Year: 1996
Original Format: cassette

This one has some trace of a narrative arc: Our hero tries to go straight, but is betrayed and pulled back into the criminal life; some scores are made and adventures had; but in the end the outlaw must die — because how else will we learn our lesson?

Playlist:

That’s the American Dream Carl Lee
We generally make it a policy here to eschew the n-word in all things. But in this clip from Superfly, there was no way to avoid it.

Like Caine in Kung Fu Samuel L. Jackson & John Travolta
I have vague memories of watching Kung Fu when I was a kid, but that was an increasingly long time ago. Wikipedia just told me that in “searching for his family, [Caine] meets a preacher (played by real-life father John Carradine) and his mute sidekick Sunny Jim (played by real-life brother Robert Carradine),” and that guest stars in the series included Cannonball Adderley, Wilford Brimley, Gary Busey, José Feliciano, Jodie Foster, Don Johnson, Pat Morita, Slim Pickens, and William the Shat. And now I kind of want to go back and watch the whole thing; I’ll just need to set aside about 63 hours.

I’ve Been Down That Road Before Hank Williams
The grizzled old drifter sharing his hard-earned wisdom here was all of 27 years old at the time. But he had done a lot of living, as if he knew he wasn’t going to make it to 30.

Just When I Thought I Was Out Al Pacino
Godfathers I & II had so many memorable quotes and images. Part III had just this one line, pretty much.

The Payback James Brown
“James Brown wrote this song for the 1973 movie Hell Up In Harlem, which was directed by Larry Cohen. Brown had soundtracked Cohen’s film Black Caesar earlier that year, scoring a hit with ‘Down and Out in New York City.’ Brown’s musical director Fred Wesley and drummer John Starks came up with a song after watching a rough cut of the movie, which had the working title Black Caesar’s Revenge. According to Wesley and Starks, when they recorded the song, Brown came into the Augusta, Georgia session and literally tore up the sheet music. He reworked the song, incorporating lyrics that describe exactly what was going on in the first scene from the film. They recorded the song and overdubbed background vocals and horns a month later. Wesley then flew the tapes to Los Angeles and delivered them to Larry Cohen, who rejected the song (Wesley says Cohen told him it wasn’t funky enough; Brown said Cohen told him it was ‘too black’). An irate Brown ordered Wesley back to Augusta, and the song was used as the title track to his 1974 album. The song proved more than funky enough, going to #1 on the R&B charts and earning Gold status for selling over a million copies.” —Songfacts.com

Johnny Too Bad The Slickers
“I love the progression of music…. First, I heard Sublime do a freestyle that used some of ‘Johnny Too Bad’…they credited the UB40 version. You listen to the UB40 version and realize that it was actually The Slickers. You listen to the Slickers and realize a lot of the meaning of the song and the lyrics actually come from the old folk song ‘Sinner Man’ which was most famously covered by Nina Simone. However, the song itself pre-dates Nina Simone. What a fun musical journey.” —YouTube commenter “Menig”

Jimmy Jazz The Clash
“Although this jazz-blues song is credited to Joe Strummer (lyrics) and Mick Jones (music), it’s no stretch to imagine that Topper Headon, who had a background in jazz, had some influence. The song is said to have derived from jam sessions during the band’s workup for this album. Strummer’s semi-improvised lyrics place the listener in the middle of a film noir like world obliquely telling the story of Jimmy Jazz, an outlaw on the run from the police and Jimmy Dread. Or is Jimmy Dread an alias for Jimmy Jazz?” —Genius.com

Dirty South Goodie Mob
I knew very little about the Dirty South back then, and I don’t know much more now. But I know funky when I hear it.

I’m a Gangster, Woman Charlie & Diane
Because I never get tired of it:

Thermador Butthole Surfers
This song makes me want to hit stuff.

Theme from Dead Man Neil Young
Dead Man on the whole was a disappointment, but this scene is fantastic:

Gun Called Justice Lords of the New Church
Just came across this live version online and my mind is blown. Not that it’s better, necessarily… but so different… bombastic/cheesy yet powerful. Stiv and Brian 4ever.

A Gringo Like Me Ennio Morricone/Peter Tevis
“Peter Tevis (born 10 February 1937, in Santa Barbara, California, USA, died 13 September 2006 in Mercer Island, Washington) was an American folk singer best remembered for his work on the soundtracks of composer Ennio Morricone. Tevis met Morricone while living in Italy in the 1960s, and suggested working together. A 1962 recording of the song ‘Pastures of Plenty” by Woody Guthrie became a small hit single. Morricone later reworked it into the title theme of the famous Spaghetti Western movie A Fistful of Dollars directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood (without Tevis’ lyrics). Later they continued to collaborate on a number of recordings. Tevis is credited with singing the lyrics of songs on the soundtracks of several Spaghetti Western movies, including ‘A Gringo Like Me’ from the film Gunfight at Red Sands.” Tevis was also credited with singing the theme song of the animated television series Underdog in the 1960s.” —Wikipedia

Buenas Tardes Amigo Ween
All these years I’ve thought it was “Buenos,” not “Buenas.” And I took eight years of Spanish in high school. For shame, for shame.

Forty Minutes Railroad Jerk
I also thought this was “40 Minutes,” but Google says otherwise. I was a disaster as a proofreader, apparently.

Death of a Clown The Kinks
“Everything in the sixties had been spontaneous and easy and fun. Now I started to see the cracks. I was buckling under the strain of all this bullshit. As a boy I used to hate going to the circus, so the song’s also related to that. The main thing was that clowns were frightening – this guy pretending to be happy with a funny face but with something weird going on behind the scenes. The music business is very like a clown’s mask.” —Dave Davies

3 comments on “Gangsters & Pranksters, Side B

  • xian

    can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this mix! but now my car has no cassette player :\

  • xian

    points also for “I was a disaster as a proofreader, apparently.”

    • Bill

      That’s for the real heads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *