VARIOUS ARTISTS: CBGB – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Album: CBGB - The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Omnivore

Release Date: October 08, 2013

CBGB 10-8


With few exceptions (Natural Born Killers, Pump Up The Volume, High Fidelity, Repo Man) movie soundtracks generally suck; wastelands for artists to use as dumping grounds for their D- grade material and to garner a paycheck.

This is not the case with CBGB -The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, quite possibly the best soundtrack since Natural Born Killers or The Royal Tennenbaums.  The upcoming biopic (released next week) is about the NY Bowery bar and the music breeding ground that grew out of it, signifying a cultural shift in music as well as the world.  When owner Hilly Kristal gave up on his dream of a successful country and bluegrass club, he opened the door and his stage for bands that would define NY punk like The Ramones, Television, The Dead Boys, Blondie, Patti Smith and countless others.

The bar with “the world’s most disgusting toilet” drew art school types, fringe players, hustlers, groupies, outcasts, would be musicians, junkies and uptown types slumming, seeing what all the fuss was about, feeding the hype and building a “movement.”

The soundtrack is stacked floor to ceiling with now legendary bands you would expect here.  There’s Talking Heads with their proto- New Wave “Life During Wartime,” “Blank Generation,” Richard Hell and the Voidoids beat poetry set to music, The Police’s ode to a hooker (“Roxanne”) and Blondie’s “Sunday Girl.” 

While these are most certainly great songs and touchstones of New York punk and New Wave scenes, the real treats on the disc are the selections that many may not know but that are no less important.

Wayne County and The Electric Chairs, regulars to the CBGB stage, dish out the fittingly named “Out of Control”; the New York Dolls, early punk icons and glam originators, crank out the superb “Chatterbox”; ‘60s garage rock groundbreakers The Count Five have a “Psychotic Reaction”; the Dead Boys, represented twice on the disc, give the classic “Sonic Reducer” and the out of this world “Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth.”

And of course, no punk soundtrack would be complete without, in my opinion, the creators of the genre: the kings of snot and rebellion covered branch of the rock family tree, The Stooges (“I Wanna Be Your Dog”) and The MC5 (the uncensored version of the punk anthem “Kick Out The Jams.)

CBGB is a good place to start for those curious about the late 1970s New York punk scene or those of us that genuinely love the speed fed music that represented a time and place in our heart.  With the soundtrack, you can visit as much as you want and you won’t have to use that bathroom, Thank God.

DOWNLOAD: “Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth”  “Psychotic Reaction”

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