Song: The Keeper
Artist: Chris Cornell, Seattle, WA
Notes: Top-drawer, rootsy, acoustic rumbler by the Soundgarden frontman for the Gerard Butler action bio flick, 'Machine Gun Preacher' - which was based on the true story of a former gang biker who became a preacher in Africa. Cornell also recorded 'You Know My Name' for the 007 reboot, 'Casino Royale' in 2006.
Song: Silent Sigh
Artist: Badly Drawn Boy, England
Album: About A Boy Soundtrack, 2002
Notes: Lovely piano rolls on this overlooked number by British tunesmith Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy. Gough was invited to score the entire Hugh Grant-starring movie by its directors, Paul and Chris Weitz - and polished off his second movie soundtrack for the Robert De Niro/Julianne Moore indie flick, 'Being Flynn' which premiered in the spring.
Song: No Mermaid
Artist: Sinead Lohan, Ireland
Notes: An absolute corker by the other Irish Sinead who's flown under the radar for too long. One of many highlights on a meticulously curated soundtrack collection which also featured choice nuggets by Beth Nielsen Chapman, Edwin McCain, Sheryl Crow and Sarah McLachlan.
Song: Little Wonders
Artist: Rob Thomas, Germany
Notes: Huge hit in Germany (where Rob was born!), but inexplicably only a modest success in the US, composed and performed by the Matchbox Twenty frontman specifically for the fun animated movie. The rest of the film's score was inked by A-list Hollywood composer, Danny Elfman.
Artist: Adele, England
Album: Skyfall Soundtrack, 2012
Notes: A reverential nod by Adele to the great Shirley Bassey who recorded more James Bond theme songs than any other act (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker). Recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios in London with a 77-piece orchestra, co-written and produced by her 'Rolling In The Deep' cohort, Paul Epworth.
Song: Our Town
Artist: James Taylor & Randy Newman, Boston/Los Angeles
Album: Cars Soundtrack, 2006
Notes: Evergreen, A+ soundtrack ballad, composed by Randy Newman, it beautifully documents the struggles and decline of a recession-era town. Newman has a long and successful musical relationship with the magical Pixar animated film company going back to 'Toy Story' in 1995.
Song: Long Nights
Artist: Eddie Vedder, Evanston, IL
Notes: Superb rootsy ballad, the best cut from Vedder's entire soundtrack for the wining Sean Penn-directed film. Mr. Ed previously contributed individual solo cuts to a couple of other Penn film projects: 'Dead Man Walking' in 1995 and 'I am Sam' in 2001.
Song: That Thing You Do
Artist: Wonders, Los Angeles
Notes: Sparkling tile track from the Tom Hanks musical comedy of the same name. One-man band Hanks wrote, directed and starred in the well-observed flick which followed the rise and fall of a fictional '60s group, the Wonders. Composed by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne.
Song: Cheese and Onions
Artist: Rutles, England
Notes: A dead-on pastiche of several John Lennon-inspired Beatles classics, ending with the chaotic orchestral climax revisiting the iconic 'A Day In The Life'. Written and sung by Neil Innes (long regarded as the seventh member of the seminal Monty Python comedy troupe). The fictional parody band - clearly but brilliantly taking the reverential piss out of the Beatles story - was conceived by Innes with Python stalwart, Eric Idle.
Song: La Meme Histoire
Artist: Feist, Canada
Notes: Reversioned in French specifically for the movie by the Canadian songstress from her own original song, 'We're All In The Dance'. The 2006 French movie was an anthology project featuring 18 short films lensed around Paris by different directors including the Coen brothers, Gus Van Sant and Wes Craven.
Song: This Is Not America
Artist: Pat Metheny Group & David Bowie, Lee's Summit, MO/England
Notes: Rarely played these days, an outstanding collaboration by the top jazz-fusion guitarist Pat Metheny and his group, with the Thin White Duke. Sean Penn-starring movie, directed by the great John Schlesinger, based on a true story of two young Americans who sold classified government secrets to the Soviet Union in the mid-'70s.
