Music of Hugo Montenegro

Today I am going to look at the work of composer Hugo Montenegro. Montenegro is probably more famous for his re-interpretation of other composer’s music. His version of Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly topped the U.S. charts (making it to #2). But Montenegro did his own tunes as well and provided the soundtracks to a few spy movies, namely The Ambushers, and The Wrecking Crew – starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. He also composed the theme (from 2nd season) for the TV series, I Dream of Jeannie, which has got to count for something!

Montenegro’s re-versions of other composers tunes, in this day and age are a little redundant – as it is quite easy to access the originals. But that wasn’t always the case. As a lad, growing up in rural Australia, it was virtually impossible to access Morricone’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – whereas Montenegro’s was easy to find. I still have several western compilation L.P.s, from my childhood, with Montenegro’s version on them. On top of that, it got radio play too.

I must admit I find Montenegro’s original movie scores a bit too scattered for my liking, and don’t follow the plot. A wild swinging tune is great to listen to, while not watching the movie, but with the film, if the intent is to convey suspense – then the number fails – such as in the Frank Sinatra detective thriller, Lady in Cement.

I almost see Montenegro’s music as a toy from my youth. It was great when I was young, exposing a young fella to the wild multitude of sounds out there. But now as an adult, I think Hugo can be locked away in the cupboard, (or slipped into the bottom of the toy-box) and in its place, composers such as Morricone, Goldsmith, Bernstein, Williams et al should be sampled.

Mort Goode’s liner notes to the album, ‘Original Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ say this about Montenegro’s contribution:

‘One of the most intriguing elements that keeps “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” moving sprightly or stealthily each week is music. It sparkles or sputters. It tantalises or tickles. It relieves or revives. The variety of musical themes has been expanded for this album. This original music is fascinatingly arranged and conducted by Hugo Montenegro with a swashbuckling orchestra conjuring up images of U.N.C.L.E. escapades. Several talented and renowned composers have contributed to the music.’

Soundtracks Include:

The Ambushers, The Wrecking Crew, Original Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Lady in Cement, Charro, The Undefeated.

Music of Hugo Montenegro

Liner Notes: Kevin Pyrtle


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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, Kevin Pyrtle, from Wtf-Film.com., who shares his five favourite soundtracks below.

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When first approached to grace Permission to Kill with my hallowed opinion on film scores I thought, “Easy peasy. How hard can writing about your five favorite soundtracks possibly be?” Plenty hard, it seems. After a few weeks of due diligence I’ve come to the conclusion that with regard to films and their music I have just too damned many categories of “favorite” to make any sense of, especially within the confines of an article like this. All that said, I’ve given it my best shot, and present for you five favorites (in no certain order) from the more obscure recesses of my personal taste. I dig them one and all, and really, you should too.

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Mikis Theodorakis – The Day the Fish Came Out

Director Michael Cacoyannis’ grim 1967 parody of small-town Greece, tourism, and the nuclear age, forgotten almost as quickly as it arrived in domestic cinemas, was and remains one of the strangest films ever conceived. Promoted (dumbly) as a sort of follow-up to the same director’s Oscar-winning Zorba the Greek, The Day the Fish Came Out instead challenged audience expectations from its wild opening titles (by the great Maurice Binder, of Bond fame) to its final apocalyptic dance of death. Esteemed composer Mikis Theodorakis’ (Z) amplified the culture clash at the picture’s heart with a score that’s appropriately iconoclastic, flanking jaunty traditional Greek melodies with aggressively modern guitar and synth riffs and improvisational jazz diversions that remind a bit of Fred Katz. It’s alternately beautiful, jarring, and numbing stuff, and it’s impossible to imagine Cocoyannis’ film without it – a sure sign of a job well done.

Shunsuke Kikuchi – Genocide: War of the Insects

Despite his relative obscurity in comparison to the likes of Ifukube, Sato, Takemitsu and so on, the contributions of prolific film and television composer Shunsuke Kikuchi’s to the flavor of the Japanese pop cinema of the 60s are impossible to ignore. Though typified by his fondness for muted laser brass and percussive synths (as evidenced by his work on Goke Body Snatcher From Hell, the Gamera series and others) Kikuchi, like so many of his overworked contemporaries, was actually possessed of quite a wide range of musical sensibilities. Nowhere is this more evident than in his score for Shochiku’s ridiculously nihilist Genocide: War of the Insects, for which the typically bombastic composer crafted an atypically melodious score. Kikuchi’s usual mix of synths and muted brass is here, but sparingly applied, and a lush, melancholy love theme is allowed to develop among the strings and woodwinds between the typical horror stings. There’s an ethereal dreaminess (and not necessarily good dreams!) to the low-boil atmospheric passages, and even a hint of Herrmann to be heard in the insectine violins. The composer has rarely been more evocative.

