"Detroit Rock City: Music From the Motion Picture" (Mercury Records). Kiss makes only a cursory appearance in both the film and soundtrack for "Detroit Rock City," but it's Riff City all the way, thanks to molten mid-'70s classics like Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" and Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil," which vie for space with updated covers that seldom stray far from their original metal molds. Among the better ones: Pantera bringing a deeper growl to Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," and two tracks by all-women rock bands, Sweden's Drain STH on T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" and California's Donnas sounding very much like the Runaways on Kiss's "Strutter" (the Runaways' "School Days" also makes an appearance). Disappointments: Marilyn Manson traveling AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" (the chorus is fine but the verses suffer from electronica updating) and Everclear's "The Boys Are Back in Town," which lacks the urgency of Thin Lizzy's original. As for Kiss, chestnuts like "Shout It Out Loud" and the movie title track far outshine its new recording of one more Diane Warren ballad, "Nothing Can Keep Me From You." Maybe it'll give the group a big hit, as Warren's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" did for Aerosmith, but it sounds more like a Kiss of death.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8161.)
"Dick: Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Virgin). Richard Nixon's shortened second term may have been deadly on the political front, but a host of Top 10 hits on this mid-'70s-rooted soundtrack suggests that the era was pretty funny musically. They range from blowzy ballads like Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" and Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" and funk ballads like George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby" and Jean Knight's dismissive "Mr. Big Stuff" to the silliness of Hot Butter's "Popcorn" and Barry White's "Love's Theme." Other than "Crocodile Rock" (from back when Elton John was young), none of these tracks sounds like anything two teenage girls would have been listening to at the time. The only new entry: Sixpence None the Richer's cover of Abba's "Dancing Queen," which, like several other songs, seriously postdates the film's events. It features a catchy vocal but lacks the delirious rhythmic heft of the original.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8162.)
"Deep Blue Sea: Music From the Motion Picture" (Warner Bros.). Outside of an orchestral montage by composer Trevor Rabin and film star/rapper LL Cool J's "Deepest Bluest (Shark's Fin)," this collection has nothing to do with the film; it's an urban sampler for mostly new rap and R&B acts. Decent showings are made by TLC sound-alikes F.A.T.E. on "Just Because," as well as vocal groups Amyth and Divine and vocalist Chantel Jones, who gives an intriguing twist to Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now." But the rappers are mostly forgettable and even LL doesn't help himself with such lines as "Killer for centuries/ The Gotti of the deep/ In the next millennium/ I'm still gonna creep."
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8163.)
"Drop Dead Gorgeous: Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Sire). This clever collection of teen beauty-contest-themed songs features several canny covers while also serving as a showcase for new Sire acts Lifeboy (the whiny power-pop "Number One"), Sunday Suit (the catchy acoustic plaint "She") and the Nevers (a testy "Watch Your Step"). Among the covers: Virginia's Everything sounding not unlike David Bowie on his "Young Americans," Mandy Barnett continuing to channel Patsy Cline on "Beautiful Dreamer," Joan Jett rocking up Sonny Curtis's "Love Is All Around" (better known as the theme to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and hard-country heartthrob Dale Watson on Jack Clement's "Ballad of a Teenage Queen." One of the film's co-stars, Denise Richards, delivers an intentionally (we think) bad reading of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," reminiscent of Sid Vicious delivering "My Way" his way. Good actress, though.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8164.)
"Mystery Men: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Interscope). Much of this shagadelic collection feels like outtakes from the "Austin Powers" franchise, particularly Mark Mothersbaugh's quirky Devo-ish "Mystery Men Mantra," the Dub Pistols' "Keep Keep Movin' " and the sampledelic "No Way" by Freak Power (Norman Cook, a k a Fatboy Slim). John Oszajca's "Back in 1999" sounds like Donovan backed by T. Rex, but the actual covers are mostly disappointing: Violent Femmes' strum-und-dranging the Stranglers' "No More Heroes," Citizen King dully recasting the Specials' "Gangsters." How odd that the two most memorable tracks are '70s vintage, the Trammps' "Disco Inferno" and the Bee Gees' "Night Fever." And while Michael Franti and Spearhead's "Sometimes" plays into the film's quirky superhero subtext--as in "sometimes I feel I could do anything . . ."--the soundtrack lacks the offbeat silliness of the film itself.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8165.)
"The Iron Giant: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Rhino/Warner Bros.). This animated film's retro sci-fi overview is filtered through singles released between 1957 and 1962. Some seem contextually obvious, like the Tyrones' rockabilly romp "Blast Off" ("Say it with jets/ All you space cadets"), the Ames Brothers' "Destination Moon" and such oddball selections as Jimmy Lloyd's "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket" and Jimmy Haskell's "Rockin' in Orbit." Along with several selections from Michael Kamen's score, the soundtrack also makes room for both Edd Byrnes ("Kookie's Mad Pad") and the Nutty Squirrels, a Chipmunks rip-off who for some reason tackle Dizzy Gillespie's bebop anthem, "Salt Peanuts."
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8166.)
"The Wood: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture" (Jive). Half the 18 tracks in this collection don't appear in the romantic comedy/buddy film, but some that don't should have, notably romantic ballads by Night & Day ("Dante's Girl") and Imajin ("Love Letter"). They'd fit in well with Joe's smooth, sentimental request "I Wanna Know," Washington-bred Marc Dorsey's yearning "Crave" and Blackstreet's terse new jack ballad, "Think About You." The rap tracks are less impressive, from "Tha Hood (It's All Good)" by Cash Money Millionaires and the Mystikal/Outkast collaboration "Neck Uv Da Woods." Exceptions include the Roots "Ya All Know Who!" and Too Short's pensive "Still Strugglin'." Better yet are such classic tracks as Whodini's "Freaks Come Out at Night," Biz Markie's "Make the Music With Your Mouth Biz," Ahmad's "Back in the Day" (from way back in 1994) and the lush Luther Vandross-Cheryl Lynn duet "If This World Were Mine."
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8167.)
"Stigmata: Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Virgin). The religious-supernatural thriller features several ace remixes (of Chumbawamba's edgy "Mary Mary" and Bjork's airy "All Is Full of Love"), a preview from David Bowie's upcoming album (the oddly familiar "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell") and "Identify," a slow, druggy Natalie Imbruglia track written by Billy Corgan and Mike Garson. What will be of greater interest is the original orchestral score written by Corgan and Garson, 40 minutes of which appear here. It's mostly low-key, occasionally disturbing, with echoes of gamelan orchestra, electronica pulses and avant-garde edginess.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8168.)