Maybe you’re old school, and love the swelling, bombastic scores of Max Steiner and Wolfgang Maria Korngold – or perhaps you’re a rocker and have King Creole or The Girl Can’t Help It constantly on your turntable. Maybe you love the swinging sixties spy vibe, and have John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, and Hugo Montenegro loaded into you iPod. Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni, Bruno Nicolai, and Mario Nascimbene have legions of fans with their sophisticated Euro sounds – are you one of them? Does John Williams theme from Jaws still send shivers up your spine?
With a bit of help from a few friends, over the next week or so, I am going to be looking at movie soundtracks – from spy films and beyond. I am going to drag out some of that old vinyl and shine a light on a few of my favourites – and hopefully serve up a few aural gems that you’ve never heard before.
Today I am joined by Andrew Nette from Pulp Curry, who shares his five favourite soundtracks below.
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My top five film soundtracks closely mirror some of my favourite films. It’s probably like that for a lot of people. Particular pieces of music become associated with the mood and visuals of certain films. In no particular order, my favourite soundtracks are:
The French Connection
I’m a huge jazz fan and but for the life of me can’t get into the music of Don Ellis. What I’ve heard is just too trippy and experimental for my tastes. The exception is his score from the 1971 movie, French Connection. It goes without saying what an amazing, ground breaking film this was, and Ellis’s score perfectly compliments its edge, dark nature. The highlight is track 10, ‘Subway’. Good music to tail drug-running scumbags to.
Touch of Evil
Henry Mancini score for Orson Welles’s 1958 classic, Touch of Evil, is one of my favourite movie soundtracks. The score is what is known as “source music”, in that it comes from a visible source such as a jukebox or radio or a classic player piano. The score, with its Afro-Cuban vibe, is a wonderfully dynamic and rich series of musical pieces that perfectly reflect the pulpy, fifties nature of the movie.
Roy Budd did some great scores. Think, The Marseille Contract, Fear is the Key and The Intercine Project, just to name a few. But Get Carter is his best work. It’s another great “source” soundtrack using sounds and instruments from the time. The main theme, ‘Carter Takes a Train’ is probably my favourite piece of movie soundtrack, perfectly establishing as it does the tone and mood of this great film.
It seems to me that the enduring popularity of the Blaxsploitation films of the early seventies is as much about the music that went them as the films themselves. I bet more people know the theme from Shaft than can tell you the plot details. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but for me it’s probably the soundtrack from the 1974 film, Truck Turner. Isaac Hayes did the honours and, although it was never as successful, for my money the music is far superior to Shaft. Track 9, ‘Pursuit of the Pimpmobile’ is a personal favourite.
John Barry didn’t do a bad soundtrack for James Bond but Thunderball is hands down my favourite. From the main title sung by Tom Jones, the ‘Chateau Fight’, the eerie feel of the ‘The Bomb’ and the music for the final fight scene, ‘007’, every track is terrific.
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Thanks very much to Andrew for sharing his selections. Stay tuned to P2K for a full length interview with Andrew, where I talk to him about his new book, Ghost Money.
Andrew Nette is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He is one of the editors of the on-line magazine, Crime Factory. His short fiction has appeared in a number of on-line and print publications, including Crime Factory: The First Shift by New Pulp Press and The One That Got Away, an anthology of crime stories released in 2012 by Australian independent publisher Dark Prints Press. His debut crime novel Ghost Money is published by Snubnose Press. His blog, Pulp Curry explores crime film and literature, particularly from Asia and Australia.