You Wont Forget Him
Jack Nitzsche (19372000) was one of the greatest arrangers at the dawn of teenager music, yet its hard to fathom that the 26 songs collected on Hearing is Believing all have his thumbprint on them, so wide and adept is his reach. Extending far beyond Nitzsches bubblegum beginnings, this retrospective compilation is crammed with disparate sounds from clashing musical eras, from the Paris Sisters to the Righteous Brothers to the James Gang. Nitzsches iconoclastic, experimental work as both arranger and producer bridged vast musical and pop-cultural gaps: He was the main mason of Phil Spectors Wall of Sound; he helped present the seminal T.A.M.I. Show concert and film (1965), which united a generation of pop icons including James Brown and the Beach Boys; he was also the key-banger for the Rolling Stones on their ABKCO records and singles. After he swathed the latter in choirs, congas and French horns for You Cant Always Get What You Want, and nearly drowned Neil Young in symphonic strings for A Man Needs a Maid, film scoring was a natural next step. Hearing Is Believing includes some of his destabilized film-score work (his love of wine and pills is renowned), from The Exorcist to One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, and these compositions blend comfortably with the rest of the collections deep cuts, singles and rarities. (This survey is hardly complete, but it does justice to its subject.)A student of every conceivable form of music, from mariachi to Native American drumming, Nitzsche infused his compositions with woozy, drunken bravado: Opener The Lonely Surfer is a twangy surf instrumental that soars to the heavens; on Not for Me, Bobby Darin fights it out with a greaser guitar and hop-head piano. Nitzsches version of Link Wrays Rumble honks and lurches, a Frankenstein comprised of equal parts raucous 50s R&B and Richard Wagner (the familial dropping of e from his name does not disguise his roots reaching back to philosopher Nietzsche). By the end of the 60s, Nitzsches sonic palette had evolved to encompass a paradox of lush wiriness: Dobro, harpsichord and pit orchestra converge on the James Gang as they go for baroque amid the sirocco winds on Ashes, the Rain & I. The discs peak is Marianne Faithfulls fraught mewls on Sister Morphine; under Nitzsches arrangement, the instruments played by the Stones and Ry Cooder nod in and out of consciousness. It all winds down with the closing theme from his Academy-nominated Cuckoos Nest. A delirious mélange of rubbed wineglasses, singing saw, sleigh bells, tribal tom-toms and orchestra, what might be chaotic, in Nitzsches hands, feels laconic and laid-back, never losing its elegance no matter how wasted it is. Or as Neil Young once put it, Jack was pretty steady . . . He was just fucked up all the time.THE JACK NITZSCHE STORY: Hearing is Believing 1962-1979 | Kent/Ace
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