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 The Galaxy's Hottest Mixtape

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Inside the oddball Seventies classics of 'Guardians of the
Galaxy Vol. 2,' the most anticipated soundtrack in years.

By Brian Hiatt in Rolling Stone

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Guardians of the Galaxy casthile 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.

James GunnFrom 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.'"  


'Guardians Inferno'

This comedic original, co-written by Gunn and sung by David Hasselhoff (right), is meant as a sort of Guardians take on Meco's disco Star Wars theme.


By including this 1978 Cheap Trick classic, Gunn repays a favor to the band, which let him use "If You Want My Love" in his 2011 indie film Super for nearly nothing.

'Southern Nights'

Glen Campbell's groovy 1977 version of Allen Toussaint's song was a childhood favorite of Gunn's: "it's a little bit of a different flavor for the movie."

'Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)'

Gunn has long adored Looking Glass' cheeseball 1972 smash, which plays a key emotional role in the new movie, appearing in the very first scene.

'Father and Son'

Gunn was inspired to use this 1970 Cat Stevens ballad after hearing Howard Stern attempt to perform it on acoustic guitar on his show.

 The Man Who Shot the Seventies

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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)
celebrating his unparalleled access to music royalty, the British artist, 69, reveals how he scored the snaps used for three unforgettable
album covers of the 1970s.

Transformer (1972)

Mick RockRock met Reed through the photographer's frequent subject David Bowie, who co-produced the ex-Velvet Underground singer's second solo album, Transformer. The blurry cover photo looks like a studio shot, staged to make Reed look vacantly wasted, but it's actually a live photo taken at London's King's Cross Cinema on July 14, 1972. "The shot wasn't meant for an album cover," says Rock. "But I remember showing Lou the contact sheet, and he zeroed in on that. It's actually quite a sharp shot. I went away and made up a few prints, and the first pass on that one, it fell out of focus in the printing. I loved it when I saw it coming up. When I brought the prints back, he said, 'That's got to be the cover.' And of course it haunted him and me for, like 45 years."

Raw Power (1973)

The day after capturing the Transformer cover art, Rock returned to the same venue to shoot the Stooges, whose singer, Iggy Pop, was also Bowie's friend. "I didn't really know him," Rock recalls of Pop. "He was quite subdued, but when he hit that stage you could feel this raw animal. So I shot him, and I loved the pictures. I remember being in New York with his manager and [Bowie's] manager, and us looking through the pictures, and somehow that particular one got selected and given to the record label for Raw Power. Iggy didn't have any say in it. He always tells me that he hated everything about that cover at the time, including the horror-film lettering. But he came to love it all."

Queen II (1974)

Freddie Mercury's quartet were up-and-comers when they recruited Rock to shoot the cover of their second album. "I didn't know who Queen were!" says Rock. But when the photographer heard the record, he conceived a treatment that suited the band's glam-rock sensibility. "Marlene Dietrich inspired that cover," Rock recalls. "I knew a guy who had this great collection of old movie stills, including one from Shanghai Express [below]. I showed the picture to Freddie and he bought into it -- I'm not sure whether it was the shot itself or that he saw himself as Marlene Dietrich."

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