Saturday, July 02, 2011

Atomic Cafe - Original Soundtrack

 Atomic Cafe - Original Soundtrack

Atomic Cafe, Radioactive Rock 'N Roll, Blues, Country and Gospel is the soundtrack to 1982's Atomic Cafe a documentary directed by Jayne Loader and brothers Kevin and Pierce Rafferty. The film edits together loads of old public information films about nuclear warfare and fallout, army training films, news clips, adverts, radio programmes and other footage to present a history of the atomic age and to create a lasting record of how the "Bomb" entered American folklore. The film also ilustrates the often bizarre ways that the media sold the atomic arms race to the American public in the 1940s and 1950s. 

I was lucky enough to pick up a great secondhand copy of this record a few years ago and have often played a few tracks on the radioshow. The soundtrack compiles a collection of early rock 'n roll, blues, country and gospel songs about the Bomb.  The origins of this musical sub-genre are explained by legendary country music historian Charles Wolfe on the back of the album: "On August 6, 1945 President Harry S. Truman ushered in the atomic age by announcing to the world that the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan. At once Americans were faced with an awesome new power in their lives, and with the need to somehow grasp its meaning, to relate it to their everyday lives. One way was through music. Within months the first country and gospel songs about the Bomb were recorded, and in the next fifteen years, through the fifties, Bomb songs emerged as a lively sub-genre of pop music."

The LP comes with a four page insert with detailed notes also written by Charles Wolfe. His scholarly aproach to the historical context of the songs and artists is fascinating and he expertly charts the development of the sub-genre. In relation to one of my favourite tracks from the record, The Five Stars 1957 hit he says, "With songs like Atom Bomb Baby the integration of the atomic image into American consciousness was, in a sense, complete. Where songs of 1946 had seen the bomb as a strange awesome force to be feared, songs like these used the bomb to describe the most intimate sexuality."

The film can be watched below and check out three of the cuts from the record.

Atom Bomb Baby - The Five Stars (1957) 

"Atom bomb baby, little atom bomb
I want her in my wigwam
She's just the way I want her to be
A million times hotter than TNT"

Atomic Cocktail - Slim Gaillard Quartette (1946)

"It's the drink that you don't pour
Now when you take one sip you won't need anymore
You're small as a beetle or big as a whale-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail"

Atom And Evil: The Golden Gate Quartet (1947)
"I’m talkin’ ‘bout Atom, and Evil
Atom and Evil
If you don’t break up that romance soon
We’ll all fall down and go boom, boom, boom!"

1 comment:

The Underground of Happiness said...

brilliant, thanks for that
didn't realise it was accompaniment to a film, must check that