Michael Kamen

Road House [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Actor Patrick Swayze isn't thought of as a vocalist, though he sang "She's Like the Wind" with Wendy Fraser on 1987's Dirty Dancing soundtrack and intentionally inflicted his dreadful rendition of "I'm Henry VIII" on Whoopi Goldberg and 1990's Ghost movie (thankfully, failing to make it onto the soundtrack to that film). So the surprise here is that, under the guiding hand of David Kershenbaum, he sounds like a clone of Bryan Adams on songwriter Willie Nile's very '80s "Raising Heaven (In Hell Tonight)." The Road House film and its subsequent companion long-player came a year after John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band released their album of the same name, so maybe it was an intentional Arista marketing attempt to get some of that Eddie and the Cruisers luster by way of Dirty Dancing, or maybe this was just the expected image of the 1980s. It's always nice to hear the Jeff Healey Band, which starts the festivities off with a somewhat interesting cover of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues." Hardly as menacing as Jim Morrison (or even Blue Öyster Cult), it appropriately slips into title-track status with Jimmy Iovine's bar band production. Bob Seger does a respectable cover of Fats Domino's "Blue Monday," but it too sounds like fade-into-the-background area musicians having some fun on a Friday night. Of the ten songs here, the only thing that really breaks on through is Otis Redding performing his own "These Arms of Mine." Little Feat is fun with "Rad Gumbo" and Jeff Healey finally flexes his muscles on Dylan's "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky," the third of Healey's four entries. It has that something extra missing from his earlier jaunts and Seger's track. Austin singer Kris McKay is a surprise on Maria McKee's "A Good Heart," getting a chance here prior to her What Love Endures album debut on Arista, which came the year after this. Swayze closes things out with another big '80s David Kershenbaum sound on "Cliff's Edge," a tune he actually co-wrote. Surprisingly, it's not a bad song and features -- believe it or not -- the album's best hook. This didn't do for Jimmy Iovine what the Dirty Dancing soundtrack did for Jimmy Ienner, and with Seger, Healey, Little Feat, and Otis Redding on board, a lot more was expected of it. When Patrick Swayze writes the best hook on an album you're on, it's pretty obvious that Road House was just another gig.

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