Thursday, April 4, 2013

WIRED: original motion picture soundtrack (an alternate history)

The following blurb appeared in the January 1975 issue of "Variety":
Peter Hyams directs John Cazale in his first starring role in the new Twentieth Century Fox film WIRED.  Along with short-fused partner Peter Boyle, they are out to bust vicious Harlem drug kingpin Yaphet Kotto.  Linda Haynes offers fine support as the strung out hooker with a heart of gold who provides Cazale's connection into Kotto's sinister underworld.  Small, but pivotal roles from Allen Garfield as informant "Fatso" and the lovely Joanna Cassidy as Cazale's suffering wife.  British rock guitarist Jeff Beck provides the instrumental soundtrack to this gritty, fast-moving picture.
The tale of Frank Tescado (John Cazale), a self-destructive NYC detective who's own smack addiction threatens to sabotage his pursuit of Kgosi (Yaphet Kotto), the city's biggest drug lord, the vibrant street scenes of Wired were propelled by the insertion Beck's rippling funk and molten-hot fusion cues. However in a bizarre twist, the LA studio where the film was being edited was entirely consumed in a freak sinkhole - all the footage vanished and the project was abandoned. Still retaining his master tapes, Beck decided to release the music as his next album but removed all references to the film, save for the title. Recently I sat down with Wired's director and a copy of the LP, recording his recollections on how each track fit in to the film.

"Led Boots"
PH: Physical Graffitti was burning up my stereo in early '75, and when viewing rushes of the opening credits/chase sequence where Tescado and Huff (Boyle) run down Fatso (Garfield) and threaten him into becoming a snitch, I heard "Trampled Underfoot" playing. But there was no way in hell Zeppelin would license the track. I asked Jeff to come up with something equally groovy, but heavy and mean, and I think he did a blockbuster job. I know he always wanted a little revenge after Page ripped off the first Jeff Beck Group LP all over Led Zeppelin I, anyways.

"Come Dancing"
PH: You hear this when Kgosi first enters the sleazy Harlem strip club he uses as a front for his operation. A deal goes bad, resulting in a gunfight where bunch of patrons and dancers have their brains splattered across the dump's walls. That wild harmonizer sound on Jeff's guitar solo perfectly complemented the carnality and violence of this sequence.

"Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"
PH: Hanging out with Jeff one day, I heard him fooling around with this Mingus tune and immediately knew it would be perfect for the scene where Cazale is shooting up on the floor of his bathroom - the ecstacy and agony was all there in Jeff's fingers. I demanded he record an arrangement for the film.

"Head For Backstage Pass"
PH: Originally titled "DV Blues" (cop slang for a domestic violence call), this one played under a scene where Cazale took out his frustrations on Joise (Cassidy). An intense scene, but both actors gave their all. They're pros - I expect no less. Tasty intro by Walden/Bascomb, yeah? 

"Blue Wind"
PH: The pivotal scene where Calazale goes undercover wearing a wire for a meeting with Kotto. But the sarge had just thrown in him detox and his nerves are on fire - he needs a fix bad and can barely hold it together. So there's the double-meaning in the title, get it? Anyways, Jeff came up with a simple, but intense melody that mirrors Tescado's struggle for control while sensing it could all fall apart at any second.

PH: Originally "Sophie's Theme," a musical sketch of the complex forces at work in the character, wonderfully realized by the beautiful Linda Haynes. A delicate outer shell hides the manic energy at the heart of this one, danger cloaked in desire.

"Play With Me"
PH: Whenever Cazale and Boyle hit the streets, this provided the soundtrack. Jeff and Jan's harmonized playing buzzes with a neon-hued verve, and the tune swings like a mutha - it says "I own this block," from the top of the skyscrapers down to the gutter.

"Love is Green"
PH: The film's love theme, with Jeff and Jan moving over to acoustic instruments. The track really ebbs and flows, Jeff composing to a rough cut of the Cazale/Haynes love scene, which incidentally would have run about 15 seconds longer on the European release. But yeah, a real lovely tune I think. 

(Special thanks to BC and SES for their invaluable assistance.)


  1. whoa, so maybe 'deathwish II' was actually page getting another dig into beck?

  2. BrotherBen has to step into the confessional for a sec and admit he's never even listened to "Death Wish II" but does own JPJ's "Scream for Help", go figure.