Soundtracks come in many forms. Sometimes they come under the guise of an artistic base; others practically flaunt their commercialized nature. Some just exist as a byproduct of the film that spawned them. I am a fan of soundtracks in their various forms, although for me, much like their films, serve different purposes for me. Sometimes I like the collection of songs, like the classic rock collection from The Lords of Dogtown, sometimes I like the soundtracks that feature tunes specifically created for the film like Judgment Night, and then there are soundtracks that intersperse dialogue bits throughout, like The Devil's Rejects.
After all of those, there are the soundtracks comprised of songs carefully selected by the director, that do not necessarily play to the mainstream, they are there purely for the benefit of the film. The resulting collection is a secondary thought. Of course, these also tend to be fascinating collections apart from the films. Inglourious Basterds has spawned one of those fascinating soundtracks that is an artistic achievement in and of itself.
Quentin Tarantino is a fascinating filmmaker. Love him or hate him, his films are bound to evoke a response. You can be guaranteed that the film will be interesting, he is no hack, churning out studio-sponsored drivel like so many others. The same thing can be said for his soundtracks. As much a student of the cinema as he is, as deep as his film knowledge and influences go, his depth of musical knowledge appears to be its equal. With each film he crafts, he puts both to work. He mines the depths of obscure tracks, hunting, searching, scouring history for just the right song. I can tell you that with each film he makes, his soundtracks introduce me to scores of new (erm old) songs I have never been exposed to before. Then, take those songs within the context of the film and you get an entirely different experience.
With Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino was giving his spin on the World War II setting, complete with a fantasy spin on reality. While delivering this vision, he has imbued the film with the feeling of spaghetti western, to that end, the soundtrack is littered with the work of Ennio Morricone.
The way he uses music is fascinating. I do not believe he cares where the music comes from. Well, that may not be true, perhaps it would be more accurate to say he only cares that the music fits with his vision for the scene, regardless of its source. He does not ensure time period accuracy, how can you when one of your songs is David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)."
The one bad thing I can say about this particular soundtrack is that for as good as it is and how great it fits the movie, I do not feel it plays as well by itself. Do not get me wrong, the song selection is fascinating, I just do not see myself reaching for it as often as, say, Kill Bill Vol. 1. It also feels a little to the short side.
Still, this is one you will want to have with some great Morricone tunes, a trio of German period tunes, the theme from White Lightning, and Billy Preston's "Slaughter" to guide you through thirty-seven minutes of tunes.
Bottomline. The film is fantastic, it has a great screenplay and some great performances to go along with another interesting soundtrack. Love him,. hate him, you will always have a reaction just as his music choices will always be deep.