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A.R. Rahman: a bonus

By Cinema, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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