The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Mike Post – Railhead Overture (1975, MGM Records)

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Nowadays, Mike Post is best known for composing the Law & Order theme, but before he was famous for being the man behind that iconic “Dun Dun,” he was known for being the guy who stood at the junction of two railroads that ended abruptly while dressing like some kind of proto-Napoleon Dynamite on the cover of his 1975 album Railhead Express. While the liner notes really lay it on way too thick and play it up like this is some kind of grandiose concept album about how awesome trains (and brass bands) are, it’s … really not. It’s mostly just a random collection of Post compositions (only one of which seems to be explicitly about trains) and a few covers such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Wouldn’t It be Nice,” with the big standout here being the other TV theme song that Post was know for before the L&O theme – “The Rockford Files.”

While I do appreciate the subtle-but-not-that-subtle shade thrown at some past collaborators of Post while he was on his way up  (“some names remembered and some best forgotten.”),  I fail to see how any of the music featured here really manages to introduce the “dialogue between rock and roll and the enlarged brass ensemble” that the notes promise. I mean, really, wasn’t that more Chicago’s thing anyways?
Whatever. Next stop, liner notes:

The great fire breathing locomotives sit like old soldiers on rusted tracks in wasted towers, their thunder silenced by the incessant whine of the endless freeway. We’ve reached the Railhead, the end of the line – the obvious place to search for a beginning.

Like the image of the iron trains etched in the memory of America, the explosive sounds of the large brass ensemble are remembered still, but only in dim lit dance halls of nostalgia where they echo the fate of the once proud locomotives.

Now a vision, similar to that which bore this “big band sound” and harnessed the fierce grace of the old trains, becomes the point at which the two converge. The artist who conceived this vision is Mike Post. He rocked and rolled through the 50’s and 60’s bending strings, pounding keys, and producing and arranging for some names remembered and some best forgotten. Post’s creative vision, however, soon exceeded the limitations of the standard five piece rock and roll rhythm section.

Through his collaboration in composition and orchestration with Pete Carpenter (his partner in various television and film scores, and very close friend) this project is Mike’s step toward a more complete musical expression.

This album then, is an introduction – an overture – to the dialogue between rock and roll and the enlarged brass ensemble, one to which we should listen closely, for it is a dialogue between our musical past, present, and future, all of which converge here, at the railhead overture.
– Stephen Geyer


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Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums

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