Stelvio Cipriani – Nightmare City

We all have our guilty pleasures, and Umberto Lenzi’s Nightmare City is one of the guiltiest of mine, that disc I drag out of the cabinet whenever friends just aren’t sure what they’re in the mood for. By the end, they’re always in the mood for Nightmare City. A frequently laughable and always entertaining mix of awkward enviro-political speechifying and bread and butter exploitation, with lots of blood and exposed flesh to keep attentions piqued, Nightmare City isn’t exactly A-class material, and the unfortunate task of composing for it fell upon the accomplished and prolific Stelvio Cipriani (Bay of Blood). Some of the cues here are quite effective, and the opening theme signals doom-and-gloom with the best of them. The rest, however, aren’t so much. A few diversions into contemporary lounge and cringeworthy dance stylings aside, Cipriani’s score is dominated by an infectious nasal synthesizer motif that’s repeated to the point of hysterics. It’s an indelible bit of love-it or hate-it scoring, and perfect for tormenting friends and enemies alike.

Masao Yagi – Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds

In 1977 Toei Company spent more money than they ever had before on producing a bizarre Jaws-influenced disaster picture about one impossibly hip geologist’s hunt for a living plesiosaurus in the lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji. Punctuated by graphic human violence, giant monster fights, volcanic eruptions and even an impromptu country music show courtesy of Moroguchi Akira, Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds is a weird picture for a lot of reasons. Not the least of these is jazz pianist Masao Yagi’s out-there score, a rare instance of daikaiju eiga disco-funk and one of the downright baddest things ever composed for the genre. I admit to being biased, however, as Yagi’s score is also one of the few I’ve ever heard that offers the bass clarinet (an instrument near and dear to me) any kind of star placement in the instrumentation. In the lower, moodier patches the bass clarinetist frequently carries the theme, and during one memorable monster encounter is even offered a couple of front-and-center improv spots. I spent hours of my youth figuring these parts out from a gruddy VHS pre-record, and if for that experience alone Yagi’s work will always be tops with me.

Various – The Man Who Saved the World / Turkish Star Wars

Firstly, if you’re one of those who’ve yet to see Turkish Star Wars just do it already – it commands! In all the land of illegitimate Turkish cinema perhaps none is greater than this, and that goes for its wildly illegitimate soundtrack as well. Featuring no original scoring to speak of, Turkish Star Wars instead offers what may be the ultimate film geek mix-tape. Snippets from Queen’s score for Flash Gordon are present and accounted for, as well a cue or two from John Barry’s The Black Hole and Peter Shickele’s Silent Running. Planet of the Apes? Check. And how about a hoppy disco redux of the theme to Battlestar Gallactica? Yup, that’s here too. There are even themes from well beyond the realm of science fiction, including cues from the likes of Miklos Rosza’s Ben-Hur and Ennio Morricone’s Moses. Star Wars itself remains conspicuously absent, but John Williams doesn’t escape entirely unscathed – various themes from his Raiders of the Lost Ark are repeated early and often. Sacrilege never sounded so good.

Kevin Pyrtle is a film and video critic, Harryhausen apologist, and chief cook and bottle washer for Wtf-Film.com. He lives inside your television set, at least when he’s not kicking about in the MOSS. hideaway.

Liner Notes: Kevin Pyrtle

Liner Notes: Carol Borden


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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, Carol Borden, who draws out the best in comics at the, Cultural Gutter. She shares her five favourite soundtracks below.

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If I were to base this on composers I love, it would probably be very different. But then, if you asked me on another day, it would be different. Top 5 or 10 or even 20 lists and I are not good friends.

In The Mood For Love (2001) by Michael Galasso and Shigeru Umebayashi

I sigh to this soundtrack late at night. Director Wong Kar-Wai and composer/violinist Michael Galasso’s In The Mood For Love soundtrack represents how well music can work with a movie and how good a soundtrack thoughtfully combining original composition and music by other composers and artists can work with a film. Zhao Xuan’s “Hua Yang De Nian Hua” provides crackly radio nostalgia. Nat King Cole’s covers of Bebel Gilberto classics provide romantic polish to a glossy, stylish film. But what I like best about the soundtrack is the strings. Composers and bands often use saccharine sweet string arrangements, but the real power of a violin is its ability to evoke a rough, raw, yearning ache, and Michael Galasso does that so well in his original compositions and in his arrangement of “Yumeji’s Theme,” from Shigeru Umebayashi’s soundtrack for Seijun Suzuki’s Yumeji.

Night On Earth (1992) by Tom Waits

Tom Waits and Jim Jarmusch are amazing together. I probably like Jarmusch’s Down By Law better as a film, and love all the Waits songs used in that soundtrack. But Waits’ Night On Earth soundtrack fits perfectly with the film, all thumping bass, crooked horns, sad piano, acidic electric guitar and old country accordion. Waits provides different arrangements of a theme to mark the same night experienced by cab drivers in 5 different cities: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome and Helsinki. And there are variations on two songs he and Kathleen Brennan wrote for the film, “Back In The Good Old World” and “On The Other Side Of The World.” Good for listening to while driving on dark, snowy winter nights.

