Austin Powers in Goldmember [Original Soundtrack]

Apparently, Mike Myers and Austin Powers had spent a little bit too much time in the '60s, so Goldmember, the third Powers flick, moves the series into the '70s, with all the disco and blaxploitation kitsch that goes with it, as well as how it fits neatly into the urban audience that Austin gained with The Spy Who Shagged Me. The first film was a cult phenomenon, watched endlessly on video by SNL diehards and pop culture fanatics who loved its sly references to not just James Bond, but Peter Sellers films, mod culture, and the British Invasion. This was apparent on the soundtrack to the second film, which was heavy with alt-rockers and pop fans, recycling songs and sounds from the late '60s and '70s. There are a couple of remnants of that spirit here -- Susanna Hoffs sings "Alfie" (substituting "Austin" for "Alfie," of course); the pop-underground supergroup who did the fantastic "BBC One" on the first film resurface with the Austin-sung "Daddy Wasn't There," a good song that suffers a bit from the juvenile humour that has crept into the series; plus, the omnipresent Smash Mouth, who do another fine soundtrack tune with "Ain't No Mystery" -- but this soundtrack is firmly in the urban R&B, dance club camp. It's also doggedly modern -- the only oldie hauled out is Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star," although Angie Stone's "Groove Me" is such a faithful remake, it might as well be the original. Since this is the soundtrack to a comedy, not a history lesson, it shouldn't be taken for task for playing fast and loose with pop culture history, treating disco and blaxploitation as if they were interchangeable, but that attitude may grate on old-school Austin fans. Then again, they're not who this album is for. This is for fans of Destiny's Child, whose Beyonce Knowles plays Foxxy Cleopatra in Goldmember, and whose music sets the tone for much of this album, as oldies and new songs alike are given the Dr. Dre or N.E.R.D. treatment -- sometimes explicitly so, sometimes just in spirit. There are good moments here, too -- Knowles' opening "Work It Out" is an excellent post-disco single, better than anything on Survivor; Britney Spears' remix of "Boys" is very good; and the joke songs "Hey Goldmember" (which contains the refrain from nearly every disco song in memory) and Dr. Evil's take on "Hard Knock Life" work well. These tunes, along with the previously mentioned songs, mean that it holds together pretty well, even through the rough spots, and can even dispel the suspicion that, with all the remixes and emphasis on modern soul, this soundtrack is the most calculated Austin Powers record yet. (Final note: If Dr. Dre truly is such a master of funk, then why on earth did he ignore one of the funkiest rhythm sections in rock & roll on his remix of the Rolling Stones' "Miss You?" Stripped of any Stone but Mick, it's a stiff, hulking, mechanized stumble, lacking any of the loose-limbed, sexy swagger of Charlie Watts' rhythms, or Keith's guitar, or Dre's full-bodied, bass-heavy G-Funk, for that matter.) ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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