Various Artists

Nightmare Revisited

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A sort of tribute album to a soundtrack, Nightmare Revisited has covers and interpretations -- recorded about 15 years after the original film -- of material Danny Elfman wrote for the soundtrack of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. It likely says something for the stature of both Burton and Elfman that more famous names than usual were enlisted as contributors for this offbeat project, including Marilyn Manson, Polyphonic Spree, Sparklehorse, and Korn. (Elfman himself appears as well, but only to supply opening and closing narrations.) While the premise behind the album might seem daft if you're not familiar with, or especially a fan of, the original soundtrack/film, the participation of this extensive roster of artists does ensure that it's quite a bit more interesting and varied than the usual soundtrack disc (or at least soundtrack-related, as it is in this case). It sometimes, as you'd expect, has the effect of turning Elfman's goofily gloomy tunes into relatively mainstream early 21st century rock. Yet there are some reasonably interesting twists on which the performers are clearly having fun, especially Polyphonic Spree's eight-minute "Town Meeting Song," which isn't so much a The Nightmare Before Christmas cover as an out-and-out homage to early-'70s David Bowie, so closely does it resemble that superstar's glam days. It's the show-stealer on this CD, even if it might have fit better on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack than this quasi-tribute record. But there are some other above-average efforts too, like Sparklehorse's pained ballad "Jack's Obsession" and Plain White T's similarly dramatic treatment of "Poor Jack." Reminding us that this was originally a soundtrack and not a rock score, several cuts are more in the ambient/action instrumental vein, even getting into a flamenco flavor on Rodrigo y Gabriela's "Oogie Boogie's Song."

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