Blast From The Past
Capitol Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/16/1999
I know, I know, I can hear the peanut gallery screaming at me: "You idiot, how can you review the soundtracks to movies you haven't seen?"
Good question, actually - though often, I can gauge what is happening in the course of a film by the direction the music takes on the soundtrack. Plus, where is it written that one can't appreciate the special qualities of a soundtrack for the music it contains? (All this, plus I haven't breached the subject of adding movie reviews to "The Daily Vault"... yet.)
This all aside, the soundtrack to Blast From The Past, the new Brendan Fraser - Alicia Silverstone film, tries to keep in line with the premise of the film by mixing the style of music that Fraser's parents might have been listening to in the early '60s with the music of today. (Just an aside - but am I the only one who can't see Fraser as a 35-year-old? It just doesn't seem plausible.)
The album's opener (and first single), "I See The Sun" by Tommy Henriksen, sets the mood right off the bat. A song that is supposed to capture the discovery of the outside world by Adam (Fraser's character), the song itself is powerful enough to have a lot of different meanings to different people. Henriksen has something special in this short blast of power-pop, but it's already one of the best songs I've heard all year.
If you didn't find yourself getting into the swing craze last year, then you'd best stay away from Blast From The Past; it contains no less than three songs in that vein, as well as a Perry Como track that could easily be classified in that genre as well. Of the tracks, Flying Neutrinos's "Mr. Zoot Suit" is the best, followed closely by Squirrel Nut Zippers's "Trou Macacq". As much as I tried, I just couldn't get into "So Long Toots" by Cherry Poppin' Daddies.
This album, however, is more of a showcase for newer artists to let their materials shine. Block reminds me just how quirky and happy his music is with the inclusion of "Rhinoceros", while Sonichrome ("Honey Please") and Celeste Prince ("A Little Belief") all do more than just impress the listener. Even the brief excerpt from the score (Steve Dorff's "Adam & Eve Love Theme") is interesting.
Surprisingly, some of the better-known artists strike out on this one. Dishwalla fails to impress with "Pretty Babies," while Randy Newman - quickly becoming to film soundtracks what lettuce is to salad - hits a flat note with "Political Science". In his defense, I can't say I'm a big fan of Newman's work overall, so there could be some bias in this.
Blast From The Past is a solid enough effort that serves to introduce the listener to some artists that I think we'll be hearing a lot from in the very near future - that is, unless certain program directors aren't holed up in underground bomb shelters with their Bay City Rollers albums.