by Brian McMahon
BOUT (February 2005)
vs. O LUCKY MAN!
know that the composers of these two film scores are so highly
thought of at Moovymusic! that they were not originally scheduled
to face each other at all: O LUCKY MAN! was awaiting its Spring
bout against an as yet unchosen soundtrack even as PERCY was
being cancelled out of its set match with Mel Brooks' YOUNG
FRANKENSTEIN (that's Fronk-kon-steen!)
I messed up. I take full responsibility for the collapse of
the brain switch / penis transplant pairing, which fell not
under the weight of it's thematic hook — that most men
think with their dicks — but, rather, cracked beneath
the diamond stylus in preliminary sparring when points of
contrast and comparison failed to emerge. Anyhow, I jumped
right on the problem. Other opponents for PERCY were immediately
auditioned, culled from A thru F in my library — and
that’s when THE GRADUATE fell out of the stacks. Problem
with that bit of serendipity, though, was/is Paul Simon's
niche can't hold its own against Ray Davies' range, even with
large (and, here, delicious) helpings from the ubiquitous
Dave Grusin! Add to that, Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson) is
less than 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon from Herr Brooks and ...well,
frankly, your old matchmaker was getting so uneasy with the
coincidence of it all that he, er, I shelved the Mike Nichols’
milestone without further consideration and pushed on into
the “H”-es. By the time I got to the film ‘IF
...’ I had already decided that for proper balance any
PERCY contest must necessarily feature another score of short
songs and eclectic instrumentals penned at least an ocean
away and written for a director largely unknown to Americans.
“Shit, Lindsay Anderson fits that bill,” I thought
aloud. And my dogs agreed — of the few filmgoers who
do know 'im, most hate ‘im. “But, ‘IF...’
is not the right movie,” I said. And, again, they agreed.
Actually, the corgi Emmett guessed that any other of Anderson’s
films would show parity with Ralph Thomas’ PERCY in
bad box office reciepts, but he really howled like a wolf
when I turntabled O LUCKY MAN! Right in every way, I crooned
along. Only later did we all learn my recollection of PERCY
having had very few exhibitions Stateside was way overstated
— it didn't even screen here!
fro across O LUCKY MAN!’s soundscape Alan Price lofts
transcendent tunes off his bluesy backhand to rival some of
Ray Davies’ career best. Displaying satiric sensibilties
equal to Ray’s — and, at times, weightier —
Alan serves up well-played music and verse versions of life's
most desperate truths as ever lept from a libretto. I wonder
while riding Prices’s plummeting paeans into the depths
of the straight-forward soul of the title’s ironically
“Unlucky” Man, who save Malcolm McDowell could’ve
acted the part. Listen every now and then and see if you don't
agree that Price's voice here sounds like McDowell's.
a movie as PERCY is said to be, (no, I haven’t yet had
the experience) that’s how excellent a score Raymond
Douglas Davies has given it. To paraphrase Cabaret
“even the orchestrations are beautiful”. Christ,
without the movie itself, PERCY is still fully loaded. Kicking
off with the Kinks most known track from the film, “God’s
Children”, the Davies range is soon in full pendulous
swing from ballads to balls to burlesque. Did you know there’s
an instrumental muzak version of LOLA? Yes, L-O-L-A ... Lola!
rounds dancing round the ring and Ray and Alan never laid
a glove on each other. Now, that’s the kinda fight I
like to ... hear.
ICE, a movie soundtrack by Bill Wyman. I like green. My Dickies
uniforms are dark green; there's “Green Eyes”
by Husker Du; and this body cries out for fresh green vegetables
thrice weekly. But, I don't like GREEN ICE.
CATHERINE WHEEL scored for the stage by David Byrne made me
forget for the better part of an hour what I ever liked about
vinyl, Broadway and Byrne; and days later I’m still
wondering about Byrne. So, excepting the T Heads LP with the
Rauschenberg cover, I may soon hafta chuck the lot.
last week we hired a team of maids to clean up my studio for
the first time since the mid-90’s — I’m
inspired by their work: APRIL LOVE, AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY
DAYS, BUNDLE OF JOY, HELLO DOLLY — goodbye!
ALBUM (Columbia, 1970) / Percy Faith
Paul, George, Ringo, and Percy: By virtue of powers granted
me whilst reading a rather assuming statement from Ennio Morricone—wherein
he qualifies his praise of The "extraordinary" Beatles
with words to the effect that had the boys studied composition
they’d have done an even better job—I hereby dub
Percy Faith “The Fifth Beatle”. Accordingly, I
offer the above LP as proof of what the world's foremost pop
group would’ve produced had they been properly trained.
“Beatle” album was discovered some six years ago
in the Salvation Army nearest my home during the maiden voyage
of my thrifting obsession. Chagrined at the sound of the '90's,
and in equal measure amazed by the boutique prices others
were paying to rebuild their decimated '60's and ‘70’s
music libraries, I hit Chicago’s King of Thrift Stores
with the fever of a gold prospector. "Thumb as fast as
you can through that Guess Who, Eagles, and Loggins &
Messina shit," I told myself, "you're not here for
that. Jeez, it isn’t even good anthropology!" At
the same time, I fully understood that finding a decent copy
of John Cale's PARIS 1919 or Gato's LAST TANGO IN PARIS in
playable condition was a near impossibilty. So, I lowered
my expectations: If UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG was as close to
the City of Light as I was going to get for my 50 cents—
okay, I’d give Michel Legrand a hearing. And while I'm
at it, I'll have a go at that Percy Faith Beatles Album, too.
this Legrand music’s as good as the film ... pretty
chewed up, though. But, hey, those Percy Faith Strings grooves
are clean as the still-cellophaned LP cover. Barely into "Because",
I realize I've struck the mother lode. Why? Well, because
it's not really the Beatles; so I can keep tellin' everybody
that I don't even own a Beatles album. I mean, fair criticism
or not— I’ve always felt the oeuvre of the fab
four hanging over the entire world of music (here, there,
and everywhere) like some giant neutralizing fog . Maybe you've
felt it too? Percy Faith, on the other hand, — however
big he got in his charting days— was never so huge that
he couldn't again prove desirable to a whole new audience.
As the cornerstone in some retro "niche" perhaps.
And, don’t sweat it, this Percy ain’t the same
guy who sang "When A Man Loves A Woman" ... that
was a certain Mr. Sledge. A Faith Fan needn’t fret he'll
be perceived a follower of the tired R&B posses who make
camp with the likes of Bruce Willis and the ... Whatevers.
these arrangements simply ... kick ass. Not "rough",
in the way Tina would kick ‘em, but an elegant ass-kicking
you might say. And, speaking of the Ike and Tina Revue, I'm
suddenly reminded of my seeing them at the Newport Pop '69.
Typically for the time, Ma and Pa Turner and all the little
Ikettes were staged between disparate groups. I mean groups
like the Clarence White-era Byrds and the Don Ellis Orchestra.
Anyway, that fleeting flashback leads to an experiment in
diversity readers may wanna try to emulate home: I play SLOW
DAZZLE/Cale (side B), THE BEATLES ALBUM/Faith (side 2), then
NEBRASKA/Springsteen (side 1). Hey, they really do sound great
up: On THE BEATLES ALBUM you're getting good bang for your
half-buck with a light but crisp rhythm section, woodwind
and brass soloists, and 48 string players — coming and
going under the baton of Mr. Faith who directs the traffic
here in a way that ensures there’re plenty of Percy
prints all over this one!
PERCY FAITH: "Simply... kick ass."