Saturday Night Inferno

The Saturday Night Fever (1977) soundtrack is one of the best-selling albums in history, and remains the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time, selling over 45 million copies worldwide. It produced 4 #1 singles & became the catalyst for the ‘hate disco’ ‘disco sucks’ movement. The soundtrack & the movie both capture a time & place perfectly.

The Bee Gees were big stars & this propelled then briefly into superstardom. I don’t think anything they recorded after this was as ‘compelling’ or as catchy. I do have some of their early work before they went supernova but am not a fan. The songs here are well-crafted & engineered. For me the standout cut is Disco Inferno which really captures the power of disco but was too dangerous at the same time – the Bee Gees were safe & never dangerous.

It also features some Walter Murphy – his updated disco-fied classical  spawned a trend for this type of cover work that quickly became pure kitsch with disco maulings of big band, tangos, Gregorian chant – who remembers the slamming version of Carmina Burana? 

Another disco movie sound is Thank God It’s Friday (1978). Unlike Fever this has no real plot, no family dynamics just pretty people dancing at the disco. A more representative collection & more gritty than Fever plus Donna Summer – real disco star belting out Last Dance which went on to win her an  Academy award for best song. Both soundtracks are worth having & well make you want to dance dance dance.

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I was told

more than once

that my laughing out loud 

ruined a movie

for someone

so I try to keep it down

to a snicker of derision

which to me

isn’t as satisfying

as that laugh out loud
so I stopped going to movies

saves money

allows me to enjoy them

in the privacy of my own home


I’m one of those people

who laugh at camera angles

who laugh at clunky dialogue

ill-conceived costumes

bad wigs

crappy make up

historically incorrect language


I don’t laugh at comedies

they aren’t funny enough

I see a punch line

before it gets delivered

I keep my knowledge of plot structure

to myself

because its clear

to me

that the long lost bother 

who turns up

is not the long lost brother


sometimes I like to talk back 

to say things like

‘kill her now’

‘not in those shoes’

‘I saw that plot twist

coming down the street

on an elephant’

Decades ago, in the early 80’s, I think, a friendship ended because I found something in a movie absurd, laughed at it, & even when my friend shushed me I couldn’t stop myself. He & I had been seeing films, live theatre for a few years by then so when he opted to sit in another aisle I was puzzled. I never heard from him again. It was a’plot twist’ I saw coming though mainly because I knew things last as long as they do, not as long as we want them to.

The movie was part of subscription series of foreign films at Harbourfront & at the next showing he avoided my glance & I thought – such is life. Movie life with me hasn’t changed much, expect I see most things in the privacy of my own home. My partner is used to my laughs, my ‘wise’ cracks. I do try not to talk over the film so he doesn’t miss important points I saw coming down the street on an elephant. 

There is a structural predictability of movies that I find both amusing & tiresome. There are almost no Biblical epics without a romance threatened by adultery or the hunger for power. How many heroes, or villains, were traumatized in childhood, & when will we be subjected to the painfully predictable back story of those events.

Love movie soundtracks, so much so, I even have soundtracks for movies I’ve never seen, or want to see. Trucker Turner anyone? The Japanese film industry is great for curious soundtrack choices that are a mix of hard be-bop & rock-a-billy to give films a seemingly American edge. I am pained to see movies in which the filmmakers rely entirely on songs/music to convey emotions that aren’t in the performance of the dialogue.

I remember a moment in a movie, a movie whose name I have forgotten, as well as the cast, the plot or where I saw it – but a moment in which the character sit around a table & the camera angle changed to be at hand level in the middle of the table – I laughed out loud – then got my elephant for the ride home.

For my rant about costumes see: Let My People a-go-go

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James Dean and the Hayes

Isaac Hayes created one of the most amazing film soundtracks & reenergized soundtracks as more than background music when he released Shaft. Maybe not the first blaxploitation but still one of the best. It was such a success he then jumped into films as ab actor (& soundtrack writers) in Tough Guys & Truck Turner.

This is music that struts, that wraps you up in smoky sexuality, that adds stress to already tense scenes. Highly influential & I’ve heard echoes of his style in the soundtrack of films out of Japan, India & even porn. The Shaft lp is a great double release that sold millions, & still sells today. I picked it up 2nd hand decade ago then replaced it with mp3 version. While found it I also came across his sound tracks for Tough Guys & Truck Turner.

