Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unforgettable Use of Music in a Movie

Today I thought I would do something a little different and lengthy. Sometimes a musical score can make or break a movie. While watching a movie the other night it got me to thinking of some unforgettable moments in a movie where a well placed song just hit you right in the guts. I'm not talking yer basic orchestral scores even though the work of say John Williams, Danny Elfman or even John Carpenter (Halloween, creepiest score ever) has been brilliant. We're just talking your basic song here. There happen to be three movies where a song was placed in just the right place as to send shivers down your spine, even though you may have heard it a hundred times before. These are the three songs from a movie that really stand out for me.

My number 1 pick is hands down the best use of any song in any movie. The movie is the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Before I go on let me say this before I get attacked by hardcore Romero fans. This is not a movie review. I know you hardliners thought it was sacrilege that someone should remake the excellent original. I know you hate it that the zombies run, which you think makes it less scary, although I like the running zombies. This is about the well placed use of the Johnny Cash song, The Man Comes Around.

The film opens with a nurse finishing her shift at the hospital. We hear talk of a bite patient and then Sarah the nurse drives home. She sees her cute little neighbor kid as she arrives home. She has some shower sex with the hubby (thereby missing the news on the TV about the zombies) In the morning all hell is breaking loose, neighbor girl kills hubby, hubby comes back as a zombie in thirty seconds and tries to kill Sarah. As Sarah flees the house and jumps in the car, she sees the neighborhood going to hell and with zombie hubby hot on her tail she speeds away. As she drives along she is witness to all kinds of mayhem and she eventually crashes and passes out. The opening credits start and so does the song. The Man Comes Around by ole John Cash. As the song plays, the credits are interspersed with scenes of zombies, riots, injured people and press conferences. The opening scene is over the top intense and being that the song is about the end of the world so to speak it fits perfectly. As the opening credits close out, the spoken words at the end of the song make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you get little chill bumps.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And it's name it said on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.

Damn, now that's what I'm talkin' bout. You know you're in for a good movie. And I enjoyed it immensely. I'm one of the few Romero fans who enjoyed the remake as much as the original. So listen to the song and think about zombies taking over the earth. It works pretty good. I seem to think I heard this song in another movie, but try as I might I just can't remember it.

My second pick comes from the movie Philadelphia. When I first saw this movie I was a little perturbed in that it seemed like the film was trying too hard to make you break down and start bawling your head off. Actually it kind of got on my nerves, ok we get it sad movie, you want us to cry. I didn't even think it was a particularly good movie. What I wasn't expecting was the end of the film when every one gathers for Andy's funeral and the home movies are playing while Neil Young's song Philadelphia plays. I'm a sucker for Neil Young anyway and the film finally succeeded and made me cry like a damn baby. The song is so melancholy and dark and it fit perfectly for that sequence and even since the first time it still has that effect on me. I will never forgive you Mr. Springsteen for stealing that Academy Award away from Neil.

Now my third Pick comes from an unlikely source and is a song I've heard thousands of times since it first appeared in the seventies. In fact it had been used in several movies including Dazed and Confused, Rock Star and most recently Superbad. The song is Ted Nugent's Stranglehold from the movie Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg as that dude who tried out for the Eagles in 1976 when they held open tryouts. The song makes it's appearance during the last big game on the Eagle's home field. The action goes to slo mo and Stranglehold kicks in and it really captures the moment and just punches you in the gut. In fact while we were watching Mrs. Homercat says " My god what is that song it's awesome." I really didn't want to tell her because she can't stand Ted Nugent. Be it the music or the man she loathes him. Usually if a Nuge song comes on she'll ask if we can go to the next one. I told her and she wondered why I hadn't ever played that particular Nugent tune for her. She still doesn't like Uncle Ted, but she loves that song.

Now many might not agree with these picks or you may have a better use that mayhap I've forgotten about. Feel free to let me know if I've missed the boat but in the meantime here are my picks.

The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
Philadelphia by Neil Young
Stranglehold by Ted Nugent

Funny Toon

Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Issue

A recent commenter let me know how he thought the band Prism was crap and he thanked me for exposing him to them so he could avoid them like the plague. I mention this because if there ever was a band who people either really liked or they sent people screaming for the hills it would have to be Public Image Ltd. They are another one of those bands that I find there is no middle ground, people hate them or like them.

First Issue (aka Public Image) is the post punk debut album by Public Image Ltd. released in 1978. In preparing this album the band spent their recording budget well before the record was completed. The members have since admitted that a significant amount was spent on drugs. As a result, the final album comprised eight tracks of varying sound quality, half of which were written and recorded in a rush after the money had run out. The album was considered groundbreaking on its release in December 1978. Grounded in heavy dub reggae, Jah Wobble's bass tone was called "impossibly deep" by contemporary reviews. Keith Levene's sharp guitar sound, played on an aluminium Veleno guitar, was widely imitated, most notably by The Edge of U2. Lydon's vocals were more tuneless and incantatory than in the Sex Pistols, gesturing toward the avant-garde territory.

