CALL THE LAW, AND HOLD THE APPLAUSE
I love Outkast. I wasn't the earliest of fans, but I got in line when Aquemini came out. "Rosa Parks" is still one of my favorite big-party anthems. I remember seeing the video and Andre 3000's big grass pants next to Big Boi, who trying to look tough by compariosn, and thinking I was seeing some normal dude and his weird brother, one of those couples that works and no one quite knows how. At the end of the video, Dre had that huge grin of his going, and a body would have to be dead not to smile in response. The fact that the song also has political overtones makes it an even larger triumph. Think and party--that's Outkast.
But I got off the bus when it came down to the schizoid bloat of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, with my scornful eye landing solely--and to the surprise of the masses--on Andre's side of the jewel case. It was dull and overdone, and after the millionth time seeing him give the exact same performance of "Hey Ya"--a catchy song that, when you break it down, reveals itself to be barely a whole number--I just had enough. When word got out that they were going to be making a movie--and that it would be a period musical, no less--I figured that would be that. Outkast weren't just off the rails, they'd blown up the tracks.
So, color me thrilled that I love the soundtrack to Idlewild. Listening to it, I can hear what they probaby wanted the double album to sound like, and what it probably would have could they have gotten in the same room. It's a progression on from Stankonia: funk and soul and hiphop colliding with the jazz age. If the album's first release, "Mighty O," was a little underwhelming, the follow-up for the summer, "Idlewild Blue," charmed with its bluesy slither. Hold the two up together, and you'll start to get a sense of the eclecticism that defines the disc.
"Morris Brown" has steel drums, "Peaches" has a weird collage of samples, "N2U" is a sexy r&b groove that puts shame to all the embarrassing sex talk that passes as "R&B" these days (example: The Love Below's "Spread"), and "Hollywood Divorce" makes guest stars Lil Wayne sound cool and Snoop Dogg relevant, both of those quite a feat. Even the weird freakout at the end, the over-eight-minutes "Bad Note," kicks a lot of ass, improving on what Dre tried to do last time with "Take Off Your Cool." I'd swear that guitar freakout was cribbed straight out of a Prince jam. (Same goes for the sped-up vocals of "Makes No Sense at All." I smell paisley.)
The stand-out track for me has to be "Call the Law," a Big Boi corker with smooth saloon singing by Janelle Monae. Her bits are almost like one escalating chorus, with B.B. slipping in to knock out a couple of rap interludes. It's catchy and fun, more Bonnie & Clyde than other male-female duets of recent memory. Monae scats, there is a kind of ragtime tango of bass and piano, and it's all built around a handclap rhythm. The whole number speaks easy of romantic drama. We love romantic drama around the Confessional.
My top compliment for the Idlewild soundtrack, however, is that it makes me want to see the movie. If they can get any of the spirit of this album on screen, then we're in for a real treat. I'd even settle for a lame story and a lot of great performance numbers, because the music alone can sell it.
I'm back on the bus, guys. It's good to see you.
Current Soundtrack: Idlewild
Current Mood: bouncy
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2006 Jamie S. Rich