‘If You Ride Like Lightning, You’re Gonna Crash Like Thunder’ (Soundtrack Sundays)

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This week, a couple of tracks from The Place Beyond The Pines, the second of which is something really special, one of the most mesmerising pieces of music you could ever hope to hear.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance in 2012, The Place Beyond The Pines is a recommended watch, even though I never quite believed in some of the events that take place. On first seeing it, I stepped out of the cinema not even knowing if I was supposed to or not. It’s a film consisting of a triptych of stories and might have worked better with just two. There’s a massive coincidence and some far too obvious foreshadowing.

On the plus side, the direction was often striking and the acting was very strong across the board, with Ryan Gosling the standout in one of those man of few words roles that he specialises in. He plays Luke, a fairground motorcycle stunt performer who zigzags around a circular metal cage at great speed with two other daredevil riders. On discovering he has fathered a son while in Schenectady, he decides to quit his travelling job, win back Romina (Eva Mendes), the mother of his baby son, and become part of a family.

He also decides that, in order to make enough money to help achieve these goals, he should begin robbing banks. His actions will have wide ranging ramifications, even down through to the next generation.

Eva Mendes is superb too, and Ben Mendelsohn displays why when Gosling directed his own movie – Lost River in 2014 – he was so keen to get the Australian involved.

But the best thing about the film is its use of music.

Composed by Mike Patton, one time singer of Faith No More (a band that failed to ever remotely interest me), the score is surprisingly impressive with The Snow Angel and Schenectady particularly effective – the latter with its brooding, twanging guitar wouldn’t have felt out of place in something by David Lynch.

There’s also Fratres For Violin, String Orchestra And Percussion by Arvo Pärt, the Estonian minimalist adored by Hollywood, while Suicide’s Che injects an instant jittery intensity to a scene where Luke prepares to commit his first raid. Another highlight is Please Stay by The Cryin’ Shames, a ballad I’ve previously judged to be borderline saccharine, but which works beautifully in its context here.

A tail-end of Merseybeat combo, they hooked up with Joe Meek and scored a hit early in 1966 with this Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard song, which had originally been recorded by The Drifters – featuring backing vocals by Doris Troy and Dionne Warwick’s sister Dee Dee Warwick, no less.

Arranged by Ivor Raymonde, the father of Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde, this would be the final chart hit produced by Meek before he shot and killed his landlady, before turning the gun on his own head and committing suicide.

It’s been claimed over the years that Meek also pointed a gun at the head of Cryin’ Shames’ singer Charlie Crane in order to achieve the vocal take that he craved but really, does this sound like a man singing while under extreme duress?

Time now for Ennio Morricone’s Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri – not to be confused with Ninna Nanna Per Adulti, which I previously featured here.

Originally written for Cuore di mamma, a 1969 Italian movie directed by Salvatore Samperi, A Mother’s Heart, to give it its English title, was very much of its time, inspired by Jean-Luc Godard and politically confusing. Or maybe I only found it confusing as I watched it on YouTube with auto generated English subtitles. These resembled reading a William Burroughs cut-up novel.

In The Place Beyond The Pines, its first appearance accompanies Luke spending an idyllic day with Romina and his son Jason, imagining all three living together happily ever after.

Morricone’s simple but sublime lullaby acts as a clear counterpoint, conveying an overwhelming sense that these good times are never going to last. It’s used again later with similar results, introducing the same almost unbearably poignant sense that as hope blossoms, bad things surely loom ahead.

This is Morricone at his brilliant best.

The Buzz And Some Children Of Nuggets

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Over the weekend I’ve been listening again to a pair of Various Artists compilations that I hadn’t heard for a while and decided to share a couple of highlights from them which I think you might just really, really, really like.

Firstly a track that kicks off and also partially gives its name to a CD collection with the frankly overlong title: Joe Meek – Freakbeat: You’re Holding Me Down (30 Freakbeat, Mod and R&B Nuggets) which Castle put out in 2006.

I’m told that back in the mid 1960s, an exciting music scene existed on the East Coast of Scotland and venues like McGoos on Edinburgh’s High Street staged headline shows by some of the best bands in Britain including The Who, The Kinks and The Troggs, while a multitude of local hopefuls played in pubs and clubs across the Lothians and further afield, many building up a sizeable fan base.

These acts included The Purple Eyes, The Spellbinders and, most notably, The Boston Dexters – instantly recognisable in their 1920s Chicago gangster get-up – who recorded some fine singles in their short time together. In the wake of their demise, singer Tam White and guitarist Johnny Turnbull put together a new combo called The Buzz and this outfit provided Britain with one of its most exhilarating 45s of the era, You’re Holding Me Down.

The track’s fade-out in particular is superb with squalls of raging guitar and some surprisingly psychedelic touches from sonic innovator Joe Meek but best of all is Tam White who gives one of the most demented vocal performances you’re ever likely to hear; a rasping, broken man who sounds like his vocal chords are being torn from his throat as he sings.

Play loud!


You’re Holding Me Down came out on the Columbia label on April Fools’ Day, 1966 but made little impact. Twenty years later a newly recorded song seemed to aim for a sound that I’m guessing, even if it had come out in 1966 itself, might already have struck many listeners as slightly dated. This would make even less impact than You’re Holding Me Down and, like that track, would only reach a wider audience many years later when it too surfaced on another compilation with Nuggets in its title.

Rhino’s 2005 box set, Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era, 1976-1995 lacks the consistency of the original 1972 Nuggets double L.P. compiled by Jac Holzman, the founder of Elektra Records, and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, but there are some fantastic tracks scattered throughout each of its four CDs such as God Knows Its True and Metal Baby by Teenage Fanclub and Tracy Hyde by The Wondermints.

Best of all though is this originally highly obscure track by The Nashville Ramblers that could almost be The La’s covering a lost classic by The Hollies. The Trains is three minutes and ten seconds of perfect pop that pisses over just about everything that made the charts in the conservative climate that prevailed post-Live Aid.


Just think, in 1986, Mr Mister, Starship and Peter Cetera all scored #1 singles in the U.S. and the dreary Dire Straits album Brothers in Arms spent 10 weeks as Britain’s best-selling album and yet, as Kieron Tyler pointed out in his liner notes for Children of Nuggets: ‘Despite being based in San Francisco and originally having come from San Diego, The Nashville Ramblers only vinyl appearance was in the UK, via The Trains inclusion on the Brit-only mod-comp LP American Heart And Soul.’

Luckily that vinyl release did eventually happen, a couple of tracks by the band being remastered from the original tapes and put out by Ugly Things Records in January 2011 and well done to Ugly Things for that.

For more on the Nashville Ramblers: https://www.facebook.com/thenashvilleramblers


You’re Holding Me Down Trivia: In 1987, Tam White was chosen to provide the vocals for Big Jazza McGlone, played by Robbie Coltrane, in John Byrne’s award winning BBC Scotland TV drama Tutti Frutti which told the story of The Majestics, an ageing Scottish rock ’ n’ roll band celebrating their ‘Silver Jubilee’. He also appeared as an actor in Braveheart, Rebus and Taggart. Tam died in 2007, aged 67.