Being a child of the '70s, one of my more guilty pleasures is listening to some of the music that I heard on stations like WLS-AM when I was just a child. No, I'm not pulling out leisure suits from my closet and putting on disco records; my wife has told me that would be grounds for an instant divorce. Instead, I like hearing songs that just seem to take me back to when I was about four or five, with the only cares I had including where I had left my teddy bear. (Oh, wait, that reminds me...)
So when I'm given the opportunity to review an album like the soundtrack for the movie Dick, chances are I'll trip over the ottoman to get my greasy hands around it. Granted, such an album can provide some bad memories as well, such as not being able to get certain songs out of my head (more on that later), but this particular collection has joy that you won't find on any of those CDs you'll see peddled on late-night TV.
First, the traditional disclaimer: No, I haven't seen the movie yet. At the time I'm writing this review, the movie had just opened. But to be honest, I don't think one needs to see the movie to place where certain songs fit with the action; this isn't like a Disney movie. However, it's easy to enjoy this disc for what it is - a wonderful collection of music from the first half of the decade - without knowing what's happening in the movie.
Only one new song is included on Dick - Sixpence None The Richer's cover of Abba's "Dancing Queen". Leigh Nash's vocals seem to fit the music perfectly, and this band (who are still riding high thanks to their hit "Kiss Me") is an unlikely, but perfect, choice to tackle one of the songs that defined the decade. Listen to this one once, and you'll be surprised how close to the bone this cover is to the original.
This disc contains a lot of music that you might not recognize by name, but the instant you hear the song, you'll say, "Aah, that's what that song is!" I would have been hard-pressed to describe songs like George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby" or Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Love's Theme" prior to listening to Dick; once I heard the songs, the floodgates opened, and a smile crossed my face. ("Love's Theme" is still a great song.) And while the technology is far outdated, there's still something magical about hearing the Moog synthesizer on Hot Butter's "Popcorn". (Somewhere in the Pierce Memorial Archives, there's a whole album from Hot Butter that I occasionally put on to scare the cat.)
From the Jackson 5 ("ABC") to Grand Funk Railroad ("The Loco-Motion"), from Jean Knight ("Mr. Big Stuff" - a song recently brought back to the limelight thanks to Burger King) to Elton John ("Crocodile Rock" - sorry, not one of my all-time favorites by him), Dick almost acts as a soundtrack for the early part of the '70s, not just a comedy about the fall of former President Richard Nixon. If you survived this decade intact, chances are this disc will be a major trip down memory lane.
All that said, there are one or two miscues on this one - and I'll freely admit they're all matters of personal taste. I do wonder why Harry Nilsson's "Coconut" was chosen; this is a quirky little tune that you really have to be in the mood to hear. This time around, I happened to think it was okay; the next time I listen to this disc, I might be diving for the "forward" button on the CD player. And I hope I never have to hear Blue Swede's version of "Hooked On A Feeling" (damn you, Ally McBeal) again in my lifetime. It's bad enough we have B.J. Thomas's version still circling this planet, even worse that ol' "Ooga-Chugga" is still a cult hit.
When you're in the mood for something severely retro, Dick is an excellent choice to slap into the CD player and groove out to. With one or two exceptions, this disc is proof that the '70s as a whole didn't suck nearly as bad as we've been told.