What does that song mean?

When Mike Bloomfield Composed a Soundtrack For Andy Warhol

Posted Feb 29th, 17:45 by Penguin Pete

In my latest side quest, I’ve taken to producing movie review videos for 366WeirdMovies. Which leads to some interesting connections back to my music interests here. Let’s detour for a quick recap:

Weird Movies, Weirder Music!

So far for POD366’s Weird View Crew, I’ve covered some movies with a music crossover interest:

Sun Ra’s one experimental feature film, Space is the Place. Obviously Sun Ra should need no introduction here; I blogged about this colorful, goofy movie way back here, but now got the opportunity to showcase my thoughts on the film on video.

T.O.L.’s anime mockbuster Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space. While the movie itself may leave some unimpressed and others way over-impressed, the music score running throughout is a treat of familiar pan-pacific styles, ranging J-pop to ambient electronica. It makes the movie more of a music video than a movie. Worth checking out, as I found it a perfectly charming watch assembled by a crazy little art collective.

I also reviewed 1999’s Rock n Roll Frankenstein, but it hasn’t posted yet. Despite the title, there’s about one and a half rock n roll songs in it and a whole lot of cheap, offensive, trashy non-humor. Avoid!

But coming up, after Frankie posts, we have an amazing art-house specimen…

Andy Warhol’s Bad

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those ridiculous Warhol stunts like when he had a movie that was just eight hours of watching a building do nothing. This is actually a full movie, with a cast and script and everything, albeit done by other people while Warhol, the snowflake-haired oracle of New York midcentury art, merely produced.

Mike Bloomfield, I’ve mentioned him in passing while gassing about Al Kooper’s bio. Mike Bloomfield was brought in to compose the soundtrack for Andy Warhol’s Bad – and above, I mention a bit about Bloomberg in my review of Andy Warhol's Bad. Not only did Mike score the whole thing, but wrote an unforgettable theme tune which he even released as a single, embedded above the review.

Mike hits a unique funk-blues style with this jam, which goes along with the unique movie – without spoiling much, let’s say the movie is a pitch-dark comedy. Bloomfield’s expressive guitar almost whining the lilting notes, the tune manages to convey a sense of despair, but also schadenfreude. Impossibly, the chorus seems to become more sardonic with every repeat. It does all this, while embedding itself in your memory as a hooky earworm.

So apparently, when it came time to talk soundtracks, Lou Reed wanted to score the film. Lou Reed, of course, being the frontman for Velvet Underground, which Warhol had launched. As actress Tere Tereba, who had a role in the film, relates above, Bloomfield was her recommendation.

By the way, this might be as good a place as any to mention that Bloomfield and Al Kooper met where all great musicians meet, at a Bob Dylan recording session. So this soundtrack is the connection between Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol.

And now, here’s Mike Bloomfield geeking out about his guitar for two minutes:

Mike Bloomfield and Electric Flag

Mike Bloomfield has a fansite to this day, where you can dig up his corner of music history, which is quite substantial. Among his other endeavors was fronting the band Electric Flag, a band which almost counted as a supergroup, since it attracted an impressive gallery of talent during its active years.

As Electric Flag, Bloomberg had another beat-generation movie soundtrack produced, this time for the Corman produced experimental LSD movie The Trip. One of those songs, through director Peter Fonda’s recommendation, would even be re-used in the soundtrack for Easy Rider.

As for me, I’m a huge fan of all things Warhol and the misanthropic Bad is especially up my alley. Bloomfield’s sweetened guitar is the cherry on the sundae. And a welcome relief after Rock n Roll Frankenstein!



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