Sometimes you come across the most random things. Sorting through a large record collection, we discovered some 47-year-old reel-to-reel tapes containing source music for the 1972 Frank Perry film adaptation of Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays. The film lacked a proper score but there are unforgettable scenes of Tuesday Weld’s character driving around Los Angeles flipping the radio dial. Similar to the way in which Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood relies on the boss sounds of Los Angeles radio (specifically 93 KHJ), Play It As It Lays features source music from another Los Angeles heavy hitter, KRLA!
These three in-house reels were provided to the film’s musical coordinator Don Fendley by KRLA’s production staff on June 13th 1972. These tapes have been stored away, unheard since 1972!
Don Fendley helped spearhead the early-1970s Fire Island/Manhattan soul-disco scene, and went on to provide music for New York fashion shows by top designers (Halston, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Calvin Klein and more). These tapes come from his estate.
>>> LISTEN: sound clip #1 (B. Mitchell Reed)
Here are a few excerpts from the first reel (B. Mitchell Reed, June 9th 1972, during the 7:30am-8:30am hour). The beginning of the tape includes an intentional scanning of the radio dial (to be heard in the film). Notice the “F.P. FILMS” with Frank Perry’s office phone number written on the tape box in the upper left corner. The full tape runs approximately 30 minutes.
>>> LISTEN: Sound Clip #2 (Lee Baby Simms)
Here are excerpts from the second reel (Lee Simms, June 8th 1972, during the 7:00pm-8:00pm hour). The full tape runs approximately 30 minutes.
>> LISTEN: sound clip #3 (KRLA jingles)
Here are excerpts from the third tape… a 1971 production reel containing about 30 crystal clear KRLA jingles/station IDs… plus a drum bed recording session tagged onto the end of the tape! Don’t know who the drummer is… maybe Jim Gordon? The full tape runs approximately 18 minutes.
Lastly, we discovered a copy of Hugh Masekela’s June 1972 LP Home Is Where The Music Is. Don Fendley’s copy of the LP has a handwritten note stating “Several things on this good for soundtrack – Steve.” Not sure who Steve is, but it might be Stephen Burrows, who was a mutual friend of Don Fendley and the film’s costume designer Joel Schumacher. The Masekela music was not used in Play It As It Lays, but it’s an interesting offbeat idea!