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SONIC DEATH MONKEY Soundtrack Reviews - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

by Natasha Theobald

The soundtrack from FEAR AND LOATHING features a great mix of classic rock, much of it drug-themed, surprising though that may be. Add to that a couple of kitschy picks from the likes of Debbie Reynolds and Perry Como, as well as the aptly entitled drug scores. Start each track with a snippet of dialogue from the movie, be it entertaining or simply informative, giving some sense of context and continuity. Stir and heat over a low level of activity and potentially altered consciousness, and you have the makings of the best sort of soundtrack mix. It both reminds you of the movie experience and stands strongly on its own as great listening.

I tend not to be a classic rock kind of girl. I have been watching the heavy metal documentaries on VH1 this past week, and there is lots of talk about feeling the music in your balls. Maybe that is what I'm missing, so to speak. I don't seem to feel it where I feel music that I really love. To me, Black Sabbath was just the record my mom shattered when my brother wouldn't turn it down and explain the smoke smell in the basement. I was born into the era of Jefferson Starship and not Jefferson Airplane, sadly enough. That said, I found a lot to love about this soundtrack. The chosen songs are too good to ignore, and having them all together in one place is a real treat.

The road trip starts with the cool, opening notes and woo-woos of "Combination of the Two" from Big Brother & the Holding Company. It is followed by "One Toke Over the Line" from Brewer and Shipley, a song my family remembers my mom singing to the kids. She thought it was a Bible song, because they were talking about Sweet Jesus. So great!

Get ready to throw some sort of undergarment, as Tom Jones gets things shaking with "She's a Lady." The next, "For Your Love," may not be a song you recognize by title, but I guarantee this song from The Yardbirds would sound familiar once you heard it. And, then, classic of classics, "White Rabbit," written by the ultimate in cool, rock chick, Grace Slick, for Jefferson Airplane. This is required listening.

The Youngbloods are often heard in anti-war pics about the era. Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now. The song is "Get Together," and the music remains powerful. Another icon of that, and any other, era is included, as well, Bob Dylan with "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." I swear you can hear the influence on later songs in it. Are you sensing the greatness yet?

Between those two comes a song I began to love backwards, falling first for the dance version on the PARTY GIRL soundtrack. When I played it for my sister, she yelled at me, because she thought they ruined a great song (and somehow I was to blame for liking it). The included version here is the original from Three Dog Night, "Mama Told Me Not to Come." That ain't no way to have fun, son.

Booker T. & the MGs follow one of my favorite bits of dialogue, about panicky speeders who pull over for sirens. It arouses contempt in the cop heart. Make the bastard chase you. The song is "Time is Tight," a mid-speed, organ-fueled instrumental. The middle of the soundtrack follows the thread and meanders a bit to the aforementioned kitsch and more of the trippy score by Tomoyasu Hotei and Ray Cooper. It all seems to fit, though, never seeming forced or weird. Of course, considering the movie, what would seem weird? In the theater when I saw it, I had trouble making it to the bathroom and back. I was woozy.

Things wind up with a soft touch from Buffalo Springfield, "Expecting to Fly." Then, BAM, "Viva Las Vegas" as performed by...The Dead Kennedys. As great as the rest of the CD is, I have to say, the thought of this final track is what led me to buy it. I was not disappointed. It seems such the perfect ending to this offbeat journey, full of energy and effortlessly odd.

If you have some time to sit and listen, let the narration by Johnny Depp and some great, classic tunes ring through your head. It gains something if you liked the movie, but such mental uniqueness is in no way required.


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originally posted: 05/31/06 15:39:41
last updated: 06/08/06 11:16:22
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