Hmm, I take back what I said yesterday about ‘digital download day’. It looks like a load of crap. I guess because it was HMV, I was duped into thinking this might be a simple ‘pay money, get something that you own’ situation, but in fact, what they are offering is something very similar to Pressplay, in which after you buy something, you have to continue subscribing to their service in order to be able to continue listening to the music. If you want to burn it to a CD, you have to do it with their special bs software, and pay extra. I wish them the best of luck, but it’s not something I will ever be doing. So, it seems only emusic are doing this in a sensible way.
Billy Nicholls: 'Would You Believe' (CD; Sequel; 1967)
This album was reissued (well, apparently it was never really issued originally) a few years ago to much fanfare, billed as 'Britain's answer to Pet Sounds'. This set me up for some disappointment, since it really is a completely different kind of album. Nevertheless, it's quite fun.
'Would you believe', the single, is a strong track. It's overproduced and anything but subtle, but fun all the same. 'Come again' has a dreamy Stone Roses kind of feel to it, with jangling acoustic guitars. To my ears, 'Life is Short' has a kind of 80s feel to it. The vocals are very high, and rather lame-sounding. The backing is quite rich, with ba-ba vocals, harpsichord and brass.
'Feeling Easy' is one of the better songs, with piano, strings and a strong, Beatlesey melody. I'm less into 'Daytime Girl', a jaunty, slightly psychedelic pop tune. More effective are the simple piano and guitar riffs of 'London Social Degree' and the delicate melody of 'Portobello Road'.
The album has a cool sound overall, but there's a feeling that something isn't quite right at times. The riff at the beginning of 'Girl from New York' is very catchy, but at the end of the day, I find most of the tracks a bit too precious, and the arrangements slightly too clunky for my taste.
If you’re in the UK, check this out. Tomorrow. It’s cool – it finally seems to be the case that record companies are making individual tracks available to buy. Now, if they would only start to make out-of-print items available too…
Henry Mancini: 'More Music From Peter Gunn' (CD; RCA; 1958-1962)
I'm very fond of this album, and this European CD has the extra bonus of some other tasty Mancini tracks - one each from Peter Gunn, Experiment in Terror, Mr Lucky and Mr Lucky Goes Latin. The Experiment in Terror theme is particuarly brilliant, with a slow, reverberating guitar, zither (?), and strings. It's moody as hell, and I think the band Gallon Drunk must have given this a spin or two in their time.
The album itself is excellent, although perhaps with not quite as many memorable tracks as the first volume. 'Walkin' bass' is classic Mancini, with a nervy, finger-clicking mood, with the saxophone taking a dominant role, while vibes and piano make fleeting appearances. 'Goofin' at the coffee house' is excellent in a similar way. 'Spook' continues the late 50s vibe with a slow, bluesey number that wouldn't sound out of place in a David Lynch movie. I'm also very fond of 'Joanna', a delicate romantic theme, and the sliding sax on 'Blues for mother's'.
The impact that both The Music from Peter Gunn and More Music from Peter Gunn have had on me is immense, and their influence can be heard in a lot of film and jazz music that has been recorded since. I recommend picking both up if you don't have them already.
If you like Morricone, and you live anywhere near NYC, please keep the night of Thursday November 14th free.
Compilation: 'À Bout De Souffle' (CD; Hortensia; 1960-1971)
Here's one I bought a long time ago used in London. I was rather excited to find it, since I almost always enjoy the scores to French nouvelle vague movies, and I remembered particularly liking the music in Breathless, aka A Bout De Souffle.
In fact, this is a compilation of pieces of soundtracks to six different films, all loosely linked by a 'nouvelle vague' label.
The styles vary hugely between the different films. I had expected and hoped everything to be like Martial Solal's music for A Bout De Souffle - jazzy, nervy and very cool, with great piano and brass. Probably the standout track here is 'Poursuite', a very catchy number with vibes that reminds me of some of the film music Serge Gainsbourg was writing in the early sixties.
Next up is some music from Truffaut's La Peau Douce by Georges Delerue. It's nice enough, but sounds strange after the Solal score - gentle, muted and moody, with strings and flute. One track is a Portuguese-style fado with guitar.
Pierre Jansen's suite from Le Scandale is dramatic in a Bernard Herrman kind of way. Again, nice, but not really something I'd listen to out of the cinema.
George Delerue returns with the short theme to Henri Colpi's Mona, L'Étoile sans nom. It's very delicate and beautiful, with strings and (I think) harp.
Next, there are seven tracks, again by George Delerue, from Truffaut's Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent. These are pretty much in the style of the Mona piece - delicate and pretty, with pleasant string arrangements.
Finally, two tracks are featured from Georges Moustaki's score to La Fianceé du pirate. These grabbed me a bit more, since the first is a folky sounding vocal by Barbara.
So, this is an interesting disc to have, since it makes available some rare material. However, I was really looking for an overview of the jazz of the nouvelle vague, and aside from the Martial Solal tracks, this disc doesn't really offer much in the way of jazz.