Original Soundtrack

CBGB [Original Soundtrack]

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Like 54 before it, the 2013 film CBGB attempts to recapture a magical era and winds up producing mixed reviews and a soundtrack that is pretty killer. Licensing restrictions slightly hamper Omnivore's 20-song soundtrack -- Joey Ramone might be here but not the Ramones; there is a new version of "Sunday Girl" from Blondie but nothing from the original band -- but ultimately these are hiccups in a collection that captures the volatile, sleazy menace of the early days of American punk. Part of the reason the soundtrack is so successful is that it doesn't stick to the sound of either 1975 or 1977. The MC5 and the Stooges are grandfathered in, as are the Velvet Underground (here with the exceptionally groovy "I Can't Stand It"), but so are the Count Five ("Psychotic Reaction" being one of the first fuzzy blasts of punk defiance) and the Flamin' Groovies (whose sludgy "Slow Death" sounds as dangerous as the New York Dolls), thereby burying a history lesson amidst the cataclysmic art of Richard Hell, Television, and Talking Heads. Certainly, there is dark menace lurking at the edges here -- it's there in the Dead Boys' careening "Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth" and in Johnny Thunders' sneer -- but the thing that distinguishes the CBGB soundtrack is that it's just a whole lot of fun. It's a raw, raucous rock & roll blast from the past that feels as if it exists in the present.

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