You don’t feel your illusions falling away from you, so much as you falling away from your illusions. It’s different somehow and you do have the sensation of actually falling. It’s you who are no longer a fixed point. ‘Scuse me one second…. you know what holds up really well? The soundtrack to ‘Goldfinger’. I’ve been listening to that and ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ a hell of a lot lately. “Jesus this fucking guy again!” Who me? I’m just a guy who gets paid to snoop around. Let me bend your ear for a minute. I just came in to get out of the rain for a second.
Now the Bond movies themselves, well they don’t hold up as well, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that they really need to been seen in a theatre with a bunch of other people. Obviously all movies of that period were intended as such but some really need it more than others. I mean it makes a hell of a lot of difference in enjoyment of Bond’s films. At home after the usually spiffy opening graphics one finds one’s attention wandering from the paper thin and repetitive plots, but with an audience all the silliness, gadgets, unsubtle irony and double entendres make for a rousing good time. I have both soundtracks on vinyl but have been listening their CD versions (with extra tracks) bought on the cheap now that that format is supposed to be dead and buried. But physical things have this dogged persistence. They are no longer anyone’s bread and butter or display worthy, but they are all available on the cheap, tucked away in dusty corners.
The cheapness of CD’s really is a boon for those who still like having psychical objects. And we are a dying breed. Searching out different and usually more dynamic masterings of yesteryear is just part of the fun because used CD’s now offer the same pleasant surprises – on the cheap – that vinyl used to back when it was affordable. You can take chances on items you normally wouldn’t have if they were more expensive. I recently bought Sundazed’s reissue of Bruce Johnston’s ‘Surfin’ ‘Round the World’ (1963) for five dollars and boy was it money well spent. The album is surprisingly raw and forward sounding, it has strains of garage rock to come in amongst its surf stomps. And lots of distorted guitars, like a strange amount for 1963. Very early to these ears.
The multi disc player is the way I tend to listen to music most often. Interesting combinations of six discs on random. If done right the different tracks start sparking off each other and even speaking to each other; it’s like getting a group of your favorite compatible people (their very essence) together and letting them converse. You can blend say any number of Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks, Nino Rota (I’m partial to ‘Juliet of the Spirits’), The Doors (‘Weird Scenes’ is a good comp.), Johnny Rivers (‘And I Know You Wanna Dance’) along with any number of Elvis or Gene Vincent compilations and marvel at how well they all compliment each other. I mean you get little startling jolts from many of these juxtapositions – notice how Johnny River’s ‘You Dig’ anticipates the Doors heavy slow organ groove and the influence of Sinatra, Elvis and even Gene (listen to Vincent’s version of ‘Unchained Melody’ hell play Elvis’s too for that matter) in Morrison’s vocals.
Soundtrack composers like Morricone and Rota loom large in the Doors musical influences along with their surprisingly diverse non-musical influences like the beats, film noir, pulp adventure and detective fiction, Greek mythology and West Coast solipsism. The West is the best, you dig. That delicious Roman Catholic erotic surrealism of Sergio Leone’s films, yep that’s in there too. There are sly strains of ‘O’ Come O’Come Emmanuel’ in the ‘Good and the Bad’ track ‘Il Forte’. Let them who have ears hear. You pump enough mescal and mescaline into a pulpy jungle adventure story, along with a touch of Conrad and a heap of film score and exotica records and you basically get the Doors. They were film student beatniks with a jones for adventure and the exotic. Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain and shame. Ask Vic Godard circa ‘Vertical Integration’. That’s my take. Don’t let Oliver Stone ruin something beautiful and complex.
There’s a cover of ‘Run For Your Life’ on the Johnny Rivers record I mentioned, it’s a nice rendition of an underrated Beatle track, but even better is the Cowboy Junkies version which I heard only recently. There’s the kind of obvious gender reversal going on that excites people these days but what really makes it is the weird, almost hillbilly, glam swagger by way of the Doors (again) and Suicide. Hell its even got shouted low budget Clash terrace background vocals and noisy guitar that uses the wah-wah pedal as God intended; for tonal variations rather than the porn style wakka-wakka that has become the cliche. The fact that I was skeptical when I first started listening but was slowly won over as the track preceded and I vacillated through a bunch of different emotions only testifies to the strength of even the lower strata of the Beatles’ songbook. And the Cowboy Junkies take on the song just opens my ears more to its charms.
The American version of ‘Rubber Soul’ is more woody than the British, all acoustic guitars, mid- century modern furniture, suede and campfire vocals, play it with the ‘Beach Boys Party’ album also from that glorious year of our Lord 1965. Take a song like ‘It’s Only Love’ (lifted from the proper British ‘HELP!’ LP for the American ‘Rubber Soul’) what I hear is the art school Lennon, almost beatnik by way of the hillbilly cats Vincent and Presley. I picture Juliette Greco smoking in black tights and Bridgette Bardot bending forward slightly in peasant dress or tied off colorful shirt, it breathes the same air, the same energy as the early 60’s cinema of Italy and France. Very Continental!
‘Girl’ which follows on the American LP treks further afield into Eastern Europe. In my mind I can see Peter Sellers comically hopping around during the cod-Russian bit. ‘Run For Your Life’ and ‘It’s Only Love’ are much better than you may have been led to believe. Really the only clunker on ‘Rubber Soul’ is ‘Wait’ and even that isn’t bad only average but amongst such awesome company it feels distinctly out of place. Though as I’m hearing it now, it does have a killer middle eight; the bit that starts “I feel as though you ought to know”. That sounds like a beautiful McCartney middle eight. So it’s one of those albums that really breathes, creates a universe of its own that you can seep into and always find new things. Let your imagination, not your conscience be your guide.
Hold up the mail just came, or rather the delivery guy from Amazon. Ever notice there’s a bit of a crime scene vibe in Amazon’s delivery pictures, taken from a high perspective straight down to the ground where they threw your package – there is something cold, hard, slightly out of focus and off the cuff that make me think maybe the best ones could be compiled. Often there is a shoe lurking forebodingly just at the edge of the frame, as if just removed from your package. I do see footprints on an awful lot on my packages. So yeah sometimes I daydream the trip my packages have been on and I can’t say it’s a fun trip.
Well I must be on my way. There’s too many eyes around. I fear I am being followed. And I got a case I got to get back to, yet another missing girl to find.
The crown of Christmas lights wrapped round his head blinked on and off as he shot Flash Gordon in the hall of mirrors. Smoke and the sound of shattered glass. They are a fixed point, you are not. So who is the illusion now see. He walked on down the hall just like Bulldog Drummond.
William Crain. 2023.