Thursday, March 07, 2013

10 Classic Albums That Only Exist In The Movies

It's time for another random list! This one focuses on the fictitious output by fictitious musicians in the movies. Sometimes you don't get to see an album cover by the character of the artist (I don't remember seeing any of the albums by Jeff Bridges' Bad Blake in CRAZY HEART for example), but I'm always amused when we are lucky enough to get a glimpse of their records' art. Here's 10 that caught my eye:

1. “Rock and Roll Creation”: Spinal Tap This is one of several albums we see throughout Rob Reiner's rock documentary satire THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984). The others were “Shark Sandwich,” “Intravenus de Milo,” “The Sun Never Sweats,” and “Brainhammer” which all had convincing looking ‘70s-style art. In the extremely funny film, Reiner, as director Marty DiBergi, reads an excerpt from a review (of course fictitious) of the album to the band that has this priceless quote: “This pretentious, ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question “What day did the lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?”

2. “Black Sheep”: Dewey Cox John C. Reily's Dewey Cox goes through every musical phase, many borrowed from other artists, imaginable in Jake Kasdan's music biopic parody WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (2007). During his Brian Wilson/SMiLE psychedelic period he records what some consider his masterpiece: “Black Sheep.” The album cover heavily cribs from the Beatles' “Yellow Submarine” soundtrack's cover from '68 as much as the song riffs on Wilson's SMiLE sessions lunacy.

3. “Time Will Come”: Jack Rollins Christian Bale takes on Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes' I'M NOT THERE (2007) on this mock-up that offers a variation on Dylan's 1964 classic “The Times They Are A-Changing” album cover. The burlap fabric aesthetic is a nice touch.

4. “The Freewheelin’ Bob Roberts”: Bob Roberts Tim Robbins' directorial debut BOB ROBERTS (1992) also re-did Dylan on this and all of his conservative folk-singing Senate candidate characters' album covers that pop up throughout the splendid political satire. This one obviously skews Dylan's 1962 classic “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” but it edits the girl on the voice of a generation's arm for a guitar and replaces the aloof distant shoe-gazing with a stride of pride.

5. “Rogers and Clarke: In Concert Live!” It's a stretch to say that this would be a classic because it was a flop in the world that Elaine May's ISHTAR (1987) takes place in - the final shot/joke of the movie has the album listed at a “Special Low Price” in the window of what looks like a Tower Records. I love how the album is titled “In Concert Live!” with an exclamation point (so loved by those who used to title live albums). Incidentally ISHTAR is out of print on DVD, but it's coming out on Blu ray at the end of this month! I'm just disappointed that it's not a Criterion Collection release. Sigh.

6. “Calling It Quits”: Mitch Cohen There are lots of phony album covers in Christopher Guest's folk music reunion mockumentary A MIGHTY WIND (2003), but the art for Eugene Levy's Mitch Cohen character's solo album “Calling It Quits” is my favorite. It's just waiting to be used as the cover of a mix CD of depressing hurting heart songs, and I love how it looks like it could really be one of those singer-songwriter era divorce albums of the '70s. 

7. “To Begin With”: Stillwater Another fake release that looks authentically '70s, the Allman Brothers-ish looking album takes its title from a line in Cameron Crowe's ALMOST FAMOUS (2000) that the fictitious rock band on the rise Stillwater was the subject of: When asked by Patrick Fugit as a young Rolling Stone reporter what he most loves about music, Billy Crudup's guitarist character responds: “To begin with...everything.” A soundbite of these lines is used in one of the intros for the popular radio show Sound Opinions.

8. “Nagelbett”: Autobahn In the Coen brothers' cult classic THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998), Jeff Bridges' iconic character The Dude learns that the group of nihilists that are behind the kidnapping caper were once in a Kraftwerk-style band called Autobahn. Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore) has their album in her vinyl collection and says of it “Their music is a sort of, ugh, techno-pop.”

9. “Spanish Fly Fisherman”: Coconut Pete Sure, this fake cover is just a throwaway joke in a clunky comedy, Broken Lizard's followup to their much funnier SUPER TROOPERS, CLUB DREAD (Dir. Jay Chandrasekhar, 2004), but since the list is winding down I thought I'd throw it in. Just like the next one.

10. “Ted Striker's 400 Polka Favorites”: Ted Striker 

Speaking of throwaway jokes: In Ken Finkleman's AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL (1982), a moon station officer (Sandahl Bergman) tells William Shatner as Commander Buck Murdock that she's pulled Ted Striker's record. Shatner asks: “How is it?” Bergman: “I don't think you're gonna like it, sir.” (Pulls out “Ted Striker's 400 Polka Favorites”) Shatner: “That's worse than I thought.”

More later...

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