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974) by David Shire

For the record, there is no other version of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three. There is only the one directed by Joseph Sargeant, starring Walter Matthau and scored by David Shire. Shire was a prolific composer of 1960s and 1970s soundtracks, but this is my favorite of his. It’s a perfect synecdoche of 1970s film soundtracks. Again, I like the variations on a theme—particularly the expanded arrangement of the opening them for the end credits. I love the squonking brass echoing street noise and the sounds of the subway, and the complex percussion scoring. Frankly, one of the best inspirations musicians have ever had is the train. I imagine that this is exactly how badass Fun City sounded like in the 1970s.

Tokyo Drifter (1966) by Hajime Kaburagi

Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter is almost more a musical than a yakuza movie. The set design is highly stylized and the color is saturated. And the film opens with protagonist Tetsuya Watari singing, “Tokyo Drifter/ Tokyo Nagaremono.” Watching the movie, it’s easy to think that’s the only song in the soundtrack as it is arranged, reprised, answered and whistled through the film and into your mind. But Chieko Matsubara sings jazzy, operatic elegies in club scenes, including a variation, “Chechez Le Vagabond” and “Furi Furi” by “group sounds” band, The Spiders. Suzuki’s movies are all notable for their jazzy soundtracks, but what makes me choose Tokyo Drifter over, say, Branded To Kill is the way one song infuses an entire film, as if the whole film is just an elaboration of it. Even Chieko Matsubara’s last song, interrupted by the final showdown, bleeds easily into “Tokyo Drifter’s” final reprise. The song itself has become iconic and you can find many interpretations online, from shamisen arrangements to Japanese Academic Punks w/Tokyo Big Beat Junky’s ska version.

Yojimbo (1961) by Masaru Sato

Yojimbo might be the most satirical and catchy as hell soundtrack I’ve ever heard. With his mix of modern and traditional instrumentation, Sato punctuates scenes, underscores the humor in Yojimbo and amplifies mood, whether in a nameless samurai’s decision to follow one path over another, hired swords working up the courage to fight or a young mother’s heartfelt, though foolishly-timed, thanks. The “Burlesque” dance number, in particular, is one of my favorite pieces in the movie for the way it presents a straightforward scene—prostitutes dancing as an enticement for the wandering ronin—and just undercuts the seriousness and slyness of the madame’s scheme. If the theme from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three captures the subway, Yojimbo’s theme really captures rambling along dirt roads. I imagine that Sato just recorded the natural soundtrack that followed Toshiro Mifune around during the whole Yojimbo shoot.

(If I were to choose one soundtrack to represent the best in soundtracks, it would be Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, which somehow feels like a chorus out of ancient Greek drama, commenting on the film. Also, “The Ecstasy of Gold” graveyard sequence makes my hair stand on end).

Carol Borden is one of the team at Cultural Gutter, a website that ‘takes trash seriously.’ The site is updated Thursday afternoon with a new article about an artistic pursuit generally considered to be beneath consideration. Carol Borden draws out the best in comics, James Schellenberg probes science-fiction, Chris Szego dallies with romance and Alex MacFadyen stares deeply into the screen.

Liner Notes: Carol Borden

Liner Notes: Jason Whiton


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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, Jason Whiton from the sixties spy style website, Spy Vibe, who shares his five favourite soundtracks below.

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1. The 10th Victim
There must be some things that one falls in love with because of the timing or the context. I saw this film when I was a little kid, and it immediately became a template for me that defined a kind of height in futuristic, erotic, spy-vibe. The sound of the organ, the women and their orgasmic vocalizations, it was just immensely thrilling to me. It wasn’t until Crippled Dick Hotwax put out their compilations of Italian soundtracks that I realized that the 10th Victim was part of a larger scene. And although I enjoyed hearing more music in that style, I always stayed true to this score. I love the main phrases. I love its avant-garde quality at times. And it captures the aesthetic of the film. I was grateful that I got to contribute to the Blu-ray edition!

2. Planet of the Apes
Goldsmith made some genius decisions to use the primal nature of percussion to define the sound of this score. Again, it has an avant-garde quality that I like a lot. It reminds me of Kontakte by Stockhausen. And the pacing of the sounds, I think, echo beautifully the emotional journey of the story. After loving this for years, I have finally started to explore Dame Evelyn Glennie, a contemporary classical percussionist, who is experimental (and deaf!). Check out her amazing documentary with Fred Frith called Touch the Sound.

3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
By far the best Bond score, in my opinion. Just the theme alone encapsulates the emotions of the story. You have a main theme, representing Bond, that is constantly trying to push forward. And in a call and response structure, you have a variety of phrases and instruments that are constantly challenging him, pushing him to the breaking point. There is even a wonderful use of brass in moments that paint the character with a dash of traditional honor and duty. Listen to the theme again and you will see what I’m talking about. In addition, there are cool electronic sounds introduced in the score, which give it a non-cartoony futuristic vibe.

4. Tohru Takemistu
I’m a huge fan of this Japanese composer. He scored things like Rising Sun and the new wave films by Oshima and Teshigahara. Takemitsu is known for his use of negative space and traditional instruments, and also experimenting with unusual sounds. His scores are often quite haunting and surprising, which is why I like them. Nothing cliche going on there! Also, the minimalistic nature supports the Japanese film within its own tradition of aesthetic principles. Having lived there for many years, it rings truer to me than almost any other style.

5. In Like Flint/Our Man Flint
Although there are many fun spy soundtracks I like, not to mention John Williams and Star Wars, I find myself most often listening to this score. I think that it is for no other reason that I find the main phrase soothing and interesting, and I enjoy how they find so many ways to repeat it throughout. Maybe for that reason, it starts to play like one long piece with separate movements. And like OHMSS, there are fun examples of early electronic sounds. If I was to choose on the concept alone, I would also have to mention the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Doctor Who) as a fascinating time capsule into experimental music made for mainstream narrative work.

It’s hard to leave some out.

Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
The soundtrack that defined my twenties. A brilliant score by Ryuichi Sakamoto (YMO), which was also recorded as a single with vocalist David Sylvian (Japan). I discovered this score when I was twenty and probably played it constantly for almost ten years. The main hook is just incredible, and the score progresses with a contrast of two themes to mirror the two pairs in the story. Sakamoto also recorded a rare piano-solo version, which is worth tracking down.

Jason Whiton is the creator of Spy Vibe. Jason composes the soundtracks to his short films, which have been awarded and recognized by Sundance, Park City Film Music Festival, and other major festivals and museums. A life-long musician, Jason recently composed a contest-winning song re-mix for the artist, Yoko Ono. More info at www.jasonwhiton.com.

Liner Notes: Jason Whiton

Liner Notes: Keith Allison


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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 Keith Allison, the evil overlord at Teleport City, who shares five incredibly strange scoring choices, below.

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Like just about everyone who will be piping up as part of this series, the idea of picking my five favorite soundtracks is a study in folly. I could go on all day and fill pages with soundtracks I adore. But rules are rules, and if I am going to have any chance of succeeding at this, I have to inflict yet more rules. So I decided on a couple things. First, no soundtracks that are just compilations of songs. Those can be done incredibly well, but I figured on sticking with original scores here. Second, and more importantly, I thought I’d restrict myself to soundtracks that seem, based on any logical assessment, to be completely ill-suited and contradictory to the film they accompany, or that are otherwise incredibly strange scoring choices that never the less, when put into context, work perfectly. For each of these five, it’s not just a soundtrack I love; it’s a soundtrack that is absolutely as essential to the success of the movie as any other aspect. So while it pains me to compile a list that doesn’t contain things like You Only Live Twice, Violent Naples, Streets of Fire, or In the Mood for Love, or anything by Morricone, I thought we’d be better served this time out with something a little more skewed toward an oddball philosophy. So here we go.

Hanna – Chemical Brothers
Nothing about Hanna should work. From it’s bizarre performances, insane camera work, and all-around nuttiness, it’s a psychedelic art film that somehow collided with a Bourne style espionage action film. Love it. Chief among the film’s weird elements is the soundtrack by 90s trance/electronica veterans Chemical Brothers. It’s a delirious whirlwind of music boxes, thumping beats, ghostly sighing, and buzzing electronic madness that seems like it should have nothing to do with a spy movie — until you see it in context. I think it works brilliantly, and the film would not be as successful at its peculiar mix of frantic spy action and faery tale surrealism if it wasn’t accompanied by the Chemical Brothers music.

Suspiria – Goblin
Goblin did a staggering amount of great work during their years in the Italian horror and exploitation film industry, but for my money, Suspiria remains their crowning achievement, just as the crowning achievement of the 2012 Summer Olympics was having two Russian synchronized swimmers use the film’s main theme during their routine. Suspiria has one foot rooted in Goblin’s prog rock roots, another foot in exotic tribal percussion, and since we’re going weird here, a third foot in some sort of Monastic chanting meets whatever sort of chanting it is occultists are likely to be doing. At times it threatens to overpower the film it is meant to accompany, but in the end the discordant blend of electronics, thundering, and chanting becomes the perfect mood setter for Dario Argento’s equally odd stylistic choices for the film.

Ravenous – Damon Albarn & Michael Nyman
For my money, Ravenous is one of the most criminally underseen and unknown horror films of all time, and a goodly part of what helps it succeed is its soundtrack’s unhinged take on classic Americana. Banjos, dulcimers, harmoniums, fiddles, fifes — all pretty normal territory for a film set in the remote Rockies of the 1800s. But nothing about the way the songs are played is right. There is always something slightly alien about these things that should be so familiar, which turns even the most mundane of moments in the film into something jarring, sinister, and unsettling. It’s like a circus gone creepy, or something being played by one of those all-hobo old time bands (that was a thing, right?). Using happy or recognizable music ironically is easy, but Ravenous is much subtler, infusing a horrific and at times almost subliminally nightmarish undercurrent into things. It’s the perfect music for a film that starts out on seemingly familiar territory and gets increasingly weirder. I listen to it when I go backpacking, and it freaks me the hell out.

