Thursday, September 21, 2017


I am not familiar with the NBC series This Is Us, which is due to return for its second season on Sept. 26, and I don't plan on watching it. I'm never watching a TV show again until somebody explains the ending of Twin Peaks to me. However, I can tell music plays a big role in setting the mood of the drama, and whoever is picking it does one heck of a job. It's a singer-songwriter, mellow mood feast, with the odd uptempo fun hit, with a mix of hits and surprises, and overall it's a cohesive and excellent listen. It goes from the '60's to today, quite seamlessly.

You got your hip names (Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Jim James), your classics (Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens), and your collector favourites (Richard and Linda Thompson, Blind Faith, Nick Drake). There are also relative unknowns (Goldspot, Maria Taylor, Labi Siffre) who all contribute fine numbers. A couple of the tunes are a little too familiar, such as You Can Call Me Al, and Badfinger's Without You, but even a #1 hit, Ringo's Photograph, can still sound fresh, and most of these are smart selections. Even show star Mandy Moore does an okay version of Willin' that doesn't harm the running order.

The big find here is Siffre, a name not ever known here but with an armload of credits and a great song, Watch Me. It was a Top 30 hit in his homeland, England, in 1972, but his best-known one would be It Must Be Love, later covered by Madness. He's also had songs covered by everyone from Kenny Rogers to Joss Stone to Rod Stewart, and been sampled by Eminem, Primal Scream. Jay-Z, Kanye, and seemingly everybody else. I'm hooked, and have to hear more. That's pretty good work for a soundtrack.

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