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Classic Album Reviews: Various Artists | Orange County + I Am Sam Soundtracks

These two soundtracks explain the difference between reworking & rehashing.


These came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got them. Here’s what I said about them back then (with some minor editing):


Much like the average Hollywood movie these days, the average soundtrack album typically consists of recycled material, with a few new faces tossed into the mix to make it seem hip and fresh. But this pair of offerings succinctly outline the difference between inspired reworking and pointless rehashing.

Exhibit A: Orange County, from the Jack Black collegiate comedy. It falls in the pointless category, with a 14-track playlist dominated by album tracks from Crazy Town, Cake, Pete Yorn and Creeper Lagoon. But to get you to buy ’em anyway, they toss in three new cuts from Offspring (the midtempo cruncher Defy You), Foo Fighters (the neo-boogie The One) and Phantom Planet (the ’70s jangle-popper California). All of which are OK, but not good enough to linger in your memory longer than this movie lasts at the multiplex.

For a disc with more staying power, try Exhibit B: I Am Sam, the soundtrack to the new Sean Penn drama. Consisting of 16 Beatles classics lovingly reworked by contemporary artists, this set is a mellow but memorable trip down memory lane. The Wallflowers bounce and buzz through I’m Looking Through You, Rufus Wainwright traipses Across the Universe, Sarah McLachlan croons Blackbird, Eddie Vedder yarls You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, The Black Crowes get trippy on Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and rock recluse Paul Westerberg fittingly covers Nowhere Man. A few more adventurous tracks like Grandaddy’s Pavement-slack take on Revolution would have been nice, but I Am Sam is still one of the few soundtracks with its own identity.