To paraphrase Simon Evans in his recent review of the soundtrack to Belleville Rendez-Vous, film albums can be souvenirs, marketing extras or works of art in their own right – and the Ben Charest soundtrack was the latter, as is anything by Yann Tiersen.
It’s trickier when the soundtrack comprises different artists and genres – without seing the film it’s very difficult to form any cohesive judgement, though there are some classic films for which the soundtrack is a compilation of great tracks.
Kill Bill Volume 1 (I believe that’s the film title, not just the album) is released on 10 October and as the first Quentin Tarantino film for six years is eagerly awaited. I listened to the soundtrack before looking up information on the film, thinking that I was bound to form some sort of view as to what the film would be like.
Tarantino doing South America was all I could infer – just a bit different from the reality, a “kung-fu exploitation film” (whatever that is). I suppose I should have guessed that someone who uses Stuck In The Middle With You for the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs wasn’t going to be that easy to read.
The trouble is that without any idea what might be going on, the album doesn’t really make a lot of sense to listen to – and frankly the standard of the original music is such that one doesn’t really want to bother.
Sure, it’s always nice to hear Nancy Sinatra‘s soulful version of the classic Bang Bang (I Shot Him Down). That Certain Female (Charlie Feathers) is fun in a sub-Elvis kitsch sort of way. And Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood turned into salsa? Well, whatever turns you on, and that song has been butchered in pretty well every other way and still come up fresh.
Unfortunately too many of the remaining tracks are second-rate, full of clich�s (whistling, pan pipes) and lacking in any original composition. It’s Bond-movie stuff but without the gloss and the class. And unless you are a very sad person, you don’t need five-second bursts of kung-fu sound effects, which make up the last five tracks.
If you see the film and it becomes a cult, as no doubt it will, then you may want the soundtrack to complete the collection – it definitely falls into the category of marketing tool. Don’t think of buying it for its musical content.