To the Stars by Hard Ways – Alexei Rybnikov & Dmitry Rybnikov
To the Stars is a likeable, earnest, and somewhat corny bit of Soviet era science fiction whose colorful special effects and can-do working class optimism is tinged by more than a hint of uncertainty and melancholy. The soundtrack is strange and clashing mic of typically disco-ish 80s space electronica and anachronistic harpsichords and chamber music. The final combination shouldn’t work at all, let alone in a science fiction adventure, but that doesn’t stop it from clicking perfectly with and helping to augment the overall mood of the movie. If they’d gone with typical John Williams lite space orchestras, as much of science fiction was doing, it would have changed the movie completely. Instead, we get an odd conflict between past and future, not unlike the soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange, and a score that transforms the movie into something much more haunting than is promised by the flashing lights and silly robots.

Apocalypse Now – Carmine Coppola
War movie soundtracks have pretty much been the same since the dawn of war movies. Some majestic orchestration, some martial “rat-a-tat-tat,” and you are good to go. When Francis Ford Coppola made a war movie as screwy as Apocalypse Now, it was pretty obvious that a typically gung-ho soundtrack wouldn’t suit it. So Carmine Coppola gave Francis a trippy, experimental electronic soundtrack that seems to have almost nothing to do with the movie. It is supremely creepy, more like the soundtrack to a weird horror or sci-fi film than a Vietnam movie. And man is it good. What goes on in Apocalypse Now is a little weird, but it’s not that weird — until it’s all set to that jumble of keyboards and nightmarish audio doodling. The music elevates the film into a disturbing, surreal masterpiece it could not have been without it.

Keith considers it a good day if he finds himself in a torn Army green t-shirt, using a badly notched machete to split open a coconut and hand half of it to the scantily clad woman sitting on the beach next to him as he stares out at the waves and listens intently for the sound of war drums drifting from the dense jungle foliage behind him.

He is also the administrator of the world’s most beloved lifestyle website, Teleport City. Teleport City started as a way to indulge his interest in the white edges of the cultural map, detailing a sprawling and often confusing metropolis that occupies a point between cultures. Neither beholden to nor a part of any single society, drifting like an eternal transit passenger from one arrival gate to the next.

Liner Notes: Keith Allison

Liner Notes: Vic Flick


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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 digging into the P2K vaults, and re-posting and interview I did with guitarist Vic Flick in May 2009. Enjoy!

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Vic Flick. You may not know the name but you have heard his guitar sound on film and television soundtracks and some of the most famous pop songs of all time. Vic plied his trade on ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, by Dusty Springfield, ‘Anyone Who Has A Heart’ by Cilla Black, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ by The Walker Brothers, and Engelbert Humperdink’s ‘The Last Waltz’, amongst many, many others. Now for most musicians that would be a fine body of work in itself. But Vic has one more claim to fame. He was the man thwacking the strings on John Barry’s arrangement of Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme. The authorship of the James Bond Theme has always been controversial (and possibly litigious ground to step on), so we’ll leave that alone. But one thing is certain – It was Vic Flick on a Clifford Essex Paragon De Lux guitar that played that famous riff.

In 2008, Vic released his autobiography, ‘Vic Flick: Guitarman’. The book covers everything from his first tentative steps into the music industry, moving through the heady days of the British invasion of the mid to late ’60s, and the belated critical re-assessment of his work in recent years. Today I have the privilege of presenting an interview with Vic, where I ask him a few questions about his book, the work on the Bond series and some of the famous people he has shared studio floor with over the years.

* * * * *

DF: I’m going to jump right out of the gate here and ask you about a section of the book that had me fully engaged and hungry to learn more. In your book you talk about being called into a recording session with Eric Clapton, who was working with composer Michael Kamen on the title track to License To Kill. What happened?

VF: It was a phone call out of the blue. Michael Kamen wanted a dark guitar sound to compliment the melody and extemporization Eric Clapton was going to do on their composition. So, knowing of my penchant for low string guitar playing, he called me for the sessions. It was good to see Eric again after many years and it was wonderful to work with those two gifted musicians. Eric played some amazing guitar on the track and Michael worked out a fine arrangement. I did my thing with a counter theme in the low register. The title turned out very good and the following day we went to a loft in the wharf area of London to shoot the video. What little I saw of the video was great. The video was then submitted to the Bond producers who had commissioned the project. I waited, Michael waited and Eric was off doing his thing somewhere in the world. After two weeks came the news that the Bond producers wanted a song as a theme and commissioned Gladys Knight and the Pips and blew out the track that Michael, Eric and I submitted. I did well out of the sessions financially but would have like everyone to have heard and seen the video. That video is now the Holy Grail of Bond aficionados and he who finds it will see the golden light!!

DF: So, to your knowledge, these recordings and video have never seen the light of day?

