We asked Kitchens of Distinction’s guitarist Julian Swales to compile a mixtape for us. He came back with a remarkable collection of film score and songs from the movies. Here’s Julian to explain:
“I started to compile a playlist. There were so many film soundtracks popping up that I decided to make that the theme. Some of this music has run throughout my life and so is actually a soundtrack for me, other pieces are more recent. I’ve limited the playlist to twenty and tried to keep out the obvious well-known ones.
So, in no particular order of preference:
1. Star Wars by John Williams.
Doh! Failed at the first. This is the most obvious one there is but you must have it for the blast of the opening trumpet fanfare and the way it lurches out of that into the melody. It is the perfect music for words drifting off into the distance in space… John Williams is the guv’nor by common agreement and of course there are many others by him that should make the list but James Shenton, my neighbour, played violin on the Star Wars original soundtrack so it goes in. Listen to the counter-rhythm!
2. Midnight Cowboy by John Barry
Sometimes I’ll go through the iPod not wanting to put any of it on and I’ll come to this. I’ll play it and think “why don’t I just play this over and over all day?” Just beautiful and very, very cool. John Barry was/is my man.
3. Diva by Vladimir Cosma
This is a super sub. I originally wanted Popul Vuh’s music from Aguirre-Der Zorn Gottes but it’s not on Spotify. (A really strange world. Beautiful music ambient music in the jungle. On YouTube here) But the music from Diva’s not bad either.
4. The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein
If you take this stunning music away what’s left is probably a boring movie about some really goodlooking gunfighters. Bernstein noted that his music ran a bit faster than the action so he realized it too. The opening blasts in like nothing else. I wrote the music for a documentary for the BBC about the first ascent of Everest; I wanted a heroic flavour and thought just the interval of the first two notes from The Magnificent Seven would be enough – it was plenty!
5. Buffalo 66 – Heart Of The Sunrise by Yes
Inspired choice by Vincent Gallo. This sequence is a bass/drum workout but the rest of the song is, well, totally epic. And mad.
6. I Am Love by John Adams
The sequence at the end where Tilda Swinton’s character is leaving one life for another has this staggering music (“The Chairman Dances”) that combines with the narrative to take your breath away. The music was written before the film was shot and luckily permission was given for it to be used.
7. Lawrence Of Arabia by Maurice Jarre
For a while Kitchens used to come on stage to the theme from this. Must have been crazy. How did we think we could follow this?
8. The Proposition by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Some great grimy bass loops and grainy violins.
9. Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid by Bob Dylan
“Knocking on Heaven’s Door” plays while Slim Pickens as Sheriff Baker stares at his wife knowing he’s about to die. And delightful acoustic noodling everywhere else.
10. Men Of Harlech
“Zulu” has a very fine John Barry soundtrack of course but I thought I’d slip this bad boy in… School assembly was a misery full of Christian dirges but occasionally there’d be one like this. There’s a pub in Cardiff where they play this before every Welsh game apparently. The film itself is historically inaccurate but this song features and always gets the “hwyl” going.
11. Planet Of The Apes by Jerry Goldsmith
Fantastic otherworldly jarring sounds accompany the poor chaps… oh dear, it’s all going to get much, much worse….
12. The Graduate by Simon and Garfunkel
There was a time when I could do a passable impression of Dustin Hoffman and play ‘Mrs. Robinson” at the same time.
13. Fantastic Mr.Fox by Alexandre Desplat
The film is just genius and the music is just beautiful. I probably bought my mandolin because of this.
14. North By North West by Bernard Herrmann
Bernard’s got to be in there somewhere. I watched the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra do this recently at a Mark Kermode film night. What a show. I could listen to Kermode all night but even he can’t beat Cary Grant and James Mason. And this music.
15. For A Few Dollars More by Ennio Morricone
Could easily have 20 pieces from wonderful Ennio alone but have chosen this one as it’s an example of diegetic music – we’re hearing it but so are the characters. Follow this link to see what I mean (and get a longer version).
16. The Godfather by Nino Rota
Famously had an Oscar withdrawn because the music wasn’t specially composed for the film, it was just thrown in! But how it works!
17. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by John Barry
I firmly believe Bond wouldn’t have been successful if wasn’t for the music. I do, I do, I do. Alright, Connery’s not bad.
18. 633 Squadron by Ron Goodwin
Apparently Ron got the idea for this from the number 633 – he used this as the rhythm. Easy peasy.
19. The Third Man by Anton Karas
20. Dr. Zhivago by Maurice Jarre
Every time there’s a shot of a flower, tree or some snow this plays. Perfect. Impossible romance during a revolution. (“Lara’s Theme”)
That’s it. I know I’ve left out some great ones. Sorry. And I hope there’s not too many cowboy films.”