Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2010 June 28 • Monday

The 119th Soundtrack of the Week is White Lightning by Charles Bernstein.

It starts slow, with electric bass guitar and percussion. Then come dobro and cello. There's a ton of reverb. Spooky electronic keyboard comes in, then jaw harp. It's a fantastic piece, accompanying a murder scene in a swamp.

I guess the idea for White Lightning was basically Get Carter in the bayou. Seems reasonable enough to me. Burt Reynolds is Gator McKlusky, an ex-con out to get the corrupt sheriff who killed his brother.

I started to watch it on hulu but got annoyed by the MGM watermark and the commercial interruptions. Hulu thinks that if you like White Lightning, you'll also like Vigilante Force.

They're probably right.

Reynolds returned as Gator in the movie Gator, which he also directed.

Charles Bernstein's soundtrack is one of my favorite CDs. After the languid "Main Title" comes "Escape & Hound Chase". The first half is pensive and the second half is an explosion of banjo and harmonica with orchestral background.

"Love Feelings" almost has a John Barry sort of feel in its arrangement of piano and strings. "Evasive McClusky" starts with drums playing really fast, then in come horns and other instruments playing a swirling motif that's ocassionally punctuated by a rocking back beat.

"Sheriff Menace" echoes the main title music, particularly in its electric bass guitar part. "Running the Cops Around" is an uptempo sort of bluegrass number with violin lead and awesome drumming.

"Remembering a Brother" brings out pedal steel guitar for maximum melancholy. "Funky Road" starts as a pretty slamming funk track before shifting gears into the main title mood again.

"'Finger Pickin' Good'" is another high-stepping bluegrass kind of tune, perhaps source music. "The Barge/In the Stix" starts with solo blues harmonica, then returns to the atmosphere of the main title.

"Skinny Dip" begins with a reprise of "Love Feelings" then builds on it to make a more complex piece. "Run Around Too" is another great action cue, similar to "Running the Cops Around".

"Scary Bear's Still" prominently features the jaw harp and is another impeccable 1970s funk-action-suspense piece. "'Slip 'n' Slide' & 'Lap It Up'" are also probably source music cues like "'Finger Pickin' Good'"

"Fight at Bear's Still" is something completely different, a rhythmically dense piece with piano and drums competing for your attention. It's most likely for the climax of the picture.

The CD ends with two songs, "Way Down Under" and "White Lightning Ballade", both sung by Jerry Whitman. "White Lightning Ballade" wasn't included in the finished film.