tom waits - one from the heart (ost)


.:: Apocalypse Now is widely considered director Francis Ford Coppola's Waterloo, an ambitious personal vision that nearly wrecked his fabled career, health, and sanity. In fact, it was the director's equally Quixotic 1982 Vegas-themed musical One From the Heart that forever cast a pall over his Hollywood future, sounding a death knell for his once-promising American Zoetrope studios in the bargain. Hindsight being 20/20, it's now easy to see Heart's visual conceits as the glorious cinematic antecedent to Moulin Rouge, its smart, lounge-savvy score by musical odd couple Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle easily 15+ years ahead of the retro-hipster revival it preceded--and outclassed at every turn.

Now brightened by a sparkling digital remastering, it remains the most accessibly mainstream--and ironically idiosyncratic--music of Waits' storied career. Constructed as a dialog between lovers in a fitful emotional spiral, Waits raspy growl is the perfect counterpoint to Gayle's own gutsy, surprisingly bluesy diva turns. Backed by the spare, deftly lugubrious production of Bones Howe and key contributions by jazz vets Greg Cohen on bass, saxist Teddy Edwards, and the key, mournfully lyrical trumpet of Jack Sheldon, Waits' score has long since taken its rightful place as a modern classic, a perfectly realized romantic daydream that never forgets the wistful, broken hearts stacking up beneath the Vegas neon.

This edition features the previously unreleased Waits vocal outtake, "Candy Apple Red" as well as an early, discarded version of the opening montage "Once Upon A Town/Empty Pockets," rejects that only underscore the strength of Waits' musical hand. Enhanced CD also features a newly-edited video montage by Coppola's son, Gian-Carlo. --Jerry McCulley

One From the Heart is the score to the most misunderstood of Francis Ford Coppola's films. Far ahead of its time in terms of technology, use of color, montage, and set design, its soundtrack is the only thing that grounds it to earth. Coppola's movie is a metaphorical retelling of the exploits of Zeus and Hera set in Las Vegas.

According to Coppola's liner notes for the expanded, remastered CD issue of the soundtrack -- which also accompany the deluxe two-DVD edition -- Tom Waits' score was actually composed before filming started, and the director sculpted his narrative to fit. Coppola claims to have been taken with the male-female narrative implications of the track "I Don't Talk to Strangers," off Tom Waits' Foreign Affairs album. That cut was a duet with Bette Midler. Midler wasn't available for One From the Heart, however, so Waits chose Crystal Gayle as his vocal foil.

The result is one of the most beautifully wrought soundtrack collaborations in history. Along with producer Bones Howe, Waits and Gayle cut their duets largely from the studio floor, live with the small combo-style studio band that included the saxophonist Teddy Edwards, drummer Shelly Manne, trumpeter Jack Sheldon, pianist Pete Jolly, and bassist Greg Cohen, among others. The opening cut, a Waits piano intro that flows into the duet "Once Upon a Town," is a study in contrasts: first there are the stark ivories and the tinkle of a coin falling upon a bar before Waits' then-still-smoky baritone (now ravaged indescribably) entwines with Gayle's clear, ringing, emotionally rich vocal, and then joined by Bob Alcivar's string orchestrations before giving way to a jazzed-out down-tempo blues, where the pair sing in call-and-response counterpoint about the disappointments in life and love.

These are echoed a couple of tracks later in another duet, "Picking Up After You," which is the ultimate starstruck breakup tune. And while there are only four duets on the entire set, they are startling in their ragged intimacy, contrasted with a stark yet elegant atmosphere and cool noir-esque irony. Gayle's solo performances on the set, which include the mournfully gorgeous "Is There Any Way out of This Dream," with beautiful accompaniment in a tenor solo by Edwards, and the shimmering melancholy of "Old Boyfriends," are among the finest in her long career. For his part, Waits' "I Beg Your Pardon" and "You Can't Unring a Bell" fit deftly into his post-beat hipster canon, though they are offered with less droll irony and more emotionally honest flair here than they would have if they were on his own solo recordings.

Likewise, the piano and vocal duet of "Take Me Home" offers Waits' piano as a canny and intuitive counterpart to the deep sensuality of Gayle's vocal. There are two bonus tracks included here, a solo piano/vocal tune called "Candy Apple Red" that accompanied a scene left on the cutting-room floor, and an orchestral ensemble medley of "Once Upon a Town" and "Empty Pockets." With wondrously remastered sound, One From the Heart is a welcome addition to any soundtrack library to be sure, but also an essential one to the shelf of any Waits or Gayle fan. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

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