Tuesday, September 18, 2012

40 Year Itch : 1972 in Soundtracks Part 1

1972 was a monster year in film and movie soundtracks. Just look at some of the movies that came out that year: The Godfather,  Deliverance, Cabaret, Solaris and Aguirre Wrath of God. Porn went mainstream with both Deep Throat and Behind The Green Door among the top ten grossing films. 1972 also saw the best of the blaxploitation soundtracks Superfly as well as Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man and Bobby Womack's Across 110th Street. And who can forget The Harder They Come ? Here are some of 1972's most memorable soundtracks.


   It says a lot about the power of a film that after just 137 minutes nobody will hear Beethoven's most famous symphony in the same way.
   Though the movie came out in 1971, the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange wasn't released until 1972. Along with some straight,  though mostly truncated,  orchestral performances of classical numbers like various movements from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Rossini's "William Tell Overture", there are the standout synthesizer performances by Walter "Switched-On_Bach" Carlos ( She would undergo sex reassignment surgery in 1972 and become Wendy Carlos). All of the music --even "Gene Kelly's "Singin In The Rain" --will forever be haunted by the brutal imagery of the film.
    Check out the opening track :  Carlos's performance of Henry Purcell's "Music For The Funeral for Queen Mary". Listen closely and you can hear the sounds that inspired the entire Goth music movement.


Wendy Carlos also did the soundtrack music to Kubrick's The Shining.


Roam the halls of the dark, well guarded Coreleone family mansion in this soundtrack by the great Italian composer Nino Rota ( who did the soundtrack work on all The Godfather movies as well as films by Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti) The American Film Institute ranks The Godfather #5 on their list of  all time great film scores. As with most film scores, you're going to hear a theme repeated over and over.
"The Halls Of Fear" is as dark as it gets. I would say if you have bad news to give at an office meeting, it might really set the stage by playing this first. I'll try it this week and let you know.


The love theme, "Speak Softly Love" was covered by all kinds of artists. Andy Williams had the big hit but I prefer this reggae version by Ken Boothe (  But then I seem to prefer Ken Boothe's reggae versions of just about everything).


Improvisation. That's what Marlon Brando was doing throughout the sexually charged, originally X-Rated story of an American widower and his attempt to have an anonymous affair with a younger woman. ( Actually Brando was reading cue cards placed all over the set...including the ceiling). But in any case, improvisation is part of what jazz is all about and Argentine sax player Gato Barbieri does with the main theme, now a jazz standard. At once sexy sunny and cheesy, the Last Tango In Paris soundtrack deserves its place among 1972's best soundtracks.

Look for more soundtracks from 1972 later this week.

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