28 July 2008

iPod Ten strikes back!

I was listening to my new soundtrack albums for The Dark Knight and WALL·E, so far the two best movies of the year, and decided that I should crank another of my iPod Ten lists, where I randomly shuffle up ten tracks from my iPod’s ludicrously overstuffed library and blather about them.

Akira Ifukube: “Junior’s First Crisis” from Godzilla vs. Destorayah
My last iPod Ten list had a track from this album, which lasted a whopping fifteen seconds. This one at least goes for a minute, and features a strange and warbling rendition of the tender theme for Junior Godzilla. Yes, I use the word “tender” sometimes when talking about giant Japanese monsters.

Howard Shore: “Caras Galadhon” from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings—The Complete Recordings
I’ve never seen so complete a set of soundtrack recordings as the CD boxes containing the full recordings of the Lord of the Rings films. The Valar answered my prayers! I remember the first time I heard the “Lothlórien” theme that appears here, and it struck me that it has an almost Indic tinge to it, but this ideally suits the removed and distant elves of Lothlórien.

Bruce Broughton: “Goodbye, Cobb” from Silverado
I personally prefer Broughton’s score to Tombstone, but his robustness and debt to the Russian composers who so influenced the music of Westerns is pleasant to hear no matter the film.

Jimme Lunceford: “Rock It for Me”
Out of the soundtracks and into the swing! Lunceford headed up a band with a great musical sense of humor. This piece of has a good spark but a smooth sense of swing. An excellent dance piece. “Ain’t no shame to keep your body swinging/Beat it out in a minor key/Oh, rock it for me!”

Dusty Springfield: “The Look of Love” from Casino Royale (1967)
I have almost nothing positive to say about the multi-car pile-up fiasco of the 1967 spy “comedy” Casino Royale, which carried around the title of Ian Fleming’s first novel and besmirched it until the 2006 movie restored its dignity. But this unwatchable film does have a hip score from Burt Bacarach, and this smooth and sexy jazz ballad is one of the only things in the movie that feels like it might have come from a genuine 007 movie.

Joe Jackson: “You Run Your Mouth (And I’ll Run My Business)” from Jumpin’ Jive
People usually date the swing revival to the mid-‘90s, but there was a short retro-swing hit in the early ‘80s from Joe Jackson, who put together a great album of Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway pieces. The ‘90s swing revival used arrangements very similar to what Jackson does here. This album is still one of the best collections of covers of classic swing. Jackson does right by his sources.

John Williams: “Trouble in Town” from Rosewood
Williams is thought of as the “epic” film composer, but he can do remarkable work with intimate settings. For this period drama about racism in Florida, Williams created some intense music using ‘bayou’ sounds, gospel melodies, and folk tunes. This piece uses heavy guitar and a sinister harmonica.

Shirley Walker: “The Birth of Batman” from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Right on! A Batman piece! The makers of the animated DC televisions series only got to release one of their movies theatrically (they’ve done brisk business in the straight-to-video market), but it was a good one. Shirley Walker provided awesome orchestral scope to Batman: The Animated Series, and brought those same themes to the movie, along with a chorus to give it gothic depth.

Jerry Goldsmith: “Rollo Tomasi” from L.A. Confidential
Jerry Goldsmith lives! How could I have an iPod Ten list without Jerry? In four lists he has shown up six times. He accounts for 10% of the pieces on my iPod (1,565 out 15,519), so odds of him showing up on each of these lists is pretty good.

Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra: “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”
I don’t know if I’m up to the long explanation this piece requires. To make it short, I’ll like the Hulk explain: This not real Casa Loma Orchestra. Casa Loma Orchestra in name only. Gathered for recording purposes in 1950s. People say want stereo recordings. Old Casa Loma punny frontman get new band together. New band record exact copies of old swing standards. Sound good. But no surprise Hulk. Never much liked this song. So Hulk smash!