Album Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS The Big Lebowski


The Big Lebowski

(Mercury 536 903-2)

This soundtrack to the forthcoming Coen brothers film - "a dark comedy of murder, greed and bowling" - blends styles and sounds as intriguingly as any movie since Natural Born Killers.

Any album that features both Bob Dylan and Captain Beefheart has its heart in the right place, even if their contributions - "The Man In Me" and "Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles" - aren't the most distinguished entries in their respective oeuvres. Balancing their unabashed sentimentality are sober classical pieces from Erich Wolfgang Korngold and the blind American street musician Moondog, plus wordless vocal exercises from Yma Sumac and Meredith Monk.

The whole album seems to be constructed in pairs, with contributions from Henry Mancini and Piero Piccioni adding a lush, late-Fifties easy-listening feel, and a couple of covers - The Gipsy Kings' "Hotel California" and Townes Van Zandt's "Dead Flowers" - tiptoeing the line between kitsch and something darkly moving. And with tracks from Nina Simone, Kenny Rogers, Carter Burwell and Elvis Costello, it makes for a soundtrack as individual as the brothers' films.