There were a couple of Shaft sequels: Shaft’s Big Score (Gordon Parks); Shaft in Africa (Johnny Pate) – that quote the original but that’s it. The rest of the music is funky enough but not Hayes 🙂 Rounding out this cd is Jack McDuff’s Sophisticated Funk – organ driven jazz than would fit in perfectly not he sound tracks of these movies.

Near by on the shelf is stand-alone – Ray Heindorf: Tribute to James Dean. Soundtrack music from East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause, & Giant. The first two composed by Leonard Rosenman; the last by Dimitri Tiomkin. This is a a fine set of period soundtrack writing by two of best composers of the era. Heindorf was a noted film orchestra conductor. Not as funky as Hayes 🙂 but with nice elements of jazz here & there.


There was something different about the room. A chair had been moved an inch from the corner. Yes, that was it. Or was it a different chair. 

I wasn’t sure but something had changed. The room was now warm & inviting. I wanted to linger there but knew I couldn’t. 

This was merely a chance to drop by and say hello. Hello in there, as the song says. How are things in there. How long has it been. Not that long. Long enough to know you’ve changed things around here. 

No you haven’t! It’s still the same it always has been. Well, sweeping does happen. You know how it is. Keep the place neat & tidy. Neat as pin & the mind still just as sharp as tack. 

But something looks different around here. More space? I can’t get over it. It’s like I have never been here before, you know. it all seems so fresh untouched. So perfect, with you bobbing around it like happy little neat freak. 

There is something different about you but I’m afraid to put my finger on it.

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Goldsmith Cats

It’s no secret that I love soundtracks. I have many in my collection, some of movies I have never seen :-). One of the first I bought was as a result of seeing the movie Papillon was by Jerry Goldsmith. I loved that lp & eventually replaced with a downloaded mp3 version. Goldsmith was a prolific soundtrack composer with an amazing grasp of many musical genres.

I also have his earlier work in the music for Our Man Flint and In Like Flint. These were spy parodies (forerunners of Austin Powers) starring James Coburn. The music captures 60s instrumental pop perfectly in that it embraces the sound rather than makes fun of it. Bouncy & sweet I love this type of movie work. Papillon on the other hand is lush, romantic, sweeping & at times meditative. It is one of my all-time favourites.

Another major film composer is Max Steiner – is this collection his King Kong score (rerecorded) & it is amazing, fun & evocative. Here too, is Elmer Bernstein’s score for The Man With The Golden Arm – brassy, jazzy & sometimes romantic. A film about a junkie trumpet player I have never seen. Listening to this I can sense where tension for the next fix is probably happening 🙂  

More modern & even more obscure is Bill Nelson’s music for the silent movie La Belle et la Bete. Nelson is best know as guitarist for BeBop Deluxe. The music here is a mix of sound effects, moody mellotron & percussion. It is excellent mood music & I’m sure works well with the movie – which I have seen but not with Nelson’s music. 

I’ve interspersed these soundtracks with various Scott Joplin rags. Many of which have shown up as  occasional moments in many movies. Finally a non-movie lp: Cats: London Cast highlights. I figured let’s go from film to stage for a break. I have seen a stage production of Cats & enjoyed it as much for the costumes as for the songs. There’s been talk of a film version for decades but I think it’s time as a film property has passed.

Last word: search out Papillon.

Eye Contact

‘Did you hear that?’

‘What?’ Janes was fed up with Frank’s constant questions. ‘What ?’

‘I though …shh…’

They stood in silence for a few moments, their breath visible in the icy air. 

‘I don’t hear anything.’

‘Shh.’ Frank was also impatient. Janes was too fast to move, to jump to conclusions while he was more methodical. Taking time made things more secure.

There was a faint crackle in the air. A small electronic sound, a discharge of static. At the same time both of them saw a thin blue aura at the periphery of their vision.

‘What as that?’ Janes reached to rub his eye. 

Frank stopped him. ‘Don’t.’

‘Don’t what?’ He pushed Frank’s hand away and began to rub his eyebrow. As he did the blue become brighter within his eye and he began to shake.

