Inside the oddball Seventies classics of 'Guardians of the
By Brian Hiatt in Rolling Stone
hile director James Gunn was finishing the 2014 sci-fi film Guardians of the Galaxy, he kept hearing one bit of feedback from some Marvel Studios employees. "Nobody," he recalls them saying, "is going to want to hear this music." Gunn had laced the movie with eight-track-era gems -- Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love," Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" -- but the skeptics insisted that using, say, Nineties Britney jams would be a smarter move.
From the moment he got the job, though, Gunn was intent on lending some grounded humanity to his oddball space opera -- where an acerbic space raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, is among the leads -- by setting key scenes against dusty, incongruous pop songs. The conceit is that the tunes come from an ancient Walkman toted around by Chris Pratt's Earth-bred character, who owns just one cassette, given to him by his mom on her deathbed: the homemade "Awesome Mix Vol. 1." "They were songs that people had probably heard but didn't know the name of," says Gunn.
The awesomeness of that mixtape is no longer in doubt. Guardians got critical raves for its wit and inventiveness, and it grossed $773 million worldwide; the soundtrack album hit Number One, going platinum, with iTunes reviews full of teens singing the glories of Seventies soft rock. And, conveniently enough, the movie ended with Pratt's character, Peter Quill, discovering that his late mom had left him one more tape, "Awesome Mix Vol. 2."
So music will be just as central to Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, due May 5th, with its soundtrack album out April 21st. This time, Gunn had a bigger budget, which allowed him to include familiar songs form superstar acts: George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" (every band member watched the scene that features the song before giving approval) and ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" -- which scores what Gunn calls "the most hugely insane shot I've ever done," early in the film. "It's the perfect song to start the movie," says Gunn, "because it's really joyous, but there's a really dark underpinning to it."
There are, again, plenty of deep cuts on hand, and Gunn (who once played in a band of his own, the Icons) relished the chance to expose the likes of Sweet's "Fox on the Run" and Jay and the Americans' "Come a Little Bit Closer" -- not to mention a true obscurity like 1976's "Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang," by one-hit-wonder Silver -- to the Marvel-loving masses. "One of the most exciting things," he says, "was knowing I would be making bands that may have been forgotten suddenly be a topic of conversation."
Along the way, he's listened to the movie's songs over and over -- but he doesn't mind. "The weird thing is, "I've never gotten sick of a Guardians song," says Gunn, fresh from hearing "Mr. Blue Sky" yet again while supervising the film's sound mix. "Chris Pratt listened to the first album hundreds of times. He said the only song he got sick of was 'The Piña Colada Song.'"
How Mick Rock's blurry black-and-white photograph became rock & roll legend.
By Clark Collis in Entertainment Weekly
egendary British lensman Mick Rock has photographed icons from Bowie to Blondie. Now, with the new documentary Shot! (out April 7)
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