Jack's Picks Vol. 4
This week's picks are all about chocolate rivers and classic orchestra. If neither of these LPs are tickling your tastebuds, you can jump back to previous picks for a jump in genre.
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newlie - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Original Soundtrack
The original film adaptation of Roald Dahl's children book is one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw the movie long before I'd ever read the book, and didn't realize how much I loved the soundtrack until very recently.
This is one of those soundtracks you can listen to instead of watching the movie. Each song was written in perfect conjunction for the scene in which it was featured—nothing seems extra or "sing-songy" for the sake of it all or pandering to children and ratings. To be frank, this soundtrack is straight-up magical. I'd feel a little embarrassed if that weren't perfectly true, and I wasn't somewhat sure you didn't feel the same (if you've seen the film).
One of the best parts of this soundtrack is the diversity in performances. Though the "Main Title" theme is consistent throughout, the tracks themselves are sung by several different characters—though none are more spectacular than Gene Wilder. Rather than over-dub Willy Wonka's (the character's) singing parts, Gene Wilder actually sings many of the songs on the album. "Pure Imagination" is by far the best, followed by his pure insanity on "The Wondrous Boat Ride." These tracks in particular remind me of films from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, where the stars themselves sing many of the title tracks (for better or for worse). Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory released in 1971, so perhaps it was the end of an era.
The original soundtrack is actually a little difficult to track down, having become a relatively expensive rarity (some of the original LPs go for as high as $96!). Though the price point isn't ideal, it is nice to see the soundtrack getting the appreciation it deserves.
On a sweeter note, the album has recently been re-pressed in gold for the 45th anniversary of the original film's release. You can grab the LP over on Respect the Classics for just $25.
Harry Nilsson - A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night
If you have any interest in 1960s and 70s rock, I highly recommend watching Who is Harry Nilsson? on Netflix. Harry Nilsson wrote songs like One, Coconut ("put the lime int he coconut, she drank 'em both up..."), Everybody's Talkin', and even the Monkees' Cuddly Toy—but not many people know who he is.
A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night is an album full of classic twentieth-century standards, sung by Nilsson and released in 1973. The album was released just two years after the success of Nilsson Schmilsson and was, for that reason, discouraged from being made. The documentary goes into more detail, but the gist is that Nilsson's producers felt a standards album would slow the momentum of his career. In hindsight though, the general thought is that Nilsson wanted to release a vocal-heavy album while he was still at the top of his game.
Commercially successful or not, it is a stellar album that proved Harry Nilsson's vocal range was pretty much out of this world. Some of my favorite tracks are "For Me and My Gal," "It Had to Be You," and "As Time Goes By." It's the perfect album for bopping around the house or a lazy Sunday. It probably wouldn't be my first Nilsson album, but you should totally check it out if you like his other stuff.
I bought my copy for $15 at Laurie's Planet of Sound in Chicago. You can probably pick one up for the same or less on Discogs (or at your local record store!).
And that wraps up this week's picks. If you have any comments, lay it down in the comments below and let’s start talkin’. I’d also be curious to see what you picked up this weekend, or what you’re planning on playing first on your Floating Record when it arrives. Until next time.