Various Artists : Music From The Motion Picture Almost Famous

File under 'Almost Listenable'.

Man, them ’70s rock hacks bro, those cats sure damn got the cream. Loose cars, fast women, coal scuttles of top grade riff sherbert shovelled up their hooters on private jets full of rutting longhair rock pigs shagging underage marsupials and shouting things like “quick Derek, take more of the drugs! We’ll be a cliché in a minute!” The standard bribe for a decent Supertramp review was a three bedroom bungalow in Prestatyn then, 15 years later, REM namecheck you in the same breath as Lenny Bruce.

These days we get bussed blindfold to a barn in Dorset and played five seconds of the new Radiohead album in case we put it on the Internet, get plied with stale cheese and Blue Nun on Ooberman junkets to Darlington, and consider ourselves lucky if Kelly Jones writes a song calling us a c.

Which is why Cameron Crowe can make a movie about his days as a lust-crazed pup reporter on [I]Rolling Stone[/I] in 1973 and the modern day [I]NME[/I] gag monkey cannot, largely because Hollywood probably wouldn’t cream itself over a script entitled [I]Almost Clean[/I]. But this soundtrack, remember, attempts to capture the essence of 1973, before the big punk guns wiped all things beard from the filthy streets of rock. Thus it is a stinking cesspool swarming with THE ENEMY who UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER should be permitted to sneak into our record collections under the guise of harmless nostalgia. You, Todd Rundgren, out! Yes we mean you, er, Yes! Oi! Cat Stevens! You’re BARRED, mate!

What’s more, it tries to capture the essence of 1973 [I]without having any big hairy old prog hits on it[/I]. Which is a bit like trying to capture the essence of the [I]Star Wars[/I] films by cutting out all the bits in space. Not a whiff of ‘Stairway…’, nary a smudge of ‘Ziggy…’ Instead we get Nancy Wilson’s ‘Lucky Trumble’ (Gorky’s grandma) nustling up to Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’ (a bollockless Ben Folds Five). We get The Who’s ‘Sparks’ easily the most pointless lump of blustery toss on ‘Tommy’ when a gut-punch ‘I’m Free’ would’ve flapped the flares nicely. And we get an original song by Crowe called ‘Fever Dog’ and performed by a band, Stillwater, put together for the film and featuring Mark Kozelek from Red House Painters on bass. It sounds like Kula Shaker tuning up. Which, tragically, was probably the point.

There are the odd delights: Bowie’s murky ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, The Beach Boys decidedly un-perky ‘Feel Flows’. But there’s no ‘Perfect Day’ here, no ‘Stuck In The Middle’, nothing to lift it out of the 50-albums-for-50-pence and into the realm of the essential.

File under [I]Almost Listenable[/I].

Mark Beaumont