Pros: Just about everything.
Cons: The dialogue bits from the movie weren't the best choices.
Say what you will about Quentin Tarantinos movies--and more specifically, DEATH PROOF--no, seriously, say what you will; its my least favorite of his and the one Im least likely to defend--but you certainly cant deny the man knows how to score a film. And that has never been more obvious to me than with this one. The first time I saw DEATH PROOF, I was about a quarter of the way in when I finally just said it out loud to myself, I need to get this soundtrack.
Quentin Tarantinos DEATH PROOF is a dirty, gritty, ugly movie, full of roadside bars and long, empty highways, and the soundtrack fits that theme perfectly with 9 steamy, blues-driven songs full of bass and gravelly vocals from bands like Smith, T-Rex, and Pacific Gas & Electric. These songs boom from your speakers with a dark and gloomy power unlike any other soundtrack Ive heard. The movie may have been crap, but the soundtrack is ten kinds of awesome.
DEATH PROOF starts like the movie, with Jack Nitzsches muscle car homage The Last Race, one of 4 instrumentals included on the disc, but once thats over and Smiths cover of Baby, Its You comes on, once Gayle McCormicks voice starts belting out the song . . . I admit it, Im a sucker for a raspy voice. Add that pounding bass and its the perfect way, as far as Im concerned, to open the disc.
More instrumentals follow, Pino DiMaggios Sally and Jack and Eddie Berams Riot in Thunder Alley, plus Tarantino staple Ennio Morricones Paranoia Prima but truth be told the instrumentals, fair enough on their own, are not the stars of this soundtrack and, more often than not, come and go without me even noticing.
Tarantinos included a few sound bites from the movie, as he is wont to do, but these also are unimportant and nowhere near the best moments in the movie--I have no idea why he would pick these particular clips, but whatever, because, again, theyre not the stars of the soundtrack.
The real draw here are the other 9 tracks. T-Rexs Jeepster is a rockin bluesy love song and one of the catchiest on the disc while Pacific Gas & Electrics Stagolee is straight blues and completely infectious. Some songs in the world you just cant listen to only once. Stagolee is a perfect example. Tarantinos dedication to blues on this soundtrack really adds to the feel of the whole thing, all of the songs being either singles or B-sides and, therefore, available at one time or another on any jukebox in any roadhouse--and it helps establish that feeling of being there in that bar with the characters in the first half of the movie.
Joe Texs The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) is a moody and melancholy song while Eddie Floyds Good Love/Bad Love, B-side to his single Things Get Better, follows suit. And then The Coasters come on with Down in Mexico.
This is a funny addition to the soundtrack because DEATH PROOF was originally released as part of the GRINDHOUSE double feature, but if Im not mistaken, the scene with Down in Mexico--which is the best song on the soundtrack--wasnt even in that version of the movie. Not until the movie was released in its individual version did viewers get to see the lap dance scene with this song. Which is a shame, because it was this very scene, this very song, that caused me to sit up and proclaim my need to own this CD. This is the song that brings the entire soundtrack together, this is the glue that holds all these blues song in check, helps them play off each other with its groovy bass, flavored with a bit of a Latin feel.
In truth, from this point on, the soundtrack begins to lose some of its hold on me, but I attribute that more to how powerful Down in Mexico is and to how not much else can equal it, which in turn makes everything that follows seem even less impressive. But when taken on their own, the rest of the songs are still pretty good. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tichs Hold Tight is classic 60s British rock and roll and Willy Devilles Its So Easy is straight sleaze rock that could easily be mistaken for ZZ Top at their best.
The soundtrack closes with April Marchs Chick Habit which, although recorded in 1995, has a very distinctive 1960s sound. This song probably could have knocked the Beach Boys off the charts back in the day.
The thing Ive always loved most about Tarantinos soundtracks is the obscurity from which he seems to pluck these song choices. I can only imagine the kind of musical education one could get just from hanging out with him for a weekend and going through his CD collection. On occasion some of his choices leave me wondering wtf, but, for the most part, DEATH PROOF hits it right on the head. A great soundtrack to a mediocre movie and one youll find yourself replaying for a long time to come, possibly even to the exclusion of the other CDs in your collection.
Other Soundtracks in My Collection:
10 Things I Hate About You
City of Angels