Week 38 Review

Angus (Music from the Motion Picture) (1995)

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a 5.0 out of 5 stars album. As the various components aged in the past twenty years, the defining qualities of aroma, color and taste of the album have not only improved but done so dramatically. This album was most likely lost to both critics and consumers in a never ending field of pop punk and alternative rock during its initial release. But in today’s musical landscape, far removed from the mid-nineties, you can see the craftsmen responsible for the selection and fermentation process of the Angus soundtrack were true artisans.

Movie BackgroundAngus is the story of the fat and socially awkward teenager, Angus Bethune, who is trying to come to grips with high school and family life. His sworn enemy is Rick Sanford aka the quarterback who seems to get everything in life handed to him including Angus’s dream girl, Melissa Lefevre. Angus is joined by his best friend, Troy through most of these trials and tribulations. But ultimately it’s up to Angus to decide if he wants to face the dangers and uncertainty that lie ahead at the high school winter dance or walk away from everything and transfer to a science oriented private school. The most noticeable aspects of the movie for me is it contains possibly one of the saddest scenes I’ve ever seen. The movie did get a DVD release finally so I’m not putting any spoilers here in case somebody wants to watch it. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable high school outcast movie. You’ve probably never heard of this movie because it came out around the same time as other movies focusing on overweight individuals that either earned more money or praise from critics. Personally, I think everybody was just too busy watching Se7en. It now has a strong cult following due to its more accurate portrayal of high school life and is worth checking out.

Album Background: The Angus soundtrack is a short collection of twelve songs mostly in the pop punk and alternative rock genres. It runs about 35 minutes. Like 50 First Dates, which I reviewed earlier, it is missing key tracks from the movie. This time it is Fade Into You by Mazzy Star and Rubella by the Smoking Popes. One surprising aspect of the soundtrack is that while it includes top notch original material from Green Day and Weezer, the first song Weezer submitted was rejected! The song was called Wanda (You’re My Only Love), which Rivers Cuomo later released as part of Alone – The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. The song closely follows the short story from which the movie is based. It’s very pretty and worth listening to. I’m glad I bought the song while writing this review. I would have loved to hear a proper recording by Weezer though it’s highly unlikely that will ever happen.

Favorite Track: My editor is the entire reason I watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack. Without her, there would be no Angus Bethune in my life. I didn’t even know about the movie until nearly a decade after it was released. Naturally, I consulted her when I had trouble deciding on a favorite track when there were so many strong contenders. My editor put it to me like this: “Yeah, you could go with one of those others. But when I listen to this album, I sit through all the other songs waiting for the last song to come on. It is the reason I listen to this soundtrack.” And she is right. The last song on the album, Am I Wrong by Love Spit Love, is the best track on the album.

Love Spit Love was formed by Richard Butler when the The Psychedelic Furs went on hiatus in 1992. Their odd name comes from a performance art exhibit that was held in New York in 1991. But why does this song standout among the others? What makes it so special? The high school marching band, of course! The marching band was mixed into the original song for the soundtrack. Am I Wrong is featured in the beginning of the film where the marching band is playing their half-time show. The brass, woodwinds and percussion of the band make for a very unique sounding pop song. And they greatly add to the end of the song as the emotional intensity swells in a way that just wouldn’t be possible without the marching band. I consider this song a must listen due to how unique it is and how incredibly well it works, given the odd combination of the mashup that most people would presume to be incompatible.

What Works: 

  • Ramones The Ramones, America’s most famous punk band, aren’t anywhere to be found on the soundtrack but yet they seem to be everywhere. Their influences are clearly heard throughout the album. This is especially with the tracks: Kung-Fu, Jack Names the Planets and Back to You. And that is most definitely a good thing. The choruses become incredibly catchy and a blast to sing along with as a result.
  • Opening The album starts out with Green Day’s J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva) which is easily the most popular track on the album. This perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album as you immediately feel compelled to pogo regardless of your surroundings. I particularly love the end where it get very quiet and the last word of the song is omitted. Not only is it a good start, it has a good ending.
  • Fun Ash’s Kung-Fu is easily the most fun song on the album. Jackie Chan is prominently featured in the lyrics and the song was even used at the end of one of his movies, Rumble in the Bronx. Tim Wheeler wrote the song in five minutes and the band recorded it in one take using The Verve’s equipment who happened to be nearby at the time. That’s amazing to me and a testament to Wheeler’s ability as a writer and musician.
  • Women Several female vocalists are featured on Angus. This includes female vocalists in the bands Dance Hall Crashers, The Muffs and Tilt. To have 25% of the songs on this album include lead female vocalists is pretty awesome given the genres covered are typically heavily dominated by males. It’s nice to see the women get some well deserved recognition. All of the songs with female vocals are excellent.
  • Organization Elliot Cahn and Jeff Saltzman were in charge of this album and they did an amazing job. I would love to shake their hands if I could. The selection of songs and the order in which they were placed is absolutely perfect. I completely agree with the decisions to not include some songs. It would have ruined the perfection that they created when they made the ultimate musical time capsule for 1995. The songs complement each other well and the transition between tempos, genres and even topics is well executed A great example is Pansy Division’s Deep Water, which is about the struggles of growing up an insecure gay teenager. It is the perfect song to use to transition to the Am I Wrong to end the album.

