As with most films nowadays, there are two distinct musical elements, the film's score and the film's soundtrack. The soundtrack referred to here us through the liberal application of pop songs throughout a film. Whether they are oldies, country, standards, or even newer rock and pop songs, can't get away from films being permeated with that music. This is usually done nowadays in place of a score, limiting a composer's involvement to about 15-30 minutes of work for a 90-minute picture. I only bring this up to mention how completely different the musical score can be from the soundtrack for the same film. Enough so, that upon listening to one with out the other has you expecting one thing from a movie that you inevitably will not get.
The soundtrack, as released by Hip-O records, is basically filled with 1970s semi-pop songs (with an emphasis on Three Dog Night) that are well placed in a jukebox of a local greasy spoon - and as the film was basically populated with "townies", the collection of songs works pretty well in the film. Additionally, the unreleased (except on a promotional CD) score by relative newcomer Michael Travera gets you thinking about the film in the right way. The film is a comedic mystery about who killed the most unliked woman in town, Mona Dearly, and the hunt for suspects, no matter how numerous, thereafter. Everyone has a motive and no one is willing to produce answers for Police Chief Wyatt Rash, played by Danny DeVito, to help wrap the case up quickly. Since it's an oddball story to begin with, Michael produces an equally oddball score, with elements of ragtime, old-fashioned jazz, and a touch of the recently rediscovered Klezmer style of music. Of course, no one will ever get to hear that, because none of it appears on the album.
As I mentioned earlier, the songs here are what can be construed, at one time or another, as "pop" hits. This release has four entries from Three Dog Night as well as Mungo Jerry's lone hit, "In The Summertime", making, from what I know, it's first appearance on a soundtrack in years, possibly ever. Among the number of reviews I've seen of this film highlighting it's take on "white trash", I'm not sure this would be the kind of music they would really listen to. I grew up near prime social real estate like that, and if this album was meant to portray that, I think they missed their mark by leaps and bounds. For the setting of the mid to late 1980s, we should be thinking pro-wrestling, swap meets and monster truck rallies… actually not much different from today. I think a visit to any of the venues mentioned will at least help get the gist of the musical tastes. No matter how many folks say how great a "song" is that has been taken from the pop world and placed onto a soundtrack, it's still just pimping the film based upon the past performance of the song. That's my own opinion, I could be wrong.
With sixteen vocal prostitutes for the film on this album, it would have been nice to give the score some credit. Even RCA's Return To Me, which I also lambasted for same treatment of songs, had enough to give two tracks to the composer, Nicholas Pike. What makes an album like this a travesty, both to the film it's for, and to soundtracks in general, is the need to toy with the original songs. Case in point, adding a toilet flush to Three Dog Night's "Sure As I'm Sitting Here". Great, it may have been funny in the movie, and bring back what ever humor may have been gleaned from the movie, but I'm sure Three Dog Night and their legion, albeit somewhat smaller nowadays, of fans dislike the usage and connotation. I guess my main complaint, is that if you're a record company trying to resurrect sales of old catalog songs, put out a compilation as a compilation and stop using films as pimps for it. It's also releases like this that lend no hope for the future of film soundtracks approaching anything other than being marketing tools in an effort to support box office receipts.
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