Powerful image of motherhood by photographer Balaji Maheshwar: “She was just 4 days old when I took this. Her parents live homeless in a road side settlement in Chennai, India. I felt a strong emotion and love in the way she was gripped by her mother close to the body. It was like a Homeless mom’s message to her child - “Never Give Up”
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” ~Agatha Christie
Anyone remember the 1993 film “Judgement Night”? It’s the story of four suburban buddies (Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff & Jeremy Piven) on their way to a boxing match who make an ill-fated exit off the highway and end up lost in Chicago's inner city (in a lavish RV no less!). There they witness a brutal murder and end up on the radar of the killer himself (a fine turn by Denis Leary). The rest of the film has the four pals on the run from said killer in a very dimly lit part of town that apparently does not have any police or phones. Typical.
The film, directed by the capable Stephen Hopkins, makes for fine viewing (if plausibility isn’t high on your list of movie requirements) but the story is pretty standard fare - comfortable middle-class types thrown into a grim urban landscape and forced to fight for their lives. Nothing we ain't seen before...yes? Its soundtrack, however, was another story. It’s quite remarkable.
Back in the late 80’s to early 90’s, hip-hop music was at its heyday. Acts like Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Cypress Hill and many others were getting regular airplay on the radio and were the darlings of the popular “Yo! MTV Raps” TV series. During that same time, another sound had begun to rear it’s ugly head: Grunge. Led by groups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden & Alice In Chains, Grunge dominated the radio airwaves and MTV throughout most of the 90’s.
Which brings me back to “Judgement Night”. The genius of the soundtrack was that it combined some of the best hip-hop acts of the time with some of the best grunge/hard rock/metal acts. Can you say Slayer & Ice T? Helmet & House of Pain? Mudhoney & Sir Mix-A-Lot? How about Pearl Jam & Cypress Hill? Here’s the complete listing:
"Just Another Victim" - Helmet and House of Pain
"Fallin'" - Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul
"Me, Myself, & My Microphone" - Living Colour and Run DMC
"Judgment Night" - Biohazard and Onyx
"Disorder" - Slayer and Ice-T
"Another Body Murdered" - Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.
"I Love You Mary Jane" - Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill
"Freak Momma" - Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot
"Missing Link" - Dinosaur Jr. and Del tha Funkee Homosapien
"Come and Die" - Therapy? and Fatal
"Real Thing" - Pearl Jam and Cypress Hill
In short, the “Judgement Night” soundtrack was perhaps the finest implementation of the genre unification concept…ever. That’s right, ever. Oh, I know the idea of fusing hip-hop and hard rock has been done before – most notably Run DMC’s collaboration with Aerosmith on “Walk This Way” as well as Public Enemy and Anthrax on “Bring The Noise”. But an entire album? Never.
Unfortunately, over the last 10-15 years, hip-hop has become the Tom Sizemore of the music scene - at one time a shining star but now only a pathetic and hollow shell of what it once was. It has become a bunch of buffoons flashing their “bling” in front of rented Bentleys and “making it rain” dollar bills over scantily-clad, big-breasted women hanging on to, or in the general vicinity of, a stripper pole. We’ve gone from “Thinkin’ of a master plan, Cuz ain’t nuthin but sweat inside my hand…” to “Told her to back it up. Like berp berp. And I made that ass jump. Like jerp jerp.” Nuff said?
For me, the hard rock scene has also seen a bit of a decline since the death of Kurt Cobain and grunge as we knew it. This is not to say it is anywhere near what hip-hop (rap) has become but at least what I hear on the radio today is not of the caliber of what Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, & Pearl Jam were producing in the 90’s. And Metal? Despite (for me, at least) reaching the apex of it’s creativity with Celtic Frost’s 1987 masterpiece “Into the Pandemonium”, Metal still lives on - attracting a new generation of fans (mostly teenagers) despite recycling guitar riffs and lyrics that go back 20+ years.
So why not revisit an album that captures these musical genres while at their peaks? Like the four friends in the film, get off the main road and get lost for a while in the grim but highly enjoyable musical landscape of the film’s soundtrack. Without the psychotic killer and his evil henchmen trying to kill you, of course.
So what are some of your favorite movie soundtracks? Share them...
Here's a sample of what you can expect. Warning: FIERCE!Faith No More/Boo-Ya Tribe - "Another Body Murdered"Biohazard and Onyx - "Judgment Night"Got a movie soundtrack better than this one? I'd like to know...Subscribe in a reader and never miss a new post. You won't be sorry...promise.