THIS JOURNAL DOCUMENTS MY INTAKE OF ONE BOOK, ZINE, CD OR DVD A DAY. RATINGS ARE: ***** = Godhead, **** = Great, *** = Good, ** = Fair, * = Why Bother?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rock, Don't Run, to the Nearest Exodus (*****)

Ernest Gold's epic theme from Otto Preminger's epic 70-millimeter 1960 war film Exodus (itself from an epic Dalton Trumbo screenplay adaptation of Leon Uris's epic 1958 novel) is, well, epic. It's just so overly dramatic, like the Dragnet theme. Small wonder that Gold's song won the Oscar for "Best Original Song" and Grammys for "Song of the Year" and "Best Soundtrack Album."

Ernest Gold's "Exodus" theme (1964)

That's why I've always loved cover versions of it, and there certainly have been a lot - from Ferrante & Teicher and Edith Piaf (who added lyrics) to Ice-T, Nas and T.I, who've sampled bits of the iconic theme in between their rhymes and riffs.

I was especially fond of The Slickee Boys' rock version that appeared on their Here To Stay (Line Records, 1988) album, which featured Marshall Keith's brilliant new arrangement and blistering guitar solos. Even better was their live version, which usually ended their six-song "TV Medley" set and can be found on Dacoit's 2002 Somewhat of an Anthology CD.

Slickee's "Theme from Exodus" (1988)

But today I just discovered The Skatelites' 1964 ska version of "Exodus" on Jamaica's Coxsone Records and can't get it out of my head.(The original Coxsone label credits the band simply as "The Skatelite."). The track appears on the excellent 2004 Studio One Ska compilation CD put out by the folks at Soul Jazz Records, whose liner notes add: " Whilst Ska music became easily identifiable by playing on the off-beat (usually the piano and guitar) The Skatalites brought their wide influences into the music. Ska could include Modal Jazz, Pop, Jump Up R’n’B, Rastafarian and Burro music, US Western and film soundtracks, Easy Listening and even classical music." (Indeed, a subsequent version of another Western movie theme, "The Guns of Navarone," gave the Skatelites a minor UK hit in 1965.)

Skatelites' "Exodus" (1964)

The Skatalites at this time were Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso (tenor saxes), Lester Sterling (alto sax), Don Drummond (trombone), Johnny Moore (trumpet), Jackie Mittoo (piano), Jah Jerry (guitar), Lloyd Brevett (bass) and Lloyd Knibbs (drums). According to Wikipedia, the Skatelites broke up at the end of 1965 and split into two "supergroups":  Rolando Alphonso and the Soul Vendors and Tommy McCook and the Supersonics.

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