I really love Boardwalk Empire. Aside from the obvious comparisons with Detroit, it’s got fabulous actors, costumes, sets and great period music. Totally captivating. After all the boffo recommendations, I couldn’t wait to get my first NetFlix disc. I flipped it in and within five seconds I was reaching for the remote to shut it off. This alt rock theme wailing away (which sounds a lot like ‘Season Of The Witch’) under all these surreal CGI-enhanced images from the show. WTF?
I must stop here to tell you that I am of that ilk that finds no joy in stylistic mash-ups. Remember all those movies in the 80’s where they hired Queen (or worse still, Hans Zimmer) to do a rock/sequencer score for a movie involving medieval castles? YUK!
Fortunately, if one fast forwards past the crappy theme music? The actual show score is fantastic early jazz. But I forgive ’em. I know why they did it. And it worries me.
When you hear live early jazz it sounds great. Big. Full. But the moment you put it on a loudspeaker? Unless it’s really good, it sounds like you imagine early jazz sounds. Plinkety plinkety plink. Tinny. Tiny. You can’t appreciate it without hearing it in front of fifteen guys. (Cuban and Hawaiian music are like that as well.)
As I’ve reported, I’m trying like heck to generate two independent ‘Detroits’: the orchestral version, and then a pretty much separate ‘album’ version with the usual keyboards/guitars/band format of my other albums. There are several reasons for this:
a) I want an authentic way to perform this material. This ain’t 1975 and I ain’t ELP, booking an 80 piece orchestra on a world tour!
b) As the producers of TV shows know, there’s a time and a place for ‘acoustic’ and a time and a place for ‘rock’. During the rehearsals I’ve had for Detroit I’m always so amazed at how absolutely wonderful an orchestra sounds. Nothing like it in the world. Forget ‘volume’; an orchestra plays with more raw power than Foghat behind a skyscraper of Marshalls. But just as with Boardwalk Empire, when I hear the recorded playback? It sounds oh so much punier. It’s like the apocryphal fishing story (You shoulda seen the one that got away!)
At the right I’ve been going, I’ll be lucky to get the full score of Detroit performed. So I occasionally feel like talkin’ about doing a second ‘album version’ sounds about as realistic as all this recent talk about ‘mining for rare metals on asteroids.’
But on the other hand? Even with all the laughter about Newt and his ‘moonbase econonmy’, I still live in hope. After all, I’m of the generation that really believed in The Jetsons and all that flying-car-in-a-briefcase shite.
If they can find a miner who can swing a pick axe on a meteorite? I’ll be danged if I can’t get ‘Album Detroit’ done, old timer.