"What´s it gonna be, eh?"

Posted by Bo Ellegaard on April 30, 2014 0 Comments

These words begin the Stanley Kubrick 1971 movie/ 1962 book by Anthony Burgess "A Clockwork Orange".

" A Clockwork Orange" is among other things a story about a young guy Alex and his life set in a near future world of emotional deprivation and inhuman laws of a cynical government.

At night Alex runs his gang fuelled by drugged "moloko" from the nearby "korova milk bar" where he and his "droogs" set out to perform
another  night of "the good old ultra-violence". The Nadsat lingo invented by Anthony Burgess for his novel is put to good use in order to express the thoughts and (lack of)emotions of Alex and his gang of four (no pun intended!)teenagers.

"What´s it gonna be, eh?" means that Alex as the leader selects various random attacks on other youth gangs, old drunkards in the underpass and generally everybody who gets in their way quite by chance/accident.
When the daytime comes Alex either rests from the nights´ efforts or he indulges in exquisite classical music played on his state of the art stereo system (which in 1971 terms was a Transcriptor turntable run through a Beolab 5000).

The morale of this cult movie is the treatment Alex receives ("The Ludovico Method") in order to become a law abiding member of society. Thus losing his own will he submits to the commonly accepted moral and is "cured" to the satisfaction of this near future society. But at the end after his suicide attempt the cure backfires and Alex regains his ability of his own emotions be it good or bad: you (must) have the freedom to chose yourself.

This cult movie has had a tremendous impact on cinema goers and DVD viewers around the world and it certainly had this blogger looking away in disgust during some of its scenes of "the good old ultra-violence" being a young man in 1971.

All intellectual linguistic as well as sociological content by the book´s author Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick´s use of classical music as soundtrack played either by real orchestras or adapted for Moog and a very modern device The Vocoder(!) by Wendy/Walther Carlos apart- it´s interesting to try to trace down how much impact "A Clockwork Orange" has had on artists of the contemporary music/rock business. Let me try to elaborate:

Some of you dear readers have already had the thought when reading the beginning of this blog that "moloko" is a band. Well, yes of course it is nowadays but as the word meaning "milk" it is what is served at the "Korova Milk Bar"...oh and "Korova" you say isn´t it...?
Yes, you´re right if you are familiar with the early works of Echo And The Bunnymen you remember the name "Korova" from the band´s record label...Korova meaning cow in the nadsat-lingo used throughout the book/movie!
"Ultra-violence" might be known by a few Italians as a local trash metal band there. Where ever Lana Del Ray got the idea for a title to her new coming album you can only guess?

The Brazilian band Sepultura has even put out an album titled A-lex (a pun on Alex of "A Clockwork Orange"- in fact "Alex"/A lex means "without law"/amoral). You can check out their song "Moloko Mesto" (=drugged milk) a song against drugs, but all the titles of the album shows their inspiration from both movie and the words of Anthony Burgess.

When you are going to watch the movie (yes, I know you are!) please enjoy the clips of Alex strolling through the Melodia Record Shop (=The Chelsea Drugstore Record Shop, London) as a country squire asking for an ordered mini cassette on the Deutsche Grammophon-label of his beloved Ludwig Van.
Also his browsing through the vinyl records not especially interested in the music the girls are checking out. He has other things on his mind I fear...
Then Alex chats up the two young girls (-in the movie his age in the book the girls are only 10 years of age!!)
He asks them: "And what have you got back home, little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on" (meaning of course what stereo does she have for listening to her records)- Nowadays a great collection of songs from XTC-genius Andy Partridge is in fact called Fuzzy Warbles!!(stay tuned: in the near future I´ll blog into the secret world of XTC...).
One of the band names of the Top 10 in Melodia is "Heaven Seventeen". In 1980 the Human League offspring was named Heaven 17 and released their debut album "Penthouse And Pavement"- Melody Maker´s album of the year in 1981.

Apart from this there is a lot of real albums and artefacts of the day to be checked out in the record shop scene in "A Clockwork Orange":
Keef Hartley Band "The Time Is Near", Pink Floyd "Atom Heart Mother",  Rare Bird "As Your Mind Flyes By", Tim Buckley "Lorca", CSN&Y "Déja Vu", John Fahey´s "The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death", The Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour, Neil Young´s "After The Goldrush" and the first album by Chicago. One of the girls are checking out Mungo Jerry running through the vinyl records at the counter but the best prop in this scene in my opinion is the large cardboard Vertigo "Swirl"- heaven above the record booth where Alex meets the girls. I would give an arm to own that!!

Now you ask "What about the names as Duran Duran...and The Teardrop Explodes are they also inspired by this movie?" - no, Duran Duran took their moniker from the villain Durand Durand in the 1968 Roger Vadim-directed "Babarella" feat. a very young and delicately undressed Jane Fonda and, by the way, also Keith Richards´missus!
The Teardrop Explodes then? I´ll check the internet for you but no: "The Teardrop Explodes" were found by original keyboardist Paul Simpson who in 1978 just by accident read a 1971 comic book called Daredevil Vol. 1 #77 in which:
... "And then it HAPPENS...filling the wintered glades of Central Park with an unearthly WHINE.. painting the leaf bare branches with golden FIRE.. The Teardrop EXPLODES!"...
-perhaps a blog awaits somewhere in the future on how groups got their names....we´ll have to see about that!!

"What´s it gonna be, eh?"
Simply this: Now I recommend that you go and watch and/or read the masterpiece "A Clockwork Orange" and find undiscovered hints and connotations for yourself!!



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