The Cable Guy
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Work 67654)
Because the track listing includes bits of dialogue and an actual song performed by Jim Carrey, it may look as if the soundtrack to "The Cable Guy" offers more comedy than music. Guess again. From the growling guitars of Jerry Cantrell's "Leave Me Alone" to the grinding synths of Filter's "Hey Man Nice Shot," the songs on this soundtrack are far more interested in exploring the dark than in making light. Given the talent involved, though, that shouldn't come as a surprise. In addition to Cantrell (better-known as the guitarist for Alice In Chains) and Filter, the list of contributors includes Cypress Hill, Silverchair, Porno for Pyros, Cracker and Ruby -- not the most lighthearted lineup imaginable. But these dark stars do deliver the goods. There's a sinister charm to Cypress Hill's "The Last Assassin," which uses tinkling piano and deep-thumping bass to add menace to B-Real's rap, and a broken-bottle edge to Cracker's ragged, raging "Get Out of My Head." Even Porno for Pyros' slightly shattered remake of "Satellite of Love" brings a certain disquietude to Lou Reed's otherwise winsome melody. But the album's brightest moment belongs to newcomers Primitive Radio Gods, for between its exquisitely melancholy vocal and deft use of a B. B. King sample, "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand" is one of the catchiest and most distinctive songs to hit the airwaves in eons.
Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture (Mother 314 531 682)
Big names may add to a project's marquee value, but they're no guarantee of quality. So even though some of the biggest names in British rock, including the Cranberries, Bjork, Massive Attack and half of U2 -- contributed to "Mission: Impossible: Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture," the album has surprisingly few stellar moments. Some of that has to do with the album's attempts to modernize the "MI" aesthetic. For instance, though the new version of the "Theme From Mission: Impossible" -- cut by the U2 rhythm team of Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton -- boasts a credible club-style groove, its insistence on a steady 4/4 beat means it doesn't carry the breathless urgency of the original 5/4 TV theme. Moreover, attempts to tie new songs into the "Mission: Impossible" worldview are mixed at best, as Pulp's prattling "I Spy" is far too wordy to work, while Nicolette's "No Government" offers more rhythm than reason. On the other hand, Massive Attack's "Spying Class" is as funky as it is sinister, while Bjork's "Headphones" is so weirdly winning that even its improbable chorus doesn't diminish the melody's airy allure.
I Shot Andy Warhol
Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture (TAG 92690)
It's not uncommon to find soundtrack albums built around cover versions of period pop songs, and there are plenty of movie albums that consist entirely of oldies. But it's rare to find a project that mixes the two as freely as "I Shot Andy Warhol: Music From and Inspired By the Motion Picture." In addition to '60s songs remade by R.E.M., Wilco, Bettie Serveert and Jewel, there are vintage recordings by Love, the Lovin' Spoonful, the MC5 and Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. Needless to say, the inevitable comparisons between old and new don't always work to the modern rockers' advantage. Wilco, for instance, can't quite provide the proper balance between slick picking and rock abandon to live up to the Buffalo Springfield's version of "Burned," while Ben Lee's earnest vocals just aren't enough to make his "Itchycoo Park" worth visiting. On the other hand, Luna's version of "Season of the Witch," with its loose groove and low-key guitars, could easily have come from the '60s, while Jewel does an impressive job of suggesting what might have happened had Dusty Springfield recorded "Sunshine Superman." But the album's best cover has to be Bettie Serveert's lush-and-noisy take on "I'll Keep It With Mine," which somehow connects the dots between the Velvet Underground, Marianne Faithful and Bob Dylan's original.
The Soundtrack (Hollywood 314 524 243)
The trouble with most rap-oriented soundtracks isn't that they use curse words or talk about violence -- it's that they're no damn fun. But that's not a problem with "Eddie: The Soundtrack." With Coolio's exuberant "(It's) All the Way Live (Now)" setting the tone, this rap and R&B; collection puts its emphasis on strong hooks and muscular beats. That's particularly true of Miami bass material like Luke's "Scarred" or N.B. Hey's infectious, chant-along "Da Dribbol," but those aren't the only songs likely to leave listeners cheering. "Rain Falls" by Darcus is blessed with just enough rhythm to make its melody seem to float out of the speakers, while Nneka's sweet and soulful "Say It Again" is a near-perfect specimen of the modern soul ballad. Admittedly, the album also has its share of filler -- Jodeci's "After Last Night" is largely forgettable, and "Step Up to the Line" by Mighty Reel is by-the-book Eurobeat fluff -- but so what? Even NBA hotshots occasionally miss.
Pub Date: 6/13/96