Friday, December 19, 2008

Listening Post: Orchestral Maneuvers Edition

Believe it or not, I actually try hard not to be too self-indulgent when it comes to what gets posted on this site. I may voice my opinion, relay personal stories, or just generally poke fun in every direction, but I always hope that whatever goes up here is something that someone will want to read; it's not often that I throw a post into the mix without caring one way or the other whether it's going to be entertaining to you nice people.

But I guess this will be one of those rare occasions that I do just that.

Or maybe it won't be -- because maybe there's someone out there who feels the same way that I do about the musical score from the 1987 movie Less Than Zero.

Yesterday, while tooling around YouTube, I stumbled on a series of musical pieces -- each covered only with a static wallpaper shot -- that absolutely blew me away, because the music in question was something I'd been searching for for more than 20 years. While an official Less Than Zero soundtrack was released two decades ago (featuring the Bangles' Hazy Shade of Winter, LL Cool J's Going Back to Cali, etc.), the actual musical score by Thomas Newman was never made available to the public. I could never understand why, since the music Newman wrote for the movie remains, in my opinion, some of his best work -- and this is a guy who went on to compose the brilliant scores of movies like American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption and Road to Perdition.

The ethereal, atmospheric score for Less Than Zero -- particularly the character suites, some of which call to mind the heartbreaking beauty of Barber's famous Adagio for Strings -- is something that moved me in indescribable ways the first time I saw the movie, and continued to with each repeat viewing.

I've been searching for this music in one format or another for years. And yesterday I sent a message to the person who had uploaded the videos to YouTube telling him as much. About 20 minutes after I wrote to him, lo and behold, the Less Than Zero score began appearing in my email inbox -- one MP3 file at a time.

Maybe there's no one out there who grew up in the 80s and appreciated the music from this movie the way I did. Maybe I'm the only one within the sound of my voice who remembers it and loves it. If this is true, then sorry to waste your time.

But if there's anyone reading this who knows what I'm talking about -- who doesn't think I'm completely crazy -- and who remembers how great the Less than Zero score was, I'm about to make your day.

Here now, three pieces from that unreleased soundtrack.

I Need $50,000

Feeling Nostalgic

Julian's Dead

(Thanks to CuervoBlack06, whoever you are, for giving me a really great Christmas present.)


J.A. said...

The full score is floating around the internet as a torrent...

Here's one link.
Not saying you should download it, though... No, never...

Chez said...

If the "No, never" line was a reference to Fletch, you win my undying respect.

Yeah, I saw the torrent after this nice guy had sent me the whole thing in MP3 format.

Sara said...

You once again have posted something that makes me wonder if we are twins separated at birth. Less Than Zero was the first R-rated movie I saw and for a sheltered Jehovah's Witness kid, it was SCANDALOUS! I loved everything about it but what really got me in some of the scenes where I would otherwise be making fun of Jamie Gertz's overacting was the score. Thanks for the links!

Kelsy said...

Thomas Newman is one of my favorite film composers. Little Women manages to feel honest and not sentimental because of his score. And I love the soundtrack to The Horse Whisperer, despite the mediocrity of the film. I was born in the same year as this film was released, so thanks for introducing me to it through its music.

LaRoach said...

You rule, 'nuff said...

(Quickly, to the Bat Torrents!)

Elessa said...

that is indeed some very beautiful music. thank you for sharing it. now i need to find other the soundtracks by newman to pay attention to.

now the question is will CuervoBlack06 now find himself in the sights of the RIAA, the movie studio and other organizations for having provided you with a copy of the music?

Al said...

Re: Robert Downey's drug problems...I've wondered for years if the movie was the cart or the horse.

(pardon the pun)

Loved the soundtrack, but I've avoided seeing the movie as I expect it won't be as good as I remember.

Thanks for the discovery.

dick_gozinia said... could you post this and not even mention in passing that the actual soundtrack is also fantastic, featuring Slayer's astounding cover of InnaGaddDaVida and the whole thing is produced by Rick Rubin?

You know Rubin...the guy who brought me God Lives Underwater and helped Metallica concoct their best album in 20 years -- among a million other things.

UnRepentant said...

Thank you SO much! I've been looking for this isolated score since I saw the film in theaters when it first came out. Couldn't find it anywhere.