When a hip crime thriller stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin, you can safely assume the filmmakers are not aiming for the youth market, and the soundtrack album to the movie Stand Up Guys fittingly aims for a cool retro vibe, serving up a selection of blues and R&B classics, a handful of like-minded new numbers from contemporary artists, and a few cues from the film's background score. The biggest drawing card on the Stand Up Guys album is a pair of new songs from Jon Bon Jovi, which also stand out a bit from the rest of tracks; "Old Habits Die Hard" and "Not Running Anymore" are musically and thematically similar in their simple acoustic arrangements, rueful tone, and undertow of macho sentimentality, and they find Bon Jovi in fine voice, though the clichéd tone of the lyrics undercuts their impact. Most of the other tunes are considerably grittier, especially recent material from soul revivalists Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, and blues-rock guitar phenom Gary Clark, Jr. Beyond a few excerpts from Lyle Workman's original groove-jazz score, the rest of the disc is devoted to an eclectic selection of oldies, ranging from big hits (Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell in Love") and acknowledged classics (Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man") to noteworthy obscurities (Baby Huey and the Babysitters' version of Curtis Mayfield's "Hard Times" and the frantic "Sock It to ‘Em JB" from Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers), and at least one obvious goof (can anyone demonstrate the Duck, the dance Wayne Cochran repeatedly urges listeners to perform on "Get Down with It"?). The Stand Up Guys soundtrack is not essential for anyone other than Jon Bon Jovi's die-hard fans, but there's enough top-shelf blues and soul on board to make for a fun listen, even if most of these tracks can be readily found elsewhere and in more satisfying company.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming