Monday, 16 June 2008



Reservoir Dogs was a huge movie.  It changed so much.  Quentin Tarantino landed on Hollywood during a great time for culture.  Coupled with grunge rock suddenly there was a rebellious streak with an independent mindset smashing through.  Perhaps the early nineties were merely about the marketing men finding a way of selling such product or maybe there was a genuine wind of change.  Regardless to be a teenager and exposed to things such as these were priceless to my development.

I missed Reservoir Dogs at the cinema.  And due to the BBFC refusing it a video release, it was there for a long time.  Unfortunately I was still in my final year at school and technically would not be able to get in.  Eventually my dad managed to get a pirate VHS copy from a person at work.  And even that was not without effort.  However I finally had my hands on the goods and with the movie still running regular adverts in the newspapers I was able to place a bespoke sleeve on the case.  On surface level this was a fine film for fans of violence and swearing but for film geeks this was gold.

For the first few years of my career in accountancy I would wear a black tie to work.  I wanted to look like the gang, be one of the misters.  However one day while helping a client do some photocopying he passed on his regards.  He thought I was in mourning.  Then later on my Gringo Records friends completely burst my bubble when Tom pointed out that I actually looked like a bus driver.  I wonder why we were never close friends.  The problem was that the goods in the opening sequence soundtracked by “Little Green Bag” by the George Baker Selection is one of the coolest things ever filmed in motion picture history.  In my mind in my black tie that was what I looked like.  The reality was I did not.

Music was key in the movie.  It gave a weird grounding with a sharp seventies attitude while being solidly fixed in the now.  There was a maturity to these songs and sounds as if you big brother were driving things.

As per in the movie dry comedian Steven Wright serves as the DJ taking the listener on an adventure managing with his dialogue to turn the mundane cool.  At this time every word and term uttered was like touching something and turning it to gold.

In addition to these spoken accompaniments this disc features two clips from the movie itself which were always great tracks to drop into compilations for an added gloss of cool.  Of these it is the Mr Brown interpretation of “Like A Virgin” by Madonna (“Madonna Speech”) which members of my generation would memorise and recite with glee.  Knowing such things was credibility in a can.  I still remember one of my Gringo Records colleagues declaring how cool I was for merely owned an Edward Bunker novel.

The songs here are strange and weird, pleasantly obscure and taken in another context terminally naff.  A song such as “Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede is very bubblegum, gloriously naïve and not necessarily the first thing you would associate with curdling violence.  There’s a weird message of love being purveyed here.  It is perverse.

Tarantino is a smart man.  He always was and is likely to always be.  On that note “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex is the perfect accompaniment to capture and hostage of an enemy.  “I’ll teach you to play with my affection” indeed.  The man is essentially a bush league James Brown but used this way his work is so fucking effective.

A left field inclusion is the two tracks from the band Bedlam who at time of release appeared to be something of a going concern nobody had ever heard of.  Their cover of “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf is relatively competent but then their song entitled “Harvest Moon” that isn’t a Neil Young cover is downright confusing.  With investigation it turns out that Bedlam was a band from Nashville fronted by Jay Joyce that were conveniently signed to MCA.

The most famous song from the soundtrack is “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.  Most people of my generation knew the song before it appeared in the movie but never in the dark context it now owned.  Suddenly it was a song you could lose an ear to.  And yet held on its own it remains a wonderfully sweet song with the best intentions and loving longing.  The relationship in the track is one to one much like the dance occurring onscreen when it appears in the movie.  To change the entire meaning of song in one foul swoop is quite the feat by Tarantino.

The movie and the album both close on “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson which feels a very goofy way to end what was such a serious and intense session.  Perhaps its placement was tactical to serve as some kind of outgoing therapy for the viewer/listener.  Evidence of a sense of heart and a sense of play.

After this release soundtracks were never the same.

Thesaurus moment: novel.

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