STARSKY AND HUTCH: SOUNDTRACK
Review by Brad Green:
The 70s have grown into their nostalgia clothes. A nice, warm fit, right over the top of all those wide lapels and flares. Every decade, once complete, matures in the collective memory at its own pace. There is the early nebulous phase when the fervour for new trends leaves no space for reflection on those left behind. Then there is an awkward, gangly period, when some begin to snicker while others doubt whether the new rages are so worthy. (During this stage the sneering inevitably gains ascendancy, and the 70s suffered a heavier ridicule than most.) And then the next generation comes along, looks back at a period with curiosity rather than the self-consciousness of those who lived it, and kick-starts the revivals.
The 70s have been through all that. From derision to short-lived retro fad, and then into the state of limbo that exists until long enough has passed for a decade to earn a piece of history in its own right, and fit snugly into its own pages in the annals. We know that the 70s have got there, because we can revisit the culture, yup, even these old cop shows, with an easy sense of fun, instead of an embarrassed giggle.
We’ve also got to the stage that we can look back and listen back beyond the icons. As far as music goes, it was a decade dominated by heavy rock on the one hand and disco and electric funk on the other, right? Well, this soundtrack reminds us that there was also a lot of solid pop songs that weren’t so faddish. Soft rock, country blues and rock ballads that have stood the test of time. If stand out tracks here from the likes of Chicago, Bill Withers and The Band sound dated, it’s only for reasons that put the modern pop charts to shame. Studio technology was at a happy juncture, where drums no longer filtered down onto record like cardboard boxes struck with oversized cotton buds, but samplers had not yet rendered them obsolete; and bands were beginning to fully appreciate the arrangement potential of discreet multi-tracking. You’d spend a long time to listening to contemporary radio to hear so such much solid live drumming and such raw, unprocessed vocal harmonies.
You’ll also find here some honest country tracks from Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, and the dance grooves from The Jackson 5 and KC & The Sunshine Band could drown down most of today’s techno beats with their very effervescence. And, yes, there are the obligatory nods and homage. Owen Wilson covers Don’t Give Up On Us, which was a once hit for David Soul (the original Hutch); and those with a penchant for more serpentine cross-referencing should appreciate the significance of Leon Hayward’s I Want To Do Something Freaky To You. This late-70s funk hit was referenced as a sample some 15 years later in Dr. Dre’s Nothing But A G Thang, which featured Snoop Dogg. And Mr Dogg has a role in the movie as, you guessed it, Huggy Bear.
Music styles might have changed but silly animal handles have simply migrated from police informers to gangsta rappers.
Published June 10, 2004
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TITLE: Starsky & Hutch
ID: 16581 67002
ARTISTS: Chicago; Brick; Johnny Cash; Maxine Nightingale; Bill Withers; Dan Finnerty; Jackson 5; The Band; KC & The Sunshine Band; Owen Wilson; Leon Haywood; Brigette Romanek; Waylon Jennings; Starland Vocal Band; Theodore Shapiro