VF: Again, no one knows where the video is. The one person who I thought knew, Michael Kamen, has since passed away so the secret has passed with him.

DF: You have worked with quite a few people who are household names – especially for spy fans – names like Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, and the list goes on. You also worked with Shirley Bassey on a few occasions. What are your recollections of Shirley?

VF: Shirley Bassey is an amazing artist. She gives her all when singing, both on stage and in the studio. She can be volatile with mood changes that happen within seconds. If anything goes wrong it will never be our Shirley’s fault – even if she misses an entry. In such a case the sound wasn’t correct or she thought she heard a musical mistake or she hadn’t said she was ready and so on. Everybody would sit with blank faces waiting for Shirley to come back to earth. Musical Directors have suffered at her hands, one of them having a nervous breakdown.

DF: You also worked with Michael Legrand, who did the score for Never Say Never Again. You worked on Yentl, with Barbara Streisand. What were Legrand and Streisand like to work with?

VF: It wasn’t a relationship that was made in Heaven even though both think that’s where they are a gift from. Certainly they are great talents but the person putting them together for Yentl, for instance, took a chance.

DF: I am going to step away from spy film questions for a moment, and ask you about Brian Forbes’ Deadfall, which starred Michael Caine. The concert sequence, which is juxtaposed against a daring robbery, is looked back upon as a piece of bravura filmmaking. You had a hand in putting together that musical composition didn’t you?

VF: John Barry was commissioned to write the score for Deadfall and he did a great job, catching the atmosphere of the film. However, the concerto featured classical guitar played by Renata Tarrago, a renowned classical guitarist. I got a call from John Barry asking me to go to his Villa in Spain where he had set up shop to write the music. He wanted some advice on the guitar part in the concerto. It finished up with me scoring the guitar part for Renata Tarrago to play. I was pleased, and at the same time dismayed, to read a review of the musical score applauding John Barry for his mastery of writing for guitar. That’s Show Business!

DF: You worked on ‘Je t’aime…moi non plus’ with Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg – that must have been a steamy recording session?

VF: The actual recording was laying down the track for Jane to sing a few words and make ooohing and aaahing noises – something which she did really well. Jane put her erotic part on at a later date. Jane was in the studio when we put down the track and it was good to see her again after the slightly of key meetings we had when she was married to John Barry

DF: Last year, you released your autobiography, ‘Guitarman’ – a great read by the way – because you have played on so many ‘classic recordings’ was it hard to distill your anecdotes and reminisces down?

VF: It was hard to leave out many anecdotes and I’m still thinking of more that I would have like to have included in the book. Maybe another book in the making! The book relates to such a busy time in the British music scene working on a multitude of recordings with so many artists in all the London studios that when I hear record on the radio or TV and even though I wasn’t on it, it sets up a chain of memories. Some of which I captured, others got away.

DF: One thing I got from the book was a slice of what it was like to be a jobbing musician in the sixties. When we look back at the sixties, sometimes it seems like one giant psychedelic party, but your story seems to be one of hard work – traveling from gig to gig, or studio to studio. How did you avoid the traps that so many other musicians seemed to fall into – booze, drugs etc.?

VF: This is a question I get asked a lot. I only ever tried pot once and it made me sick, Also, with the responsibilities of family and my reputation, I just couldn’t afford to get to a studio ‘out of it.’ Some guys did and were never seen again.

DF: What would you say was the main reason for your longevity in an industry that is notoriously fickle?

VF: Good question, David. I suppose it is a combination of my face fitting, being able to do what was required of me, turning up on time and, up until now, keeping my mouth shut. And not necessarily in that order!

DF: And one final question if I may – this may seem silly to ask the man who played guitar on one of the most famous theme tunes of all time, but are you a Bond man, or a Bourne man?

VF: Definitely a Bond man – and a Connery Bond man.

DF: Oooh. Great answer. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Vic.

From Vic’s website:
Flick’s musical career originated at the tender age of age of fourteen, when he traded his piano lessons for acoustic guitar. Flick’s first major gig in the late 50’s was with an acoustic band that toured with Paul Anka, named the Bob Cort Skiffle Group. On the same tour with Paul Anka of the United Kingdom was the John Barry Seven, led by Oscar winning composer, John Barry. Months later, after a call from Barry, Flick joined the Seven, becoming the lead guitarist by 1958.

Flick became a highly regarded session player, lending his masterful guitar skills to a variety of recordings and instrumental themes. Flick’s first memorable foray into film scoring was his work with composer Barry on the 1960’s cult film, Beat Girl. Some critics regard the score of this film, as the genesis for the Bond’s theme; as the slick title track of Beat Girl is reminiscent of pre-Bond emanations. From this moment, Flick’s contribution to the 60’s music scene was soon to become immense.

Vic Flick: Guitarman is available from: Amazon.com

For more information on Vic Flick and his CD, James Bond Now, visit www.vicflick.com

Liner Notes: Vic Flick

Liner Notes: Todd Stadtman


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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 Todd Stadtman from Die Danger Die Die Kill, who shares his five favourite soundtracks below.

