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A.R. Rahman: a bonus

By Cinema and Music

In the Slumdog Millionaire review the other day I called composer A.R. Rahman a “Bollywood legend” and, for those of you unfamiliar with his oeuvre I thought I’d give you a few samples to demonstrate what I mean.

Dil Se.. (1998)

Dil Se.. (1998)

I first heard Rahman’s music when I stumbled across an mp3 from the 1998 film Dil Se.. on some blog or other. It was catchy as all get out and I was hooked. This is “Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya” which was re-purposed slightly for the Rahman-Lloyd Webber West End musical “Bombay Dreams” in 2002.

[audio:] Sukhwinder Singh & Sapna Awasthi — Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya (right click to download)
Swades (2004)

Swades (2004)

When I was running the Paramount back in 2004, we had a regular Bollywood Sunday night hire and one of the featured films was the big budget epic drama Swades: We the People starring Shahrukh Khan. The promoter gave me a copy of the soundtrack as a thank you and it became one of my favourite CDs of the year. This is “Yeh Tara Woh Tara”, the opening theme:

[audio:] Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja & Kids — Yeh Tara Woh Tara (right click to download)

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Finally, from Slumdog itself “Jai Ho”, one of two Rahman songs nominated for this year’s Best Original Song Oscar:

[audio:] A.R. Rahman (feat. Sukhvinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalaxmi Iyer & Vijay Prakash) — Jai Ho (right click to download)

Rahman has two of the three Oscar song nominations this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what the telecast looks like. In fact, I may even take a little time off that afternoon to check it out.

The Right Stuff

By Cinema and Music

I’ve just got home from watching The Day the Earth Stood Still at the Empire in Island Bay. It has several shortcomings (which I’ll cover off in the review later this week), one of which is the lack of decent theme music.

Sure, it has a score (written by Tyler Bates) but that score is like so many these days: a series of chords strung together to heighten immediate emotion — completely unmemorable once they’ve passed through your head. I even stayed through to the end of the credits to see/hear if anything more interesting was going to happen. It didn’t.

Compare with the film I watched last night (in hi-def via the Apple TV Store): Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff. Bill Conti’s score is legendary, an Oscar-winning fanfare that never fails to get the heart pumping. And, because I obviously don’t have enough to do, and I want to try the Yahoo Music Player plugin, here’s the Cincinnati Pops version of Music from The Right Stuff” (right click to download in m4amp3 format or click the play button to open the Yahoo Player).


Right click to Download Music from The Right Stuff

Update: I’ve gone back to the Anarchy Media Player plugin for backwards (and hopefully forwards) compatibility reasons.

Update2: And the upgrade to WP2.7 breaks the Anarchy Player. Sigh. I don’t want to waste too much time on this. Any ideas for a working alternative solution?

iTunes Sentience (pt 4)

By Asides, iTunes and Music

I haven’t remarked on the amazing powers of the iTunes shuffle facility for over two years but this one is a zinger. From Eminem’s angry attack on the Iraq War, “Mosh” (from the 2004 CD Encore) straight to Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner”. There are 17,000 songs in that playlist so a seque like that kind of freaks me out. It’s as if there’s a little man in there, programming it all, it really is.

Mamma Mia! postscript

By Blogging and Music

The Day Before You Came single sleeveIn my rush to upload my Hancock and Mamma Mia! etc. reviews earlier I forgot that I was always intending to offer up a digital copy of my own favourite ABBA tune, “The Day Before You Came”, as it is rarely heard and quite marvellous:

ABBA — The Day Before You Came [right-click to download]

And as an added bonus, as I feel so sorry and so generous at the same time, here’s the song as I first heard it (by English pop band Blancmange from 1984):

Blancmange — The Day Before You Came [right click to download]

[And curse all blogging software including ecto and MarsEdit and WordPress as this post should have taken about 10 minutes and instead took an hour. Gah!] 

Review: “Two Little Boys” by Duncan Sarkies

By Audio, Literature, Music and Wellington

Two Little Boys cover This morning I hustled across town to Radio NZ House on The Terrace to review Duncan Sarkies’ new novel “Two Little Boys” for Nine to Noon. You can click here (for a week at least) to listen to what Kathryn and I had to say. As is often the case when I’m doing something for the first time (or for the first time in a long time) it was not a 100% satisfactory performance but I’ll let you be the judge. It is a good book, though, and I recommend it to you.

And when you’ve listened to the review (only 6 minutes and 23 seconds, although it felt a lot less…) you can listen here to the song that inspired the title of the book. This version features not only the legendary Rolf Harris (who made it famous) but also Liam O’Maonlai from Hothouse Flowers. This version is from a 1993 ‘Stop the Killing in Northern Ireland’ charity/protest album called Peace Together:
[audio:|titles=Rolf Harris & Liam O’Maonlai — Two Little Boys (mp3)]

Killer of Sheep

By Cinema and Music

Killer of Sheep stillI first heard of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep when it was admiringly referenced in Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Anderson’s witty and knowing appreciation of LA in the movies, during the 2004 Film Festival.

I’ll confess that it didn’t seem all that promising — a black and white, neo-realist, micro-budget drama set among the black community of Watts, LA. But the screening on Monday night, as part of the Wellington Film Society Charles Burnett retrospective, confirmed that Killer of Sheep is a stone-cold masterpiece.

Essentially about one man (Henry Gayle Sanders) trying to keep his family going in a community of fecklessness and poverty, Killer of Sheep keeps coming back to the Watts children, roaming the empty streets, fighting each other, throwing stones, amusing themselves while the adults either work until they drop or drift off in to disinterest via alcohol or drugs. I kept thinking that this could be Cannons Creek today.

Killer of Sheep was a student graduation project for Burnett, never intended for distribution. The soundtrack alone, full of R&B, jazz and blues classics would prove prohibitively expensive to any company wanting to screen the film commercially. But it is the soundtrack, and the placement of the songs, that is the film’s crowning glory and I’m glad that no one was tempted to re-score the film cheaply (as is done with DVD releases of tv shows from the era).

In honour of Killer of Sheep here’s Dinah Washington singing the unbearably haunting “This Bitter Earth” from that soundtrack.

Dinah Washington — This Bitter Earth