The Beat Goes On at the movies: from Bill Haley to Jack Black, the soundtrack of our lives

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The July edition of The Beat Goes On, the quirky radio show hosted by the editor of this website, was a soundtrack special featuring an eclectic variety of music from the movies, ranging from Casablanca to Pulp Fiction and from South Pacific to Saturday Night Fever.

Artists include The All Seeing I, Bill Haley and His Comets, The Commitments, The Dandy Warhols, The Monkees and many more. You can listen to the whole show any time online by following this link to Mixcloud.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, this two-part blogpost contains a full playlist and cool links to all the music, with added film and video clips.

So settle back with a Royale With Cheese and a beer, and enjoy the show!

Brilliant video for The All Seeing I’s 1998 update of the theme song for this show, from their album Pickled Eggs and Sherbet. The All Seeing I also produced Britney Spears’ version of the Sonny Bono number, which will be played to kick off the August edition of The Beat Goes On.

Here are Pumpkin and Honey Bunny in Pulp Fiction. And here’s the great Dick Dale.

The Hendrix line “And you will never hear surf music again” (in Third Stone from the Sun, from Are You Experienced?) was a response to hearing that Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar, had cancer and had been given three months to live. But he survived to became a cult hero thanks to Tarantino’s decision to open Pulp Fiction with his 1962 recording of Misirlou. Dale is now 81. There’s a good 2010 interview with him here.

Another fine video, filmed in the now defunct Slabtown bar in Portland, Oregon. Bohemian Like You has featured in numerous movies and TV shows and was used in a highly successful Vodafone advertising campaign in 2001 (as a result of which the single was rereleased and rose to No 5 in the UK charts). Ford also used the song in advertising. Theresa May, the British prime minister (at the time of writing), walked off stage to Bohemian Like You at a Conservative Party conference, prompting its composer, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, to opine: “Why don’t these assholes have right-wing bands make them some right-wing music for their right-wing jerkoff politics? Oh, because right-wing people aren’t creative, visionary, or any fun to be around.” He’s not wrong.

Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving strut their stuff to Ce Ce Peniston’s dance classic in Stephan Elliott’s funny, touching 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. If there’s such a thing as low camp, this is it.

It may not look that threatening today, but my father told me when he went to see Blackboard Jungle, teddy boys tried to smash up the cinema. (He may have been exaggerating a little.) This song has the distinction of being the opening number not just in Blackboard Jungle in 1954, but Rock Around the Clock (rushed out the following year) and American Graffiti in 1973. “Haley’s Rock-Roll Dance Biz Whiz” is still a great record, especially the guitar of Danny Cedrone – who died after a fall, two months after the recording, so never knew how iconic the song, or his contribution, were to become.

Now can I please have the attention of the class … today’s assignment: kick some ass! The best song in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is not a Lloyd Webber composition: it was written by Sammy James Jr, of The Mooney Suzuki, and Mike White, who wrote the screenplay for School of Rock, the 2003 movie. The guys who play Dewey Finn in the stage show do a good job; it’s not their fault they’re not Jack Black. Here he is in the movie version of the song.

School of Rock report: Andrew Lloyd Webber gets a B+ but it’s A-stars all round for the kids

The Monkees have a regular slot in my show, People Say We Monkee Around, featuring some of their less well known songs (everyone’s heard Daydream Believer). A highlight of the band’s weird, wonderful 1968 movie Head, Carole King and Toni Stern’s haunting As We Go Along is beautifully performed by Micky Dolenz as Davy wanders about moodily. While you’re here, check out the sublime The Porpoise Song (King again, with Gerry Goffin) from the same film. You can even listen to King’s demo version of the song.

The Commitments are the house band of this website. (Full story here.) A terrific performance of the Wilson Pickett classic. But will he turn up to see them play?

In an attempted scam that sounds like the plot of a movie, Stretch – featuring a bloke from Curved Air and Elmer Gantry of the 60s outfit Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – were put together to masquerade as Fleetwood Mac (who were otherwise engaged) on an American tour. They weren’t best pleased when the Americans rumbled them, and wrote Why Did You Do It? as a riposte to Mick Fleetwood. It became a big hit for them in 1975 and and appeared, a quarter of a century later, in Guy Ritchie’s crime caper Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Here’s a compilation of the best lines from the film. My favourite is: “You don’t look like your average horti-fucking-culturalist,” a tribute to the morphological versatility of the great English swearword.

Jonathan Demme’s slow-burning black comedy Something Wild (1986), one of the best films of the 1980s, boasts sexy, funny and scary performances from, respectively, Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta, and an amazing soundtrack of familiar and unfamiliar music. Jamaican reggae star Sister Carol (AKA Black Cinderella and Mother Culture) contributes this charming cover of Wild Thing.

If it’s December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York? Bogart and Dooley Wilson in a timeless scene from Casablanca. Leading into …

“Well, talk about bad taste!” The funniest scene from the funniest film ever made, though arguably less funny than it was in 1968, when no one could have imagined in their most dystopian nightmares that 50 years later there would be actual neo-nazis in power in parts of Europe and among the entourage of the President of the United States of America.

Tony Christie, 75 years old this year, gives a fine performance of Avenues and Alleyways, the theme from The Protectors, to perhaps the un-coolest audience of all time. Was it really like this in the 1970s? It was.

John Barry’s haunting Midnight Cowboy theme, beautifully performed by the great jazz harmonica player Toots Thielemans, brings the first hour of The Beat Goes On to a close.

Coming soon: the second half of the show, featuring The Beatles, The Blues Brothers, Barbra Streisand and lots more!

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Last modified: August 3, 2018

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