Pros: Cure, STP, NIN, Violent Femmes, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine...
Cons: A few lesser songs...but not bad by any stretch of the imagination...
With fewer than ten soundtrack compilations to my name, it would be safe to say that these albums are not my bag. In my mind they are pretty hit and miss on the wholewith the occasional notable exception. The soundtrack to the 1994 film The Crow definitely falls into the category of notable exception.
The Crow marked the first and last major film that Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, starred in. His on-set death proved a morbid stroke of good fortune for director Alex Proyas who otherwise may or may not have gotten his work noticed. Based on a comic book by the same name from James OBarr, The Crow was a dark and atmospheric film written by famed horror-meister and self avowed Splatterpunk David Schow. It had all the makings of a classicand Lees accidental shooting cemented that fate.
Set in damp, dank streets in the near future, The Crow takes place on Devils NightOctober 30tha night when the nastiest of folk hit the streets and wreak havoc on innocent citizens. Since this is not a film review, I will merely say that in the end The Crow is about the truest form of love and commitment. It is a lovely film that deserves to be seen if nothing else to witness Brandon Lee in the prime of his life and on the brink of becoming a star. It is also particularly enjoyable because of the horror-based script, comic book ties, and last but not least the excellent soundtrack.
Thats right, The Crow boasts one of the most intense and evocative sets in recent memory as far as soundtracks go. To listen to the fourteen songs it contains is to relive the most poignant moments of this heartbreaking film. An all star cast supports the film and includes everybody from Rage Against The Machine, Stone Temple Pilots and nine inch nails to Jesus & Mary Chain, Pantera, and Violent Femmes. The resounding tone is that of disillusionment, pain, and angst. And considering the tone of the film, it is the perfect mix. And of course, anything that includes both STP and NIN is an instant hit in my book.
Before I get on with review this disc, I music make a major admission. Yes I love this movie. I own a VHS copy (though not DVD yet) but my admiration for the film was not the impetus behind buying the soundtrack. Rather, at the time it was released I was a major fan of Stone Temple Pilots. And despite that their included track Big Empty is also readily available on their sophomore album Purple I needed to own every last piece of anything they ever did. Fortunately for me, The Crow presented a much more entertaining experience than this one song. For some people, it is certainly too loud and too depressing but in the overall scheme of things the soundtrack represents a good rundown of artists of the era that may or may not otherwise be known.
The atmospheric, spooky sounds of Burn (The Cure) open the album up on an incredible note. The song itself is strange and off-kilter, but a perfectly appealing part of the album. But I dont think the strength of this album is necessarily wrapped up in one song or another. No one band makes owning this album necessary; rather it is an amalgamation of all fourteen included acts that truly pushes this disc over the edge into the blackest corners of greatness. It is one of the best songs Ive ever heard from the band.
Oft forgotten industrial band Machines of Loving Grace offer up an original song in the form of the excellent Golgotha Tenement Blues. It is a memorable part of the film, and behaves in the exact manner one would hope a part of a soundtrack would. It sounds wonderful yet doesnt overshadow the fact that The Crows soundtrack is a group effort. And even at the same time the band is relatively unknown as compares to some of the other included acts, they sound like old pros.
The next three songs here are definitely highpoints. First of course is Big Empty--my personal favorite (but Im afraid that goes without saying). Stone Temple Pilots does a brilliant job at putting together an edgy, intelligent, and melodic rock track. They are unquestionably the single best hard rock band of their era, a title most definitely earned by volatile vocalist and writer Scott Weiland. Big Empty goes to further prove my point. Trent Reznor (NIN) performs Dead Souls (originally from Joy Division), a track which lulls the listener into a trance of sorts before being tossed to the wolves with Rage Against The Machines Darkness. It starts with light groovy swing quality, but soon breaks into the bands usual hard-hitting rap/rock style.
The Crow continues with such diverse bands as Violent Femmes with Color Me Once (a great, necessary change of pace) followed immediately by the Rollins Band and Ghost Rider. The fact that the album so neatly meshes proven, popular artists with those less known makes for an interesting and diverse listen. Milktoast from alt-rocker Helmet is another outstanding offering.
As the second half as the album progresses Im not quite as impressed but this isnt to say that the offerings from For Love Not Lisa, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Jesus & Mary Chain, and Medicine are badthey just arent as perfect as some of those from earlier on.
But there is a cherry on the top of this sundae--It Cant Rain All The Time by Canadian Jane Siberry. The melodic, emotionally haunting song enters the film at a memorable moment. The song itself is so very sad and touching that after having seen The Crow it is difficult to ever think of it in any way than with those memories. Siberrys uneasy, ethereal voice is strange yet also an absolutely fitting dedication at the end of this outstanding album. Her words are absolutely fitting to the overall theme and mood:
When I'm lonely
I lie awake at night
and I wish you were here
I miss you
Can you tell me is there something more to believe in?
Or is this all there is?
The Crow is a great movie unto itself, but without the help of fourteen bands and artists this wouldnt have been possible. The music drives the film. And here the music is wonderful and fascinating and emotional.
Rating: 5/5 stars
01. Burn / The Cure
02. Golgotha Tenement Blues / Machines of Loving Grace
03. Big Empty / Stone Temple Pilots
04. Dead Souls / Nine Inch Nails
05. Darkness / Rage Against the Machine
06. Color Me Once / Violent Femmes
07. Ghost Rider / Rollins Band
08. Milktoast / Helmet
09. The Badge / Pantera
10. Slip Slide Melting / For Love Not Lisa
11. After the Flesh / My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
12. Snakedriver / The Jesus & Mary Chain
13. Time Baby III / Medicine
14. It Can't Rain All The Time / Jane Siberry