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Review-Straight-2-Video-the-sequel-has-landed-2015

STRAIGHT 2 VIDEO

THE SEQUEL HAS LANDED

TANZAN MUSIC | Release Date: My 25 2015

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Sometimes it’s just one song and for me the mere inclusion of Power Tool’s ‘Two Heads (Are Better Than One)’ on here almost adds another star to the rating and makes you shudder at what those boys might have become if they’d just had better hair! Indeed Rob Lane’s second outing with ‘Straight to Video’ is a veritable cornucopia of overlooked and under-aired movie songs given a decidedly Melodic Rock/Pop slant, and it works so damned well you just want to blast it out of the window at random unsuspecting passersby.  


Ah nostalgia, it’s a funny thing… Much as I avoided popular culture back in the day I must admit that I’d rather have it back than the sort of self-obsessed nonsense we get today. And I guess that’s the whole point of ‘Straight to Video’, whilst grumpy old bastards like me might moan about the movies and songs Mr. Lane has reanimated here at least we remember them, which I image, is more than we will anything post-internet, except maybe the 3 billion funny videos of people falling over, or kittens doing the sweetest things. By 2020 we may well have the attention span of goldfish… Enough of that though…


‘Time Runs Wild’ though is an odd way to start, an unremarkable song from an unremarkably movie by an unremarkable artist, here given a slick pop sheen that renders the song palatable but still sadly rather forgettable. The original artist Danny Wilde of course went on to inflict later damage on us later in his career as part of the Rembrandts, purveys of the theme to one of the world’s  worst ever sitcoms that proceeded to stink up the nineties and the first half of the next decade…


After that inauspicious start though Lane’s vocals on ‘Melt With You’ are worth catching even if the song he chooses to bestow them on is merely a paint job on another rather derivative, this time punk pop ditty - originally by one of the 4AD labels limpest signings  ever ‘Modern English’. So far I’m afraid it’s a case of great takes on rather forgettable songs by insipid artists…


Sadly sometimes you have to go down before you go up and ‘Mind Over Matter’ from the rather better movie ‘Summer School’ is one of those disco songs from the early eighties that managed to give you both indigestion and a headache at the same time, Elizabeth Daily who originally sang it was a kind of awful Madonna copyist and that’s probably all you need to know.


Thankfully Simple Minds ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ from the very decent ‘Breakfast Club’ saves the day and the album so far, the simple stripped back treatment gives the song a great slant and even though I really never particularly cared for either the band or the song (I those days with fewer TV and Radio channels, less choice and no internet you couldn’t get away from it) it does bring back memories.


The masterpiece though is the Bill and Ted track ‘Two Heads are Better than One’ by the band that went on to become Nelson and was co-written with Dweezil Zappa. It’s as good a rock song from the period as you will ever hear and as you might imagine the ultimate party song and all kudos to Mr. Lane and TCC bandmate Rob Wylde and co who do a fantastic job.


All in all then if you’re looking for a nostalgia fix then ‘Straight to Video’ is obscure enough to be cool, poppy enough to boogie too, and like all the best nostalgia trips may well lead to heated arguments about levels of cheese but at the end of the day as the eighties side closes on a high note it’s pretty much done the job – great performances even if some of the song choices might slant rather towards ‘dodgy’ territory.


The second half of the release looks at songs from nineties movies – an era where special effects in movies upped the ante and acting got better, whilst the music scene and the remainder of the world started to slip down the pan! Lane has chosen well tough, cozy Petty-like pop ditties in the main from the usual suspects that it tighter together than the eighties selections.


‘If You Don’t Love Me’ from Dumb and Dumber originally by Pete Droge is a nice enough folky Petty-like number worth checking out, and here played faithfully and in our opinion better than the original; ‘Dyslexic Heart’ by ex-Replacements man Paul Westerberg has a similar, if livelier vibe and was by far the best thing to come out of the appalling ‘Smart People’ movie it promoted; thankfully its better know from featuring in the decent if not classic ‘Singles’.


‘Reality Bites’ (the cringe-worthy Rom-Com shamelessly targeted at Gen-Xers) supplies the Social Distortion track ‘Story of my Life’ - another better known song and great cover to boot with a great vocal by TCC alumnae Jamie Derelict. Again it has a similar vibe to the preceding nineties songs, with, in this case, a little added punk. They’re the sort of songs you can all imagine being played in that hideously cool coffee shop in Friends and you suspect that Lane must both own the boxed set of that series and probably have the ability to quote from it at random?  


The album closes with The Gin Blossoms ‘Till I Hear From You’ a dreary song from the truly forgettably scripted and acted  coming-of-age movie ‘Empire Records’; and The Goo-Goo Dolls ‘Two Days in February’ from the very worst movie of the seemingly endless Nightmare on Elm Street franchise -‘Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare’


This is a tale of two albums – a hit and miss run through a largely obscure collection of songs from the eighties and a canter through a rather washed out and grey selection of better known songs from the nineties. That said the musicianship and performances throughout are exceptional. At the end of the day if you love your 90’s hip Indie Rock you’ll get a lot out of the second half of this even if some of the films the tracks come from will still make you cringe.

 

 

by Leslie Phillips

 


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