Song: Winding Road
Artist: Bonnie Somerville, New York
Notes: One of several winners showcased on the seminal 'Garden State' soundtrack which set the standard for literate and tasteful film music collections. Jack of all trades actor/director, Zach Braff who wrote, directed and starred in the film, won a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for a Motion Picture for carefully curating the 13 tracks.
Song: Childhood Days
Artist: Barry Gibb, England
Album: Hawks Soundtrack, 1988
Notes: Extremely rare mid-tempo cracker by Barry, sans his brothers Gibb from a dreadful movie starring Timothy Dalton. Soundtrack by Barry now a $200 collectors item.
Artist: Billy Idol, England
Notes: Made famous by Simple Minds when they recorded it for the seminal 'Breakfast Club' movie in 1985, but co-penned by long-time Billy Idol producer Keith Forsey - who originally asked Billy to record it. Idol passed (though subsequently recorded it), as did, amazingly Bryan Ferry.
Artist: Oren Lavie, Israel
Notes: Gorgeous little waltzing ruby recorded for the Prince Caspian soundtrack by Israeli-born singer-songwriter, playwright/director, Lavie. Several other lovely overlooked songs recorded for the various 'Narnia' movies over the years, including ones by Alanis Morissette and Tim Finn.
Artist: Thomas Newman, Los Angeles
Notes: Just one example of the simple melodic genius of the greatest film composer of the past 30 years. Period.
Song: You Do
Artist: Aimee Mann, Richmond, VA
Album: Magnolia Soundtrack, 1999
Notes: Erudite, thought-provoking balladry of the highest quality, one of nine absolute pearls written and recorded by Aimee which comprised the soundtrack to the 1999 film drama directed by art-house hero, Paul Thomas Anderson.
Song: Theme From Shaft
Artist: Isaac Hayes, Covington, TN
Album: Shaft Soundtrack, 1971
Notes: The funkiest film theme ever and the best horns arrangement and hi-hat percussion of any movie song - and no lyrics until 2:40 seconds. With this recording, Hayes became the first African American to win the Academy Award category for Best Original Song.
Song: The Living Proof
Artist: Mary J. Blige, Bronx, NY
Album: The Help Soundtrack, 2011
Notes: A no-nonsense R&B/pop soundtrack diamond, a cut above the rest, co-written by Blige with 'The Help' scorist, Thomas Newman. Should have won the Oscar - but not even nominated. A travesty.
Song: Things Have Changed
Artist: Bob Dylan, Duluth, MN
Notes: Sir Bob with his top-drawer award-winning rumbler from 'The Wonder Boys', a comedy drama starring Michael Douglas, Robert Downey Jr., and the always wonderful Frances McDormand.
Song: When She Loved Me
Artist: Sarah McLachlan & Randy Newman, Canada/Los Angeles
Album: Toy Story 2 Soundtrack, 1999
Notes: The high, deft soprano of McLachlan gracing Newman's piano playing and orchestration. Newman has composed 24 film scores since his first effort on 'Cold Turkey' in 1971.
Song: Me and Tennessee
Artist: Gwyneth Paltrow & Tim McGraw, Los Angeles/Delhi, LA
Notes: Terrific Country duet by the lead actors in 'Country Strong', written by Coldplay's Chris Martin - but somehow, never the hit it deserved to be. Gwyneth had an earlier hit from another of her movies, 'Duets' with Huey Lewis on a perky pop cover of a Smokey Robinson's, 'Cruisin'.
Artist: John Mayer, Bridgeport, CT
Notes: The first song Mayer custom wrote for a movie, 'The Bucket List' which paired Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman hamming it up for director Rob Reiner.
Song: One More Day
Artist: Sinead O'Connor, Ireland
Notes: A horribly overlooked ballad Sinead recorded specifically for the 2003 film, a gritty biographical drama based on the true story of the fearless Irish journalist, Veronica Guerin, who was murdered in 1996 for investigating the drug trade in Dublin. (Sinead also recorded a pure Celtic language version for the same movie, alternatively titled 'The Funeral'.)
Song: I Wanna Get Next To You
Artist: Rose Royce, Los Angeles
Album: Car Wash Soundtrack, 1976
Notes: Restrained soul swayer not heard anymore on radio, and one of 18 tunes they recorded for the soundtrack to the 'Car Wash' comedy in 1976 - including of course the movie's funky main theme which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. All of the soundtrack was written and produced by R&B legend, the great Norman Whitfield who served his apprenticeship in the '60s at Motown.
Song: Shine Your Light
Artist: Robbie Robertson, Canada
Album: Ladder 49 Soundtrack, 2004
Notes: The ever-distinctive vocal stylings of the leader of The Band on a lost nugget which he wrote and recorded for inclusion in the 'Ladder 49' firefighting film soundtrack in 2004 - for which he also composed an adagio which ran over the closing credits.
Song: Nothing Has Been Proved
Artist: Dusty Springfield with the Pet Shop Boys, England
Album: Scandal Soundtrack, 1989
Notes: Top-notch pairing by Dusty and the Pet Shop chappies (following their earlier collaboration on the 'What I Have Done To Deserve This' smash from 1987). 'Scandal' was based on the famous political expose from 1963 which saw Britain's Secretary of War, John Profumo, embroiled in a racy sexual liaison with the seductive Christine Keeler, the mistress of a Russian spy, stunningly portrayed in the movie by Joanne Whalley.
Song: It Goes Like It Goes
Artist: Jennifer Warnes, Anaheim, CA
Album: Norma Rae Soundtrack, 1979
Notes: Three minutes of vocal perfection by the best in the business. Such a shame that Jennifer is better remembered for the dreadful 'I've Had The Time of My Life' duet with Bill Medley ('Dirty Dancing') - or even the far better 'Up Where We Belong' with Joe Cocker ('An Officer and A Gentleman').
Artist: Neil Young, Canada
Notes: Young's best ballad? 'The Streets of Philadelphia' by Springsteen won the Golden Globe for Best Song - even though this extraordinary recording was arguably a more poignant number from the film.
Song: Grace Is Gone
Artist: Jamie Cullum, England
Notes: Too sad for words - the maudlin magic of Cullum on the title cut from the 2007 weepie starring John Cusack, a tender family drama about a father, Stanley Phillips, who takes his young daughters on a road trip unable to tell them the news that their mother has died while serving with the armed forces in Iraq.
Artist: Randy Newman, Los Angeles
Album: Toy Story Soundtrack, 1995
Notes: Another treat by the most featured composer on this week's soundtrack special, the inimitable Randy in more jocular mood on this playful ditty which started the 'Toy Story' franchise.
Song: Miss Sarajevo
Artist: Passengers, Ireland/Italy
Album: Original Soundtracks 1, 1995
Notes: Bono with Luciano Pavarotti from a 'soundtrack' album conceived as movie music to a film that never existed, created by Bono with U2's longtime producer Brian Eno. As great and powerful a singer as Bono is, as soon as Pavarotti comes in the room, it's game over - Luciano leaves him in the vocal dust.
Song: Million Voices
Artist: Wyclef Jean, Haiti
Notes: A World Music lost gem, Jean and a backing children's vocals singing in their native Kintarwanda language. From the deeply disturbing genocide-themed film, memorably starring Don Cheadle. Mercifully, Rwanda is now peaceful - and still beautiful.
Song: When You Know
Artist: Shawn Colvin, Vermillion, SD
Album: Serendipity Soundtrack, 2001
Notes: Unmistakable vocal class of Shawn Colvin especially recorded for the 'Serendipity', the ridiculously cute romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. Lots of other well-chosen songs on the soundtrack including those by the likes of Nick Drake, Annie Lennox and a splendid instrumental by David Gray.
Artist: B.J. Thomas, Hugo, OK
Notes: Vintage gem inked by songwriting legends, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, as the signature song to the Newman/Redford classic. Reportedly took seven takes by B.J. in the studio before Bacharach was duly satisfied: the singer was recovering from a bout of laryngitis at the time. Played over the timeless romantic scenes of Paul Newman clowning around on a bicycle.
Artist: Sting/Noel Harrison, England/England
Notes: Sting's jazzy updated treatment of the Noel Harrison original (each recorded for different era versions of the same 'The Thomas Crown Affair' movie) morphing into the corny but winning chestnut by Rex Harrison's son.