Happy Birthday, Anthony Head, Criminally Underappreciated Musical Badass
Today is Anthony Stewart Head's 59th birthday, and if you aren't familiar with him, then I pity you. He's best-known for the role of Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he's done everything from film to stage and video games, and was just a hair away from being the Eighth Doctor.
There are still plenty of hints that Joss Whedon and Head will one day team up again for a Giles spin-off BBC TV movie, though with Whedon's movie commitments and the ongoing storyline in the Buffy Season 8 comics, using many of the proposed spinoff ideas, it's probably not going to happen.
All my usual gushing over silver-throated, vaguely sinister British actors aside, Head also has a sadly unrecognized musical career that includes some really tremendous work. This week's playlist is dedicated to some of the contributions he's made in the realm of song, with hopes of more to come.
"Standing in the Way" Probably the song people are most likely to have heard is Head's solo number from the music episode of Buffy, "Once More with Feeling." It's a tremendous if brief acoustic tune lamenting how his stewardship of Buffy is keeping her from reaching her full adult potential, and it's too bad that it's his only star moment considering his stage musical credentials. You take what you can get, though.
"Legal Assassin" Darren Lynn Bousman was impressed enough with Head's singing in "Once More with Feeling" that he asked him to star in Repo: The Genetic Opera. Head ate every single inch of the script and turned in the performance of a lifetime. Loving father, haunted penitent, deranged murderer and heart-broken widower are all roles he shifts in and out of with uncanny ease during the film. It should have been the role that made Hollywood realize his ability to carry a musical.
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"Sweet Transvestite" When most people think of Dr. Frank-n-Furter of The Rocky Horror Picture Show,r they think of Tim Curry, who originated the role and played it in the cult film. When it came time to revive the show onstage in England, though, it was Anthony Head, who outdid Curry in every way.
His performance was good enough that he released a single, "Sweet Transvestite," that is just pure sex. Fun fact: I got to see Head perform in his original Frank costume in Las Vegas at the Rocky Horror 25th Anniversary celebration, and he just killed.
"All Dressed Up" Not that Head doesn't have some unfortunate chapters in his musical history. Way back in 1983, he had a pop band called Two Way, which put out a single EP, Face at the Window, before fading into just another bit of pop-music trivia. Someone thought enough of the work to rerelease it in 2010, though, so you can experience all the joys of baby-voiced Giles!
"What Can You Tell Me" Head's 2002 collaboration with George Sarah, Music for Elevators, is a much more mature work, featuring a kind of Primitive Radio Gods vibe. It's not a brilliant work, and the opening track is easily the best on the whole album, but it is -- just as the title implies -- a wonderful record to throw on in the background. I used to enjoy it a lot driving home at 4 a.m., and you can have a great time playing spot-the-Buffy-actor voice cameos.
"Cry" The Oldies Composers competition is a charity that allows musicians over 40 to showcase their talents in the name of charity. Head won their 2012 competition with Marina Florance's song "Cry," and it seemed like the perfect tune to take us out on. Happy Birthday, Tony Stew-Head, it's damn fine to know you, sir.
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