In this golden age of television it wasn’t going to be long before the silver fox of film dipped his toes in the water.
Beasts Of No Nation’ director Cary Joji Fukunaga did True Detective (the good series), Woody Allen’s just announced his upcoming series for Amazon Prime and heck, even Tarantino worked on CSI and ER. Yup, it’s high time Martin Scorsese jumped on the slippers and tea-time bandwagon.
Good news then that his ‘70s rock and roll HBO series Vinyl premieres tonight (February 15) on Sky Atlantic. Starting in 1973, it’s about a struggling record label and a new signing called The Nasty Bits. It’s even got Mick Jagger on producing duties and his son in a lead role. To say Vinyl’s got pedigree would be an understatement.
However, ol’ Marty’s best known as the creator of some of cinema’s most memorable scenes, often aided by a stack of our favourite tunes. We’ve done you the service of rounding up Scorsese’s best musical bits and put them right here in this blog. Why? Well, because as far back as we could remember, we always wanted to be a gangster…
‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ – Cream – Goodfellas
Recipe for the coolest scene ever – Take Robert ‘Resting Bitchface’ De Niro, stick him in a seriously sharp suit, add a seedy bar and a shroud of cigarette smoke, then top it off with perhaps the sexiest riff known to man. Mission accomplished.
‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ – Rolling Stones – Mean Streets
Quite possibly the coolest character entrance in movie history is this slow-mo tracking shot of ‘Ol Bobby Milk crashing into a bar, his arms around two (lucky?) females. It’s the savage, strutting riff of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ mixed with the hellish red glow of the camera that really gives this scene its underworld feel though.
‘House of the Rising Sun’ – The Animals – Casino
Yeah, it’s Robert De Niro again, sorry about that, but get used to it. Leaving out the big reveal scene at the end of gambling murder-fest Casino is just not an option. Featuring more deaths in three minutes than most directors’ entire canon, Eric Burdon’s tormented howl is transformed into a visceral lament for the fallen.
‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ – Dropkick Murphys – The Departed
Aptly Irish in its jaunty, sailor-song sound, ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ sets pulses racing just as the 2006 Oscar winner reaches biting point. Add in Jack Nicholson at his demented best as Boston mob overlord Frank Costello and you’ve got yourself a sure fire winner of a clip. “Just get rid of the fucking tail!”
‘Late For The Sky’ – Jackson Browne – Taxi Driver
Semi-psychopath Travis Bickle’s loneliness and isolation are brought into stark realisation by Clyde Jackson Browne’s haunting croon in this pensive scene. David Lindley puts in a shift on guitar too with one of the most touching solos to be put to celluloid.
‘Smokestack Lightnin’’ – Howlin’ Wolf – The Wolf of Wall Street
Debauchery and the blues often go hand in hand, but not quite as drastically as in shares-and-Champagne blow-out The Wolf Of Wall Street. Picture topless cheerleaders, wrestling dwarves and sacks of cocaine and you’ve got a pretty vivid image already. All Howlin’ Wolf’s depraved wail does is speed things along a little.
‘Janie Jones’ – The Clash – Bringing Out The Dead
What’s this? Nicolas Cage in a Scorsese film? Can this be for real? You bet your life it is, and barrelling down the streets of New York in an ambulance as a burnt out paramedic is how he’s doing it. Throw in Joe Strummer’s rocket-fuel rocker and you’ve got one happy film lover.
‘Layla’ – Derek and the Dominos – Goodfellas
Seared onto the brain of anyone that’s ever seen Scorsese’s 90s mob epic is the indelible link between a blood-smeared pink cadillac and Eric Clapton’s cascading piano masterpiece. It’s that simple.
‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’ – Ray Charles – The King of Comedy
Getting jumped by your stalker isn’t normally quite so relaxing. But when you flick immediately to the opening credits sequence – as in showbiz drama ‘The King Of Comedy’ – and blanket everything in Ray Charles’s velvet roar then getting antsy simply isn’t an option.
‘Gimme Shelter’ – The Rolling Stones – The Departed
One of a whole stack of ‘Gimme Shelter’ appearances that could have gone on this list, Jack Nicholson’s opening monologue in The Departed is made a hundred times better by the Glimmer Twins’ finest ever track. Merry Clayton’s powerhouse vocal performance swirls in and around Wacky Jack’s gruff narration in a crackling vocal dance that foreshadows the violence to come.
‘Signal To Noise’ – Peter Gabriel – Gangs of New York
Woah. If squeamish is a word often ascribed to you then this little clip isn’t one to settle down to on movie night. Axes fly, throats are slit and limbs severed in perhaps Scorsese’s bloodiest scene of all. The rumbling bass and stop-start riffing of Peter Gabriel’s swirling 2002 track doesn’t make things any cheerier either.