Daily Archives: July 5, 2010

362. Various Artists – “Grease” (soundtrack)

Fingers were pointed and accusations flew across the breakfast table this morn when I found this album in our vinyl collection.

My missus vehemently denies bringing this double-record set into the home, but I am damn sure I didn’t buy it.  Irrespective of whether I’m right or she’s wrong, the album has been listened to repeatedly this afternoon.

Of course, most of these tunes are irrevocably etched in the skull of almost anyone born in the past 50 years. I actually saw the film at the cinema on first release around 1979 (not long after I saw Star Wars on the big screen).  I seem to remember thinking it was a little racy and that the music was loads of fun.

31 years later, listening to the 24 tracks with a reasonably open mind, and treating the album as a set of showtunes, I must say it’s a pretty solid album.  The stand-out tracks don’t feature the leads, but rather are tongue in cheek and a bit ‘adult’.

The future First Lady is suitably salacious and snide  on …Sandra Dee. Frankie Avalon is nasty on Beauty School Dropout.

The thrill for me has been reacquainting myself with the silliness that is retro-champs Sha Na Na. They cover ’50s classic with aplomb. I distinctly remember the primetime show from these guys (a sort of cross between Sesame Street, Young Talent Time and Laverne and Shirley).  I’d see them on stage before I’d bother with Grease:

File under: It’s the word

361. Various Artists – “Ghost World” (soundtrack)

Again, my alphabetisation skills are shown to be lacking. My excuse is that this resides down in the Soundtrack section.

This is the most ambitious soundtrack on the shelf.

Film director Terry Zwigoff engages in one of the most delightfully self-indulgent exercises I can recall.  Just as the Steve Buschemi character in the film collects rare blues 78s, so does Zwigoff.

Thus this CD is an intriguing mix of such relics, plus some exotica from the Caribbean and India. Zwigoff also got a few jazz bands to recreate some songs he couldn’t license plus a few originals.

It all hangs together like the soundtrack to some grainy black and white archive piece that predates the talkies…

The track selection and sequencing is first-rate, apart from a couple of weird tracks – a rap from the film that is very grating, and a hilarious blues spoof Picking’ Cotton Blues that could easily have appeared on a Spinal Tap collection.

The absolute winner track is the opener, however, which is ridiculously infectious:

The CD would be worth it for that tune alone.  The remaining rough diamonds are a big bonus.

File under: Spookily splendid