Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Music: Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann

I just got back from seeing my friends Bric-a-Brac, who were opening for the Swedish hip-hop act Movits! Bric-a-Brac is known for covering the kitschy and obscure from 1950s and 1960s pop. One of the songs on tonight's set list was "The Shape of Things to Come,"from 1968's youthsploitation movie Wild in The Streets. I'll transcribe the lobby card above to give you a gist of the plot:

This is the story of Max Frost, 24 years old...President of The United States...who created the world in his own image. To him, 30 is over the hill. 52 percent of the nation is under 25...and they've got the power. That's how he became President. This is perhaps the most unusual motion picture you will ever see!

Part of President Frost's platform is to lower the voting age to 14. After his election, people over 35 are rounded up and forced to take LSD. Wild in The Streets also features appearances by Shelly Winters, Richard Pryor, Peter Tork, Bobby Sherman and a pre-Brady Bunch Barry Williams. [Ed.~ I have to get this movie! Who wants to watch it with me?]

In addition to an embarrassment of cameo wealth, the movie has a good soundtrack. The best song is the apocalyptic-sounding "Nothing Can Change the Shape of Things to Come," by the fictional Max Frost and the Troopers. I guess this is his State of the Union address.

The song was penned by one of the most prolific songwriting teams in pop music, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. For the past 50 years, they've written hits tailored for nearly every genre and fashion in pop music: "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (The Animals), "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" (The Righteous Brothers, co-written with Phil Spector), "Kicks" (Paul Revere and The Raiders), "Here You Come Again" (Dolly Parton), and a few hundred more. I think their work in the latter half of 1960s was especially good, like "Love is Only Sleeping," performed here by the Monkees.

History of Rock: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil [Link]

Wild in The Streets trailer [Link]

Bric-a-Brac on Chic-A-Go-Go [Link]

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