Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 December 10 • Monday

Sometimes only ELO will do. And that's why the 547th Soundtrack of the Week is their score for Joyride.

It isn't 100% ELO. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote a theme song, "The Best That I Know How", which Barry Mann sings. It's the first track on Side A. I guess you could describe it as '70s gold. It has strings backing up a session combo that uses mostly drums and electric piano, though with some very minimal and tasty guitar embellishments. It's a tender song and you'll hear it again as the last song on Side B.

There's also an instrumental version arranged by Jimmie Haskell. It opens the B side of the record and uses what sounds like a Fender Rhodes to great effect.

Haskell also contributes four original tracks to the Joyride soundtrack.

"Dancin' in Alaska" is a country honky-tonk tune that’s brasher than most and with a sharp edge, some of the electric guitar playing giving it a pleasantly nasty sound.

Harmonica takes the melody for "Eatin' Dog Food", a subdued country instrumental that sounds haunted and lonesome.

“The Getaway" is a late-night piece with an eerie elctronic instrument creating an instant atmosphere of shadows and intrigue, floating over a percolating disco-ish foundation. It’s short and resolves quickly.

And then the last one from Haskell is "Train Stuff", a savage disco instrumental that has a tense and aggressive energy with relentless drums amd rhythm guitar as well as some acid rock electric lead guitar work. Easy to imagine this as being for a car chase or similar action scene.

The rest is ELO.

First up from them is "Tightrope", which has a big rich sound with different voices playing lines of different speed and mood before swinging into a straight rock groove with vocals about having more losing days than winning days. There are “classical music” influences and elements that increase the drama.

"Can't Get It Out of My Head" is a moody and atmospheric love song. Was this a hit or does it just sound a lot like some other song that was a hit? It’s a really nice song with a somewhat daring keyboard solo.

After that is "Boy Blue", an upbeat, relatively normal rock/pop song with an interesting mix of triumph and melancholy and an unexpected mixture of breaks from acoustic instruments playing “classical” influenced lines and electric instruments delivering the 1970s sounds.

“So Fine" opens with a chorus of angelic voices and then the band bursts in with a bright and fast energy and a mixture of rock, pop and soul that would probably go over okay with the disco crowd. As usual, ELO does interesting and unexpected things with instrumentation and arrangement. This song has a startling cut to a totally different soundscape with percussion up front and then effortlessly slides back into the song we started with.

Computery bleeps and bloops introduce "Telephone Line", which is actually a piano ballad enhanced by ELO's strings and electronic sounds.

"Rockeria!" starts with an opera singer presenting what sounds like a fragment if a delicate and lovely aria before the band smashed down the door with pounding drums and slide electric guitar. Of course the band plays hide and seek, disappearing and being replaced by the opera singer and strings, only to come crashing back in again. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, there’s a surf drums break.

And that's it! Probably there's music in the movie that isn't on the record. Maybe someday there'll be a complete release of Joyride!