The soundtrack to EdTV on Reprise starts off with an appropriate phrase from Bon Jovi given the "life lived in front of the cameras" theme of the film "I wish that life was like it is in the movies cuz the hero always gets his way."
Bon Jovi's "Real Life" has a classic big anthem sound from the band that helped define anthem rock in the late '80s, built with strings and lots of harmonies. It's one of the bright moments on an otherwise even-keel collection. Barry White contributes a take on the familiar horn funk number "Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again)" and Barenaked Ladies offer a laidback strummer in "Call and Answer."
There's an island party flavor to the chants and pounding bongos and horns of Ozomatli's "Como Ves," and Peter Wolf turns up with a John Mellencamp style heartland rocker in "Turnin' Pages." UB40, who scored their first No. 1 hit with Neil Diamond's "Red, Red Wine" however, return to the Diamond well for "Holly Holy," but this time around, the well is dry. It's a sleeper of a cover. Interestingly enough, both UB40 and Al Green have had hits with "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)." Green's version is included here, and after hearing UB40's energetic take on the song for years, the original now sounds weathered. Also included are new and recent songs from Meredith Brooks, The Inmates, and Muzzle (who offer a fine calling card promoting their new album).
Sony Music Soundtrax offers The All Time Greatest Movie Songs, which, with one exception, could really be titled The Greatest Movie Songs of the '90s. The oldest track here hails from 1986, and it seems to me that there were probably a few good movie songs written before the '80s. In any case, this disc includes Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion, Men In Black's "Men In Black" by Will Smith, Philadelphia's "Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen, Now and Then's "As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie B. Hawkins and Ruthless People's "Modern Woman" by Billy Joel, among others. The disc also includes the stirring duet from The Mask of Zorro Marc Anthony and Tina Arena's "I Want To Spend My Lifetime Loving You," which also appears on Arena's just-released new album and Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams' "I Finally Found Someone" from The Mirror Has Two Faces. There are 17 tracks in all, which also feature artists like Diana King, Michael Bolton, Gloria Estefan, Babyface, Michael Jackson and more.
I have to mention this one for novelty value alone but don't put it in the hands of the kids. A punny little label called CM has released a collection called Porn To Rock, featuring stars of adult films trying their hands and lips at singing instead of well, as it turns out, most are about as talented at rock 'n' roll as they are at acting. The cheesy factor runs rampant here, though the disc does include a couple hopeful signs Madison's "Man on the Moon" is a bass-driven alternative rock piece that left me hoping she gets a real record deal out of this and Candye Kane's tongue-in-cheek "The Meat Song" is a great bar number that shows why she did get a major label record deal last year through Sire.
Epic's Legacy arm has re-released the 1984 collection The Best of Kansas. The label brought back the band's original producer to handle remastering of the set and tacked on three additional old songs for good measure "The Pinnacle," "The Devil Game," and "Closet Chronicles," rounding up the previously slim set to an even dozen tracks.
Included are "Carry On Wayward Son," "Point of Know Return," "Fight Fire With Fire," "Dust In The Wind," "Play The Game Tonight," "Hold On," and more. Legacy has also remastered and re-released greatest hits sets from The Byrds and Donovan, as well as a 1971 aural documentary by Walter Cronkite called I Can Hear It Now: The Sixties, which was originally released as a 3-LP box set. The documentary runs more than two hours and includes more than a hundred news and sound bits, commentaries, speech excerpts and other interesting aural history from the decade of The Beatles and the original moon walk. In addition to that, Legacy has released Hear It Now: The Sound of the Sixties with songs like The Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!," Simon & Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence," Donovan's "Sunshine Superman," Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and more.
Sam Phillips has a decade-long history of flirting with fame. Her rootsy, quirky visions have made her a staple on adventurous stations like Chicago's 93WXRT-FM, and the drone-pop vocals and Beatles guitar of "I Need Love" almost got her a hit in 1994. Phillips' latest, Zero Zero Zero on Virgin probably won't bring her any new chances at conquering the Top 40 chart this is actually an album compiling the best songs and remixes of songs from her last four albums. "I Need Love" is there, as is a new more mechanical-sounding version of "Holding On To The Earth" which doesn't capture the entrancing vast sound of the original. There's only one brand-new song the contemplative acoustic "Disappearing Act" making this something of a rewrapped gift to old fans, and perhaps a sampler for curious newcomers.
For the girls...
Stay The Same
The New Kids on the Block have been a historical footnote for years now, but Joey McIntyre, the youngest Kid, has just released Stay The Same, the first attempt at a comeback from any of the Kids in years (New Kid Jordan Knight also has an album hitting the streets soon). It's a well-titled disc McIntyre's first solo effort doesn't stray far from the "ooh baby" handclappin' pop throwaways that won the New Kids the hearts of teen-age girls in the late '80s and early '90s. He sings of "having it all someday, hey" and of how he "Couldn't Stay Away From Your Love." It's upbeat feel-good music, but too often cloying and unoriginal.
For the boys...
Now that it looks like The Spice Girls are dust, everybody thinks they can do just as good a job well, give the B*Witched girls an Irish tip 'o the cap for trying. They produce some peppy girly "oh oh oh" pop and even roll in an Irish fiddle solo or two. But the juvenile focus of these songs won't fly with most adults the album's catchiest track "C'est La Vie" finds the girls showing off their brogue, singing about huffing and puffing ("I'll blow you away") the boys from their treehouses and promising "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours."
The funky "Rev It Up" with its tight guitar groove and strolling bassline has a good shot at hit singledom all the ooohs and ahhhs are clean and chipper. It's a happy ditty about blue sky and beaches that's hard to resist. "To You I Belong" is an obvious attempt at capturing the smooth croons of The Spice Girls' hit "Two Become One." There's even a sweet Bangles-ish ballad in "Blame It On The Weatherman." There's a little too much sugar on this disc, but it's a well spun bit of frosting, for all that.
A final bubblegum note: Both the B*Witched and Joey McIntyre discs include a small amount of CD-ROM multimedia material, which really isn't worth putting in the computer to see they're mainly advertisements to get you to visit the bands' respective Web sites (not only that, but the B*Witched multimedia piece a special CD player program worked on my Macintosh, but not on my IBM computer).