A collection of the songs and some of the scoring featured in writer/director Richard Shepard's black comedy The Matador, this album is one of those soundtracks that may make sense on a scene-by-scene basis while watching the film itself, but that seem random and incoherent when presented as a purely musical package. Shepard seems to have been trying for something of a Quentin Tarantino approach, choosing pop songs of different eras that have a certain campy, junk-rock appeal decades later. Early on, the jarring rhythms, starting with the Jam's stolen Motown bassline for "A Town Called Malice," are carried through from punk rock to Latin pop and even Tom Jones' breakthrough hit, "It's Not Unusual." The big change occurs halfway through with the appearance of Asia's '80s arena rock standard "Heat of the Moment," which seems to have nothing to do with what comes before it or what follows. Thereafter, the album is largely devoted to instrumental passages reflecting the film's Mexican setting, some of them contributed by scorer Rolfe Kent. The most entertaining aspect of the album may be Shepard's liner notes, in which he takes the listener behind the scenes, revealing that he originally intended to use material by the Rolling Stones (too expensive) and REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You" instead of "Heat of the Moment" (six of one, half a dozen of another there). Nevertheless, this is an album that works only in the context of the movie itself.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann