May 1998

Boogie Nights - Soundtrack
Capital Records 7243 8 55631 2 6
Released: 1997

by Doug Schneider

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on CD]Without a doubt Boogie Nights is one of my favorite films of 1997. It brings to life a cast of characters so real, so intriguing, and so different from the way they could have been portrayed that following their lives through the close of the ‘70s and into the early ‘80s is a two-plus-hour nostalgic journey. It's not often a movie can close with a wanna-be rapper showing the finest 12-inch special effect of the year in a scene straight out of Raging Bull with ELO kicking out the final credits. Or how about ten minutes of drug-induced, hazy-eyed terror while firecrackers explode off-screen right and some fanatic dances to "Sister Christian," followed immediately by "Jessie's Girl"—downright cool is what it is. The music that supplements the film does not just play along with the action, it’s an ingeniously mixed and integral part of the final product. Therefore, I had no choice but to buy Boogie Nights, the soundtrack.

Many of the songs in the film are on the soundtrack CD—for the rest that should have been on, such as Sniff 'N' The Tears "Driver's Seat" and Rick Springfield’s "Jessie's Girl," there is the Boogie Nights 2 soundtrack. Regardless, there are some gems in this mix lifted from past, like "Brand New Key" by Melanie, "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, "Machine Gun" by the Commodores, and "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger—plus much more including ELO's "Living Thing." The only new cuts are the theme from Boogie Nights, titled "The Big Top," by Michael Penn and Patrick Warren, and the disc’s opener, "Feel The Heat," performed excruciatingly poorly by actors John C. Reilley and Mark Wahlberg in a send-up of early-’80s rock.

The sound is OK but nothing more—reasonably clean, dynamic, and perfect for blaring at a house party, on your ghetto blaster, in your walkman or beside the pool. This isn't serious stuff. It's a fun disc that brings back memories the way only music can. However, in this case, the music alone hardly holds a Bic lighter to the film with the music. Still, it's good enough to make me want to own Boogie Nights 2.