Thursday, January 7, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 75: Crooklyn Soundtrack

After a run in with some music that didn't hit me in the heart, it was fitting I'd roll something that totally makes me feel great. Also, this is the first soundtrack to a movie I have not actually seen.

Disc 75 is...The Soundtrack to Crooklyn (Vol 1)

Artist: Various

Year of Release: 1994 (with music primarily from the sixties and seventies)

How I Came To Know It: My good friend Nick introduced me to this album (and a great deal of other soul and seventies R&B besides). Nick played this album for me a couple times and I knew I had to have it. He says Vol II is just as good, but I haven't bought that yet. Someday, I'll put it together and I'll get it all done. Someday...

How It Stacks Up: I have 22 soundtracks that will eventually get reviewed on the Odyssey (and a bunch of scores that won't - see sidebar). It seems like I'm rolling them a lot, too. Anyway of those 22, I'd say Crooklyn is high on the list - definitely top 5.

Rating: 4 stars (not really fair to rate a soundtrack, as it is not really an album - but I am rating it as a compilation anyway).

I've had a hard couple of days, coming back to work from vacation and I have to say Crooklyn has been the perfect tonic for the drive home.

As far as the movie goes - I don't know anything about Crooklyn - I've only heard the soundtrack. The only Spike Lee movie I've seen is "Mo'Better Blues" and I didn't like it. That said, I am told that I've seen one of his worst, and I really should make time for "Do The Right Thing" and "Crooklyn". Just haven't yet - and the memory of "Mo'Better Blues isn't helping.

Given that, let's just dive into the music on this album (Vol 1), which is not only excellent, but downright uplifting.

The music is all soul and R&B from the late sixties and early seventies, which is a great period in music. Not that I knew this before Nick opened my ears - thanks, Nick!

The one track that is current to the film is the title track "Crooklyn" which I think is a trio of rappers I've never heard of. This song used to irk me as out of sync with the other music, but this time around I enjoyed it. It fits thematically with the other music, if not musically.

More than anything else I am struck by the positive vibe to these songs. "Respect Yourself" is a song by a former gospel group (The Staple Singers) but it doesn't come off as preachy. Instead it gives some good advice still valid today. Here's a peek:

If you disrespect anybody that you run in to
How in the world do you think anybody's s'posed to respect you
If you don't give a heck 'bout the man with the bible in his hand
Just get out the way, and let the gentleman do his thing
You the kind of gentleman that want everything your way
Take the sheet off your face, boy, it's a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don't respect yourself
Ain't nobody gonna give a good cahoot


And one of my all time favourites is Sly and the Family Stone singing "Everyday People" - again, a song that we all need to take to heart. In fact, I'm not sure there is a better song that preaches tolerance than this one - and as an added bonus it is fun to sing along to:

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me and then
You can't figure out the bag l'm in
I am everyday people

Go ahead, sing along. I did all the way home - including at intersections (if you are ashamed to sing "Everyday People" in your car you are probably ashamed to sing anything).

This album also reminds me of the day when a bunch of us walked around overusing the phrase "Mr. Big Stuff", and loving it. Some would say during the mid-nineties me and my buddies seriously overworked the expression, "Mr. Big Stuff". I would argue it is physically impossible to overwork saying "Mr. Big Stuff." Mr. Big Stuff.

"Mr. Big Stuff" is one of those ironic songs that makes you feel all full of yourself, while pointing out that being full of yourself is lame. It is a lot like "You're So Vain", except with a funky beat. Kind of like Warren Beatty in Bulworth. Get it?

I could go on and on - all the great love songs on this album ("Oh Girl, Ooh Child, Mighty Love) and even a song about a not so great love ("Thin Line Between Love and Hate"). I've got a remake of "Thin Line" by the Pretenders which is pretty good.

Anyway - if this was a regular album, I'd give it 5 stars - but no regular album would have all these great tracks on it. OK - some do - and they get 5 star reviews. Soundtracks, not so much.

So yeah, this is a winner.

Best tracks: Many - Respect Yourself, Everyday People, Pusher Man, Oh Girl, Mighty Love, Mr. Big Stuff, Ooh Child to name a few standouts

No comments: