The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Absolute Beginners

9-24-08 “Absolute Beginners”

Recently, I had a spin on the British Virgin CD (CDV 2386, 1986) original soundtrack for the film “Absolute Beginners”. I think I have a videotape of the film that I got, way back when it was originally on tape (knowing me, it’s probably a Beta stereo hi-fi copy).

18 tracks, most of it pretty good. We have a long title track from David Bowie (nearly 9 minutes long!) followed by a great otherwise-unavailable Sade cut, “Killer Blow” – this song is worth the price of admission alone! The brass arrangement on Sade’s cut is by none other than Gil Evans.

I’m not a huge Style Council nor Ray Davies fan…but dig the Gil Evans track “Va Va Voom”! 1986 big band jazz, masterfully arranged! Yes! Another Bowie track, “That’s Motivation” – I am a softie for latter day Bowie – I really liked his “Never Let Me Down” album! Ooh, Eighth Wonder featuring Patsy Kensit – no go, for me.

Been interested in British band Working Week even since noticing their collaborations with both Robert Wyatt and Etienne Daho! The cut here is latin jazz. And I had the good fortune to see Slim Gaillard play live in England, when I lived there in 1990. Slim’s cut here is “Selling Out”. The old timer gets an ’86 update! (I know he got paid, and I hope he dug working with the younger folks). This cut really swings!

Did Jerry Dammers from The Specials do very much soundtrack work? His track here, “Riot City” is killer. Good ‘typical’ soundtrack music, jazzy influence (and almost 9 minutes long!) – proof he could really write! Then another great contribution from Gil Evans – a Charles Mingus song, “Boogie Stop Shuffle (Rough and The Smooth)”. Dang – real jazz!

Odd man out here is Eddie Tenpole and his band Tenpole Tudor – with the cut “Ted Ain’t Ded” – is this song from either of their albums? I am a fan of Tenpole Tudor – “Three Bells In A Row” is a cracker of a 45! This cut makes me want to watch the movie again! The cut here sounds like ‘typical’ Tenpole Tudor – good stuff!

Another Bowie cut, his version of “Volare”. Then an actual cut by Clive Langer, he of the mighty production values and former membership of Deaf School. I do not know anything about the artist known as Jonas, but he got a Nick Lowe song (“Little Cat (You’ve Never Had It So Good”)! Was ‘Jonas’ a little kid in the film?

Home stretch: Evans gets another Mingus song, the wonderful “Better Git It In Your Soul” (a short version) – followed by Smiley Culture doing a ‘ragga’ cover of Miles Davis’ “So What” (I like Ronny Jordan’s jazzy cover of “So What”) and then a Gil Evans short take on the main theme. As they say, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore!

This is a way above-average 80’s soundtrack CD. The Sade cut is 10 out of 10 fantastic, the Working Week very respectable, Slim Gaillard 100% necessary, Jerry Dammers solo cut very (Elmer Bernstein-ish) interesting, and I love Tenpole Tudor! And ‘hats off’ to the late Gil Evans! And there are those who will defend anything Bowie does – but the cuts from him here are far from his worst stuff.

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Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Bowie's Worst Stuff = Let's Dance, Tonight, Never Let Me Down, Outside. The title cut is passable [brilliant next to what he was releasing on his own] but overlong. I never heard this soundtrack but contemplated picking up the cutout LD, but thought the better of it... many times.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I guess I do have a cheap DVD of this film...

10:42 PM  
Blogger Holly A Hughes said...

I have to say, I love both the Ray Davies song "Quiet Life" and the Style Council's "Have You Ever Had It Blue?" Highlights of the film, for me. It's an odd little movie -- great in bits, but tedious taken all at once.

I do like the Bowie song, too. I have the soundtrack, but never noticed that Nick Lowe wrote that Jonas song -- I'll have to check that out!

10:46 AM  

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