I’m really terrified of becoming a hoarder. So every now and again I do inventory and clear things out of my life that I don’t use. My physical CD collection has gone from several boxes to one shelf and my digital collection is not immune to the occasional trimming.
So a few weeks ago I loaded the Escape from LA soundtrack onto my MP3 player. I was thinking I would give it one last spin before I sent it to the recycle bin. It turns out I was in for quite an unexpected surprise.
There are a lot of big names on this album, but nearly all of them turn in bland and/or sub-par performances. Three of the bands give us tracks straight from other albums. Tool with “Sweat” from Undertow, Clutch with “Escape from the Prison Planet” and Gravity Kills with “Blame” (both from their self titled albums). Gravity Kills get a few points for doing an ‘LA Remix,’ but I can’t really tell the difference from the original. I like soundtracks because they give me a chance to hear hidden gems that didn’t fit onto albums and other oddities from bands I love, not to hear the same songs in a different context.
As far as original content goes it’s pretty hit or miss. Stabbing Westward does an awful job opening the album with “Dawn.” The track is just way too slow and dreary. It would be great in the middle as a chance to get up and get popcorn, but it definitely doesn’t serve to help make me interested in what’s to come. And “Paisley” from Ministry is probably the worst song I’ve ever heard from them. That’s a real feat considering their early new wave crap. Deftones close the album with some song. I could look up the title, but who cares? Pretty much every Deftones song sounds exactly the same.
White Zombie’s “The One” is a cool tune. It’s your typical Zombie song and it gets bonus points for referencing the movie in the lyrics. Toadies turn in a rocking punk tune with “Cut Me Out.” That one made me do a double take. I was extremely surprised that I was enjoying a song enough to check who was playing it only to find it was the Toadies. That’s never happened before. Butthole Surfers add a track, but they can really do no wrong in my eyes. “Professional Widow” is a rocking tune from Tori Amos. I’ve never gotten into her music, but something about the harpsichord really draws me in.
“10 Seconds Down” is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. It’s pretty much a standard nu-metal song with chug-chug guitar work, which is interesting coming from Sugar Ray. But Sugar Ray’s meal-ticket front man Mark McGrath is nowhere to be found on this song. It’s a collaboration with a group called the Bluetones. What I like best is the simple clean guitar melody that plays over the main riff. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition. (And also makes me really happy because it gives me a chance to use the word ‘juxtaposition.’)
My favorite is a track from a group called Sexpod. It’s a typical female fronted rock song, but boy this chick has a great set of pipes. When she belts out the line “Foot on the gas on the west side highway” I can nearly feel the wind in my hair as I cruise along the pacific coast in a convertible. I can’t find anything wrong with a song that makes me feel like that.
And the most amazing thing about this album is that even with all of the crap, it’s still much better than the movie it went with. If you’re ever curious to check out this film I would suggest listening to the soundtrack instead. It takes a lot less time and you’ll feel less guilty afterward.
*Some of these other songs also appear on albums, but not by artists whom I’ve listened to their albums. Did that make sense?