Various Artists

By - May 1st, 2003 02:52 pm
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By Jeremy Saperstein

Man, there’s no reason I should like this as much as I do.

OK, sure, it’s a tribute album not to a band, but to the (relatively) obscure 70s film Two-Lane Blacktop, and that’s a movie I have a strange place in my heart for. That conceit alone makes the work of Filippo Salvadori in compiling this disc something special.

But the music, unlike tribute albums, which have an unfortunate lack of width and breadth to them evokes the odd, existential feeling of the film wonderfully – from the opening banjo stomp of Sandy Bull’s “Little Maggie” to the closing drum-machine and fuzz-guitar freakout of Roy Montgomery’s “2LB”. The music surprisingly takes you on a little journey, with bits of the monotony and featurelessness of a long cross-country drive (Sonic Youth’s “Loop Cat”, which evokes distant memories of Kraftwerk’s masterwork “Autobahn”) and brief bright spots that arrive to break things up (Cat Power’s “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, itself an odd echo of the movie’s female lead Laurie Bird off-handedly singing the song).

There are plenty of reasons to own this: current faves Wilco, Mark Eitzel, Calexico and Giant Sand all contribute songs, with the trophy going to Will Oldham, who offers a song (with Alan Licht) that combines all of James Taylor’s movie dialogue with an interpolation of Evita’s “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in an ear-friendly nugget.

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