Underworld: Bruce Lee

From the album Beaucoup Fish (1999)

Life, kid, suck, drink from the box, the juice kicks up.

yeah.

bruce lee.

High energy and repetitive, Bruce Lee basically sounds like it was recorded on a manufacturing line. With one verse repeated again and again, Underworld performs an exercise in rhythm and variations on a theme.

Using brute force, this thing will pound its way into your head, but for a form of House music, strangely you won’t feel like dancing. So just sit back and let your brain take a beating.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

What I love: That cold, industrialized beat.

Bonus Separated at Birth entry

I’ve been listening to this song for roughly eight years now, but it wasn’t until I posted the above that I noticed that the beat I’m so fond of bears a striking resemblance to Michael Jackson’s Speed Demon from Bad (1987).

Once you’ve listened to Bruce Lee, check out this sample and then tell me it doesn’t sound a little “inspired by.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Chemical Brothers and Dragon Warrior

A bit of a retroactive Separated at Birth for you today. It’s something I noticed back in April, before I had the ability to easily embed audio files. Indeed, it pre-dates this wordpress site.

This musical similarity concerns the melody of The Chemical Brothers’ My Elastic Eye from their 2002 album Come With Us and the Castle Theme from the NES classic Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest (1986) by composer Koichi Sugiyama.

First, the game music (straight from the ROM):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now, the Brothers:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sure, the tempo is faster and the arrangement is different, but what say you: happenstance, inspiration or appropriation?

Separated at Birth: Futurama and Gli Angeli Del 2000

Songs that sound too similar to be coincidence.

This one is quite surprising because I never ever would have guessed the source. A couple years ago, while sifting through the Italian Cinema dump, I stumbled upon a track by composer Mario Molino that sounded just a wee bit familiar, like a demented, psychedelic version of a song I knew all too well.

It was the title track to a 1969 Italian film called Gli Angeli Del 2000 plot summary not available and it boggled my mind. Listen to it for yourself and tell me that it’s not uncanny. Go on, I’ll wait….

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

All done? Good. Those of you who are acquainted with a device commonly known as a television (or “T.V.”) will most likely recognize some major elements to the theme song from Matt Groening’s Futurama program in that. Those of you who aren’t able to recall that theme, here’s a reminder. It’s an extended version by show composer Christopher Tyng himself.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Remarkably similar, no?

At the time I first noticed the similarity, a discussion board (or other similar web page) told me that Gli Angeli Del 2000 was a direct and deliberate inspiration for the Futurama theme. I can’t locate that source now, but I’m going to take my memory at its word. That’s good, because no matter how much I like the theme which is a lot, that source is the only thing that’s stopping me from claiming rip off.

::

Update and correction 7/19/07: In the comments below, moogaloo, corrects my above assertions. The Futurama Theme song was derived from a Pierre Henry’s Psyche Rock (1967), not the above Molino track.

I had completely forgotten about Psyche Rock, and thus confused it for Gli Angeli Del 2000, which appears to be the true rip off in this case. But now that I’ve been reminded, I recall from the commentary on one of the Futurama DVDs that the producers wanted to actually use Psyche Rock as the theme, but couldn’t get the rights. So the producers decided to “pay homage” to it instead.

For some additional coincidences, check out a universal favorite: Louie Louie by The Kingsmen (1966). You can hear the similarity in the chord progressions and the back beat.

Though The Kingsmen’s version is probably to most well known thanks to its use in Animal House, the song’s origins stretch back even further. The video below compares 3 different versions of Louie Louie by three different artists with early rock n roll and rhythm and blues flavorings:

  • Richard Berry 1957
  • Rockin Robin Roberts and The Fabulous Wailers 1961
  • Little Bill and the BlueNotes

Who would have thought that the humble Futurama theme would have such a long and illustrious pedigree?

Lalo Schifrin, Portishead and downtempo music

mission impossible and dummy

In retrospect, I probably should have saved Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Anthology for the last album on the tunequest. It would seem fitting that my last song played should be the last song on this album: Mission Accomplished.

Alas, it is not to be; I finished listening to that album just moments ago. However, there are other suitable songs for that distinction. At the moment, it’s reserved for The Smashing Pumpkins’ The Last Song. That’s assuming of course, that I’m actually going to succeed at this project. Increasingly, however, it seems as though the official tunequest theme song should be we’re not going to make it by the presidents of the united states of america.

But I digress; I mean to be discussing Lalo.

I can’t stress how much I enjoy this soundtrack. Schifrin is a wonderful composer whose credits include, in addition to the mission: impossible theme, Enter the Dragon, Bullit and the Dirty Harry movies among many many others. I was first introduced to him by name in 1999 by the cable tv channel Bravo. One random afternoon, it was broadcasting a live performance of the Marseille Philharmonic performing famous film and television music, conducted of course by Mr. Schifrin.

The show was quite excellent and, acting quickly, I managed to get most of it on video tape (which was later converted to mp3). Even after all these years, I still find that this recording showcases some of the best renditions of classic film standards I’ve ever heard, including The Good the Bad and the Ugly, the james bond theme and the M:I theme.

I was particularly struck by all the jazz Schifrin infused into the music of this performance. Jazz has always been his specialty, but it’s fascinating to hear how he works with music that was composed for a symphonic orchestra.

That same kind of smooth, laid-back, jazzy composing style is what continues to attract me to his work. in fact, and please follow me down the tangent, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my interest in jazz music was an outgrowth of my increased attention to electronic music in the late 90s, particularly the downtempo genre. I could make the argument, now that I think about it, that Lalo Schifrin is a singular great influence on the emergence of the downtempo as a musical style.

The two styles seem to share an ethos for swanky grooves and, off the top of my head, I can reference two direct descendants of schifrin’s music in the downtempo field. firstly, UK production outfit The Black Dog remixed Schifrin’s Bullit themes at some point in the late 90s. Though the mix is closer to big beat than downtempo, it does point towards the existence of attention toward Schifrin outside of jazz circles and film buffs.

Secondly, and this one was a recent revelation to me, is Portishead, whose album Dummy coincidentally appeared on the tunequest today as well. I must admit that I was late to the trip hop party. I didn’t pick up this record until 2000, five years after the group introduced the world to trip hop with their hit song, Sour Times. It had been quite a while since I listened to the M:I anthology and maybe that’s why I hadn’t picked up on this, but the central rhythm of sour times is a direct sample of Schifrin’s song Danube Incident from the soundtrack.

On one hand, I lose a little respect just a little for Portishead. Sour times is a great song and I guess I just feel a little deceived that the work is not entirely theirs. On the other hand, the song they created from it is incredible and through its success, they brought a large spotlight to a field of music that flourished in the decade that followed.

Seven Hedwig Samurais

OK, I didn’t mean for today to be Harry Potter day. It’s purely a coincidence that I have three posts in a row that mention it. But I was listening to Fumio Hayasaka’s score to The Seven Samurai all the way through for the first time this afternoon when I was struck my the similarities between a certain thematic passage and, (possibly because i had recently listened to the rock version), John Williams’ Hedwig’s Theme.

Now I’m not suggesting anything ill towards Mr. Williams. I think he’s a great composer who has written some of the best contemporary music for orchestra and I absolutely adore his work for the Harry Potter franchise. But a simple listen should reveal, despite differences in orchestration and arrangement, that the two piece sound similar.

First, The Seven Samurai. This excerpt is taken from the 5 minute intermission interlude. It was written in 1954.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Then there’s Hedwig’s Theme, written in 2001.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

What say you? Separated at birth? Coincidence? Or am I reading too much into this one?