Various Artists - "Kill Bill Vol. 1" Soundtrack 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 23 September 2003

Kill Bill Vol. 1 Original

Various Artists
format: CD
label: Maverick
release year: 2003
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

The soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Volume 1” film is a lot like the primary elements in his films, which always seem to include a mixture of the cool with the kitsch. Who else but Tarantino would have had the guts to place RZA’s rap tribute to the film’s Japanese/Chinese character Oren Ishii (played by Lucy Liu) on his disc, then later in the album, include the middle-of-the-road pan flute sounds of Zamfir? While RZA (of Wu-Tang Clan) is always and forever ghetto-fabulous, the owning of a (sold only on TV) Zamfir CD might likely lead directly to social death in many circles.

Tarantino loves movie and TV music just about as much as he digs action-packed films, so in addition to its original music, “Kill Bill” also features the “Green Hornet” theme, which is played rapidly on trumpet by Al Hirt, and an excerpt from Quincy Jones’ “Ironside” theme. “Without Honor or Humanity,” performed by Tomoyasu Hotei, may be a new work, but it’s still retro enough to fit into the aural background of almost any show now running (well, re-running) on cable’s TV Land.

As he has done so often in the past, Tarantino includes film dialogue in with his musical soundtrack. “Queen of the Crime Council,” for example, is performed by Lucy Liu and Julie Dreyfus, and is all about the Chinese/Japanese heritage of Liu’s character. Elsewhere, “You're My Wicked Life” incorporates dialogue from David Carradine, Dreyfus and Uma Thurman.

The coolness vs. kitsch factor is sometimes up for debate here, however. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by Nancy Sinatra is both slow and sad. But is this “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” girl truly hip, or just a nostalgic figure? You make the call. And is Charlie Feathers’ “That Certain Female,” with its fast rockabilly; nothing more than a remnant from a bygone era? “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,” performed by Santa Esmeralda with a whole lot of pseudo-Mexican flair, is unquestionably un-cool for two reasons. First off, it’s disco, and bad disco at that. Secondly, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Animals’ powerful original version. Furthermore, at 10:30 long, it’s far too much of a bad thing.

Inclusion of the 5, 6, 7, 8’s cover of Rock A Teen’s “Woo Hoo” is clearly hip, however, especially since this is a film that delves into Japanese/Chinese culture, which makes it all the more fitting to have a Japanese rock outfit aboard. The same goes for Isaac Hayes’ “Run Fay Fun,” since his shiny shaved head is welcome at any and all parties where the hippest of the hip go.

You may need to skip a few tracks here and there while listening to it, but “Kill Bill” ultimately adds up to a killer soundtrack.

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