Monday, February 21, 2005

Nascar 3D: Soundtrack

The Nascar IMAX film is an impressive, immersive look at the stock car racing phenomenon, with much factual coverage, and a script by Sports Illustrated correspondent Mark Bechtel.

The soundtrack CD is a nice fit to the film - if only it were SACD for the true 3D experience. It sounds mighty fine, however, in Dolby ProLogic II.

The selection of songs ranges from the hard-firing "Boom" by P.O.D. to a clear-pitched "Star Spangled Banner" by LeAnn Rimes.

The first song, "Boom" is a true-blue, Southern Rock number, dealing with the challenges, and opportunities in the Nascar experience, although nominally about 'rock(ing) the masses, from madrid to calabasas'.

"Firing Line" comes from the 2003 Allman Brothers Band album, "Hitting The Note" with hard riffs from guitarist W.arren Haynes and smooth slides from Derek Trucks. "Changing your life's direction/getting off the firing line"

A great version of Lynryd Skynryd's "Sweet Home Alabama", another southern classic, almost made for the Nascar mood, although somewhat contrary in sentiment. The song is played at NASCAR races at Talladega Speedway, Alabama, and is a fine rejoinder to racist perceptions of the fans. "I hope Neil Young will remember a southern man don't need him around anyhow." Much subtext here.

Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen" is a song about "all American rebels" and "fast machines" - key themes of NASCAR

LeAnn Rimes provides "I Got It Bad" from her new album "This Woman" - an apt theme song for NASCAR, with lyrics like "I'm addicted to the fast life/I cut my teeth on concrete dreams/The rush of no control gets me high/You know what I think/too much of a bad thing/
Is exactly what I need". Frenetic, intelligent chords underlay LeAnn's awesome voice to create a great song.

One of the nice things about soundtracks and compilations is the introduction to one of new singers. Sounding like a Chris Rea number, then taking off into fast-paced rock, this is a neat song by Filipino (via Dallas) songwriter Wes Cunningham. Originally a ZZ Top number, Wes blends multiple styles 'bout 'that shack outside la grange'.

Robert Belfour's instrumental "Hill Stomp" is a String Cheese Incident-style jam reminiscent of classic Hill Country blues

Eric Colvin is the composer for the film, and provides a gentle piece titled "Earnhardt Remembered/...". The film never shows the actual, tragic crash, but images surrounding it, transcending the event itself.

Collective Soul contributes "Counting The Days" as a bonus track to the CD. It captures the inner tensions of a Nascar driver's heart, perhaps, "batten the hatches down", and asking if you 'dig it what you are searching for'?

Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell provides "You'll Never Catch Me". He's a race fanatic, and has done concerts at places like the Indy Motor Speedway. An extremely fast-paced song, capturing the danger and passion of the races. The Nascar interview with Steve captures some of his motivations behind the song, which also appears on the "Cursed" soundtrack.

"Hot Wired" is by The Shams Brothers, an Ohio 60's garage-rock style band. It is a hard rock number, with a powerful bass.

LeAnn Rimes' rendition of The Star Spangled Banner is voice only, very fine indeed.

Dave Robideaux's easily recognizable Thunder scene was the official NASCAR theme for the 2004 season. Combining majestic notes with a fast guitar theme, it effectively brings home NASCAR pomp and circumstance.

In all, an uneven composition, as most soundtracks are, but good listening to set the mood.

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