Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The new film CBGB, about the legendary home of punk in NYC is getting pummeled by critics and fans, mostly for its dull presentation of such fabulous subject matter.   Apparently the music scenes especially are lifeless, and the musicians, including The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, etc., mere caricatures.  Well, too bad.  But there's this nifty soundtrack.

Some thought has gone into it, and instead of just making it a best-of CBGB's music, the collection includes music by the groups of the 60's and 70's that paved the way to punk, spiritual forefathers such as MC5, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges.  And The Count Five's 1965 garage classic Psychotic Reaction?  Turns out it was on the actual jukebox at the club, and shows up in the background in one scene in the movie.  Points for both historical accuracy, and a cool tune.

The majority of the 20 cuts here do come from the denizens of the bar, at least the 70's version of it.  You get Television, The Dead Boys, Blondie, Richard Hell, and even the hilarious Dictators, with a nice rare number, the original demo of their cover of California Sun.  But there are problems too, licensing ones no doubt. There's no Patti Smith cut, and even worse, no Ramones.  There is a solo Joey cut, I Got Knocked Down, which is great, but having no true Ramones cut on a CBGB's collection is like having no Babe Ruth in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I know why Roxanne is included, as CBGB's was the first place The Police played in the U.S., but it sure doesn't fit the club's image.  And starting with the very polished Life During Wartime by Talking Heads just doesn't work for me.  They would have been doing Psycho Killer during this time, and it was picked simply because of the line "This ain't no Mudd Club, no CBGB's...".  So, it isn't the perfect soundtrack, but it's still a darn good mix CD.

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