Yuppi Du

Yuppi Du colonna sonora originale LP (Clan, 1975)

One day about five or six years ago, an old guy walks into the bookstore and asks if I am the guy who buys records. I tell him that I am and he says he collects soundtracks and that he wants to unload some, could we set a time for me to check them out. He says he has them in a storage locker. We set a time and he takes off. A few days later I pick him up at his apartment and we take a short drive to the storage place. He gets out of the truck, unlocks the unit, and rolls up the door. Inside the storage unit are shelves of records, a couch, a chair, and a table with a small turntable and a lamp on it. The whole thing is set up like a living room. The old guy lives in a small apartment with his son, but couldn't bare to part with his records. So for a hundred bucks a month he rented out a storage unit and turned it into his record room. His son would drop him off in the morning and he would listen to records all day, eat lunch, listen to more records. In the afternoon, his son would pick him up - with a few records to take home - and he'd be back the next day. Today, he was letting me go through his records.

There were thousands of records, all cataloged by some system he had which was divided by movie genre and year. Almost every genre was represented, some more so than others. The old man was heavy on the musicals but very light on Blaxsploitation. He did have a healthy collection of film noir soundtracks, as well as foreign stuff, especially Morricone and Rota. I was directed to pick out what I wanted, then he would go through and take out the stuff he wanted to keep. Then we'd haggle. I spent a couple hours going through the records. I pulled heavy from his sci fi, noir and detective soundtracks, while keeping an eye out for The Caine Mutiny OST, knowing that he'd never sell it, but just to look at a live one (he didn't have it). I also was generous in my helping of Italian soundtracks. He went through everything and took all the Morricone single soundtracks but let me keep the collections. He wouldn't part with Fellini or Kurosawa OSTs. And plucked out a few noir gems. That left me about fifty records, which he sold me for $200. He got the cash, I dropped him off at Pancake Circus, and went home to go through my score.

One of the best of the batch I present to you today. The soundtrack to Adriano Celetano's film Yuppi Du is a great rip off of Deodato, Morricone, and Nelson Riddle. Who composed it, I have no idea. What the movie is about, I am not sure. I read some keywords in IMDB which tell me it has to do with a love triangle and suicide. There are some great clips on you tube but they are in Italian and I only know the food, not the language. If you want to try to figure them out, check out this and this. If you don't know what the hell is going on, that is fine. You should still dig the wacked humor & surrealism. Perhaps an Italian reader or Italian film nut can chime in, as the film seems to have been a pretty big deal in its homeland. And after you check out the songs below and the clips above, give this fucked up version of the theme song out.


Tribute to Komeda

Michael Urbaniak & Urzula Dudziak Tribute to Komeda LP (MPS, 1976)

Legends in their homeland of Poland, not only are Michael Urbaniak and Urzula Dudziak obscure in the United States, the man they are paying tribute to on this record, Krzysztof Komeda is pretty much unknown. Too bad. While both violinist Urbaniak and vocalist Dudziak have done some hard on crud ears fusion and pop, they've also made some great experimental music. Komeda never delved into fusion or had a Euro pop hit, but he was more important than either of his interpretors. Komeda is pretty much the father of modern Polish jazz. Before his death in 1969, he went from playing dixieland and bebop to running with the sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet and composing soundtracks with musicians such as the late great Don Cherry, including Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (which Cherry had nothing to do with). Komeda died much too young from complications of a brain haematoma. Urbaniak and Dudziak are still kicking around.

I first heard this record some twenty odd years ago at the apartment of Sacramento poet BL Kennedy. He was a freak for free jazz, especially the vocals of Urzula Dudziak. Though I'd heard my fair share of punk rock screaming and post punk crooning, Dudziak was new to my ears. I can't say I understood the music, as I hadn't yet developed an ear for jazz; but, I did dig the far out-ness of this record. Over the last two decades, I kept an eye out for it. Finally a month ago, I found a copy at the local public radio record sale. A cast off from a library in West Sacramento, it isn't in the greatest shape, but it only cost me a buck and it was one of the few records that I've been semi-actively searching for. Normally, I save the scratchy record posts for genres that can handle the surface noise, however this record is pretty damn scarce and I doubt if I will ever come up with a clean copy. So you get what I get. Hopefully the music will make up for the crackles and pops.



David McCallum Communication b/w My Carousel 45 (Capitol, 1966)

Nineteen sixty-six was a good year for David McCallum. The Scottish actor was right in the middle of a four year run at a role that brought him to the height of his popularity. As the Russian secret agent Illya Kuryakin on the hit television show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. he dwarfed series star Robert Vaughn and became a sex symbol, inspiring Alma Cogan to release as song about him ("Love Ya, Illya" by Angela & the Fans). As was norm with television stars at the time, the record labels went sniffing about looking for a hit.

While McCallum's single doesn't quite hit the heights of Yaphet Kotto's Have You Dug His Scene, nor does it induce the chuckle factor of Sebastian Cabot's Dylan album, it has one thing both of those don't: production by David Axelrod. At the time, Axelrod was on his own streak. He'd hit with Lou Rawls and was at the start of his relationship with Cannonball Adderley. He had a great group of session musicians, who he used to make this McCallum single (and later the classic Axelrod produced Electric Prunes albums).

A couple years after this records release, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was canceled and McCallum's star faded a bit. Though he made a couple more records with Axelrod and was a co-star in The Great Escape with Charles Bronson, he never hit the popularity he had achieved with U.N.C.L.E work. Nowadays he plays a supporting role on the TV series NCIS. In 1970, Axelrod left Capitol records and pretty much disappeared. Though he had some work and made some solo records, few paid attention and his solo work went unreleased. That changed in the 1990s, when DJ Shadow started sampling Axelrod's work. Suddenly Axelrod's sounds were heard on record by Dr Dre and Lauryn Hill. Not only was he back in the studio, but was now considered one of the era's most important record producers.


Unexpected break

Hello, I didn't expect a break from this thing, but a busy schedule and a couple heat waves have shut me down for a while. Yesterday, it hit 111 in Sacramento, which is bad enough, but worse is the air. The fires you've no doubt heard about, the ones scattered throughout California coupled with lack of wind or winds coming from the east means we are socked in smoke. For about fifteen minutes it is pretty cool - extreme heat and smoke in the air, it is like some sci fi distopia come true - and the the novelty is replaced by sweat, burning eyes, and sore lungs. Needless to say, these aren't working conditions. I am unlucky that I have a weak air conditioner. I am lucky in that it does cool the room where the records are. And I am even luckier in that there is a great pool a ten minute bike ride away. That is where you will find me 'til the heat wave passes.

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