Lawless: Soundtrack (Sony Classical)
This new film has been getting solid notices by most critics and the soundtrack album is also very good.
There is a huge tie in between the music made on this soundtrack and the movie in that Nick Cave of Australia’s primo post punk band The Bad Seeds also wrote the screenplay for a plot based mostly on a true story.
The story revolves around depression era moonshiners, corrupt government agents who want part of the action—and the resultant violence.
In cobbling his soundtrack Cave and Bad Seeds bandmate Warren Ellis seem to be aiming for the same sort of hillbilly folk music authenticity of the multi-platinum selling O Brother Where Art Thou! soundtrack.
But instead of traditional fare, Cave matches venerable country roots Americana stars such as EmmyLou Harris, Willie Nelson and bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley with modern rock songs by the likes of The Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart and Townes Van Zant.
Your head will be spinning with the eclectic take of Ralph Stanley’s hillbilly take of White Light/White Heat while ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan offers a cool gospel revivalist version of Captain Beefheart’s classic Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do (from the Capt.’s five star debut album from the late ’60s titled Safe As Milk that is something of a forgotten classic).
EmmyLou Harris offers a moody and atmospheric ballad with a cover of lesser known songwriter Jason Lytle’s (ex Grandaddy) So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky that is worth the price of admission alone.
Meanwhile, Cave and his studio band named The Bootleggers offer their original Burnin’ Hell and I am willing to bet there is a scene in the film of gospel revivalist dancers getting jiggy with some poisonous snakes, as I have yet to see the film.
Lawless doesn’t quite make it as a wholly stand alone album like the mega selling O Brother Where Art Thou! (for example, there are three versions each of Fire And Brimstone—a Link Wray song, I think—and Fire In The Blood) but Lawless music is a worthwhile acquisition for big fans of the movie.
Note that this album has been released under Sony’s Classical label which gives you an indication where the label thinks this audience lies.
Ramin Karimloo: Human Heart (Sony Masterworks)
People who follow U.K. musical theatre are almost certainly familiar with Canadian performer Ramin Karimloo. For a decade he has been a prominent fixture in London in lavish productions such as Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon, The Pirates Of Penzance etc., where he has become a big star and has garnered Best Actor hardware and numerous Olivier nominations (the equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Awards).
The Iranian Canadian Karimloo was raised in Ontario where he formed a Tragically Hip tribute band as a teen but he found his way to London, believe it or not, as a singer/dancer on cruise ships.
After winning early auditions Karimloo’s star has really taken off in Old Blighty where literally tens of thousands have enjoyed his theatrical stage performances.
Human Heart represents his first solo album of pop, rock and show tunes and you can really hear the musical theater in Karimloo’s voice. He can belt songs out to the back row on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s well known songs Music Of The Night and Til I Hear You Sing, while he can also nuance a ballad as on the original Coming Home that Karimloo co-wrote with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic fame.
Most of these songs have orchestral constructions but Karimloo offers a straight up take of Bryan Adams’ smash Everything I Do (I Do It For You) while the CCM ballad Constant Angel is more of a toned down, inspirational love song.
Karimloo also shows his eclectic side with covers of lesser known songs by fine songwriters such as Matthew Bellamy and Duncan Sheik but it is something of a surprise that there are no covers of Tragically Hip songs given Karimloo’s early inspiration.
Fans may want to note that the ever wandering spirit Karimloo is already planning a country duets album but until then this adult contemporary album will fill the bill.
Julio Eglesias: 1 (Sony)
A Julio Egesias collection of No.1 hits that is simply titled ‘1’ doesn’t seem to carry the same cachet as those sorts released by The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis and others.
Even country band Alabama has released a double CD set comprised of only songs that topped the country charts and even it, by comparison, seems more likely than a two-CD 38-track compilation of Eglesias hits (especially now that his son Enrique is better known to younger listeners).
But Eglesias has indeed had all these No.1 hits even if some of them were in countries like Luxembourg or Switzerland as he has sung in many languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, French etc.
In North America, Eglesias has had his best chart successes with duets with Willie Nelson (To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before), Stevie Wonder (My Love), Dave Koz (Crazy), Frank Sinatra (Summer Wind), Sting (Fragile), Art Garfunkle (Let It Be Me) etc.
And all these duets can be found on disc one of this collection while disc two has Eglesias’ solo Latin and continental hits that makes for a very comprehensive collection.
There is one minor problem however. Many of these songs feature brand new vocals as Eglesias feels he is a better singer now and there’s some upgraded instrumentation what with studio technology being vastly improved from his early sides.
The new takes mostly just update already existing recordings but some fans may not prefer these slightly different do-overs as much as the originals.
Committed fans only.