‘Shit shit shit. Why don’t you listen.’ Frank looked for something to move Janes’ hand away from his face. He knew that to make contact would pull him to the Connection. Once linked neither of them would be functional for the rest of the day.

The wooded area was barren. Tall trees whose nearest branch was several feet towered above them. There was no fallen twigs or even leaves. The broken shale of the ground held no other plant life. He’d need something though. The bark of the trees was thin like onion skin and peeled haphazardly but perhaps he could cut a piece of that if he moved quickly when he pulled.

‘Gr.. gl…’ Janes began to sputter.

‘Save your breath. I know you can hear me. You’ll be fine. In a day or so. Why don’t you listen.’

‘Gl… gr…’ 

‘Yeah I know … radio the captain. When we have a chance. But for now …’ The noon sun sent sparks of light through the leaves of the trees overhead.  ‘We have to keep moving. Follow me and I’ll see what can bed done.’

Frank had an idea. If he could get Janes to the trees and brush him against one, perhaps his hand would come loose. If they broke the Connection now there would be little damage to worry about. Just a fierce headache and the loss of an eyebrow.

every Tuesday 2019

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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I love movie soundtracks. I can’t count the number in my collection going as far back as (re-released) Busby Berkley numbers. Who can forget the shower of strings from Psycho? Though as soundtracks became more popular & the use of music in movies often so omnipresent one either stops listening or becomes distracted & longs for silence as opposed to a song that tells us what to feel because the script has failed to do so.

Often the only good thing about a movie is the soundtrack. 54 is one of those soundtracks. I have both volumes as stand alones – bought 2nd hand. The film is about the halcyon days of Studio 54 – the premiere legendary disco back in the day. I remember seeing photos of the celebs there, photos of the sweaty barely dressed waiters & go-go boys, photos of the dance floor crammed with gay men shirtless, some doing fan dances. I sure wanted to be there though I knew I’d never be let in – I didn’t have the abs or the money to fit in.

The film flopped despite a great performance by Mike Meyers. Like Studio 54 the script lacked emotional connections & relied on music & glitter & pretty people to make it work. The music is sensational. Some of it is also the soundtrack to my early years in Toronto. Songs that would keep me sweating not he dance floor – spinning around in my own world. Check out Oogie Inferno – a piece about those days.

I didn’t know many people who get washed over by a wave of almost tearful nostalgia when they hear songs like Dance Dance Dance by Chic, Don’t leave Me This Way by Thelma Huston or Grace Jones’s I Need A Man. I such such clear memories of dancing to these. Time for me to Fly, Robin, Fly.

Still Warm

‘Ah slow down boy. Yer ain’t no preacher, Preacher Boy.’

John glared at the scruffy man who had addressed him. The Bible in John’s hand gave him more strength than he felt.

‘Don’t take no preacher to know what the good book says.’

‘Yeah. Look boy,’ the man pushed his grimy face closer to John’s. ‘No book gonna keep me from ripping your guts out if ya don’t keep yer mouth closed. You unnersan that.’

The man grabbed the Bible from John and tossed it to the ground. ‘We got one God out here and that’s the sky above us. It rains we get wet, it suns and we get dry. Pretty simple. Unless you got a book that’ll tell us when it’ll rain or sun?’

John was at a loss for words. As he stooped to pick up his book he felt a twinge in his left hip where he had been mauled by some animal. These men had found him. Men he thought were a God send but now he wasn’t sure if there weren’t of the Devil himself.

‘Good thing we had that rain when we did or there’d be none to drink.’

John looked around at the four men. Pete was dark, maybe Mexican, and was sometimes called Pedro Pete. Small but stronger than the others. Missing teeth made his crooked smile a joke to the other men.

‘Give us yer fence posts Pete maybe they’ll hold some cattle for us.’ Clyde would say.

Clyde was the one who didn’t brook no book learning. He didn’t want no one telling him anything especially some Preacher Boy. He gave that name to John when he found the Bible in John’s belongings.

Frank was the oldest of them John figured but didn’t have much to say. Just watched and kept them moving along the trail. They hoped to find gold somewhere but didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to do anything.

Grint was the last of them. A plotter. When they had thought John was dead that first time they stumbled across him John had heard Grint going through his belongs, dividing them up between the four of them. It was Frank that had checked to see if the body was still warm. The body – his body – was warm.

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