Monday, April 25, 2016
"A Clockwork Orange" Soundtrack (1971)
I picked the CD copy of this one up at Hi-Voltage Records on 6th Avenue. It's been out of print for some years, and I'm surprised I never bought it on CD while it was still available.
Wow...what can one say about this movie after all these years? I think we all now what it's about, so we won't go into that here, but I will say that I fist saw it at perhaps way too young of an age, but I thought it was brilliant even then. A number of years later, in the 8th grade, I found Anthony Burgess' original 1962 novel of it at the library, read it a few times, re-discovered the movie again, and that's all I was into for most of that school year. I found a well-thumbed paperback of the book at a downtown used-book store, and it went to school with me fairly regularly.
At St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, there it was...the soundtrack album!!! I was absolutely amazed that there was one, and could barely believe my luck that it was in really good condition, and only a dollar.
Hearing Wendy Carlos' Moog-driven pieces in wide, full-throttle stereo was pretty mind-bending, and even though it was just the music I was hearing, you could still hear Little Alex's voice narrating away during various parts. Very interesting use of an early prototype of the Vocoder, in which vocals and percussive instruments were fed into the synths, which made them sound pretty unwordly.
"The Thieving Magpie" was pretty loud, intense and violent on its own here, with sudden shifts in volume. I didn't have much use for "Pomp And Circumstance", as they sounded like a graduation ceremony to me.
And back to Wendy Carlos' works again. The 3-minute excerpt of "Timesteps" is pretty dark and intense on its own, even without the cartoony violent films that Alex is forced to watch while bound down. And the "Suicide Scherzo" of Beethoven's 9th Symphony is equally as intense, with the ending of the piece buried in deep echo.
A couple of tracks are worth mentioning here. "Overture To The Sun" and "I Want To Marry A Lighthouse Keeper" were originally done by a terribly obscure musical outfit called Sunforest, who made only one album for Deram. Apparently, Stanley Kubrick heard "Lighthouse Keeper" on the radio, and thought it so delightfully silly that he had to put it in the movie somewhere, and he did.
One interesting "might have been" consideration was Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother", which Kubrick had seriously considered using in parts of the movie. Apparently, Roger Waters turned down the opportunity for its use, as Kubrick wanted permission to edit the piece as he saw fit, and the answer was no. A strange decision, considering how little Roger felt about the piece, even back then. Funny enough, when Alex goes into the record store and goes up to the counter, you can see a copy of the album on a high shelf, behind the counter, if you look close enough.
The soundtrack album also had its share of imitators, notably the one on the Pickwick label, with a hilariously bad album-cover picture of a bleeding orange. Looks like something that was in the bargain-bins for years, something the stores could barely give away.
One well worth looking for is Wendy Carlos' album consisting of music composed for the movie, including "Timesteps" in its entirety, a rendition of "The Thieving Magpie" that didn't make the cut (being delivered a day late and a dollar short), and a haunting closing piece called "Country Lane" hat was composed for a part after Alex takes a beating from his old droogs, and is wandering through the back country roads in the rain, not knowing where he was going. Highly recommended to seek out.