BAD EGGS: SOUNDTRACK
Review by Brad Green:
Some movie soundtracks are inspired by plot; some by setting; some by visual elements; and some by the dance moves of the director. Actually, perhaps only one has been inspired by the dance moves of the director. This one. Apparently, it all began with Tony Martin “selling/telling us the story”, as David Graney puts it in the CD liner notes, which progressed to his “bouncing around the studio, mimicking sounds and grooves and moods and impersonating each character” and ultimately left more than enough of an impression to kick start creativity: “Later we’d improvise around our memories of his dancing moves.”
On first listen, and with all due respect to Martin for whose wit I have far more admiration than his wiggle, it seems an unnecessarily ugly and awkward way of educing a soundtrack from Graney and co-composer Clare Moore, which in the upshot sounds exactly like the soundtrack you’d expect from that pair if you simply sent them a one line brief: Deliriously silly crime comedy--go for it!
Unlike the parodistic pastiches oft inspired by the farce-meets-detectives genre, they haven’t so much sent-up, winked or nodded to stylistic forerunners, as given a big cheery wave to any old favourite that took their fancy. Hence a homage to Lost in Space in the trumpet part of the title theme, which layers increasingly dissonant and unpredictable horns on a rigid synth-bass riff. The kookier the sprawling brass becomes, the better the effect, and by the end both the oddity and the impact are headed for the stratosphere.
Graney and Moore have collaborated in various rock bands for the past 25 years -- he as principal songwriter and frontman, she as drummer and occasional multi-instrumentalist -- but this effort marks their soundtrack debut. Renowned for their neon tonal colours, theatrical bent and complete disinterest in pandering to conventional taste-makers, it must have seemed a project tailor-made for their talents. Yet they were struck in the initial stages by a bad case of conservative inclinations, hence the imperative for Martin to go the full boogie.
One scene I trust the director didn’t showcase (with what in polite society is known as the horizontal rumba) is the love scene: or, judging by the grabs of dialogue, the alphabetically-coded-hyper-Karma-Sutra-demonstration posing as a love scene. For this cue, Graney takes a rare seat at the keyboards, layering together a dense and malleable texture that rolls like a waterbed under a wave of unlikely exploits, one of which (14U2C from memory) sounds like it would send a contortionist straight to the chiropractor.
Graney and Moore’s technique has always been to embrace the good, the bad and the outdated of popular music and fuse them together without prejudice. The indisputable premise being that a vintage television theme is neither any more nor any less valid than a hook from whatever happens to be temporarily cool this week.
Thus a little of everything is stirred into the pot, and the resulting brew of bubbling bongos, pitched percussion, echoing guitars, and mock-ominous vibe and piano patterns is far more flavoursome than a mere perusal of the recipe might suggest.
Recognisable Graney traits, such as the fluid, fuzz-guitar figures that enter in the score’s latter half should satisfy extant fans, while those who recall that Graney and Moore’s original band was only half a naive chord from punk, might find their eyebrows raising at some of the touches of virtuosity, which include an impressive faux-flamenco cue.
Perhaps more capable than any other composers of investing smooth shuffles with restrained kitsch, smoky contra-bass lines with fluorescent overtones and engagingly loopy motifs with a genuine sense of style, Graney and Moore have fashioned a debut soundtrack in which you can hear the swank suits, taste the characters’ venality and smell the Tony Martin drollery. While I can’t talk from direct experience, I suspect that as a guilty pleasure it’s right up there with position 14U2C.
Published July 17, 2003
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DAVID GRANEY & CLARE MOORE INTERVIEW by Brad Green
TITLE: Bad Eggs
SCORE: David Graney and Clare Moore
PERFORMED BY: David Graney, Clare Moore, Stuart Perera, Bill Miller, Matt Walker, Adele Pickvance, Nick Lowes, Ben Grant, Glyn Hickling, Tony Martin
ADDITIONAL SONG: Dave Graney And The Coral Snakes