New Soundtracks:

Various Artists - Here On Earth Soundtrack The soundtrack to Here On Earth features a duet between Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey on "Where Are You," a big heart ballad that for some reason keeps reminding me of Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart" in its dramatic chorus.

Sixpense None The Richer turn up twice on the disc, with their best being a faithful cover of Sam Phillips' powerful "I Need Love." Other spotlight tracks are Devin's upbeat bit of bubblegum "Whatever Turns You On," Tal Bachman's "If You Sleep," one of the smoothest tracks from his 1999 debut solo album and Tori Amos' "1,000 Oceans," the top track from her double album of last year, To Venus and Back.

If you can find the Koch Records soundtrack to American Psycho including Huey Lewis & The News' "Hip To Be Square," you've got a rarity. The soundtrack was recalled and Lewis' track removed after the singer found out about the violence in the scenes surrounding his song. Various Artists - American PsychoThe disc does still include Dope's pounding modern update of Dead Or Alive's 1985 hit "You Spin Me Round(Like A Record)," remixes of songs from the most recent albums by David Bowie and The Cure ("Something In The Air," and "Watching Me Fall," respectively) and '80s club hits in New Order's "True Faith," Information Society's "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)," M/A/R/R/S' "Pump Up The Volume" and more. Koch has also released a soundtrack with an edgier more industrial energy from The Crow Salvation. Included are dark grinding tracks from Filter, Rob Zombie, Kid Rock, Static X, Hole, The Flys, Monster Magnet, Stabbing Westward, The Crystal Method, Danzig and more.

Rob Zombie turns up on MCA's soundtrack to the MTVoriginal movie Jailbait! with "How To Make A Monster." The soundtrack also includes Green Day stand-ins FenixTX's "All My Fault," and Bif Naked's excellent "Twitch"(the best track from her recent debut disc). Bush contributes "Warm Machine" and blink-182 offers "Dumpweed." The cranked up punk-pop leaning disc also includes songs from Sugar Ray, Powerman 5000, Methods of Mayhem, Creed, Smash Mouth and Static-X.

 

Various Artists - Gimme Indie Rock Various Artists
Gimme Indie Rock V. 1
(K-Tel)


If you went to college in the '80s and were into the garagey underground music of the time, you'll want to find K-Tel's new two-CD collection Gimme Indie Rock V. 1.

The set features the noisey, reverb-laden music of the alternative bar scene of the '80s, when bands produced their own cheap, jangly 45s and became big names on college radio stations for selling only a few hundred records.

Included here are early tracks from The Flaming Lips, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr., The Wedding Present, Mudhoney, The Fall, Eleventh Dream Day, The Meat Puppets, Galaxie 500, Black Flag, Yo La Tengo and Scrawl, all of whom would go on to at least some marginal success on big labels over the course of the '80s and '90s.

Also included are songs from lesser known bands like The Chills, Pussy Galore, Half Japanese, Big Dipper, Nikki Sudden, Giant Sand, The Feelies, The Wipers, The Minutemen, Savage Republic, The Pastels, The Melvins, The Vaselines and more.

I have to admit, I don't remember most of these songs, but their loose, echoey, recorded-in-one-take sound brings back loads of memories of standing in the dark upstairs bar of Champaign, IL's Mabel's in 1984-'88 and hearing semi-talented but earnest unknowns swirl their sonic attacks through the crowded room. From a pop perspective, I can't say this stuff is "great," but it sure defines a period.

 

Burton Cummings Burton Cummings
Burton Cummings
My Own Way To Rock
Dream of a Child
Woman Love

reissues
(Epic/Legacy)


The Guess Who racked up an impressive 21 Top 100 singles from 1965-1974, and after a revolving door of lineup changes, singer Burton Cummings finally threw in the towel himself and launched a solo career with 1976's eponymous Burton Cummings.

As with many solo careers, his biggest hit came with his first album in the Top 10 Billboard single "Stand Tall." Four more Top 100 singles followed, including the title track to My Own Way To Rock and "Break It To Them Gently" from Dream of A Child, but the singer never achieved the level of fame alone that he had with The GuessWho.

Cummings was a piano-based songsmith working in the '70s mellow-rock mold, and listening to these albums for the first time more than 20 years after their original releases makes me think of Boz Scaggs, Elton John, Billy Joel and Leo Sayer.

By 1980, pop music was changing - disco had come and nearly gone, punk was happening on the fringes and new wave was coming into its own; Cummings' rootsy rock approach was going out of vogue.

The singer was attempting to change with the times, self-producing his fourth solo album, Woman Love, an uneven mix of light adult contemporary ballads and more modern-leaning rockers, but when he took it to his label to release, he met with so much resistance at Columbia that the singer walked away from a multi-million dollar deal and only released the disc in Canada.

It's ironic then, that Woman Love is now making its bow in the U.S. 20 years later on Columbia's sister label, Epic/Legacy, along with rereleases of his first three solo albums. It's also ironic that in retrospect, Woman Love sounds more radio-ready than any of his other discs (well, radio ready for 1980 FM, anyway).

With Woman Love Cummings finally stepped away from sole reliance on piano and integrated synthesizers into his repertoire, making some of these tracks sound akin to the work on Billy Joel's Glass Houses, released by Columbia the same year.

Columbia's reaction to Woman Love was a blow from which Cummings' career never recovered. While the disc went platinum in his Canadian home, and contains a couple of his best solo tracks ("One and Only" and "Mile A Second") Cummings only charted once more, his second highest solo single came in 1981 in "You Saved My Soul" from the movie Melanie, in which he also appeared.

If you were a fan of The Guess Who ("American Woman," "No Time," "Clap for the Wolfman," "These Eyes") or if you remember Cummings' solo work, it's worth picking these up for a dose of '70s nostalgia. Each disc includes a couple of bonus tracks - demos or live recordings - from Cummings' late '70s career and liner notes from the singer recalling the making of each album.