Original Soundtrack

Once Upon a Time in Mexico [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Since The Big Chill, too often directors and film producers have taken the easy way out in creating soundtracks for their big-budget Hollywood movies by licensing a couple handfuls of hits either from the catalog of yesteryear's pop giants or from hungry up-and-comers. It's a formula almost. Thankfully there are still film scores, though they all seem to be written by the same five men. Both of these poles sees to lie in stark contrast to Robert Rodriguez's approach to creating an audio environment both to accompany and stand apart from his films. On Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Rodriquez took matters into his own hands and procured a series of rather obscure existing tracks that viscerally underscore defined themes in his movie -- such as Juno Reactor's "Pistolero," Brian Setzer's ass-kicking "Malagueña," and Manu Chao's "Me Gustas Tu." He also commissioned several tracks to actors and wrote others for his players. Thus Tito Larriva's haunting "Flor de Mal," or Johnny Depp and friends under the moniker Tonto's Giant Nuts offer "Sands Theme," while Rubén Blades and Antonio Banderas helped to flesh out their own character's themes musically as well as dramatically. Other tracks such as "Siente Mi Amor" were written specifically for Selma Hayek. Rodriguez wrote much of the rest of the score himself, conducted the musicians who play it, and produced the recording. One listen to "Guitar Town," with its Morricone-esque drama and pathos, is concrete proof that Rodriguez knows what's best in his films. Ultimately what it adds up to is that this is a film score, a soundtrack above virtually anything else that had come out thus far in 2003 with the possible exception of the original material for Solaris. Once Upon a Time in Mexico certainly stands on its own as an album of engaging, provocative, and delightful listening.

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