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Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track

Compilations. Mix tapes. C60s and TDK90’s. God I used to love making a finely crafted collection of my favourite tunes on my hissy twin tape deck Sony stereo. You’d spend hours deliberating over song choice - taking into consideration tempos, tenuously themed song connections, genres and impress-your-mates-ability, and then finally slap it all together, painstakingly looking for that quirky minute and half track to fill the rest of side one (not as hard as it sounds for a punk fan) only to become instantly bored of the whole sorry collection the second you’d perfected it. What I really hated though - what I really hated were those people who’d feature more than one song by the same band on the same compilation, but rather than separate them throughout the mix, would bung them all together back-to-back in one homogenous blob, completely disrupting the rhythm of the mix.

This is how I feel about the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack. Convoluted I know, and I know that the Bee Gees wrote most of it, but do we really need to start with four Bee Gees tracks in a row? And then is there any need to fool us into thinking that they’re mixing things up a bit with a Tavares track, only for said track to be a bloody cover of More Than a Woman - one of the previous four Bee Gees tracks? Come on, play by the compilation creation rules guys!

To be fair the soundtrack to the seminal 70’s disco film Saturday Night Fever, starring everyone’s second favourite deranged scientologist John Travolta, was an unrivalled success on both sides of the Atlantic, capturing the atmosphere of the Disco era and staying at the top of the charts in the UK for 18 weeks. 

Alongside the Bee Gees numbers, Walter Murphy and David Shire spice things up with a couple of classically inspired instrumental numbers, Night on Disco Mountain and A Fifth of Beethoven, but the hidden gem on this album for me (and addition to this week’s parent core play list ) has to be KC and The Sunshine Band’s funky tune Boogie Shoes.

If you’ve ever wondered what Saturday Night Fever would sound like re-imagined for the rave generation, then check out PJ’s remix below. The pilled up love child of Barry Gibb and Bez from the Happy Monday’s is probably a fair description….

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Bread - The Sound of Bread

The Sound of Bread has to be the hardest parent core review to date. So utterly offensively inoffensive are Bread that the second the record finishes playing I have absolutely no recollection of what any of it sounds like. It could literally be a record of someone banging a french baguette against a brioche bun for all I know - i just simply cannot remember either way. Mind you some baguette on brioche action probably would be more memorable than this drivel. Is it my imagination or are there brioche buns everywhere at the moment - I can’t seem to move for restaurants serving them, friends chomping on them and Tesco Metros selling them by the packet….. yeah that says a lot about the quality of this record.

Formed in California in 1969, Bread seem to redefine soft rock to such an extent that they make the Eagles sound like Entombed. In fact having just written that sentence all I want to do now is listen to Earache Unplugged (a misleading title for a metal album upon which acoustic guitars are nowhere to be seen/heard) - a cracking Earache Records compilation featuring the likes of Entombed, Carcass and the brilliantly daft rock n’roll riffsters Cathedral. A daming indictment indeed since I’m hardly a bona fide metal fan these days.

God, I guess I’d better write something about the musical content of this album at some point then. The second side is slightly more bearable than the first, although your ears will probabaly feel bunged up with dough by the time you get there. The highlight is probably Everything I own - a tribue to lead singer David Gates’ late father - although it’s not a patch on the Ken Boothe reggaefied version from 1974 (a Lady Friend childhood favourite so it tends to get the occasional outing in the parent core household). It also appears to be one of the most covered songs of all time (totally unsubstantiated claim alert), with the likes of Rod Stewart, Boy George, N-Sync, Olivia Newton-John, Shirley Bassey and everyone’s favourite self-deluded hot girlfriend role-model Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussytwat Dolls all having a stab. I guess I’ll chuck it on the parent core play list then. Take it away PJ. Give us something more memorable than Bread have managed. Please!

Mahalia Jackson - Silent Night

With album title track Silent Night opening this record it would probably have been more appropriate to cover off Mahalia Jackson during the festive period. However seeing as that honour is going to Christmas Carols Sung By The Guildford Cathedral Choir my house has had to endure some premature mid-October festivities this weekend. Mahalia “Queen of Gospel” Jackson was apparently one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and became known as the voice of the civil rights movement - travelling with Martin Luther King to the highly segregated deep south, using her music to inspire change. When she died in 1972, 50,000 people filed past her coffin in Chicago. Popular lady.

Although not really the religious type (well, I mean technically I was confirmed in to the Church of England when I was a teenager, but gave up on it a couple of weeks later when I realised what a barmy old bunch of cack it was. That said, I never did sign any release papers so I could well be their books somewhere. Still I did get a couple of nice watches out of it all as confirmation presents so its not all bad) it’s hard not to get entranced by Jackson’s soulful, powerful voice. While most tracks are slow burning down tempo ballads rumbling through to emotive finales there are also a couple of quite uplifting jauntier numbers - Walking to Jerusalem being the most noteworthy.

