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Winter Soundtracks, Pt. 2 (02/04/2000) Write to CD Shakedown

The Thomas Crown AffairSoundtrack to The Thomas Crown Affair (Ark 21 Records 1999) - "The Thomas Crown Affair" is the new film starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.

A remake of the 1968 Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway caper, the film finds Russo as a brilliant investigator who makes Brosnan her prime suspect (and romantic partner).

A dress to die forThe soundtrack features songs from the original score by veteran Bill Conti, who received an Academy Award for the 007 title song, "For Your Eyes Only," and who also scored such films as "Rocky" and "The Right Stuff."

If you've seen the film, the answer is No: The album has no pictures of the little black dress that Russo wears to the party (and if you've seen the film, you know that the dress is unforgettable).

Rene RussoThe score captures the film's suspense and elegance through smooth arrangements with a jazzy flavor on tracks like "Meet Ms. Banning" and "Glider Pt. 1 and Pt. 2."

Yet the real treat lies in the first four tracks, with their French Caribbean influence. The album opens with Sting's remake of the Academy Award-winning title song, "Windmills of Your Mind." Sting's version is tastefully understated, and can only be found on the soundtrack.

Pierce BrosnanThe Thomas Crown Affair also includes a ten-minute "live in the studio" version of "Sinnerman" by jazz vocalist Nina Simone. Simone displays her androgynous vocal inflection on this interesting recording from 1965, which juxtaposes neatly against the Sting track.

The other two vocal tracks are "Everything (Is Never Quite Enough)" by French artist Wasis Diop and "Caban La Ka Kratchien" by Caribbean artist Georges Fordant.

All told, The Thomas Crown Affair is a good memento of the film, with a soft and sultry Caribbean feel.

The Story of UsSoundtrack to The Story of Us (Reprise 1999) - The Story of Us is an engaging soundtrack composed and arranged by Eric Clapton, with help from Mark Shaiman. Featuring Clapton's tasteful style, the soundtrack grows with repeated listenings.

"The Story of Us" is a new film directed by Rob Reiner, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer in a story about a troubled marriage. I didn't see the film and can't comment about it.

Bruce Willis and Michelle PfieferBut the soundtrack is a really good Eric Clapton album, in his laid back, "unplugged" style. The album boasts 24 cuts, many short (one minute or less) variations on a theme.

Says Rob Reiner, "I have been in show business for more than 30 years, and I have never witnessed such pure creativity. Besides being ridiculously gifted, Eric Clapton is a decent, good-hearted, incredibly generous person. It has been more than a privilege to work with him and a joy to get to know him."

That understated elegance appears throughout in Clapton's gentle guitar workings. At first, the album may not grab you: but by the end, Clapton's repeated innovations creep upon you and draw you into a circle.

Also included are several older tracks, including The Andrews Sisters' wartime classic, "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "The Sheik of Araby" performed by Teddy Wilson, and the acoustic guitar classic, "Classical Gas," by Mason Williams. Clapton is such a good stylist that I originally thought that he was performing "Classical Gas," the way it segued effortlessly into the rest of the soundtrack.

Bruce Willis and Rob ReinerReiner recalls the recording sessions. "The day of the session arrived. I was nervous. I didn't know what to expect. Right on time, Eric showed up by himself in a rented hatchback. He removed two acoustic guitars, walked into the studio and then a ten-hour day, which Eric brilliantly played for eight, we layed down tracks for the film."

So here's another soundtrack that stands independent of the movie. Enjoy a new serving of Eric Clapton without the soft pop overproduction that has marred his recent work (listen to his recording of "Change the World" with producer Babyface to get the point). Dig the cool stylings of The Story of Us.

The Spy Who Shagged MeMore Music from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Maverick 1999) - The second installment in the Austin Powers series continues with "The Spy Who Shagged Me" (now out on video). Starring Mike Myers and Heather Graham, the new film finds Austin traveling back to the shagadelic 60s.

More Music From Austin Powers includes such classic hits as "I'm a Believer" (the Monkees), "Magic Carpet Ride" (Steppenwolf), "Time of the Season" (the Zombies), and "Let's Get It On" (Marvin Gaye).

Austin Powers and Mini MeMore Music From Austin Powers was the brainchild of soundtrack producers Guy Oseary, Danny Bramson, and music supervisor John Houlihan.

Explains Bramsom "In the case of this soundtrack, every piece of music and dialogue is featured prominently in the film. Once again, Guy, John and I had a field day playing within Mike Myers' Austin Powers world."

Heather GrahamAlso included is a remix of Madonna's "Beautiful Stranger," the hit single from the original sound track, and the original version of the Guess Who's "American Woman," which was re-recorded by Lenny Kravitz on the first soundtrack and rose to the top ten on the Billboard charts (though Lenny's version pales in comparison to the original version by Burton Cummings and company).

More Music From Austin Powers also includes several new dance-oriented tracks, including "Am I Sexy" (Lords of Acid), "Crash" (a swinging bossa nova number by the perplexing Propellerheads), and a new song by Southern California favorites the Bangles ("Get the Girl").

If you're looking for a swinging good time, try More Music From Austin Powers.

- Randy Krbechek © 2000

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