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.