Sucker Punch: Bringing the soundtrack back

We were disheartened to learn that Warner Bros. would not be screening “Sucker Punch,” Zack Snyder’s “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns” fantasy adventure flick, in our market. Warners is usually very good about showing us their wares, and the last two times they passed us by, it was because they had something to hide (“Cop Out,” “The Rite”). Which of course has us concerned that “Sucker Punch” is going to be a dud, even though it has the best title since “Hot Tub Time Machine” (or “Hobo with a Shotgun”) and the trailers make it look, at the very least, like a total blast.

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Further adding to our disappointment is the recent acquisition of the movie’s (spectacular) soundtrack, which sports cover versions of modern rock classics (as well as two psychedelic standards) remodeled as widescreen epics. Actually, calling these tracks cover versions is patently unfair, given the work that went into their arrangents. These are mini-operas, where even the most straightforward of songs will bend, and swoop, or change speeds, until they ultimately explode. Check the positively chilling version of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” that opens the album, or the heartbreaking, string-kissed version of the Smiths’ “Asleep.” The two ’60s nuggets lend themselves the best to the style, though, and they chose two doozies in “White Rabbit” (yes, it’s overdone, but it works wonderfully here) and the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which is stretched out to a full seven-and-a-half-minute freakout. If there is a misstep, it’s the Queen mash-up. Yes, we get it, hip-hoppers love Queen beats, but the pitch shift they applied to “I Want It All” just sounds wrong.

Simply put, “Sucker Punch” is the ballsiest, most ambitious soundtrack since “Moulin Rouge.” It’s nice to see someone think of pop songs in a broader, grander sense than “Let’s come up with the most hipster-y compilation ever assembled.” We can’t wait to see how these songs work as the backdrop to Snyder’s visuals.

Click to buy Sucker Punch soundtrack from Amazon

  

Bryan Ferry: Olympia


RIYL: Roxy Music, Thievery Corporation, The Blue Nile

Bryan Ferry’s post-Roxy Music solo career exists in a coccoon of sorts, with few fingerprints from the outside world sullying their beauty and timelessness. Before anyone mistakes that for overblown hyperbole, let’s look at those words a little more closely. His records are beautiful in the sense that they are impeccably played and produced, and they’re timeless in that Olympia, his latest solo record of (mostly) original material, could have come out the same year he released his last solo album Frantic (2002), or Mamouna (1994), or even Bete Noire (1987). Likewise, Mamouna and Frantic could have come out this year without anyone batting an eye as to when they were recorded.

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So they are beautiful and timeless, yes. But truth be told, Ferry hasn’t written a really compelling song in quite a while – that might explain why he hasn’t made back-to-back albums of original material since 1987 – and Olympia does not buck the trend. There are some nice moments, like the bouncy “Shameless,” the haunting “Reason or Rhyme,” and his convincing cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” but there isn’t a “Slave to Love,” or even a “Limbo,” to be found, a point only exacerbated by opening track “You Can Dance,” which begins with a sample of Avalon track “True to Life.” Likewise, “Me Oh My” is built on the bones of “My Only Love,” from Roxy’s Flesh & Blood. Neither song is bad, per se, but they’ve been done before, and better. There is also the matter of Ferry’s voice. He sings the entire album in that whispered hush, rarely testing his upper range or even his falsetto.

No one expects Ferry to churn out hard-charging numbers like “Both Ends Burning” anymore, but Olympia is awfully sedate, even for a man known for his lounge lizard cool. It’s more or less interchangeable with his recent work, which is a bit of a letdown considering Ferry was able to get four other Roxy veterans (Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, Andy Newmark) to appear, but the overall effort is good enough. If you’re content with good enough, that is. (Astralwerks 2010)

Bryan Ferry MySpace
Click to buy Olympia from Amazon

  

More Than This: The Story of Roxy Music

Bar none the best Eagle Vision video we’ve seen to date, “More Than This: The Story of Roxy Music” is absolutely packed with interviewees, each with a unique perspective on the band’s musical vision, artistic direction and influence. The set is much more focused on the “Eno years” (that way they can include more interview footage of Eno himself), but this makes sense since many consider that period, with all due respect to Avalon, to be their creative peak. The list of rock star fans who sing the band’s praises here is as impressive as it is diverse; Duran Duran’s John Taylor, Bono, Steve Jones, Siouxsie Sioux, and Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers all talk about the impact Roxy had on them, and they even recruited producer Rhett Davies and mixer extraordinaire Bob Clearmountain to discuss how people would ask them to make their records sound like Avalon. Even the extended interview segment – usually a crashing bore – is lots of fun, poking fun at the band’s tendency to have a revolving door at the bass player position. They also included performances of three songs from a 2006 concert. A great tribute to a sorely underrated band. (Eagle Vision 2009)

Click to buy The Story of Roxy Music from Amazon

  

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