Over the HedgeBen Folds fans need to pick up the soundtrack to the kids movie Over the Hedge. The Epic/Sony soundtrack CD is split between instrumental film music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and vocal piano rock songs by Folds. The singer-songwriter offers three new original songs, a cover of the Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" and a new version of his own "Rockin' the Suburbs," with all-new, kid-friendly lyrics and a voice-over monologue in the middle by William Shatner.

There are several new "best of" collections on the shelves this month. Old 97's' catalog is filtered on Hit by a Train: The Best of Old 97's from Elektra/Rhino. The disc offers 14 tracks from the alt-rock group, as well as two live songs, the group's cover of Marty Robbins' "El Paso" (from TV's "King of the Hill") and a solo song from singer Rhett Miller.

The Rembrandts get the collection treatment with Greatest Hits from Atco/-Rhino. The disc includes a couple of tracks from the group's early band Great Buildings as well as the first Rembrandts hit, "Just the Way It Is, Baby."

And, of course, the CD includes the Rembrandts' ubiquitous theme to TV's "Friends" ("I'll Be There For You"), as well as 16 other harmony rock tracks.

Counting CrowsIt is not a "best of," but Counting Crows offers a concert recording of 15 tracks from the band's amazing catalog on New Amsterdam — Live at Heineken Music Hall on Geffen. The Crows are an excellent live act, often extending and altering their hits, and this disc shows that the group's live sound is just as layered and rich as the band's studio recordings. Though the Crows do not include signature hits "Mr. Jones" and "A Long December," the disc offers "Rain King," "Miami," "Perfect Blue Buildings," "Hanginaround," "Goodnight Elisabeth," "Hard Candy" and more.You also can catch the Crows' live show firsthand this summer with the Goo Goo Dolls on Aug. 18 at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

Soul and rhythm and blues fans can pick up two collections spotlighting key artists from the Atlantic Records vaults. Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Brothers includes tracks from Bobby Womack, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Otis Clay, and Donny Hathaway.

A companion disc offers the female take on the style. Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Sisters features tracks from Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Mary Wells, Dee Dee Sharp, Irma Thomas, Judy Clay, Jackie Moore and more.

 

Knopfler & HarrisMark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris
All the Roadrunning
(Warner Bros./Nonesuch)


Mark Knopfler has spent a lifetime exploring the intersections of country and rock music, first through a handful of albums starting in the late ‘70s with his band Dire Straits, and then over the past 20 years through a series of soundtrack CDs and one-off collaborations with both Chet Atkins and The Notting Hillibillies. Now he's teamed up with country icon Emmylou Harris, and the result is predictably magical.

Knopfler's world-weary voice and ever-melancholy signature guitar leads mesh perfectly with Harris' backporch vocal twang.

The disc opens with “Beachcombing,” a gently building ballad that finds two lovers dealing with the aftermath of a fight with the aftermath of a storm as the song's backdrop. Then comes the hypnotically slow and Celtic folk-derived “I Dug Up A Diamond,” before the two step up the beat a little for the thigh-slapping “This is Us.” The tempo gets even faster for the hoedown-ready “Red Staggering.”

In “Belle Starr,” they offer a nicely wrought country rock duet referencing Jesse James and the album closes with a sad, lightly plucked guitar love song in “If This Is Goodbye.”

The only disappointing thing about the album is that the two didn't actually co-write anything together. Knopfler wrote 10 of the tracks, including the fiddle-tinged, Celtic folk title track, and Harris wrote the other two (including the disc's most beautiful inspirational strummer “Love and Happiness”). But you'd never know that there wasn't a long history of performing between them – their harmonies counterpoint each other easily.

This is a rich, warm album of easy listening hearth music; whether it leans toward Appalacian or Celtic folk, it offers instantly memorable melodies and harmonies that will make the soul stir. Recommended for playing while sitting on the porch!

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago.