Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2012 February 06 • Monday

War's "Low Rider" is playing on the radio somewhere in the world every second of ever day. It's probably playing on several radios at any given moment. Fine with me. I love that song. And its placement in Cheech and Chong Up in Smoke is one of the great uses of a pop song in a movie.

But War has done at least one original soundtrack, to the movie Youngblood. It's our 203rd Soundtrack of the Week.

It begins with "Youngblood (Livin' in the Streets)", nearly eleven minutes of an infectious groove with slinky bass guitar, subtle percussion and rhythm guitar embellishing the beat set by the rock solid drummer, surprisingly cool horn lines, atmospheric backing chorus and impassioned vocal delivery of the lyrics. A log drum or marimba gives the song one distinct character, while about halfway through, a string section comes in and gives it another. Piano and chorus come in, then saxophones. The song is mostly instrumental, with the lyrics featuring only in the beginning.

After this comes "Sing a Happy Song", a bright tune that starts out like something by The Meters and switches gears when the singer comes in ("Sing a happy song / if you feel so good"). It's basically a funky "Whistle While You Work".

"Keep on Doin'" begins with a kind of prog-jazz-funk feel and has a Parliament Funkadelic-like approach to the lyrics, which are accompanied by swooping soprano sax stylings. The bass line is really sick on this one. Imagine a synthesis of P-Funk, electric Miles and Tangerine Dream.

"The Kingsmen Sign" is a short, mostly instrumental piece that features percussion. "Walking to War" is also not very long but very different in tone. The bass guitar plays a heartbeat while piano, didjeridoo and various percussion instruments create an ominous mood. There are some words but they're spoken, not sung, perhaps from the movie itself.

Then it's party time again with the laid-back, grooving "The Funky Music Makes You Feel Good". Percussion ensemble launches and sustains the funky but prowling "Junk Yard", which also sounds like it has dialogue and sound from the movie in it.

"Superdude" has a walking bass line and unexpected accents from the drums. Some straight piano playing adds to the jazzy feel and again you hear what appear to be voices from the film.

You knew there had to be a sappy love theme in here somewhere, and it arrives with "Youngblood & Sybil", a short piece for electric piano and analog synthesizer.

"Flying Machine (The Chase)" brings back the funky, percussion-led band. At first it's mostly a work-out for the flute with some waves of synth and organ stings. Then there's a piano solo, then more flute, this time with some Rahsaan-like overblowing.

"Searching for Youngblood & Rommel" is tense, dramatic underscore with martial snare and stinging piano and keyboard, plus some weird synth noises and what sounds like somebody swiping at the strings inside the piano. There's also more audio from the movie.

The record wraps things up with a reprise of the opener, "Youngblood (Livin' in the Streets)". Excellent music.