Various - Kill Bill OST
Quentin Tarantino is considered to be a man with a very good record collection, taking relatively obscure tracks into the homes of those who would not otherwise have embraced Urge Overkill, Stealer's Wheel or Dick Dale as warmly as they otherwise did. Still, he's due a credit ridding the release schedules of albums bearing the legend, "Inspired by the Motion Picture" - think Mission: Impossible and Madonna's lifeless I'm Breathless - but his reuse of the old habit of adding dialogue to soundtrack albums has resulted in the placing of risible lines from movie scripts padding out dull instrumentals, as on David Holmes' Out Of Sight.
As per the earlier soundtrack albums to his films, Tarantino's selection of tracks for Kill Bill is a mix of genuinely great songs placed alongside a number of tracks included to show off QT's record collection. As an example, Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) is a wonderful late-sixties clash of melancholy balladry and rich pop but it sits next to the throwaway rock'n'roll of That Certain Female, which recalls the use of Chuck Berry's You Never Can Tell during Pulp Fiction's Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Contest. Sure, the case could be made for this being a diverse range of songs accompanying a film of equally diverse styles but the problem is that Kill Bill really doesn't appear gel as an album, and not a mix-tape, should.
After these two opening tracks, there are two fine pieces of music, both well suited to film soundtracks - Luis Bacalov's The Grand Duel, which suffers a little from its similarity to Ennio Morricone's work for Sergio Leone, and Bernard Herrmann's Twisted Nerve that opens with a jauntily whistled motif before being offset by tense strings. After a brief snatch of dialogue from Lucy Liu, The RZA breaks in with Ode To O-Ren Ishii, which is musically as strong as anything else he's done but still makes the case for The RZA being supported by much better rappers in The Wu-Tang Clan and Gravediggaz.
From that point on, the album begins to break up with none of the subsequent tracks really taking it anywhere for, despite only being the sixth song on the album, The RZA's track feels like its centrepiece. As much as Isaac Hayes' Run Fay Fun is an awesome piece of instrumental soul, Al Hirt's Green Hornet - the theme from Bruce Lee's television show - and Tomoyasu Hotei's Battle Without Honor or Humanity are both shapeless and undemanding with the latter let down by its use of the booming drums from Led Zeppelin's When The Levee Breaks/Mike Post's theme to Law & Order, which gives one the feeling of having heard it all before.
A 10-minute salsa cover of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood was likely chosen for being one single piece of music that was capable of scoring an extended fight sequence but even the much shorter Woo Hoo by 220.127.116.11's, despite being great fun on its first play - it's a rockabilly song over which a female vocalist comes in with her one lyric of, "Woo Hoo, Woo Hoo Hoo" - can't help but have a little of its shine rubbed off with every subsequent listen. Meiko Kaji's The Flower of Carnage and Zamfir's The Lonely Shepherd are both great and bring the album back to what one would like to see more of, being beautifully tender Japanese songs that will be familiar to anyone with but a passing knowledge of Samurai movies but a bunch of short instrumentals bring the album to a close with a mix of analogue synth gurgles, NEU!'s drumming and martial arts sound effects.
The Kill Bill OST suffers from the feeling that, like other Tarantino soundtracks, will be increasingly inessential as the years pass, much like the films from which they are sourced. This reviewer has struggled to ever get through Pulp Fiction a third time and a similar story can be told of both Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown. In Tarantino's case, familiarity has indeed bred contempt - surely there is no better sign that the venue one is standing in is having a 'student's night' than the playing of Little Green Bag. There is always the feeling that Tarantino's one trick is to introduce the listener to slightly obscure tracks but, once done, the actual soundtrack albums fail to hold one's interest. The Kill Bill OST is really no different - some of it works, some doesn't but it's largely a success.