REVIEW: A Mighty Wind – The Album (2003 soundtrack)

A MIGHTY WIND – The Album (2003 Sony Music Soundtrax)

It’s way too easy to dismiss this album as a novelty. After all, movie stars singing songs in a comedy movie rarely amounts to anything substantial. However, the Oscar nomination for “A Kiss At The End of The Rainbow” lends this album credibility. Not to mention, most of these people have been singing for years. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara frequently had musical numbers on SCTV. Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest perform here as The Folksmen, but they are probably best knows as their alter egos, Spinal Tap.

I can’t say that every song is a winner. I’m not a huge fan of the stylings of The New Main Street Singers (Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey, et. al. in a “neuftet”). It”s just not to my taste.  As Harry Shearer says in the movie itself, “Would you rather hear a toothpaste commercial, or some music?”  The New Main Street Singers are the toothpaste commercial.  It works in the context of the movie. On the album, well, I could live without!

The estranged couple Mitch & Mickey (Levy and O’Hara) sing a beautiful song called “When You’re Next To Me” on track 3. It’s pretty stock until the second verse, when O’Hara comes in with her harmonies, and at that point I can believe that this is a real, serious folk duo. After all, they’ve been working together in various incarnations almost as long as their movie counterparts. Great song, and a great performance.

Finally, The Folksmen pull out their greatest hit(!), “Old Joe’s Place”, a fun novelty track that’s instantly catchy and memorable. You won’t be able to stop singing, if you can keep up with the rapid fire lyrics. Even better is “Never Did No Wanderin'”, on which the three singers meld perfectly. Not to mention these guys can really play their instruments, don’t underestimate them.

Lyrically, the jokes (when present) are sometimes a little subtle. For example, “Blood On The Coals”. Since there were so many folk songs about train accidents, and just as many folk songs about coal mine disasters, why not combine the two? So it’s a song about a train that crashes into a coal mine.  Elsewhere, the jokes are more obvious. The Folksmen end their cover of “Start Me Up” faithfully to the Stones’ original, which sounds absurd.  I like the absurd.

Although I cannot pick a favourite song, I think “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow” is as beautiful and perfect as music gets.

Lastly, the CD is enhanced with a bonus video: “When You’re Next to Me” by Mitch & Mickey live, which was deleted from the movie.  This feature is only advertised inside the CD booklet.    In the days of Youtube, this really isn’t much of a feature anymore, but I remember being quite excited to discover it back in 2003.

Don’t let the “comedy” tag scare you off. These are just great songs. It should hardly be a surprise — The Folksmen used to open for their alter egos Spinal Tap decades ago! These guys are all pros.

4/5 stars

44 comments

  1. You’re gonna make me want to watch this again. Great flick, I always thought Best In Show was the best of these films but this one has more to come back to.

    “Now these microphone stands..they are going to have microphone heads on them”?

    Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review indeed. First of all the movie is a dream pairing of my favorite movie (This is Spinal Tap) and my probably my all-time favorite show (SCTV). I also agree that Kiss at the end of the Rainbow really adds a stamp of authenticity to just the soundtrack alone. The Folksmen stuff is probably my favorite on the album too. There are certainly some throw-ins but still impressive considering the amount of actors/performers on the album.

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    1. Yes absolutely, and look at the writing credits. McKean, Levy, Shearer, Guest, O’Hara, with a co-write with CJ Vanston (Spinal Tap) and a co-write with Annette O’Toole. Pretty impressive stuff. All these songs were cooked up in-house! That’s the difference between this and all the other fluff soundtracks out there.

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  3. Just LOVE those fake album covers! Agree 100% with your assessment- of course the music is so high-quality, they’re all real musicians as much as comedians. Chris Guest played with Arlo Guthrie in College, and did Bob Dylan & James Taylor parodies for The National Lampoon Radio Hour. Also performed in Lampoon’s “Lemmings” (parody of Woodstock Concert) with John Belushi & Chevy Chase. Now on the board of Berklee College Of Music with an honorary degree!
    At the peak of popularity of “Laverne & Shirley” show, Michael McKean & David Lander’s characters of Lenny & Squiggy did an album “Lenny and the Squigtones” with Nigel Tufnel on guitar. Their song “Foreign Legion Of Love” was a hit on Dr Demento’s radio program.
    Before SCTV Levy appeared in a production of Godspell with Andrea Martin, Gilda Radner, & Dave Thomas.

    Most importantly though, is that they’re NOT mocking this music. They sincerely love it, and did a fantastic job re-creating the style.
    My fave moment has to be Mickie, sitting on the edge of his hotel bed in a stupor, while some couple has loud animal sex next door.

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    1. Pssst…that was Mitch! But I too love that scene.

      Thanks for all the history here. Truly these are multi-talented individuals. I remember when Spinal Tap came out. My dad said, “See these actors playing heavy metal, it just proves how little talent it takes to play rock music.”. How wrong he was!

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      1. Oops, I get those two names mixed up, thanx for correction!

        Well, anyone can play Rock (i.e. Nugent), but it’s a rare talent that can play it hilariously BAD, yet still LISTENABLE. Spinal Tap plays those heavy metal cliches so well, because they understand them enough to twist them out of shape a bit- that’s not as easy as you’d think.

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        1. Agreed – you have to know what you’re doing in order to create what they created.

          I look at it similarly to a great actor to plays a really dumb character really, really well.

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        2. smirk What, he wasn’t believable as a computer genius who invents a time machine? Or a blind genius lawyer who’s really an acrobat? Or a genius CIA agent Or a genius…………

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      1. I think Levy must love what he does. That’s the only explanation I can think of for him being in ALL of those damned American Pie movies, even all the straight to DVD ones. He’s the only actor in all of them. That’s love, baby!

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        1. Me too. Not to mention Count Floyd. Man, I miss that show so much. Every night we’d watch it. Every single night. My dad’s favourite sketch was Six Gun Justice. Which Eugene Levy sang in!

          “What’s a cowboy to do,
          When he is sad and blue?
          He sings a happy song,
          As he goes riding along,
          The dusty trail…”

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        2. Oh YEAH Count Floyd- so loved the fact they didn’t even try to hide he was really drunken newsman Floyd Robertson. OW-owowowoo-Ooooooooh (coff-coff) Ooooh real scary kids!
          Remember “Chiller Feature” host SIR GRAVES GHASTLY?
          Swear to god he was Detroit talk show host Bill Kennedy with bad make-up and a good alcohol buzz on. Must have been inspiration for Floyd.

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      1. Rocky the squirrel; “And now it’s time for Mr. Know-It-All”
        Bullwinkle; Ta-da! Nuttin’ up my sleeve…..the magic of Wikipedia!
        :-P

        Only knew about the National Lampoon’s “Lemmings”, Lenny & Squigtones, and Godspell beforehand.

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    1. Oooh. I like it, but…this is the one for me. Almost tied with Best In Show.

      The only one I disliked was For Your Consideration, which I own but have only viewed once.

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    2. Guffman is the one I laugh hardest at, even though I like them all. My experiences with amateur theatre companies gives me lots of private jokes in Guffman, it so nails the “types”.

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      1. My mom’s cousin breeds dogs, and has shown dogs as well. She said that Best In Show ALSO nailed all the “types”. She said that movie was so true to life you wouldn’t believe it.

        Guest, Levy and co. probably do their research.

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