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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

944. Various Artists / Last Action Hero: Music From the Original Motion Picture. 1993. 3.5/5

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The lead up to this movie being released was one of contained exuberance. I mean, Arnie had just come off Terminator 2: Judgement Day, so surely this movie that combined action and comedy had to be a hit, right? No. Sadly the answer to that question was a big fat no. It was very very average.
Anyway, I only bring this up because when I first heard about the soundtrack that was being put together for the album, I was actually more excited about this than the film. I mean, when you look at the bands that contributed songs to the soundtrack album, it had to be a hit... right?...

Well...

The list of the bands on here is impressive, and commensurate with what was happening in the music world at the time. Old faithful and rock solid AC/DC lead of the set with what can only be described as a typical AC/DC song. "Big Gun" is as catchy as any of their material had been in that past decade, and while it may not be outstanding it is everything you can expect from the band. The grunge extremities of Alice in Chains are favoured with two songs on this compilation, with "What the Hell Have I" being recorded on the sessions for their album DIRT, and followed up by "A Little Bitter" which comes towards the end of the album. Unlike their best material, this doesn't have the same edge and grind that those songs contain. The sitar-like sound of the first song, along with what sounds like an off-colour harmony on the vocals between Layne and Jerry, just doesn't work for me.
The star attraction is Megadeth's "Angry Again", which doesn't beat around the bush, jumping straight into that dual riff and great vocals from Dave Mustaine. Once again the band has produced a song on a soundtrack, that while it doesn't appear on any of their own albums, is still a memorable inclusion to their back catalogue of great songs. "Real World" by Queensryche, with some additional help from producer Michael Kamen, is endemic of where the band was at this stage of their career. The addition of orchestral pieces within the song, and the walk down the path of progressive rock without the kind of power that they had infused into their music in previous albums means this song doesn't really hold the attention as one would have hoped that it would. This is followed by "Two Steps Behind" by Def Leppard, again another atypical song of the band from this period, which again, as with all but AC/DC and Megadeth's contributions above, are mostly disappointing. This is somewhat rectified by a seven minute long piece of Anthrax magic, "Poison My Eyes", energised by the recent addition of John Bush on vocals.
Aerosmith's "Dream On" is actually a good song when done well, but this version is a live version, done at the ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of MTV, and it is a pretty limp, lame version which doesn't cause any great joy in the listening stakes. I have no love of bands such as Cypress Hill, whose well known "Cock the Hammer" is here, and Fishbone, whose "Swim" to me is just a time filler. Tesla contribute the title track to the movie "Last Action Hero" which is a reasonable enough song, before the track "Jack and the Ripper" closes out the album.

In almost every way, the soundtrack here mirrors the movie, in that the excitement beforehand is almost completely shattered by the actual product when it arrives. On the face of it, with the bands contributing to this album, it should be an absolute ripper. In the long run, it takes up room on your shelf as a dust collector.

Rating:   "Angry again, angry again, angry again..."  3.5/5.

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