Party Weekend: Soundtracks!
It’s that time of year when the weather’s warming up and you get that itch to have a party. And every smart party host knows that the music can make or break a party … I know I’ve told this story before, about the dude who was kind of clueless about what kind of music to play at his party. I suggested “just go out and get a couple of movie soundtracks – the kind with a bunch of different rock songs.” He did; the soundtracks to Wayne’s World and Forrest Gump managed to trump the Austin Powers music, his party was a success and the rest is history. I wouldn’t follow my own advice, damned if I know why somebody else did.
So let’s plan your next party, shall we? You gonna have a theme? How about a “decade” party? There’s one ready-made party disc right at your fingertips – yup, it’s Hot Tub Time Machine! Cuts from Public Enemy and Spandau Ballet may cause strained smiles on your guests’ faces, but you can’t argue with New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” (the 12-inch remix version, no less) or Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.” Add to that the gems “Save It For Later” by the Beat (ok, the English Beat) and The Replacements’ “I Will Dare” and you have a bonafide, head-nodding, vintage 1986 throwdown. Oop, watch out for the dreaded Men Without Hats, or you too will be doing “The Safety Dance!”
Not comfortable with big hair and big shoulders? OK, let’s go back to the 1970s … hmm, The Runaways soundtrack! No Journey here – this is about as punk as pop music got back then, despite the presence of “Pretty Vacant” by the Sex Pistols and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges, which are genre-busting classics. You have yer pop punkers Suzi Quatro (“The Wild One”), Nick Gilder (“Roxy Roller”) and good ol’ David Bowie (“Rebel”) as well as a selection of Runaways classics like “Cherry Bomb” and “Queens of Noise” done by the movie’s actresses Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. Surprisingly, they aren’t bad – and you barely notice when the real Runaways show up with “Hollywood,” “You Drive Me Wild” and “I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are.”
Of course, you can do the granddaddy of all decades and go straight to the 1960s. Nothing straight about the Sixties, man, and you can get groovy with last year’s Taking Woodstock soundtrack. Aside from the Woodstock warhorses “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Country Joe’s “Fixin-To-Die Rag/Fish Cheer” and “Volunteers” by the Jefferson Airplane you have a handful of unexpected pleasures like “The Red Telephone” by Love and “Maggie M’Gill” by the Doors. And Richie Havens even cut a new studio version of “Freedom” (which he made up on the spot at Woodstock) to open the album. Good thing – it turns out to be the least exciting thing here.
Still not safe enough for your party? How old are you, anyway? Never mind … here’s a new soundtrack that I, uh, found online. Nowhere Boy is about a British lad coming of age in the late 1950s-early 1960s, he forms a band and, ah, the boy happens to be named John Lennon. Now there’s some rockin’ stuff here: original recordings by Eddie Cochran (“Twenty Flight Rock”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Wild One”), Gene Vincent (“Be-Bop-A-Lula”) and His Lord God Majesty Elvis (“Shake, Rattle and Roll”). Wait, there’s more! Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Wanda Jackson, Big Mama Thornton and Jackie Brenston do their signature hits and there are a few more covers done by “The Nowhere Boys.” Two nice moments here: 1, “Hello Little Girl,” sung by Aaron Johnson, the Brit who plays young Lennon, and a previously unheard, alternate cut of “Mother” done by John himself. Nowhere Boy the movie (and the soundtrack too) hits U.S. shores later this year.
If you’re not into history, you can always cue up the soundtrack to the new superhero movie Kick-Ass. This thing is all over the map (like the movie) with selections ranging from The Prodigy’s electrobeat to the WTF? pop of Sparks (remember Sparks?), some Ennio Morricone spaghetti western music and a live track from His Lord God Majesty Elvis. You can rock out with the soundtrack to Iron Man 2, which is basically an AC/DC sampler including “Let There Be Rock,” “Highway To Hell” and “Shoot To Thrill.”
You can get just plain weird with Almost Alice, not really a soundtrack to the Johnny Depp Alice In Wonderland flick but a multi-artist comp with songs “inspired by” Lewis Carroll’s immortal story. Artists include Avril Lavigne, Wolfmother, Franz Ferdinand, the All-American Rejects and Owl City, among others. And finally let’s just bring it down home with Crazy Heart, featuring the Oscar-winning “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham along with ringers from Waylon Jennings, Kitty Wells, Buck Owens, George Jones and Townes Van Zandt. Actors Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell turn in some credible vocal performances, too – be sure to get the 23-song deluxe edition for maximum enjoyment.
There’s a lot of nice music here, perfect for smokin’ bongs or briskets. With all this party music around, you can’t help but have a rockin’ good time. Now is anyone gonna invite me?