The only downside to listening to this record is that inescapable sense that Moby has fucked up gospel for everyone by sampling it ad nauseum on his 1999 album Play - an album which PJ has irritatingly reminded me I played incessantly at university, but now dislike with a passion after suffering severe over-exposure through all the car TV ads that Moby insisted on licensing half of his album to - something he would seemingly do to any car company that wafted half a bag of peanuts under his daft little vegan nose. Good luck with the remix this week PJ!

Mahalia Jackon’s dedication to her work was pretty admirable. Apparently her friend Louis Armstrong tried to convince her to try her hand at jazz, but she resolutely stuck to gospel. It does make you wonder if she had then maybe she would be as big a household name as Aretha Franklin or Nina Simone. Anyway, this is a definite thumbs up this week with Walking to Jerusalem jumping straight on to the Parent Core play list. As an aside, I seem to have a version of this album released on French record label Disques Vogue and have found it bloody hard to find screen grab of the record sleeve anywhere!

Just in case you missed it a couple of months back, here’s the feature on parent core from the excellent music site pennyblackmusic:

"Our Website of the Month is ‘Parent Core’ http://parentcore.tumblr.com, the blog of 31 year old Ian Gibbs from South London, who at the start of this year set himself the task of working his way through his parents’ vinyl collection from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and then writing about it.

Each week Ian writes about a different item from the collection. There have been postings so far, among others, on Ike and Tina Turner, the Everly Brothers, Helen Reddy, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, Elkie Brooks, the Supremes and the late Donna Summer. 

We spoke to Ian about the variable rewards of his parents’ collection and ‘Parent Core’.


PB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

IAN: Hi. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a amateur music enthusiast. Over the years, across ongoing attempts to DJ, play in a band and generally amass a record collection of questionable taste, it’s really occurred to me that I have a worryingly lax musical filter and seem to like pretty much most “stuff”. I think this high tolerance of most noise has equipped me well for the task of listening to my parents’ record collection. Although there are limits…

PB: What inspired you to set up ‘Parent Core’?

IAN: My parents’ old vinyl record collection. It’s not a particularly noteworthy collection and doesn’t even feature many of the hallmark albums you’d expect from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It’s just a very average set of records, but one that means something to me and one I therefore want to celebrate one record at a time until I run out. 

There are only two rules to featuring on ‘Parent Core’. If it’s on vinyl and it’s in my parents’ record box it’s in. 

PB: Do you only feature music you like?

IAN: Absolutely not. If it’s in my parents’ vinyl collection, it’s getting a listen whether it’s a gem or total dross. Listening to a Helen Reddy record is not my idea of time well spent I can assure you. Although I suspect it did cause a temporary uplift in the number of Australian feminists that Google misdirected to ‘Parent Core’ that day. That said, for every Helen Reddy there’s a Donna Summer. Legend. RIP.

PB: How do you interact with your readers?

IAN: Mainly down the pub. A lot of my readers are my mates. Who needs a disqus commenting platform hey? It probably helps that they get an occasional name check too. 

Some of the biggest interaction actually comes from my buddy PJ’s beats which he generates from the Record of the Week on his MPC500 and which just sort of grew organically after I launched ‘Parent Core’. Quite frankly many of his remixes are vast improvements on some of the unlistenable originals. He has a whole bunch of ‘Soundcloud’ followers from around the world who litter his remixes with sometimes unintentionally hilarious comments. He’s collaborating in some experimental noise project with a random Dutch man he found on the internet at the moment. I don’t know where he gets them from…

PB: What is the best thing about blogging?

IAN: It can be a nice little creative outlet and is a brilliant leveller - there are minimal barriers to entry to setting up a blog. It’s also quite cool being randomly added to loads of bands’ mailing lists and being sent loads of new music to listen to.

PB: And the worst?

IAN: Being randomly added to loads of bands’ mailing lists and being sent loads of new music to listen to in the hope i’ll give it a mention. Unless my parents have a resurgent interest in adding to a record collection that has hardly altered in over thirty years, it’s unlikely that any of these new records are going to meet the key parent core criteria.

PB: Why should Pennyblack readers come and check out ‘parent core?’

IAN: Because they have a sense of humour and can recognise music for what it is. Because they want to reminisce about that musty smelling record collection from their childhood. Because they like beats and breaks. But mainly because they like Melanie Safka. Be warned, there’s a whole lot of Melanie coming…. 

PB: Thank you.”

Genesis - And Then There Were Three

And then there were three. Supposedly a reference to the number of band members remaining after guitarist Steve Hackett left Genesis in 1977, but really we all know it’s actually a reference to the small number of songs that it’s even vaguely possible to tap your feet to on this overblown pompous prog-rockathon of peculiar time signatures, tempo changes and mellotron solos. Nope. I’d never heard of a mellotron either. Sounds more like a transformer to me. A sort of pacifist vegan transformer that changes in to a harmless melon and hides in the nearest vegetable patch at the first sign of a Decepticon attack. 

