Album Reviews for Jan. 4, 2013

Various artists
DJANGO UNCHAINED

With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino takes his love of cool music and his ongoing personal involvement in his movies’ soundtracks to a new level. In addition to smartly recycled, classic selections by spaghetti-western maestros Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov, the soundtrack features newly produced music from rapper Rick Ross, rhythm-and-blues star John Legend, rootsy Lafayette-based singer-songwriter Dege Legg and the 83-year-old Morricone himself.

The new music flows almost seamlessly alongside the older material. And if listeners notice cracks and pops in some tracks, it’s because those selections are from Tarantino’s vinyl record collection. He even preserves the needle drop.

In an album rich with cinematic music, highlights include “Ancora Qui,” the haunting new song Morricone and Italian pop-rock singer Elisa Toffoli created for the movie; a Ross-Jamie Foxx produced rap-goes-spaghetti-western mash-up, “100 Black Coffins”; and Legend’s dark and stunning “Who Did That To You.” Numerous clips of film dialogue are on the 23-track collection, too. The Django Unchained soundtrack deserves consideration for whatever music and film awards for which it qualifies.

Various artists
NOT FADE AWAY

Three members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band participate in the soundtrack for the new rock-music coming-of-age movie Not Fade Away. Steven Van Zandt produced the project and he, Max Weinberg and Garry Tallent, plus Bobby Bandiera from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, perform for it. No surprise that the E Streeters and Bandiera make the sound of the movie’s fictional band, the Twylight Zones, convincingly authentic and rocking. Cast members John Magaro and Jack Huston, who play New Jersey kids who are inspired to form a band after seeing the Rolling Stones on TV, add vocals to the Twylight Zones tracks.

Beyond its movie band, Not Fade Away contains many more great selections. There’s the early Stones song, “Tell Me,” rock ’n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley’s self-homage, “Bo Diddley,” and such quintessential songs of the era as the Moody Blues’ “Go Now” and the Left Banke’s exquisitely melancholy, semi-classical “Pretty Ballerina.” Music lover and SiriusXM radio host Van Zandt has assembled a monster soundtrack.