Lost Highway'Soundtrack (Nothing/Interscope 90090)Should...

CD REVIEWS

March 06, 1997|By J.D. Considine

Lost Highway'

Soundtrack (Nothing/Interscope 90090)

Should Trent Reznor ever weary of the rigors of rock and roll, he'll have no trouble finding work in Hollywood -- not if he can keep producing soundtracks as visceral and evocative as the one he created for the David Lynch film "Lost Highway." As with the album he assembled for Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers," the "Lost Highway" soundtrack is less a compilation of discrete musical moments than a sort of extended mood piece, in which each element plays into the next. Granted, that's something old-time soundtrack composers did all the time, but what makes Reznor's effort so impressive is that he wrote little of the music himself, relying entirely on context and editing to make these selections seem all of a piece. That's no small achievement, as the track listing includes such disparate elements as Lou Reed's raw, wistful reading of the Drifters oldie "This Magic Moment," Antonio Carlos Jobim's lushly tropical "Insensatez," and Rammstein's brutally electronic "Rammstein." There are also some striking instrumental selection by "Twin Peaks" composer Angelo Badalamenti, which offer everything from reggae rhythms ("Dub Driving" ) to free-jazz saxophone ("Red Bats with Teeth"). But the best moments belong to the rockers: Marilyn Manson's classically spooky "I Put a Spell On You," Smashing Pumpkins' techno-inflected "Eye," and the intoxicatingly dense Nine Inch Nails single, "The Perfect Drug." Most directors would kill to get performances that entrancing.

Gina G

Fresh! (Eternal/Warner Bros. 46517)

From its Moog-style synthesizer hook to the galloping electrobeats that drive the chorus, Gina G's "Ooh aah ... Just a Little Bit" is clearly a throwback to the sort of synthpop that owned the airwaves in the late '80s. But as retro as its sound might be, there's nothing wrong with the approach GG takes on her debut album, "Fresh!" Sure, the individual tracks might seem to echo '80s-style dance pop, whether in the Madonnarama balladry of "Missin' You Like Crazy," the pumping house beats of "Gimme Some Love" or the giddy, Eurodisco groove of "Higher Than Love." But so what? As much as "Ooh aah ... Just a Little Bit" or the title tune might seem to replay formulas the Stock/Aitken/Waterman team devised for Rick Astley and Bananarama, the fact is, they sound fresher in Gina G's hands than they did originally. Besides, what could be more '90s than acting as if pop music's past hadn't happened?

Howard Stern

Private Parts: The Album (Warner Bros. 46477)

Considering how little Howard Stern's radio show has to do with playing records, the big surprise about "Private Parts: The Album" isn't that the music is good -- it's that there's music there at all! Of course, some of it is there simply to set up vignettes from the film, as when the fledgling DJ fumbles over the equipment when trying to play Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." But Stern, as self-proclaimed King of All Media, is smart enough to know that an hour's worth of that sort of thing is not going to make his album a hit. So in between bits of movie dialogue we find such oddities as Ozzy Osbourne joining Type O Negative for a slowcore rendition of "Pictures of Matchstick Men" (an idea that looks better on paper than it sounds on album), and Rob Zombie rampaging through "The Great American Nightmare" with Stern himself (keep your day job, Howard). But apart from "I Make My Own Rules," which finds an uncredited L.L. Cool J rapping along with Chili Peppers Flea and Dave Navarro, few of the album's musical stunts work as well as the verbal ones. But then, isn't that what we'd expect from Howard Stern?

Sneaker Pimps

Becoming (Virgin 42587)

In the Beastie Boys' demimonde, a "sneaker pimp" is someone whose job is to score the latest and hippest in athletic footware. But for the rest of the music world, Sneaker Pimps is simply a great new band whose debut album, "Becoming," suggests what might have happened had Tricky cross-pollinated with Garbage. A lot of that has to do with the band's sense of rhythm, as the slinky, synth-heavy rhythm beds laid beneath tracks such as "Low Place Like Home" and "Wasted Early Sunday Morning" draw as much from the dynamics of rock as from such dance-club dialects as trip-hop and dub. But as much as that articulate use of electronics might define the album's mood, it's singer Kelli Dayton who gives these songs their heart, bringing a palpable sense of drama to the eerie "Tesko Suicide" and filling "Spin Spin Sugar" with a soul-chilling weariness. It's that ghost in the machinery that ultimately keeps all the state-of-the-art technology from dominating the album and so allows "Becoming" to be something more than just another dance-influenced rock album.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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