* * * * *

Casino Royale (1967), Burt Bacharach. Burt Bacharach’s score is the glue that holds the otherwise chaotic Casino Royale together, the one consistent character in a movie absent a traditional lead. It’s also essential Bacharach, at once sophisticated and playful, and almost proudly cheesy. Oh, and catchy as hell; there are certain scenes that’ve stuck with me stubbornly over the years due only to the music that accompanied them. Besides, how can a soundtrack with Dusty Springfield’s version of “The Look of Love” as its centerpiece not rate inclusion here?

You Only Live Twice, by John Barry. All of Barry’s 007 scores are close to my heart, but I think that YOLT is by far his most challenging. Spurred by the genre bending present within the film itself, he addressed YOLT’s sci-fi aspects with an even denser than usual pallet of queasily dissonant strings, while at the same time adding an element of Asian exoticism to his usual foundation of brassy suspense riffs. The result is one of the most mysterious, intoxicating and compulsively listenable out of all his imminently listenable Bond scores, not to mention one that would provide an irresistible source of samples for trip hop producers come the 90s. On top of that, you have Nancy Sinatra’s theme, which is, to my mind (sorry, Shirley) the runaway best of the bunch.

Asoka, by Anu Malik. Asoka is by far the most frequently played out of all the Bollywood soundtracks I own, which is saying an awful lot. Anu Malik’s songs somehow manage to capture the grandeur and gravitas of the historical epic which contains them while at the same time maintaining an infectious pop sensibility. Many of the hypnotic compositions also conjure an air of magic and destiny, making for tunes that are somehow at once hummable, haunting and head bopping.

Vertigo, by Bernhard Hermann. I worried that including Vertigo would be something of a cliché, but, if I’m being honest, it has to be here. As much as the contrarian in me resists admitting it, this officially sanctioned “greatest movie of all time” is among my very favorites, an affection that carries over to its also deservedly admired soundtrack. Living up to the film’s title, these are swirling, brain-fogging compositions that lend to mania, madness and obsession a purple, seductive beauty

Danger: Diabolik, by Ennio Morricone. This may not be everyone’s Morricone soundtrack of choice. But enamored as I am of the swinging 60s, Mod/pop art aesthetics that Danger: Diabolik exemplifies, there’s no choice to be made. To my mind, no film crystallizes that aesthetic — redolent of comic books, bubblegum, pop music, popped pills, and pulp thrills – better, and Morricone supplies the perfect accompaniment — from hammered harpsichords, to twanging baritone guitars, to “I can hear the colors” psychedelic flourishes. At the same time, Danger: Diabolik is one of cinema’s coolest love stories, something that Morricone nails with the woozy, liquid chord changes and anxious modulations of “Deep Deep Down”, masterfully capturing the essence of Diabolik and Eva’s mad, doomed, but overall groovy romance within a flawlessly crafted pop gem.

Honorable mention: Raumpatrouille Orion, by Peter Thomas. I know that the subject here is feature film soundtracks, which throws the score for this German sci-fi TV series out of contention. But I nonetheless want to honor it for being the ideal musical accompaniment to the type of roguish, cocktail-fueled space sex tourism that I thought was my birthright as a child of the 60s. I also wanted to give a shout out to Thomas, who contributed so much that was slinky, stylish and swinging to the sound of European genre movies during the decade — not the least being his themes for assorted Edgar Wallace Krimis and the Eurospy adventures of Jerry Cotton.

Todd Stadtman thought that Die Danger Die Die Kill! would be a good name for a blog and now he’s stuck with it. He’s been writing about international cult and genre cinema there since 2008, in addition to being a regular contributor to Teleport City. Soon you will be able to thrill to his contributions to the World Directory of Cinema’s Turkey edition.

Liner Notes: Todd Stadtman

Liner Notes: Andrew Nette


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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.

* * * * *

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.

Get Carter
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.

Truck Turner
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.

Thunderball
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.

* * * * *

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.

Liner Notes: Andrew Nette

Liner Notes: Denis Klotz


Everyone loves movie music, don’t they? That fusion of images and sound can create true cinema magic regardless of genre.

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 Denis Klotz from The Horror!?, who shares his five favourite soundtracks below.

* * * * *

When David asked the interested members of M.O.S.S. to send him a commented list of their five favourite movie soundtracks, I found myself even more confused and exasperated than is my usual state of mind, for how could anyone reduce his favourite movie soundtracks to a list of only five instead of – say – a hundred?

After much hemming and hawing, I came down with this list. It’s as close to the experience of giving birth as I’ll ever come, I suspect. Obviously, there’s no particular order to things.

