"Last week I was celebrating the gruff and grisly tones
of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Van Morrison on the Wonder Boys
soundtrack. Here, Tom Waitsí corrosive drawl buries them
all. It is a voice that can only have been forged in a diabolical
furnace deep within the infernal bowels of the planet, yet it
mesmerises us with an unlikely tenderness atop its bristling
"Please call me baby/Wherever you are": a simple
sentiment, but listen carefully to the inflection of the last two
words. The mere drop of a semi-tone speaks many octaves of
emotions when curled up in the phrasing and inimitable tone of
this peerless character singer.
Itís a near impossible act to follow, and Peter
Salettís clear and pure timbre couldnít be a more
dramatic contrast. Yet, when Salett croons seemingly insipid
lyrics like "Iíve been just waiting . . . and
hesitating, with this heart of mine," with such mellifluous
clarity that they come across as both sincere and poetic, he
miraculously avoids being obscured by Waitsí hulking shadow.
Travis Pickle further maintains the standard with the sweetly
clubbish Crazy, before Salett returns to round out this first
section of the CD with the nostalgic The Way Things Used To Be.
There are three distinct divisions to the soundtrack. And
after these fine song-smiths have entranced us, we are presented
with ten cues from the Elmer Bernstein instrumental score. And
itís a Magnificent Ten. (Well, nine plus a "Main
Title" overture that doesnít actually feature in the
film.) Playful, jazzy, romantic and whimsical, the piano-laden
melodies reminds us that Bernstein was a child prodigy on the
instrument, not because of any virtuosity on display here, but
because he obviously knows his instrument so well. The
orchestrations that weave in and around the ivories are just as
delightful, and it all adds up to some of the most fun and
accessible cinematic instrumental writing of the year.
The CD Winds up with the reliable funk-soul of Wild Cherry and
Cheryl Lynn, and it must be said that the three divisions
donít seem to belong together for any particular reason
Ė other than they happened to work in various scenes of the
same movie. But who cares? It takes a great leap of faith to
believe a more entertaining soundtrack than this one will come
along any time soon."