The single "Public Image" was widely seen as diatribe against Malcolm McLaren and his perceived manipulation of Lydon during his career with the Sex Pistols. The closing track "Fodderstompf", heavily influenced by dub, comprises nearly eight minutes of a circular bass riff, played over a Lydon/Levene double act lampooning public outrage, love songs and teenage apathy. The track culminates with the sound of a fire extinguisher being let off in the recording studio, as Lydon had lit a fire while in a weird trance like state while recording. It's fitting because sometimes you need to be in a weird trance like state to listen to it. Better still, if one has imbibed some good BC bud, you might find the whole thing quite brilliant. Song highlights include Public Image,Religion 1&2,and Annalisa. Religion 1&2 in particular are brilliant because of the stand that Lydon takes against the Catholic Church. Lydon grew up in a Catholic family and you can really feel his anger towards the church in the lyrics. It's quite scathing. Sometimes I need to be in the right mood to listen to the more far out PiL but overall I thoroughly enjoy their entire catalog.

Religion II
Buy It

Funny Toon

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bif Naked

In 1971 Bif was born in New Delhi, India, to a pair of boarding-school teenagers. The birth mother (a canadian teen) was banished to a mental hospital to hide her pregnancy. When born, Bif was adopted by American missionaries and eventually they moved back to America and settled in Minneapolis. When she was 13 her family moved to Canada where her father had accepted a teaching job in dentistry. Her parents enrolled her in a college in Winnipeg hoping she would settle down a bit but instead she blew off classes to join a punk band. She paid her dues in several bands and decided it was time to go solo and ended up in Vancouver. In 1994, she signed a deal with Concrete Records and a full-length release soon followed. When the label went under in 1995 Bif bought back the 'BIF NAKED' masters, which she reissued on her own label, dubbed Her Royal Majesty's Records . On the strength of that record, and the ferocity of her live performances and ceaseless touring, she snagged a deal with Lava and, in 1998, I Bificus was released.

I originally became aware of Bif when someone posted a message on a Joan Jett message board saying that people should check out Bif because she was like Canada's version of Joan Jett. After hearing her stuff, I thought well maybe, but not really. The two are only similar in one way in that they are both strong female rockers. Bif has a new album coming out in May and it is available for preorder now. It is quite amazing because in recent years she's had some serious health issues, most recently breast cancer and is and is also currently taking medication to get rid of a blood clot in her aorta. She's scheduled for hysterectomy surgery to reduce the chance of a recurrence of her cancer. Tough times for a tough Bif, yet she has still found time to work on a new album. I heart Bif. A few tunes while we await the new album.

Nothing Else Matters
Rich and Filthy
I Love Myself Today
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pure and Simple

Pure And Simple is the tenth studio album by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, released on June 14, 1994. From its title to its tough core, Pure and Simple was a return to form for Joan Jett. Encouraged by a new generation of riot grrls who held her early work up as the inspirational lightning rod it was (including L7 and Bikini Kill, who contribute wring credits on a couple songs on this album), Jett shook off the doldrums and found her way back to the nails-for-breakfast, queen-bitch persona that she was really all about. Pure and Simple rocks with a gritty realism unmatched even by the punchy 1988 hit "I Hate Myself for Lovin' You." If the one-two punch of "Go Home" and "Eye to Eye" makes you want to hit something, then "Spinster" -- "Maybe I don't wanna f*ck you!" -- is the bout-ending haymaker. And even when she's singing about the plight of the homeless, Jett sounds like she gargled with Mad Dog 20/20. The guitar riffs are monstrous and and nasty. And as always, Joan's gritty, growling, and gigantic vocals says she means business. This album did not get the recognition it so deserved when it came out and at one time was out of print but I think it's available now. It's some the hardest stuff Joan Jett's ever written. Pure and Simple is essential for any hard rock fan, if only to support one of the genre's most fearsome competitors.

Buy It

Funny Toon

Monday, April 20, 2009


prismPrism's first three albums are considered by many the holy triumvirate of Canadian rock and roll. Armageddon is the third album by Canadian rock band Prism, released in 1979 and it is simply amazing. Considered by almost everyone to be their best album, it is also notable for the songwriting & arranging presence of future 80's superstar Bryan Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance. The band is nearly faultless on these 8 tracks and is nearly as perfect an album as there ever was. The album's title track is the probably the band's best song in all their catalog, employing the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra on their kick ass ode to Elvis Presley. Lindsay Mitchell conceived the title song during August 1978 in Memphis, where Prism played a concert to the backdrop of the city's police strike, the National Guard controlling the hysteria surrounding the first anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. As Prism flew over Graceland by helicopter, crowds swarming Elvis' shrine below, the events took on an apocalyptic scale in Armageddon's lyrics. If the full blown orchestral intro doesn't send a chill down your spine then you must have no soul. The eight tunes on this album are better than many greatest hits albums by other artists. Classic Canadian Rock that should be in everyone's catalogue!

