Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Songs For Clay

Yet another movie soundtrack that far exceeds the quality of the movie it represents, Less Than Zero was curiously released by Def Jam Records (soon to be Def American) and helmed by none other than producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin. While the film suffered from a healthy blanket of late-80's cheese that simply does not age well with time, the accompanying music has some nice surprises, at the time unavailable anywhere else. Def Jam veterans Public Enemy debuted "Bring The Noise" (later released on the seminal It Takes A Nation Of Millions) and L.L. Cool J contributes his smooth talking "Going Back To Cali" - showing a much more mature side of the rapper after his sophomoric BAD album earlier that year. Slayer covers Iron Butterfly in a solid, blissfully 3-minute version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" played at their typical breakneck speed. For the top-40 crowd, the Bangles offer their version of Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade Of Winter" (of which I'm sure everyone remembers the video), Aerosmith covers an old Huey Smith tune, Poison invokes Kiss, and Roy Orbison croons through the dark "Life Fades Away" (penned by Glenn Danzig no less!) Speaking of Glen (sic) Danzig, he does his best Elvis impression on the amazing "You & Me" - performed with the oddly-monikered "Power And Fury Orchestra" (evidently the original lineup of Danzig with George Drakoulias playing bass for Eerie Von who was clashing with Rubin on the song's arrangement). Probably the Lodi, NJ native's most heartfelt tune and the high point of the record. There are a couple other tracks on the album (mostly R&B) but I'd be lying if I said they ever graced my stereo speakers. It would be interesting to see Less Than Zero remade in today's graphic, dark Requiem For A Dream-esque style - some rumors claim Quentin Tarantino is trying to do just that.

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