For a brief moment, Robbie Robertson flirted with the idea of being a star of the silver screen -- something he came to reluctantly, he claims in the liner notes to Real Gone's 2015 reissue of Carny, the movie Robertson made with Jodie Foster and Gary Busey in 1980. The film was a curio and so is the soundtrack, divided between a side of Robertson-led music and a side of orchestrations from Alex North, the film's composer. Apart from a slickly funky reading of Fats Domino's "The Fat Man," which boasts a few new lyrical asides from Robertson in a then-rare lead vocal, this is all written by North but the first side's vibe -- slippery and expansive, in-the-pocket yet oddly elastic -- belongs to Robbie, feeling like a Cinemascope hangover of his Americana fantasies. North doesn't attempt to rock nor does he make allusions to having soul: he's just doing a straight-up score and it effectively conjures the sawdust menace of a circus. His work is more old-fashioned but Robertson's side evokes all the stilted weirdness of the movie, a film whose sensibility exists in the netherworld between '70s grit and '80s flash.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine