Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 August 01 • Monday

The 176th Soundtrack of the Week is an old favorite, Les Baxter's rock/funk masterpiece for the biker flick Hell's Belles.

"Meet the debutante in the leather skirt. Too young… too tough… too itching for action to look for it — she'll make it where she is."

I would like to see this movie.

I've had this on vinyl for a long time and snapped up the La-La Land Records CD the moment it came out. It has some extra tracks but I would have bought it anyway.

"Wheels (Main Title)" is an instrumental funk/stomp that features guitar and horns taking turns with a soaring melodic line on top of rocking bass, drums, percussion, organ, harmonica and rhythm guitar.

Then there's "Hell's Belles", which is an awesome song with a killer groove. "Now you've gone and got a whole new deal / And it don't matter how I feel / Hell's Belles! / Well who needs you now?" This is insanely good.

"Soul Groove" sounds like its title, an instrumental that's somehow sunny and swampy at the same time with a descending horn line like drops of condensation sliding down your cocktail glass on a hot day. It has a Stax sort of feel to it. In fact I think there's a song by Carla Thomas or somebody like her with some similarities.

A blast of harmonica and wild drumming introduce "Dan's Theme", a mostly instrumental piece that's a variation on "Hell's Belles". The rhythm is a modified Bo Diddley beat and there's a vocal bit, some folks singing "Sha la la la la la la la la la" every once in a while.

"Hot Wind" starts with some sparse percussion and then drums come in with a huge back beat. Harmonica and guitar follow and it turns into another instrumental based on "Hell's Belles" The whole band gets there eventually and reprises "Wheels".

"Take It from Me" is a weird fusion. Part rock and roll, part easy listening, it makes me think of sitting on a California beach in the sun for way too long having had way too much to drink.

"Chain Fight" is another awesome, in your face, straight-up rocker, another one that reprises "Wheels", this time at a slightly slower pace. Good chain fighting music. The intro, bass solo and guitar ending are especially rewarding.

"Travelin' Man" is "Dan's Theme" with vocals. "I got to ride / I'm a travelin' man / I'm gonna ride ride ride / Like I know I can." It doesn't have the "Sha la la la la la la la la la" part, though, and I miss it.

"Dan Again" is another "Dan's Theme", very similar to the previous one, the main difference being that "Dan Again" is about a minute shorter.

"Hoggin' Machine" switches back and forth between plaintive harmonica and a full on rockin' version of "Wheels". Again the back beat on the drums is huge and there's some heavy bass soloing.

"Scoobee Doo" is an anomaly, a goofy track that sounds like it should be in an Italian sex comedy from the 1970s. It's a silly, uptempo noveltysong with "Scoobee doobee doobee doo" as the lyrics.

"Goin' Home" is "Travelin' Man" with different lyrics. "I've been a travelin', babe / But I'm headed home now."

The music so far is a remastered version of the original album release. Next comes music that's in the film but not on the album.

"Travelin' Man" again, the full film version. Apparently only a bit of it is heard in the film itself.

Then there's a massive suite of music: "Take It from Me (source)/Gila Monster/Cathy Left Behind/Mongoose Gets Beans". It's mostly stuff we've heard before, though the gila monster cue—featuring fuzz guitar—is remarkable.
Then another suite: "Gang Rides Through the Hills/Tosses Bike Over Bank/Snake or Rope". This starts out with an instrumental "Scoobee Doo" with an almost Booker T & The MG's sort of break. Then there's a great drum and bass duet. Then harmonica and other instruments join for some goofy music that would fit perfectly in an episode of The Monkees featuring a haunted house.

"Cathy Reminisces/Cathy Reminisces Part 2" is a slow, sad version of "Wheels" with harmonica playing the melody.

Finally there's "End Credits" which brings back the band for a little more rocking on the "Travelin' Man" theme, though it's a bit subdued compared to what's come before.