If that sounded like the meanderings of a rambling madman, then you should listen to Scenes From a Night’s Dream from the second side of And Then There Were Three. Apparently the first Genesis track featuring lyrics written by Phil Collins, I’d say they’d done well to keep him away from lyric writing duties for as long as they did. “Dragons breathing fire, but friendly. Mushrooms as tall as houses. Giant Nymphs and goblins playing…” You get the picture. Jeez, go get a room with a hobbit Phil. To be fair it is based on the dreams of a little boy who eats too much cheese before bed and I for one have experienced some pretty whacked out dreams after nibbling on some late night brie.

Talking of mushrooms as tall as houses, I actually used to live next door to Phil Collins when I was kid. I don’t particularly remember any overgrown garden fungi overshadowing our little cottage from the Collins mansion but then again I was about two years old and don’t remember very much about very much. Presumably I’d remember a giant mushroom though…. or maybe it was hiding in the vegetable patch with Mellotron. The only thing I can tell you about my time living next door to Phil is that he, my parents and some other local residents tried to stop a local school building some playing fields behind our respective houses. They failed in their mission to restrict local children from getting some healthy fresh air and exercise, which is fortunate as I actually ended up attending that same school ten years later. 

Actually, it wasn’t fortunate at all. I was/am shit at sport and got approximately one minute’s use out of those playing fields as a school boy. Time to pick up where my parents left off and resuscitate the petition. Pass me my pen and clipboard…

Actually, come to think of it, I’ve got Genesis anecdotes coming out of my ears this week (this is what happens when you grow up in Surrey - the county where ageing rock stars go to die). I once went to a children’s New Year’s Eve party at guitarist Mike Rutherford’s house. He had children of a similar age I should add. He wasn’t just creepily hosting children’s parties on his own. Actually, if I’m really honest, there is no anecdote here. I don’t remember much about the party other than nervously standing in the corner of the dance floor while my nine year old friend Alexander danced like a loon to Michael Jackson while wearing a tasselled shirt. God I don’t miss the eighties.

Anyway this album. Um, yeah I’m sure it’s good if you like rambling prog-rock records… I’m just not sure that I do. Give me solo Phil and No Jacket Required (coming up on parent core) any day of the week. Apparently Genesis’ stage shows were fantastically overblown pieces of theatre. In fact so overblown were they that their original singer Anthony Phillips left the band citing - in the most literal sense of the words - stage fright as the reason. I think that pretty much tells you all you need to know really. I’m going to stick album closer Follow You Follow Me on the play list this week - an anthem for all committed stalkers everywhere.


The Rolling Stones - Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)

This summer The Rolling Stones celebrate their Golden Jubilee. They shall celebrate it in an orgy of hand waving pomp floating aboard a flotilla larger than the Spanish Armada as they are serenaded by a wide-eyed Robbie Williams who will look more gurning lunatic than supposed member of boy band royalty, until Keith Richards’ age finally catches up with him and he is diagnosed with cystitis live on national TV in a humiliatingly public dissection of his bladder movements. Not really. Obviously not really, but it is pretty amazing that a band who began life in 1962 are still with us. Well, most of them are.

Big Hits High Tide and Green Grass Is the Stones’ first best-of album, released in 1966 and covering their first four years worth of material. Seeing as it’s the earliest Stones record in the parent core collection, I think it represents my folks’ belated attempt to get in to this hip new blues infused rock music that everyone’s talking about, after missing out on the band’s early years by choosing to listen to the likes of the Everly Brothers and Beatles instead. Although who knows, maybe the Stones wouldn’t exist as we know them if it hadn’t been for the Beatles? In the early 60’s Decca records turned down a chance to sign 
The Beatles in favour of local beat combo Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, claiming that ‘guitar music’ was on the way out.” Fortunately the same Decca record exec had the chance to atone for his blunder a few years later: when judging a talent contest with George Harrison he was advised to take a look at the Stones whom the Beatles guitarist had seen live a couple of weeks earlier. 

Classics on Big Hits, High Tide and Green Grass include Paint it Black, Have You Seen Your Mother Baby and Little Red Rooster, but I’m a bit disappointed that the UK version doesn’t include Play With Fire like the quite different US release does.

One of the tracks I am less familiar with however is Lady Jane… which upon first listen sounds like its being played out from the view point of Henry VIII as he gently breaks it to Anne Boleyn that he intends to get jiggy Tudor style with Jane Seymour. But he doesn’t mention anything about hacking her head off so I’m not entirely sure whether it is him or not. Still, it’s kind of topical with this rather tenuous Jubilee thing hey?

Although not my favourite, it’s hard not to be drawn to the eerie echoing qualities of Paint it Black - appearing on the soundtracks to both Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and the equally harrowing Guitar Hero III. Although I don’t share Mick Jagger’s apparently compulsive desire to perform impromptu re-decoration every time I see a red door - I’d never make it back from the tube station to my house if I did - I’m chucking it on the parent core play list this week anyway. Happy birth-year Rolling Stones.

Check out PJ’s beats here: