Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back to the Future Soundtrack

I'm not really sure why I bought this Soundtrack album. I remember I bought it in a giant mall near Spokane, Washington in this neat futuristic looking music store. The Back to the Future trilogy was my favorite film series when I was younger, its still one of my favorite movie series, but I used to watch all three movies at least once a month. Maybe more. I know I bought the album because I really like the song "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. At the time I bought this soundtrack Huey and the News had not put out a decent hits compilation (they have since then), so those are probably the reasons why I bought this CD.

This soundtrack is ok. Aside from "The Power of Love" there is the excellent Huey Lewis song "Back in Time" which was also only available on this soundtrack until recently. There is one song apiece by Lindsey Buckingham and Eric Clapton, both of which are decent but not really memorable. There are the excerpts from Alan Silvestri's excellent score but they only take two tracks on the album. Overall like most soundtrack albums this is not really great without the film to go with it. This is an inessential addition to anyones music collection since the two best songs are now available on Huey Lewis and the News' compilation "Greatest Hits." But Back to the Future Fanatics will probably already own this.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Almost Famous Original Soundtrack

Almost Famous is one of my all time favorite movies, a love song to music, the 1970s and to the innocence and wonder of youth. Based on Writer/Director Cameron Crowe's experiences as a teenaged music journalist for Creem and Rolling Stone Magazines. This is the movie that Crowe had been wanting to make all his life. I once did a video conference with Crowe and he explained that everything in the movie is based on some real event, even the sequence on the airplane happened to his wife Nancy Wilson's band Heart. I am so glad he used the clout he gained with Jerry Maguire to create this film, it is his finest film to date and so far the last good film he has made (Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown were lukewarm at best), this film also won him an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

Crowe, much like John Hughes and Richard Linklater, has always been able to use popular music on his soundtracks to excellent advantage (Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" is forever linked to the image of John Cusack holding a boom box above his head from Crowe's film Say Anything). Almost Famous is filled to the brim with wonderful 1970s music and there is no way this soundtrack album could include every song (especially since it is only a single disc). It is also very expensive to include certain songs on soundtrack albums. This soundtrack, however, contains a nice sampling of songs from the movie and also a good sampling of, often obscure, songs from the 1970s era. There are big name musicians like Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys and Elton John yet the songs featured here are not obvious hits for instance "Feel Flows" is an excellent song from The Beach Boys forgotten 1971 album Surf's Up. There are also some lesser known artists such as The Seeds, Clarence Carter and Yes. Many of the songs on this soundtrack are also not really obviously in the movie I can't remember Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells a Story" in the film at all. The one thing I wish the soundtrack had more of is the songs performed by the film's fictional band Stillwater, when I saw the film I thought Stillwater was a real group and went searching for their albums. Original songs were written for the band to perform in the movie but only one, "Fever Dog," is contained on this soundtrack.
Overall this is a great companion to a wonderful film, that can be enjoyed with or without the pictures. Much like the main character of the film this soundtrack will help you discover lost gems and the sheer wonder of music.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Aerosmith "Big Ones"

Ok so I bought this Aerosmith Greatest Hits CD at Tower Records in 2001 (seven years after it was released). The reason I purchased it in 2001 is because that was something of a stellar year for Aerosmith. After being inactive and reclusive for nearly four years, with the exception of the hit "Armageddon" theme song "I don't wanna miss a thing," they reappeared like gangbusters in 2001. Aerosmith were everywhere: they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Performed at the Super Bowl Half Time Show, Appeared on MTV and various TV shows almost constantly, VH1 showed Aerosmith videos 24/7, they released the album "Just Push Play" with the hit single "Jaded," and the guy who sat next to me in my Chemistry class was praising Aerosmith daily and even made me a copy of "Just Push Play."
I guess what I am saying is that I caught Aerosmith fever and I ran out to Tower Records and picked up "Big Ones." The CD actually only collects hits from Aerosmith's years at the Geffen record company when they had their late 1980s rebirth till the mid 1990s. So early hits like "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk this Way" are not included. Some of the best Aerosmith songs "Janie's Got a Gun," "Dude (Looks like a Lady)" and my favorite "Love in an Elevator" are here. There are a number of songs that fit in here but are not terribly excellent such as "Walk on Water," "Blind Man" and "Deuces are Wild." In truth I have never been a big fan of Aerosmith they have a number of catchy pop oriented rock songs but I have never really sought out their music. If a song came on the radio or someone is playing them I would not turn away, but I don't crave Aerosmith like many of their fans. While this is a good hits compilation they have released a few others since that are better and honestly I can say I have not listened to this CD since 2001. All I can say is Aerosmith fever got me but it passed, yet the band is still going strong more power to you Aerosmith.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Start & Ryan Adams "Gold"

After a kind of long and unintentional hiatus I am returning after purchasing a bunch of new albums and with a new game plan. I am going to go through my album collection alphabetically and give my thoughts on each of the albums. So it begins...

The first album is Ryan Adams' "Gold." His best album, if I am concerned. At the time Adams was touted as the next big thing in music and while he never really lived up to that title and at times purposefully avoided it this is still a solid recording. Released just a few weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks the album gained popularity because the first single and lead off track was coincidentally titled "New York, New York." Which is an excellent catchy Stephen Stills style number that propelled the sales with its chorus of "Hell, I still love you New York."
I originally purchased the album because I really liked the "New York, New York" song but I found a number of other great tracks. Upon first listen I only really liked a few songs but something about the sound made me want to listen again and I slowly found that most of the songs are winners. There are, however, three songs right at the album's center that should have been left off: "Enemy Fire" is terrible, "SYLVIA PLATH" is largely forgettable, and the nine minute long "Nobody Girl" is simply average. Other than that the album is pretty solid, Adams stays largely in the Alt-Country style that gained him fame as part of Whiskeytown but here he mixes it with 70s style rock/pop and 90s sounds. While Adams did not live up to the promise of this album, he would not make another consistent album until 2005's "Cold Roses," "Gold" is a fine album and so far Adams' best.