Saturday, January 07, 2006

Jansch, Poster, The Squid and the Whale

Play it: Rssmbld Sndtrck The Squid and the Whale
Play it: Noah Baumbach's Favorite Albums for Dusted Magazine (published originally here)

At first glance, one might not be surprised at the quality of songs on the soundtrack to The Squid and the Whale, given that Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic) produces and co-writes the film. But it's time to start giving music supervisor Randall Poster some credit. This is the third project he and Anderson have worked together on, the previous two being movie and soundtrack greats Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Where the previous two films had a sort of ambiguous time setting (leading to some interesting music choices to blur time even more,) The Squid and the Whale has a setting firmly placed in the 1980s. Poster (along with Anderson and director/writer Noah Baumbach [reader Sean points out NB has more to do with the choices then I'm giving him credit for... he's probably right.) doesn't rely on the eighties necessarily for inspiration, finding it instead with the folk music of the late sixties (Bert Jansch) and 1970's (Loudon Wainwright III.)

As I've mentined before, Jansch is ripe for a revival ala Nick Drake, and while I don't think this soundtrack will do it, having three songs in the release certainly a push in that direction. His influence on folks like Drake, Donovan, Neil Young and Jimi Page makes him an influence on countless more indirectly (Young even went so far as to say "Jansch did for the acoustic guitar what Jimi Hendrix did for the electric".) Loudon Wainwright also has a couple songs, and, almost as a rebuttle (the film centers on divorce after all) Wainwright's ex-wife and sister-in-law (Kate and Anna McGarrigle) have a track as well ("Heart Like a Wheel".) Through in some John Phillips ("Holland Tunnel") and you've got more dysfunctional family fun! Dean Warhem (formerly of Luna, Galaxie 500) provides the original score songs, written much in the style of these late 60's to mid-70's scribes, even covering Pink Floyd's "Hey You" for the release (the Roger Waters-written original was in the movie.)

The 80's do get some representation, though, as on the release there's the great The Feelies ("Let's Go" first and currently only song in Rhapsody library)to go with The Cars "Drive" and Blossom Dearie's infamous Schoolhouse Rock turn "Figure 8." For the rssmbld sndtrck, I've added two more bits from the era that were in the film (but not in the released soundtrack.) One is the ubiquitous "Run To You" by Bryan Adams, and the other is that pantheon of 80's soundtrack music "Love on a Real Train" or, better known to folks as "that theme song from Risky Business" (by Tangerene Dream.)

But getting back to Randall Poster, it's interesting to note that got his start on the Larry Clarke movie Kids. The film's score featured such diverse acts as John Coltrane, Slint, A Tribe Called Quest, Sonny Rollins, Brand Nubian and Lou Barlow vehicles Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion. Meanwhile, the released soundtrack for Kids put together by Barlow, explaining why so many of his songs appear on the album (and not in the movie.)

Since that time he's done, he's done some pretty interesting soundtracks for movies, here are just a few of the films (in chronological order) that he supervised:
I Shot Andy Warhol
Velvet Goldmine
28 Days
Meet the Parents
The Royal Tenenbaums
Old School
The School of Rock
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Aviator

In the coming days (weeks?) I'll pull give some of these the ol' Rssmbld Sndtrck workover.... how 'bout we call them Poster posts?

Freak Folk Beginnings (Bert Jansch)

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drake leLane said...

Rssmbld Sndtrck - The Squid and the Whale

* "Park Slope" - Dean Wareham
* "Courting Blues" - Bert Jansch
* "Holland Tunnel" - John Phillips
* "Lullaby" - Loudon Wainwright III
* "Heart Like a Wheel" - Kate & Ann McGarrigle
* "The Bright New Year" - Bert Jansch
* "Run To You" - Bryan Adams
* "Drive" - The Cars
* "Let's Go" - The Feelies
* "Figure Eight" - Blossom Dearie
* "Come Sing Me a Happy Song to Prove We All Can Get Along the Lumpy, Bumpy, Long and Dusty Road" - Bert Jansch
* "Hey You" - Pink Floyd
* "Family Conference" - Dean Wareham
* "Street Hassle" - Lou Reed
* "The Swimming Song" - Loudon Wainwright III
* "Love on a Real Train" - Tangerine Dream
* "Hey You" - Dean Wareham

Sean said...

Randall Poster does great work, but I think you're denying NB credit he deserves for this soundtrack. Here's something he did for a year or two back:

These are ten albums I've been listening to recently:

1. Colin Blunstone - One Year (Epic) - Lead singer of the Zombies. I love the Zombies and I recently heard him on NPR and he sounded really sweet and likable.

2. The Rolling Stones - Aftermath (Decca - UK edition) - Rereleased in sexy cardboard. But you have to buy both the UK and American if you want "Mothers Little Helper" AND "Paint it Black".

3. Michael Chapman - Rainmaker (Reperoire) - British folkie. I really like Bert Jansch and I heard a song from this guy on a friend's mix cd which sounded like something I might like.

4. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Warner Brothers) - I might like it even better than The Soft Bulletin.

5. Luna - Romantica (Jetset) - Dean Wareham's vocals are higher in the mix than on the last couple of albums and it gives the songs a really personal feel.

6. John Phillips - John, The Wolf King of LA (Dunhill) - I'm constantly looking for some hidden singer/songwriter gem from the 60's and 70's that I somehow overlooked. Usually I'm pretty disappointed. But this album is really great. It's too bad he didn't make more records.

7. Maher Shalal Hash Baz - From A Summer To Another Summer (Geographic) - I like Reiko Kudo and Nagisa Nite too, but I'm still unclear how they all relate to one another, if at all.

8. Loudon Wainwright III - Last Man on Earth (Red House) - This record stays with me like a really sad autobiographical novel.

9. Mum - Finally We Are No One (Fatcat) - I usually don't pick music for the weather, but this one is great when it storms.

10. George Jones - A Picture of Me Without You (Epic) - Kind of a random choice as I love pretty much any George Jones, but I particularly love the 70's Billy Sherrill produced stuff which I find very moving.

drake leLane said...

Yes, perhaps I've understated the director's contribution... but to the general public, they, for the most part, assume it's ALL the director's doing - hence me throwing a little love Poster's way.

Noah's list in Dusted Magazine (found here) appeared after he started working with Poster (and Anderson) on the movie, so it could be debatable how much is all him and what's 'under the influence.' But either way, it's a great list and deserve's a playlist:

Play: Noah Baumbach's Favorite Albums for Dusted Magazine