1.) Halloween (1978): John Carpenter’s soundtrack to the film that created the slasher sub-genre stands exemplary for all those soundtracks of low budget productions that make a virtue out of the fact they can’t afford an orchestral score and won’t just take library music. It’s minimalist – possibly primitive – and tense and much better at evoking the primal emotions its film thrives on than anything more orchestral could have been. For me, this particular soundtrack also points forward and backwards in time to all those other composers of soundtracks that use minimal arrangements, synthesizers, sounds you’ve never heard before and repetition to set a movie’s rhythm, from Goblin’s work in Italy to the BBC Radio Workshop.

2.) Gojira (1954): Quite on the opposite side of the musical spectrum stands Akira Ifukube (or Ifukube Akira if you prefer the Japanese way of writing names). It’s orchestral, it’s as maximalist as befits its monster and it’s made by someone standing with both feet in the tradition of classical music. However, Ifukube’s score is just as adept at evoking emotions and setting the film’s rhythm as Carpenter’s, another demonstration that completely different approaches to art are equally fruitful.

This soundtrack was followed and preceded by many another fine Ifukube soundtrack for kaiju movies, Kurosawa, and in between, all of them made with the same care as this one, how ever minor the film itself turned out to be.

3.) “(Do) The Jellyfish” from Sting of Death (1965): From the sublime we come to the ridiculous, a jaunty – and more than just slightly horrifying – little pop number from a local man in a suit horror movie made in Florida. It’s a prime example of all the times when a low budget movie suddenly breaks out into song for no good reason except that its producers actually thought anyone would want to buy the horrific thing. Plus, this sort of pop song advert makes for a cheap enhancement of production values.

It is however only very seldom that a song is picturized quite as traumatizing as this one, with a gloriously painful dance scene that will burn the song forever into your brain. Once it was there, it was only a small step for it to worm itself into the part of my mind that genuinely enjoys this sort of thing.

4.) The One-Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine aka Master of the Flying Guillotine: The soundtrack to Wang Yu’s piece of Weird Fu cinema isn’t actually the soundtrack to it. In fact, most of its sound queues are borrowed from films and LPs from less permissive copyright cultures. But Flying Guillotine’s case is a special one, for Wang Yu (or listed composer Frankie Chan, who knows) used such peculiar, mostly non-orchestral, music – German Krautrock masters Neu, for example – in such an idiosyncratic way that it enhances the weirdness of the whole affair it belongs to a hundredfold. It also adds another argument to the case against copyright.

5.) Ennio Morricone (1928): Last but not least, and because I like cheating in lists, it’s not actually a film, but the whole body of work of what I think of as the greatest film composer of all times, with a body of work so rich I find it impossible to just pick one movie from. So obviously, I just take all of them. It’s Morricone. What else is there to say?

Denis Klotz, whom you might also know as houseinrlyeh, is the owner of The Horror!?, your one-stop shop for all writing about movies you never heard about but should have. He also makes a nuisance of himself on Twitter as @houseinrlyeh, and is a member of that most venerated company of bloggers and podcasters, M.O.S.S.

Liner Notes: Denis Klotz

Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow

Artist: Sheryl Crow
Single: Tomorrow Never Dies
1997 A&M Records

There is only one thing wrong with Sheryl Crow’s theme song for the film Tomorrow Never Dies – and that is k.d. Lang’s song Surrender was so much better, and slotted in nicely with David Arnold’s musical score throughout the film. But let’s pretend we live in an alternate universe where Lang’s version doesn’t exist, and then I think you can appreciate that Crow’s song is a good, poppy little number with enough Bondian flourishes to keep most Bond music fans happy. And the lyrics are pretty good too…and hey, let’s be honest, lyrics are not always the strong point of a Bond theme tune (cases in point being The Man With the Golden Gun and Another Way to Die).

Darling I’m killed
I’m in a puddle on the floor
Waiting for you to return
Oh what a thrill
Fascinations galore
How you tease
How you leave me to burn
It’s so deadly my dear
The power of having you near

[CHORUS]
Until the day
Until the world falls away
Until you say there’ll be no more goodbyes
I see it in your eyes
Tomorrow never dies

Darling you’ve won
It’s no fun
Martinis, girls, and guns
It’s murder on our love affair
But you bet your life
Every night
While you chase in the morning light
You’re not the only spy out there
It’s so deadly my dear
The power of wanting you near

Chorus

Until the day
Until the world falls away
Until you say there’ll be no more goodbyes
I see it in your eyes
Tomorrow Never Dies…

Until the day
Until the world falls away
Until you say there’ll be no more goodbyes
See it in your eyes…

Until the day… Until the day… Until the day…….

Actually, most of the lyrics don’t even make sense, but there one or two nice couplets, and even then a Bond song is never really about the words — it’s about the imagery and the conviction in which it is sung. And Crow sounds pretty convincing. Despite her conviction, Tomorrow Never Dies cannot be considered one of the classic Bond songs, but I don’t see it as a misfire — once again, I just think it is a poor marketing decision to go with this ahead of Surrender.  The CD single has four tracks on it, the other three being completely unrelated to the Bond franchise and coming from Crow’s albums Sheryl Crow and Tuesday Night Music Club.

Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow