ROCK STAR – Music from the Motion Picture (2001 Warner)
I remember dragging my long-suffering girlfriend at the time out to see this movie. She had every right to complain. The movie was a stinker, absolutely. Not to mention, it had no idea when it is taking place. Vaguely, the 80’s, but then after this guy (Marky Mark) leaves the band (Steel Dragon), he goes and becomes the founder of grunge? The movie sucked! It was very, very loosely inspired by the story of Ripper Owens being discovered by Judas Priest, by being in a Judas Priest cover band. In the movie, Marky Mark becomes the singer of Steel Dragon after their original singer (who also happens to be gay, hmmm?) quits. It was supposed to be a really inspiring story of the everyman with talent who succeeded, but it ended up being just a normal everyday turd.
But listen, we’re not talking about the movie. We’re looking strictly at the soundtrack CD. I ask you one simple question: If you were to pick one band to write and play the title anthem for a movie about a heavy metal band in the 80’s, who would it be? Obviously the answer is Everclear. (I say “obviously”, because a whole bunch of suits who get paid a whole lot more than I do picked it, so they must be right.) Actually, their tune “Rock Star” isn’t bad. It sounds a bit like an old Canadian rock band called Deadline, actually.
The main attraction of the CD is actually the original tunage by the fictional band Steel Dragon. On record, the lineup was:
- Zakk Wylde – lead guitar
- Jason Bonham – drums
- Jeff Pilson – bass
- Nick Cantonese – guitar
- Mike Matijevic – lead vocals
- Jeff Scott Soto – lead vocals
See why I dragged that poor girlfriend out to see this movie? Zakk, Jason and Jeff were in even the movie, as the band Steel Dragon.
They had two lead singers, while Marky Mark mimed. Jeff Scott Soto sings the raspy, mid-rangey stuff such as “Livin’ the Life”. This isn’t a bad rock tune, but it’s Zakk’s guitar that makes it perk up a bit. Mike Matijevic (Steelheart) sings the smooth and screamy stuff, with his impeccable range. “We All Die Young” is a bonafide great songs. Matijevic’s stunning vocals meeting Zakk Wylde’s leads is probably a wet dream for some folks! The only problem with it is that it doesn’t sound accurate to the period. The movie is supposed to take place in the early 80’s (I think) but “We All Die Young” sounds early 90’s. But wait…we’re supposed to be talking about the CD, not the movie. Fuck the movie!
“Blood Pollution” (written by Twiggy Ramirez, interestingly) has Matijevic singing, but as with “Livin’ the Life” the song isn’t that special. It sounds like Motley Crue, except with Zakk Wylde on guitar and a better Vince Neil. Jeff Scott Soto helms “Stand Up”, which is way heavier than you’d expect considering Sammy Hagar wrote it! This version actually came out before Sammy’s, on 2002’s Not 4 Sale and has different lyrics. “Stand Up” kicks ass, and along with “We All Die Young” is one of the soundtrack highlights. Just listen to Zakk killing it in that fast part! It’s also one of the few tunes with that patented, genetic Bonham Stomp.
Another track right up Motley Crue’s alley is “Wasted Generation”, and with its Desmond Child co-write it’s a lot heavier than expected. Jeff Scott kicks ass on the anthemic punchy chorus, and Zakk’s shredding is tasty. The final Steel Dragon tune on the disc is a Rainbow cover — “Long Live Rock and Roll” with Matijevic singing. I never understood why the band Steel Dragon would be playing a Rainbow cover, since it is implied that Steel Dragon were active in the 70’s too, contemporaries with Rainbow. But we’re here to talk about the CD, not that piece of shit movie. “Long Live Rock and Roll” with Zakk Wylde on guitar…it’s not what you’d hope it would be. Bonham’s awesome though, and remarkably Ian Paice-like.
The rest of the disc contains various hits from various bands from various years. The Verve Pipe – “Colorful” (2001), check! INXS – “The Devil Inside” (1987), check! Why? Who the fuck knows. I like some INXS, it’s completely out of place. I suppose that a soundtrack for you. More suiting to the tone of the CD are Kiss’ “Lick It Up” (1983), Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” (1986), Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” (1975), and Motley Crue’s “Wild Side” (1987). I do wonder why “Stranglehold” seems to be the only Nugent that ever shows up on movie soundtracks. At least Marky Mark doesn’t have any songs.
The final song, Trevor Rabin’s “Gotta Have It” sounds like end credits music, but I’m not going to watch that crummy movie to find out. Rabin’s track is excellent, as should be expected. It sounds like Rabin, which is all I can really say to describe it!
So: Rock Star, a shit movie, gave us a pretty OK soundtrack. Considering I (and probably you) already had the Nugent, Kiss, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue songs, I salvaged seven tracks from the album as keepers: the six Steel Dragon tunes, and Trevor Rabin. There are 14 songs, so this time the math is easy.