to Moulin Rouge (Interscope 2001) - Moulin Rouge is
the new film from Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann.
The film has not yet been released in Fresno, but based on the soundtrack, I expect an extravaganza that is gaudy,
trashy, and exhilarating.
Luhrmann previously directed Romeo + Juliet, and produced the album, Something
for Everybody, with the catchy single, "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)" (a spoken word
piece first credited to Kurt Vonnegut.)
Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann goes back to 1890's Paris and the "Belle Epoque" (French for "Beautiful
Period"). According to the press notes, "In the 1890's, there was a devotion to leisure and pleasure,
big on beauty, big on looks, and no wars gave way to a blitzed party atmosphere."
The film is the story of Christian (played by Ewan McGregor), a young writer with a gift for poetry
who becomes absorbed by the party-hard Moulin Rouge lifestyle. In pursuit of truth, beauty, freedom, and love,
Christian falls into a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with Satine, the Sparkling Diamond (played
by Nicole Kidman), the most beautiful courtesan
in Paris and the star of the Moulin Rouge.
soundtrack is a grabber, as it melds historical elements around very contemporary sounds. Like the soundtrack to
Evita (which I rate highly), Moulin
Rouge evokes a definite atmosphere.
The album leads off with "Nature Boy," a somber new song by David
Bowie, with orchestral backing. But the album kicks into overdrive on the second track, a remake of the disco
hit "Lady Marmalade," performed by Christina Aguilera,
Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink, and produced by Missy Elliott. "Lady
Marmalade" is a sassy number, and a sure-fire summertime hit.
stars weigh in on several songs: Nicole Kidman provides passable entries
on "Sparkling Diamonds" (which samples from "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" asnd "Material
Girl"), the solo ballad, "One Day I'll Fly Away," and the "Elephant Love Medley," [which
samples from such hits as "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (U2),
"Silly Love Songs" (Paul McCartney) and
"Up Where We Belong" (Buffy Sainte-Marie)].
to be outdone, co-star Ewan McGregor works through "Your Song" (Elton
John) and "El Tango De Roxanne," with assistance from Jose Feliciano and samples from "Roxanne"
by The Police.
Also appearing is Beck's cover of "Diamond Dogs"
(the apocalyptic David Bowie song), Fatboy Slim's "Because
We Can," and mood rocker Gavin Friday on "Children
of the Revolution," with additional vocal assistance by Bono.
Moulin Rouge shapes up as a sensation. The soundtrack is a fascinating collage, juxtaposing modern elements
against century-old hedonism. Look for "Lady Marmalade"
to be a crossover hit.
Soundtrack to Pearl Harbor (Warner Bros.
2001) - Pearl Harbor is the new film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer
and director Michael Bay. Starring Ben Affleck and Kate
Beckinsale, the movie sets a love story against the infamous attack on December 7, 1941.
I like the love story in the first half of the movie better than the battle scenes. And I attribute that to the
soundtrack; the love story builds against the anticipation of the attack, while the battle scenes are a somber
reminder of the hour-long devastation.
soundtrack was produced by Disney favorite Hans Zimmer, who also
scored The Road to El Dorado. Zimmer is heavy
on orchestration, which is good for mood scenes.
Yet there was a ton of good music that came out of WWII, which would have better evoked a sense of time and place.
Pearl Harbor would have made a better
soundtrack if it had included period music, not just the orchestration.
I don't understand why Faith Hill was chosen to sing the love song
(of course I do, she's signed to the label). Why not chose a 1940's love ballad by the Andrews Sisters ("Don't
Sit under the Apple Tree"), Vera Lynn ("We'll Meet Again") or Dinah Shore ("I'll Walk Alone")?
Overall, the soundtrack to Pearl Harbor ranks as a disappointment.
Soundtrack to Queer As Folk (RCA
Victor 2001) - Queer As Folk is the new television show on the Showtime
cable network. The phrase "queer as folk" is slang for "as strange as ordinary people." Based
on a concept developed for British TV, the first season's 22 episodes have explored the gay and lesbian lifestyle
of various 20-somethings living in Pittsburgh.
seen the show, though I've heard good things about it. And good things are all I have to say about the soundtrack
to Queer As Folk, anchored by the sexy club song "Straight To . . . Number One."
The soundtrack is disco-oriented, in that the beats are generally electronic. The album starts with "Dive
in the Pool" by Barry Harris featuring Pepper Mashay. Unless you're into the techno/club scene, you probably
haven't heard of a lot of the artists: Katty B chimes in with a friendly version of "Let's Hear It for The
Boy" (from the film, Footloose), and Full Frontal spins a swinging version of Devine's 1984 dance
hit, "You Think You're a Man."
cuts are "Crying at the Discotheque," with a lush melody by Alcazar and the anthemic "Proud"
by Heather Small, former lead singer of M People. "Proud"
translates to many meanings; it's not limited to the gay lifestyle, and will surely be adopted by schools around
the country (and properly so).
The opening line for the show was "The thing you need to know is, it's all about sex." And that fits
"Straight To . . . Number One" to a tee. The song by Touch and Go (remixed by Dreamcatcher) is the hottest
thing since Terri Nunn and Berlin. The song opens with "Ten/Kiss
me on the lips/Nine/Run your fingers through my hair/Eight/Touch me . . . slowly/Seven/HOLD IT - LET'S GO STRAIGHT
TO NUMBER ONE" and then breaks into a grinding horn medley.
To . . . Number One" would be a hit, if you ever get to hear it. And it proves that disco is not just uptempo,
My one complaint is "Spunk," a 28-second instrumental by Greek Buck that is both the first and last track
on the album. Someone should remind the soundtrack producer that CDS automatically start over at the end, unlike
vinyl. Back-to-back recordings of the same track are unnecessary.
Regardless of how you feel about the gay and lesbian lifestyle, Queer As
Folk is an outstanding collection of dance hall and disco.
to Sopranos: Peppers & Eggs (Columbia 2001) - I wish
I could say the same for Peppers & Eggs, the second
soundtrack installment from the HBO hit, The Sopranos.
Here's the funny part - I watch The Sopranos every week like a religion.
And the music always works in the context of the show. Yet on CD, it loses some of its impact.
What you get
on Peppers & Eggs (a double-disc collection)
is lots of moody/atmospheric tracks, some old, some new. The new includes Australian Kasey
Chambers with her Sheryl Crow-influenced, "The
Captain," and R. L. Burnside on "Shuck Dub,"
in which the old blues man meets a techno loop.
The old includes Van Morrison on "Gloria," Bob
Dylan on a mismatched reading of "Return to Me," and Ben E. King on the plaintive, "I Who Have
(for me) are songs from particular episodes. Thus, you get the full version of Nils
Lofgren's "Black Books," from the
episode in which the shrink tells Carmela that her husband is a bad man. Also listen for "High Fidelity"
by Elvis Costello & The Attractions and the Kinks' "Living on A Thin Line." Also included is "Tiny
Tears" by Tindersticks, a Nick Cave-influenced
At the end of Disc 2, you get what you've been waiting for: dialogue from the show, together with the TV remix
of A3's "Woke
Up This Morning (And Got Myself A Gun)," the song played over the opening credits.
One of the frustrations in watching the show is that the songs are never listed in the credits; instead,
you have to go to a fan website to learn about the music. The same continues
in Peppers & Eggs: the songs aren't identified by episode (which would have helped fans).
Late night rock lives on with Peppers & Eggs.
And you're in for a surprise at the end of the 5-1/2 minutes of "Black
Books," when you discover that the track is a live recording.
- Randy Krbechek © 2001
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