It’s rare for a compiled, various artist soundtrack to truly come together as a cohesive listening experience, with most efforts either falling flat as a cash-grab snapshot of the day’s top 40 hits, or a disjointed array of mismatched artists, without any common conceptual thread.
Luckily, the soundtrack to the forthcoming Lakeshore picture Stand Up Guys bucks this sort of trend, bringing together an excellent array of rock and soul essentials alongside a number of modern day artists, bringing to the table their own unique take on classic rhythm and blues.
One of these artists is Jon Bon Jovi, who appears here with his first soundtrack appearance since 1990’s Young Guns II. Although Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” from said soundtrack exemplified the power-ballad vibe so often associated with his 1980s success, his offerings here fall more in line with a melancholic, country-western sound.
The two songs, “Old Habits Die Hard” and “Not Running Anymore,” possess a melodic sensibility not too far removed from, say, Alison Krauss and Union Station, albeit bundled with the shoe-shuffling sort of regret associated with the image of an old man, drinking alone in his favorite corner bar. The slide guitar on “Not Running Anymore” is particularly evocative of this sentiment, proving that Bon Jovi has indeed grown quite a bit since his “Livin’ On a Prayer” heyday.
Elsewhere, Stand Up Guys is a veritable who’s who of classic rock, funk and soul. Opening up with the blower deep cut of Baby Huey’s soul classic “Hard Times,” this soundtrack to director Fisher Stevens’ sophomore feature pulls no punches, and delivers quality from first cut to last.
Additional highlights appear in the form of Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell In Love,” Sharon Jones’ “Give It Up,” and the smooth instrumental work of Lyle Workman, while Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” provides the sort of inimitable, elder statesman appeal necessary to drive home writer Noah Haidle’s story of aging con men, coming back together for one last job.
Indeed, this soundtrack to Stand Up Guys succeeds where many of its less-ambitious contemporaries have failed: delivering the legitimately soulful goods for classic rock fans young and old.
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