. Having stated that, I’d recommend them both.