A thoroughly great movie, Almost Famous is set in the early 1970s and revolves around the adventures of a teenage music journalist and a rock band called Stillwater. Cameron Crowe, who wrote, co-produced, and directed the film was certainly the ideal candidate to administer such a project, as the noted rock scribe launched his career as a high school student the same time the flick takes place, resulting in a story mixing fiction with reality.
Painting a precise picture of the mercurial musical landscape of the era, Almost Famous (Dreamworks) serves as a smartly-selected soundtrack. Proposing a balance of well-known songs and obscurities, the disc also tosses in a clutch of cuts from the previous decade.
Radiating with mesmerizing warmth, “Feel Flows” by the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin’s acoustically adorned “That’s the Way,” Todd Rundgren’s bright-and-Beatlesque “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference,” the Who’s rumbling instrumental, “Sparks,” David Bowie’s live cover of the Velvet Underground’s edgy and intense “I’m Waiting For The Man,” and Clarence Carter’s honey-soaked soul classic, “Slip Away” reveal just what a broad scope of genres are presented.
Then there’s the psychedelic-informed garage punk of “Mr. Farmer” from the Seeds, along with the southern-suffused strokes of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s power ballad, “Simple Man,” and the jammy punch of “One Way Out” by the Allman Brothers. Elton John’s epic “Tiny Dancer” and the catchy shuffle of raspy-throated Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells A Story” step in as further contributions, while “I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move” by Yes stands as an ambitious entry, marked by a dapper and dramatic display of angelic harmonies and progressive rock polish.
A pair of new tunes additionally grace the album, including “Lucky Trumble,” a shimmery and serene folk-flavored instrumental from Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, and Stillwater’s hard and heavy Led Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath styled “Fever Dog,” which features righteous riffing from Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Nancy Wilson.
Not every song heard in the film appears here, making the disc only a sampling of the ear candy offered. A double album would have been nice, but that’s my lone gripe. Content is what counts, and Almost Famous definitely rates as a strong and exciting collection.
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