Appealing but subdued, as if deep down, they know they're gilding a turkey.
Back in 1995, [a]U2[/a] and [a]Brian Eno[/a] joined forces as the Passengers, releasing an album of soundtracks for ‘imaginary films’. It was among [a]U2[/a]’s best work, featuring the unlikely classic ‘Miss Sarajevo’, a duet between Bono and Pavarotti. The problem with[I] The Million Dollar Hotel [/I]soundtrack is that the film is not imaginary. It’s all too hideously real, as those who have seen it (or as much of it as they could endure) will attest. Co-conceived by Bono and telling the story of a mentally challenged hotel worker in love with Milla Jovovich, it’s like being trapped inside a bad rock song for two hours. It’s so wretched I almost urge you to see it in order to experience at first hand its wretchedness.
Having seen the movie, this soundtrack triggers nothing but unpleasant associations. However, for those lucky enough not to have seen it, this should prove a pleasant enough, if inessential stretch of sophisticated easy listening.
Two new [a]U2[/a] tracks are featured here. Given, however, that they’ve got their own album proper due for release this year, it’s unsurprising that both are B-plus B-side fare. ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’ is co-written by Salman Rushdie, a wide-eyed romantic conceit that shows Rushdie to be as adequate a lyricist as he is a novelist. Daniel Lanois adds some tasteful touches of pedal steel guitar and, as is wont in such exalted musical company, Bono just about manages to temper his usual phlegm-soaked, over-declarative holler. ‘Stateless’ is better, though similarly low-gear.
The rest of the album is given over to the illustrative doodles of The Million Dollar Hotel Band, featuring Eno on synthesisers, Jon Hassell on trumpet and Bill Frisell on guitar. The strangely muted sounds of Hassell‘s horn and the decaying, jazzy tones of Frisell‘s fretboard make for the most appealing combinations, on ‘Bathtub’ and ‘Amsterdam Blue’.
Appealing but subdued, as if deep down, they know they’re gilding a turkey. Less memorable are Milla Jovovich‘s blank version of Lou Reed‘s ‘Satellite Of Love’ and a silly take on ‘Anarchy In The UK’ featuring actor Tito Larriva, typical of the misguided self-indulgence which gave rise to the original film project.