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This is a comments thread about FSM CD: Diamond Head/Gone With the Wave
 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 4:39 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Let me be the first to comment on this release from fourteen years ago.

Do you remember the story about the greengrocer's father-in-law, and how he appeared in my room, underpants bulging... and dropped a pile of old FSM CDs on my bedroom floor? That was months ago. You must remember my mini-rabbits. THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE/ TWILIGHT OF HONOR was the first. Well, now it's the turn of this double-header.

As you all know, DIAMOND HEAD is the then-contemporary LP recording done at the time to cash in on and/or promote the film. And so we get a lot of source cues and even a song which wasn't in the movie. But it all works rather well on the whole. Since I don't "plan" my rabbits, don't expect a coherent review. Just "man down the pub" chat. Informal banter, talking to myself again.

Twelve tracks on DIAMOND HEAD. Of those, I count about four which could be considered "dramatic underscore tracks", but there are an additional two which don't really fit into the "score" or "source" pigeonholes. And then there's the song.

I must admit, the song which opens the album is atrocious. Sung by co-star James Darren, with music by Hugo Winterhalter and lyrics by Mack David, it's the perfect Christmas present for my old spinster aunt shivering away in Scotland while dreaming of the South Seas. I just don't like that style of singing, a kind of Roy Orbison-Elvis Presley warble. And the music... My house is (or was) a Hawaiian guitar-free zone. Terrible, but please make up your own minds.

Most of the Johnny Williams dramatic score selections incorporate the Winterhalter melody, but this is the good part - he makes it entirely his own. Williams bends the melody and adds some thrilling orchestral touches to make you think that it's actually a John Williams composition. I'm amazed that the score selections sound so much like THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and (especially) THE TOWERING INFERNO ten years before they were written. Did John(ny) do anything else like this between '63 and '73? I know his NONE BUT THE BRAVE etc, but I'm talking "totally '70s disaster movie" here.

Of the source tracks there are only really two I'm not fond of (and one of them's "semi-source" anyway). They're too kind of light and Hula-Hoopy for me (in fact one was originally titled "Hula Welcome" on the score sheets). Oh, another one I dislike is the track that opened Side B of the LP - it's definitely a Williams arrangement, but he hasn't disguised the horrid Winterhalter melody enough, turning it into a sort of Hula Hoops cha-cha-cha. Another one for my old aunt.

The remaining source/semi-source/"not-even-in-the-film" tracks are wonderful and pure John Williams. Actually they sound like pure John Williams mixed in with pure Henry Mancini. That makes 200%. How can that be? Great stuff ranging from jaunty blues which showcases sax, flute, piano and strings, to slow, very elegant cocktail lounge music. It's beautiful. There's even one "unidentified" track which shows that Johnny Williams was a lot more adept at doing seductive South Seas exotica than Hugo Winterhalter (judging from what I heard of his "Hugo Winterhalter Goes Hawaiian" album). Perhaps my favourite of all is Track 10 "Mei Chen", which actually sounds more like a serious Mancini composition than it does John Williams.

Why all this mentioning of Henry Mancini? Because a lot of it's really like him. There's one source track which, as it reaches its gentle final cadence, I can't help but sing "...and youuuu" (as in "the days of wine and roses.... and youuuu"). Henry Mancini shall be mentioned a lot in my next mini-rabbit, which is about an incredibly enjoyable '60s comedy score by Johnny Williams.

So, eight tracks are great, three tracks are a bit iffy, and one track is terrible. That's a successful album to my ears.

And what exactly is the connection to Lalo Schifrin's obscure surfing documentary? Ah, apart from the Colpix label, both feature Diamond Head, and both have tracks with the word "Hula" in them. So, onto GONE WITH THE WAVE - To tell you the truth, it's a nice bonus, but I only started to get really into it when I imagined that I was watching all those great musicians playing it live. At first I thought that it lacked dramatic weight, but it is a film about the joys of surfing after all. Even the initially annoying tunes (the opening Holiday TV Show track, the final manic comedy track, the curiously Chinese-sounding one) all began to come to life for me when I imagined I was sitting in a posh hotel watching those great musicians at work, to the point that I didn't realise that some of the melodies were vaguely irritating.

So there I was watching the amazing Shelly Manne, Laurindo Almeida, Paul Horn, Victor Feldman, Milt Holland, Bob Bain... I can't remember all the names...oh, and Lalo Schifrin himself sometimes came on to do the piano on some numbers. It was a great way to round off a fun day, just winding down in the cocktail bar listening to those great musicians.

For those of you who have this CD, what do you think of it? And for those of you who haven't, why not? I was fourteen years late too, but at least I got it.

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 4:57 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Thanks for your two cents, Graham. I was curious what you thought about this. I gave my own two cents in this ol' thread:

I think I like DIAMOND HEAD a little bit better than you, but just a little bit. I've always enjoyed those 'cheesy' Hawaiian/exotica tunes, even though I own very little of it in my collection. All in small doses! I agree that Williams would have been able to compose the central theme/song all on his own without going to the far less capable Winterhalter first. And it would probably have been better (just remember that 'Luau' cue he wrote for SUPERMAN years later).

But of the two on this album, I actually think I prefer GONE WITH THE WAVE. The film is incredibly obscure, but the album lives its own life as a smooth concept album; the type you could play over the speakers in a surf bar in a sunny country.

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 5:07 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Cheers, Thor! I'm glad I haven't seen the film - it means I can enjoy the album more. I didn't think I came over negatively about it. Did I? Eight tracks on it are AMAZING!

Coming soon(ish) - NOT WITH MY WIFE YOU DON'T!

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 7:23 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

From DIAMOND HEAD, this may well be my favourite track of all -

DIAMOND HEAD - "Mei Chen" (Johnny Williams)

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 8:45 AM   
 By:   Hurdy Gurdy   (Member)

I've got about FIVE tracks saved to my 'on the goer' music player system device.
Sloan features in most of them, be it strolling or dreaming.
I'll have to dig the CD out and give it another (full) listen, as I can't remember the Schifrin at all.
I had (still have) the Diamond Head LP, back in the olde days, and remember wishing there was more dramatic JW stuff.
I've got the full score too, taped off the film, from those even older days.
I must also dig that out to see how much dramatic JW stuff is missing between film and LP/CD.

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 9:44 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Ms. Birri had "Gone with the Wave" on LP when we started dating.

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 2:59 PM   
 By:   LoungeLaura   (Member)

Ms. Birri had "Gone with the Wave" on LP when we started dating.

Now I am Mrs. Birri...and you married well!

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 3:46 PM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)

Ms. Birri had "Gone with the Wave" on LP when we started dating.

Now I am Mrs. Birri...and you married well!

Where's that LP now?

 Posted:   Aug 18, 2020 - 4:26 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Ms. Birri had "Gone with the Wave" on LP when we started dating.

Now I am Mrs. Birri...and you married well!

Where's that LP now?

Filed alphabetically under "Schifrin" in the Now Sound section.

And I most certainly did marry well!

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