What Doesn’t:

  • Nothing Like so many other 5 star reviews, I couldn’t find a single flaw in this entire album after listening to it for multiple weeks.

In Conclusion: This might be my all-time favorite soundtrack. If not all-time, it is definitely my favorite of what I’ve reviewed so far. If you are looking for an album that is an absolute blast to listen to and doesn’t seem to ever get old, you really can’t go wrong with the Angus soundtrack.

Music Video Links: 
Ash – Jack Names the Planets (Official Video)
Ash – Kung-Fu (Official Video)
Wonderful Opening of Angus featuring Am I Wrong (different from the soundtrack version)

Streaming/Purchase Links:
Amazon Music

Google Play


Information Links:
ikipedia Album

Week 11 Review

Seeing that Blended just opened on the 23rd, I could not have timed this week’s review any better. I’m reviewing the soundtrack to an earlier Sandler/Barrymore romantic comedy: 50 First Dates.       

Album: 50 First Dates: Love Songs from the Original Motion Picture
Year: 2004
Genre: Movie Soundtrack
Rating: 4/5

Worth Your Time? It’s really enjoyable background music.

Twitter Review: Basically, the soundtrack is reggae/ska covers of new wave songs. It sounds like a great idea on a paper and it’s actually executed well too.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Your Love (L.O.V.E. Reggae Mix) by Wyclef Jean (original by Outfield)
  2. Drive by Ziggy Marley (original by The Cars)
  3. Hold Me Now by Wayne Wonder (original by The Thompson Twins)

Things Not to Look For (cause they ain’t there):

  • Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The beautiful, heartwarming, tear-jerking, make you want to hug the person next to you as tight as you can and never let go Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley that plays at the end of the movie is not there. Iz died before his 40th birthday but I don’t think his music will ever be forgotten. He was incredibly respected in Hawaii with 10,000 people attending the funeral and the state flag being flown at half-staff.
  • The Beach Boys. Wouldn’t It Be Nice even though it was heavily featured in the movie including the hilarious cry-a-long by Adam Sandler is sadly not there.
  • Ula. Ula’s Luau Song isn’t even on it! I know you’re as disappointed and frustrated as me about that but they did include Forgetful Lucy at the end to help heal the deep wounds of an Ula-less album.

Low Points: There aren’t really any low points. And it doesn’t have any particular high points either because it is after all just a collection of pop songs from a movie. So I’m not saying the album is a masterpiece or anything despite my above average rating. And it’s not something you would listen to while doing nothing so you can really soak in the masterful attention to the tiniest of details. But maybe you’re cleaning up the kitchen on a Saturday morning or driving to the grocery store, then by all means queue it up on your smartphone and enjoy yourself. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the entire album.

Anything Else: It looks like every cover featured on the soundtrack was specifically created for the movie. So this is the only place you’re going to find these songs. It shows they put some effort into this and didn’t try to grab a bunch of pre-existing covers. I guess part of the reason I’m so impressed with this album is I’ve listened to countless cross genre compilation albums and most of them have been utter crap. It seems to me that the modus operandi is to get one or two good bands and then find a bunch of unknowns that work cheap to fill out the rest of the album and ship it out ASAP to try to make some money off poor suckers like me. I’ve been disappointed so many times. The songs covered were well-chosen and they had quite a few well-known artists participate. I’m ecstatic that I can even write that sentence.

There are a lot of people angry that this soundtrack failed to include The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and I believe they have every right to be mad (there’s some seriously pissed off people on Amazon) because it’s a completely reasonable expectation. But the fact that they actually pulled off a reggae goes new wave album that doesn’t suck more than makes up for it from my perspective.

Additional Links: