Sunday, January 21, 2018

November and December on the Turntable

I've been obsessively collecting vinyl for years.  Here are some of my recent scores...

Death Proof (soundtrack)

I remember seeing Death Proof as part of the Grindhouse double-feature in 2007 at a tiny mom and pop theater in Philly.  The seats creaked when you sat down, the floor was sticky with popcorn and the bathrooms were wallpapered with old movie posters.  You couldn't have asked for a better setting.  One of the things I love about Tarantino is that in our age of Netflix and Hulu he's doing everything he can to bring back the fun of going to the movies.  A central ingredient of that fun is the music he picks for his films, and this is no exception.  '60s surf-rock.  '70s glam.  Soul.  R&B.  One of the chillest records I own.  I was given this as a gift by my friend Jennifer when she came to visit from Hawaii in November, and I don't think a week has passed without it getting a spin on my table.

Goblin - Greatest Hits

The late '60s saw the birth of the Italian giallo film.  They were violent, schlocky thrillers with erotic elements, crime fiction themes, murder mystery sensibilities and straight-up horror-flick gore.  One of the most pivotal figures in the genre was the director Dario Argento (who I was thrilled to meet at a signing on Halloween last year.)  His early films like Profondo Rosso, Suspiria and Inferno were as horrific and shocking as they were beautiful.  Goblin are an Italian prog-rock band that was frequently recruited by Argento to provide his soundtracks.  This pressing from '78 contains some of their best-known scoring.  The theme from Suspiria has its spot in the pantheon of horror film music between Psycho and Halloween, and it sounds fucking killer on vinyl.  Also of note, Goblin provided the soundtrack to the European version of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (released as Zombi in Italy), also featured here.

Current 93 - Thunder Perfect Mind

Current 93 is an English band that has been recording consistently since 1984.  Having gone through numerous lineup changes over the years, the band is the musical vehicle of David Tibet, the group's singer, lyricist and only constant member.  Their sound is characterized by a strange brew of medieval-sounding string instruments and experimental electronic noise, with a lyrical preoccupation with esoteric Christian mysticism and surreal visions of the apocalypse.  Getting into this band can be a daunting task because if you include all the compilations, live albums, bootlegs and limited editions, the discography tallies up to about eighty.  Anyway, I was very happy when Tibet announced he was going to reissue Thunder Perfect Mind on vinyl.  In my opinion this is the crowning achievement of the band's folky material (with 1994's Of Ruine, Or Some Blazing Starre coming a close second.)  It's certainly the most accessible.  Throw it on, light the candles and see where it takes you.

Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (soundtrack)

This one was a Christmas gift from my parents.  Not much I can add here.  If you haven't seen The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, go watch it.  If you think you hate westerns, watch it immediately.  If you've already seen it, you know why Morricone is one of Italy's most celebrated composers.  All I know is that if I put this on while I'm brewing my coffee in the morning, I'm ready for my showdown at high-noon.  And 'The Ecstasy of Gold' sounds absolutely chilling.

And Also The Trees - Farewell to the Shade

And Also The Trees are a criminally under-appreciated band from Inkberrow, Worcestershire.  In their early days they toured with The Cure, and some of their early demos and LPs were produced by Robert Smith and Lol Tulhurst.  Unfortunately, as The Cure's notoriety spread and launched them into the mainstream, AATT retained a small but dedicated cult following.  One of the things I love about this band is their almost exclusive use of organic instruments, giving them the sound of a post-punk band with a classical sensibility (something echoed in the refined lyrics of Simon Huw Jones.)  Think The Cure meets Baudelaire with Nick Cave-style vocals.  If that sounds like your cuppa tea, this one's a pretty good place to start.  And if you ever get the chance to see them live, do it.

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