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Radio Sunnydale

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Okay, let’s get the chief gripe out of the way first: the new collection of music from the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer soundtrack, Radio Sunnydale (Virgin), only contains twelve tracks from the show’s last three seasons. The series’ first soundtrack set, culled from its earlier years, had eighteen. Why the short-sheeting?
It isn’t as if there’s not a wealth of material to choose: rock – alt-rock, in particular – has been an integral part of the series’ world from episode one, when Dashboard Prophets played at the town’s hip club, the Bronze. A lot of good groups have appeared on the Bronze’s stage, playing just low enough so the Scooby Gang could carry on a conversation without shouting. So where in the Hellmouth are they?
I’ve got no issues with the songs included: the Breeders’ retake on the show’s opening theme isn’t much different from the Nerf Herder original, though the band’s guitarwork is a smidgeon more surf-ish. Frente frontwoman Angie Hart’s “Blue” (co-written with series creator Joss Whedon) has the feel of one of Julee Cruse’s vocals on Twin Peaks and immediately recalls the episode it appeared in (“Conversations With Dead People”), while the Dandy Warhols’ Stones-ish “Bohemian Like You” provides a witty backdrop to the rampage of good ol’ troll Olaf in one of the final season’s funnier episodes. A few tracks – Nikko Costa’s r-&-b track, for instance – are more difficult to pin down, though. Too bad the booklet commentary by series song selector John King doesn’t spell out where all the songs appeared on the show, huh?

Befitting the series’ oft-melancholy tone, many of the tracks go for the rueful voice (e.g., Aimee Mann’s “Pavlov’s Bell,” Blur’s airy dancetrack “There’s No Other Way”). A cut from Joey Ramone’s swan song album (“Stop Thinking About It”) carries its own weight, particularly in the after-knowledge that the character it appears behind (Anya) doesn’t make it to the end of the series alive. And like the first collection, Radio Sunnydale concludes with an evocative slice of orchestral soundtrack: the “Final Fight” score from Buffy‘s concluding episode. But where was Nerf Herder’s appearance from their final Bronze performance (“What kind of a band plays during an Apocalypse?”) Don’t tell me the band priced itself off this disc.
I know. Most hard-core Sunnydale-ians have probably already bought this disc (despite zero push from Virgin Records) at full price. Still, it would’ve been nice – doncha think? – if the crew behind Radio Sunnydale had worked just a leetle bit harder toward delivering a more full-blooded package worthy of this matchless supernatural series’ final years.

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About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.
  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    I’m really getting the feeling Virgin Records set out to prove just how dumb a record company can be compared to a teevee network and movie studio.

    Who knows how this project landed with Virgin, but it has the stink of contractual obligation about it.

    Virgin then did everything they could to kill the record (probably some exec wanted to say to another exec, “see I told you so”).

    When it comes to soundtracks, the music biz is profoundly stupid (great example is the OST for “O Brother Where Art Thou? released the first week of December with no push, it became a hit and there was no stock in stores, and none arriving until the beginning of February since it takes about 8 weeks to get new stock in the pipeline when the manufacturing side shuts down over the holidays).

    It just reinforces that the music business is run by idiots who don’t know what they are doing and know nothing about running a business.

  • http://www.waking-vision.com Michelle

    I bought the first soundtrack and was disappointed that not all songs on the album had appeared on the show – and as you set, there was enough material. So I don’t feel very obligated to buy the second soundtrack. I’d be much happier if “Angel” would get some recognition soundtrack-wise.