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They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That No More… or, on the Soundtrack ofLes Liaisons Dangereuses

Maybe I’m exaggerating. But it seems to me movie soundtracks, however danceable they may be, no matter how much they may support a film’s action sequences, very rarely stand up on their own as art anymore. I do have a copy of the Lola Rennt soundtrack, but I can’t really call it art, not except in that cheesy industry way that any dipshit in skimpy or stylish clothes who can lipsynch becomes a “recording artist.”

Not like, say, the soundtrack of the 1959 Roger Vadim film Les liaisons dangereuses. I mean, Art Blakey and the friggin’ Jazz Messengers? (As well as Art Blakey and the “Afrocuban Boys” and the Blakey/ Barney Wilen quartet?) Sure, it’s very straight jazz, but it’s good, not mediocre stuff. It’s certainly listenable, enjoyable, without needing a conversation schlepped on top of it, without needing an action sequence chucked into your eyes. It even has some soprano sax (played by Wilen) from just before Coltrane put out My Favorite Things and the instrument suddenly came into enormously broad fashion — though no doubt Wilen was impressed by Steve Lacy’s work with the instrument. It’s good music, and it is soundtrack, and it was made for the soundtrack of the film.

And no, I’m not particularly complaining that we don’t have jazz soundtracks anymore. I’m saying lots of movie soundtracks effectively are either pop music compilations, or else purely background-quality stuff. It’s a pity.

Or is it? Maybe I’ve missed the boat on more recent, outstanding soundtracks? Any recommendations?

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