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SONIC DEATH MONKEY SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS - School of Rock & Lost in Translation

by Natasha Theobald

This week: SCHOOL OF ROCK and LOST IN TRANSLATION

School of Rock

Are you ready to rock!?! What do I say about songs and artists that have been famous since before I was born, or, at least, since before I was aware of such things? The Doors, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones - on and on. They are part of the very lifeblood that we share as a culture. They are a part of our collective consciousness. Children are born knowing these songs and rightly so. Who knew what a breath of fresh air actual rock would be in these days of glossy radio pop? I wasn't in the mood, but this disc got me on board very quickly and kept me all the way through.

The newer songs which have been included do nothing to distract from the richness of this treasure. They seem to be, on the whole, deeply influenced by the sounds which came before them. There is no jarring transition from an older song to a newer one. In fact, without the liner notes in front of you, you may not be able to tell which is which, except, of course, for the fact that you will feel the familiarity of some, knowing how they go without necessarily knowing why, and the newness of others, as they may be new to you.

The Wylde Ratttz (you know a band with three t's and a z can really rock!) is a fitting addendum to the offering from The Ramones. Ah, The Ramones. It feels so good to hear it that you almost want to cry. What has happened to us? Everything is pop these days, even punk. This disc takes us to school with the masters. Let us hope we remember what we learn.

There was more than one pleasant surprise, too, among the tracks which were less familiar to me. The first, a newer one, "Heal Me, I'm Heartsick" from No Vacancy comes about halfway through the disc and gives things a different feel for a bit of a breather. It is full of emotion, as the title implies. As I am a sucker for a broken heart exposed, raw emotion, I really felt something from it, and the edge of the sound just makes it more authentic, yearning that can't be kept quiet.

Another pleasant surprise, perhaps, shouldn't be a surprise at all. The liner notes list it from 1972, but I don't think I'm familiar with T-Rex. "Ballrooms of Mars" sounds very modern to me. The voice is mesmerizing, and the song feeds it with a touch of mystery, sensuality, and thought.

The whole is bookended by two songs from School of Rock. The songs are good, worthy of inclusion on the soundtrack even without their obvious association with the movie. Another film treat comes in the form of dialogue snippets, funny little bits featuring Mr. Jack Black, which are a better advertisement for the movie than anything else. If thirty seconds on the soundtrack has you laughing, the flick becomes a must-see.

"School of Rock" - School of Rock

"Your head and your mind and your brain...."

"Substitute" - The Who

"Fight" - No Vacancy

"Touch Me" - The Doors

"I pledge allegiance to the band...."

"Sunshine of Your Love" - Cream

"Immigrant Song" - Led Zeppelin

"Set You Free" - The Black Keys

"Edge of Seventeen" - Stevie Nicks

"Heal Me, I'm Heartsick" - No Vacancy

"Growing on Me" - The Darkness

"Ballrooms of Mars" - T-Rex

"Those who can't do...."

"My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" - The Ramones

"T.V. Eye" - Wylde Ratttz

"It's a Long Way to the Top" - School of Rock


Lost in Translation

The music from the movie is about sound and atmosphere. It is engaging without being controlling, letting the listener float wherever the waves may flow. It is unusual and unpredictable, seductive and transformative. It transports you to another place and time, or a place beyond the awareness of time. If you are open to it, it could carry you beyond your own consciousness, beyond the simple experience of hearing it. It lets you go without letting you go. It is complex and can be experienced on different levels, but it never seems contrived or confusing. It is an experiment in stream of consciousness and an intuitive force incorporating and encompassing the whole of sound and experience. That probably makes no sense, and, if it doesn't (and you need for it to), I am sorry.

Soundtracks like to mix things up, and, in this case, I think it is a mistake. Just as I was finding myself enveloped in the instrumentals, another song with regular lyrics would suck me back into a more traditional musical experience. It is almost impossible for a person who loves language to listen to a song with lyrics which are meant to be understood without listening to the lyrics. After experiencing the type of thing I'm trying to explain above, I would be forced back into the listening for content mode of hearing words. In this case, it would have been much better to separate the tracks. Luckily, now that I know, I can do it myself.

Had the songs with lyrics not interrupted my experience of the whole, I likely would have enjoyed them immensely. Apart from the fact that they are anchored with words, they do fit into the whole quite nicely, offering similar sounds, tones, and feelings to the other tracks. They are mostly what I would call modern rock. They are moody and morose, for the most part. You might be able to dance to some of it, I guess, if you like interpretive movement.

One exception to that is "Kaze Wo Atsumete," which, according to the liner notes, is from 1971. If my Spanish is limited, my Japanese is positively stagnant. I could greet you, tell you my name, and tell you I am fourteen, which was my age when I went there. Pitiful. So, I don't know what the song is about, but it seems tinged with some sort of near-positive sentiment, which is also reflected in a lighter (comparatively speaking) sound.

I have enjoyed The Jesus & Mary Chain since high school, and the included song is an apt pick to wrap up the soundtrack. It is like sonic dark chocolate -- smooth, rich, and deep, dark brown.

There is a wee surprise for those who don't turn the CD player off after track 15 is over.

"Intro/Tokyo"

"City Girl" - Kevin Shields

"Fantino" - Sebastien Tellier

"Tommib" - Squarepusher

"Girls" - Death in Vegas

"Goodbye" - Kevin Shields

"Too Young" - Phoenix

"Kaze Wo Atsumete" - Happy End

"On the Subway" - Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr.

"Ikebana" - Kevin Shields

"Sometimes" - My Bloody Valentine

"Alone in Kyoto" - Air

"Shibuya" - Brian Reitzell & Roger J. Manning Jr.

"Are You Awake?" - Kevin Shields

"Just Like Honey" - The Jesus & Mary Chain


link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=823
originally posted: 10/18/03 17:55:29
last updated: 05/05/05 17:29:28
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