Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!
It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”
Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.
Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.
Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.
But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.
Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.
American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:
1. Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John
3. White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa
4. 10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra
5. Live And Let Die | Wings
6. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees
7. I Feel Love | Donna Summer
8. Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
9. Delilah | Tom Jones
10. I’ve Got Your Number | Jack Jones
11. Long Black Road | Electric Light Orchestra
12. A Horse With No Name | America
13. Stream Of Stars | Jeff Lynne
14. Live To Live | Chris Stills
15. Irving Montage | Danny Elfman