Sinfully Underplayed #2: Three Gems from Forgotten Films

1. "Sky High" by Jigsaw
The Man from Hong Kong (1975)

The Man from Hong Kong isn't exactly one of the best known films of all time. Its notoriety stems mainly from it being a rare example of an Australian Kung Fu movie. It's got George Lazenby, muscle cars, martial arts, chicks on hang-gliders, and one more thing... "Sky High" as its theme song.

The song, recorded by Jigsaw, became an international hit - scoring big in the UK, Japan and making to #3 in the US. The song was a particularly big hit in Mexico due to its use as theme music for a famous Mexican wrestler called Mil Mascaras. My first exposure to "Sky High" was on a K-tel record, and it was just catchy and snappy enough for a five or six year old to love. I'm not sure how well the song holds up - I've too many pleasant recollections of the tune to not let memories get in the way of an unbiased opinion.

Many consider Jigsaw a woefully underrated and overlooked band. One of these days I'll have to check out their catalog and see if that's true myself. The Pop Culture Petri Dish obviously was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their music - and I quote "my expectations were snake-belly low... two months and dozens of listens later, I'm ready to eat some crow--and loudly sing some praises."

2. "Early Morning Love" by Sammy Johns
The Van (1977)

I've written about this film and its soundtrack before (Sex, Drugs and Custom Vans), so I'll spare you the detailed analysis. I'll simply say that The Van and its soundtrack epitomize the free lovin' vibe of the seventies better than any other example I can think of.

Of course, the break out hit from the film was Johns' brilliant soft rock classic, "Chevy Van"; a song about picking up a young lady by the side of the road, making sweet love, and then waving bye-bye. "Early Morning Love" spreads a little more of that 1970s laid back sexual groove - you could say that Sammy Johns was sort of a white man's Barry White.

3. "FM (No Static At All)" by Steely Dan
FM (1978)

I have to admit that I've never had a chance to watch the film FM. Based on the horrible reviews it is unlikely I ever will - it sounds like an intensely boring movie which was created primarily as a vehicle for a great soundtrack (not unlike Thank God, It's Friday), and it was one of the worst box office disasters of that year.

As a rock snob, I think it is impossible to not like Steely Dan (at least not in public); however, a lot of their music never received the popularity it deserved. For example, "Any Major Dude" should have been a number one hit - it has the hook, the melody... everything; yet, it never got anywhere near the success of "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" or "Do It Again".

"FM" is a great song from a lame forgettable movie, there can be no doubt. Maybe if Steely Dan hadn't associated it with this crap film it would have done better. Who knows?


  1. FM totally rocks. The song, not the movie.

  2. Great you see the audio is working for you. I look froward to your special taste in older music.

    The Cafe at my old URL is gone man. Defunct. I will ot sit and cry over it. I have 80% or more of my posts backed up.

    The Cafe is on Blogger now at:


    It will be hell getting it back up, but I have done a lot since last night with a new site and look. expect music from me as well soon.

  3. Hey Gil. Wow! Those are so cool. I really love Sky High. I've never seen any of these movies before. Great post. Cheers!

  4. I tried to get FM from Netflix a while back and they didn't have it. I checked for a DVD release and there isn't one. I am frequently amazed at how much has NOT been released on DVD. Doc Savage: Man of Bronze is the one I am really waiting for.

  5. Dr. Monkerstein- Steely Dan giving that song to such a crap movie is the definition of throwing pearls before swine.

    Bill- I noticed already it was down, and shook my head in disbelief - you've done so much troubleshooting on your site! I have to think this may actually be for the best - less hassle and thus more time to post!

    Keith- I loved Sky High as a kid (I mentioned it was on one of my K-tel records) and had no idea it was composed for an Australian Kung Fu movie! Learn something new every day.

    Robert- Looking through my previous posts you'll find I am continually whining and moaning about movies that need to be on DVD. "James at 15" should have been on DVD years ago... and "I Was a Teenage Werewolf?" and "The Wonder Years"... gimme a break!

    (For example: http://my-retrospace.blogspot.com/2008/10/still-waiting-on-these-horror-dvds.html)

  6. Gil

    ou asked about a Bill Ward post earlier and in actually forgot it was not a draft at all but a post from the very, very first Uranium Cafe at opera.com.

    I have to access via proxy. Here is the permalink:


    You maybe interested in skimming over that site a little. It was the 1st version of the Cafe and as you can see from the last two posts was fraught with issues as well. I give a link in the last post to a new version of the Cafe... and that one does not exist any longer as well. I cannot open the site by proxy to change the link.

    It should all open up for you easily.


  7. Bill - (to completely diverge from my post) your old site is incredible... Nancy Sinatra, old comic ads, Tom Jones, Robert Fripp, etc., etc... I was smitten. Man, I hope you can finally settle down with a blog that the Chinese government doesn't censor!

  8. Love those posters - would look great framed

  9. Oh man, "Chevy Van"--memories there. I remember singing the lyrics as a kid, not really knowing what the hell they meant, but knowing that THAT was the way COOL people lived, man.

    Nice work.

    Speaking of classic movies/music, have you watched Car Wash lately? I once made all my younger friends watch it--classic.

  10. dguzman- Yes I have, and I love the theme song by Rose Royce... some songs don't hold up over time (i.e. "Makin' It" from Meatballs), but "Car Wash" can still put me in a good mood.

  11. Steely Dan are gods.

  12. Believe it or not, I own a VHS copy of FM, which is an okay movie. Not a masterpiece, but not nearly as painful as, say, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER or even FORREST GUMP, It's basically a 90 minute episode of WKRP IN CINCINATI. There are things to really like about it if you were lucky enough to grow up in the 1970s, when radio was still worth listening to. It's not overly dramatic or overly funny. Martin Mull is pretty cool in it, and of course it has that soundtrack which, indeed, was its raison d'atre. The double-album record was a best-seller in 1978 and was certainly the best album to roll a joint on of that year. The movie includes some pretty cool live footage of Jimmy Buffett and Londa Rondstadt. And there was not a better song written for movies that year than Steely Dan's FM.

    I'm also a big fan of "Sky High" by Jigsaw (which I, too, have as part of a KTel collection), and especially of "Chevy Van" by Atlanta's own Sammy Johns. "Early Morning Love" sounds like a treat that I simply must have. I'm from Atlanta, so it has to join "Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck, "Doraville" by Atlanta Rhythm Section, and "Melissa" by the Allman Brothers Band as the ultimate in top forty-flavored southern confections of the era.

  13. There was a DVD release of FM, I have a copy. WKRP was based on watered down versions of the jocks in FM.