You Walked Away Again
Buy It

Funny Toon

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rock Animals

Shonen KnifeRock Animals is a 1994 album by the all-female Japanese pop punk band Shonen Knife. Heavily influenced by 1960s girl groups and early punk rock bands such as The Ramones, the trio crafts stripped-down songs expressing infectious melodies and simplistic, exhuberant lyrics sung both in Japanese and English. They have been around since 1981 and are still at it. Shonen Knife has carved out a niche that combines wide-eyed cuteness with unbridled rock & roll. Many alternative rock groups such as Sonic Youth, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, and Redd Kross have cited Shonen Knife as a favorite of theirs. In fact Kurt Cobain often spoke of his admiration for them, stating, "When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert." The band opened for Nirvana at nine concerts in late 1991 and six in December 1993.

I originally bought this album back in 94 because of the many artists who claimed them as favorites. Not having heard a lick of their music, I went ahead and got it. Well it certainly was different and at first I was like, what the hell, but then after a second and third listen I began to get it. They have an irresistible charm and the songs get stuck in your head and you can't shake it. Before I knew it, Bam, I was a fan. Am I just a sucker for girls that can rock? Probably, but that doesn't stop me from liking Shonen Knife and trying to expose more people to them.

Concrete Animals
Buy It

Funny Toon

Friday, April 03, 2009

Private Eyes

Let's get back to some good rockin'. The last few posts have been a little on the laid back side so I'm going to visit one of my fave rock records.

Tommy Bolin was a helluva talented guitarist who died from a drug overdose at the age of 25 in 1976. Truly one of the most overlooked musicians of the last 40 years. A stint in the James Gang, Zephyr, Deep Purple and a couple outstanding solo albums. This guy had guitar moxie. He played in Moxy too. Born in Sioux City, IA, on August 1, 1951, he switched from drums and piano by age 13 and began playing the guitar in earnest. At age 16 he was expelled from school for his long hair. Gotta love that. It's unfair that this man doesn't get more recognition for the work he did in the short span of years he had. He was one of the most versatile guitarists of his time. He could play it all, and he did play it all. Psychodelic-blues with Zephyr, Rock n' Roll with the James Gang, Hard Rock with Deep Purple, Jazz with Alphonse Mouzun,, Fusion with Jan Hammer and Billy Cobham, and that's only half of it. Unfortunately the rock n roll lifestyle caught up with Bolin and he couldn't shake the heroin monkey on his back. On December 4, 1976, after opening a show for Jeff Beck the previous night in Miami Florida, Tommy was found dead of a heroin overdose.

Private Eyes is the second solo album by Bolin and also his last. It's a Great album that I play the piss out of. When Deep Purple broke up in 76, Bolin wasted no time and went right into the studio and began recording this album. Ironically the best song on the album is the nine-minute in your face rocker "Post Toastee" which merges a long jam section with lyrics concerning the dangers of drug addiction. One listen to this album and you will find it hard to believe that this music is over thirty years old and it will make you wonder what other music would have emerged if Tommy had lived to continue making music. It also will make you wonder why most music today can't be better. This album should be heard and owned by anyone that considers themselves a fan of music of any kind. May Tommy rest in peace.

Sweet Burgundy
Post Toastee
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Havana Daydreamin

Homercat is pleased to announce that the GBS concert we attended was phenomenal. I've seen many concerts over the years since my first one in 1978 (Cheap Trick), including acts like the Who, the Stones, Kiss, etc. and this concert ranks as one of the best I've ever seen. It has been placed in my top 5. Spirit of the West opened for them and they were equally stunning. The evenings encore had both bands onstage which had homercat spellbound. My advice go see em if you can. Meanwhile it's been wet and cold, then cold and wet here and it has me daydreamin for some warm weather and Mr. Buffett always gets me geared up for spring.

Havaña Daydreamin' is the seventh album by singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett which was released in 1976. The album's name was originally to have been Kick It in Second Wind and was to have included the songs "Please Take Your Drunken 15 Year Old Girlfriend Home," "Train to Dixieland," and "Wonder Why We Ever Go Home" as well as a different version of "Kick It in Second Wind." Instead, these songs were replaced with "Woman Goin' Crazy on Caroline Street", "Havaña Daydreamin'", and "Cliches." Most of the songs on the album were written or co-written by Buffett, two with his future wife, Jane Slagsvol. The album earned Buffett increased critical attention with what most critics cite as his "best overall collection of songs". Many of my favorite Buffett tunes ahappen to be from this album. There are rumours that rare versions of this album exist with an altered song listing and containing one or more of the songs "Please Take Your Drunken 15 Year Old Girlfriend Home," "Train to Dixieland," and "We've Been Taken to the Cleaners (and I Already Had my Shirts Done)." I have never come across one of these supposed rare versions although I constantly look whenever I'm in a used record store. I would be interested to know if anyone knows if it actually exists. Even better if someone reads this and actually has any of those songs in their possession I would love to have a copy.

My Head Hurts My Feet Stink and I Don't Love Jesus
Kick It in Second Wind
Buy It

Funny Toon