San Francisco Chronicle
January 18, 1998

Joel Spitzer has told me about a good review of the Great Expectations soundtrack that appears in the January 18, 1998 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. The review is by Beth Winegarner and she gave the album 4 stars.

LIVING UP TO `EXPECTATIONS' 4 stars VARIOUS ARTISTS Great Expectations: The Album Atlantic, $17.99 A soundtrack featuring popular alternative groups, and including new music from Tori Amos, Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots and ex-Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell, may be the obvious choice for a modern-day movie version of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations," due in theaters this month. And, despite a few incongruous head-scratchers, this collection may reach the top of the charts. The CD opens with "Finn," taken from Patrick Doyle's film score and including a wordless vocal from Amos. She also contributes "Siren," co-written with Doyle. The track is full of tense rhythms, stormy piano riffs and Amos' haunting vocal harmonies. Cornell's "Sunshower" is his first new track since Soundgarden's demise. The ballad, in which his aching vocal is backed by simple acoustic guitar, is a marked break from his heavy grunge past. Ex-Stone Temple Pilots singer Weiland delivers a whimsical waltz in "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down." The song opens with a music-box melody, then swirls with lush strings and a crisp snare drum. Weiland's pairing of alternative rock with classical waltz echoes the idea behind the film -- a marriage of the old with the new.

"Life in Mono" from the electronic group Mono continues the theme of old and new with its lushly synthesized ballad. Breathy female vocals bring its starry-eyed lyrics to life in an unexpected treat.

Some of the album's better- known contributors don't fare as well. Pulp's "Like a Friend" and Reef's "Resignation" are negligible tunes, and the Verve Pipe's "Her Ornament" is almost as lackluster. Iggy Pop's edgy, low-fi "Success," a decent track in its own right, is out of place in this collection.

The album closes with a pair of opposites: a studio version of the Grateful Dead's "Uncle John's Band" and Cesaria Evora's sultry Latin "Besame Mucho," a perfect nightcap for this menagerie of romantic tunes.

-- Beth Winegarner

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