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Various Artists – Paul: Music from the Motion Picture

February 17, 2011 by  

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Various Artists – Paul: Music from the Motion Picture

NAME: Various Artists
ALBUM: Paul: Music from the Motion Picture
DATE: 21February2011

LABEL: Universal Music


FIVE WORD REVIEW: Beautiful score with great classics.


LINE UP: David Arnold (composer), The B52’s, Marvin Gaye, MaxRomeo, ELO, Todd Rundgren, The Only Ones, Bill Withers & Gover Washington Jr, Bill Lee Riley, King Harvest, Syd Masters And The Swing Riders

Paul OST.jpg

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Buying a soundtrack without even seeing the film shouldn’t happen, at least not in a sane world; this approach is only the bastion of fanboys and collectors. Even if you’re a fan of the constituent bands on this release, you still wouldn’t buy it outright because you’ve heard the featured tracks too many times before.

Paul contains the adventures of Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings – Simon Pegg and Nick Frost respectively – and follows up the rightfully highly-rated Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. They’re on the trip of a lifetime, taking a holiday to America’s UFO hotspot to track extraterrestrials, and would you believe it… they find one. Let the LOLs commence!

Without Edgar Wright directing, everyone has the right to anticipate it being a bit overrated, though Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman and Jeffrey Tambor, Superbad and SNL’s Bill Hader, Glee’s Jane Lynch and the one and only Sigourney Weaver seemingly underline its possible brilliance, alongside the creative skills of Wright replacement Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland).

Luckily, original score creator David Arnold pretty much makes the soundtrack without needing the film in front of you to back it up. After doing every Bond film from Tomorrow Never Dies to Quantum of Solace, alongside Independence Day, Stargate, Little Britain and even the very recent (though pretty poor comedy) Come Fly With Me, he’s involved here. Unsurprisingly, he’s nailed it.

Harnessing strings, piano, choral chanting and the biggest percussion section you’ll need, Arnold gives everything necessary, even if it’s ultimately similar to many other great classical scores that preceded it. The tense ‘Chase’ ramps up the fear; the slow piano of ‘A Little Talk with Paul’ is sorrowful and moving; ‘Campfire Confessions’ sounds like scarily like it should be in Schindler’s List, such is its grim gravity; ;You Gotta Try’ sounds a bit like a sequence from Harry Potter; ‘Road Trip Number One’? Wistful and relaxed.

‘Road Trip Number Two’ is possibly the stand out track, despite being surprisingly short at 1:35. Painting a picture in such a short space of time, it weaves in a wonderfully dramatic mood, punctuating it with a bit of mouth organ on its exit to take the edge off it.

Opening and closing tracks ‘Paul Opening Title’ and ‘Goodbye (It’s a Little Awkward)’ clearly serve a purpose, though the first is a bit underwhelming. The latter, however, sounds like the intro to a Pixar film, using a toy piano-style approach intertwined with gorgeous strings. Despite this being a tired analogy before even saying it, it certainly has an “end of ET” vibe around it. Expect this to work with the heart strings when you watch the film.

As for the licensed tracks? They’re all wonderful, to be fair, though they’re all classics at the same time. Most importantly, they carry the theme necessary: space. Obviously. Thank Christ, then, that they included ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by King Harvest and not the disgusting cover by Toploader.

‘Planet Clare’ is always welcome on the sole criterion that Fred Schneider sings on it; Marvin Gaye’s high-pitched ‘Got to Give it Up’ is welcome on *any* soundtrack; ‘Just the Two of Us’? Yeah, no-one dislikes that song and if you don’t, you have no soul. ‘I Chase the Devil’ had a rebirth through a sample by The Prodigy on ‘Outer Space’. You know that wonderful reggae? Yeah, it’s that tune. Cannot argue.

‘Another Girl Another Planet’ may not ring any bells as a song name, but if you’re a Vodafone customer, you’ll probably hate it, especially if you were ever on hold. It’s a great 70s tune, despite its sell-out status, and even if it sounds like any one-hit wonder UK indie band of the 90s.

Lesser-known tunes include ‘Flyin’ Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll’ by Billy Lee Riley, a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin 50’s classic, as well as the utterly sexy (and partially recognisable) ‘Hello It’s Me’ by Todd Rundgren. Again, it’s well placed. Syd Matters covers the classic ‘Cantina Band’ too; the country version of the immortal Star Wars track is gorgeous.

Last but not least, ‘All Over the World’ by ELO is always an opportunity to revel in the beauty of the wondrous happiness that only Jeff Lynne and his cronies can achieve, and it’ll no doubt be used to devastatingly enjoyable effect in the film. Actually, maybe not – as the last track, money’s on it being used during the credits (though, fingers crossed, a gag reel will be involved).

Actually, I suppose there’s the spoiler for you: the film ends well. I mean, if it ends with ELO, it *has* to. Don’t expect the police to go postal on Pegg, Frost and a CG alien voiced by Seth Rogen.

As a personal point, and to give this the full credit it deserves, I don’t really give soundtracks full marks unless they’re original. However, for Arnold’s involvement? It’s a great effort. With 49 years behind him, his best work is still to come. The licensed tracks are practically perfect for the theme of the film without even seeing it; as a result, less than 5/5 for this would be unfair.

Let’s just hope it’s worked well into the film, ey?

SOUNDS LIKE: Too many films to mention, without impacting on its original qualities.

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You like Paul. Also, if you don’t like Paul. It’s a bit of a win-win.


Submitted By Matt Gardner



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