The Mod Squad

Updating The Mod Squad for the big screen must have seemed like a good idea at some point, but judging from Scott Silver's cinematic mess, it's hard to see why. There's some stylish camera work and the performers -- Claire Danes, Omar Epps, and Giovanni Ribisi -- are all appealing, but the story was clichéd and insipid. So, perhaps it's fitting that the soundtrack is similarly hackneyed. Like any soundtrack for a big-budget wannabe blockbuster, Music from the MGM Motion Picture The Mod Squad covers all the bases, attempting to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. That means it has rock, dance, rap, soul, urban, and adult contemporary, which is bound to produce a bit of a mess. And that's what The Mod Squad is -- a mess. It has to be said that it's a stylish mess, with a couple of cuts popping up here and there -- Björk's "Alarm Call," Busta Rhymes' "Party Is Goin' on Over Here," Alana Davis' effective cover of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" -- that keep things fairly listenable, but ultimately it isn't for anyone outside of hardcore fans of the soundtrack. A couple of noteworthy points before concluding: over half of the featured songs are by Elektra artists, including a couple that the label was obviously hoping to break with this soundtrack. Second, Gerald Levert & Lil' Mo's cover of Todd Rundgren's "Hello, It's Me" is utterly bizarre, especially in how it completely blows an opportunity to rework a song that would have been an effective urban ballad. Finally, "Collage" marks the Breeders' first recording in six years -- it's a James Gang cover. A bad one. A lazy one. For fans that have been waiting for six years, it's almost enough to give up on the band entirely. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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