From the Vault...



© Reprise Records

Year of Release: 1996

track listing
  • "Change The World"--
    Eric Clapton
  • "Dance With Life
    (The Brilliant
    Bryan Ferry
  • "Crazy Love"--
    Aaron Neville &
    Robbie Robertson
  • "Corinna"--
    Taj Mahal
  • "Have A Little Faith
    In Me"--
  • "I Have The Touch"--
    Peter Gabriel
  • "Piece Of Clay"--
    Marvin Gaye
  • "Para Donde Vas"--
    The Iguanas
  • "Misty Blue"--
    Dorothy Moore
  • "A Thing Going On"--
    J.J. Cale
  • "The Orchard"--
    Thomas Newman

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    The movie soundtrack of Phenomenon gets the nod this week, as this movie from 1996 starred John Travolta. The film's plot: On his birthday, mechanic George Malley (John Travolta) sees a flash of light and proceeds to exhibit extraordinary mental abilities. He becomes a genius, even showing an ability to move objects with his mind. George wishes to help people, but the government wants to take him in for observation. Soon, George finds out from Dr. Brunder (Robert Duvall) that he has a massive brain tumor. With this new knowledge, George decides to spend his time with girlfriend Lace (Kyra Sedgwick).

    I have yet to see this movie, but I do remember hearing the storyline. For a person who can achieve "superpowers," such as moving objects, and in this movie's plot, becoming a genius (pretty much out of nowhere) is an often thought in our minds, at least for me. I have dreamed of such powers, and in reality, it's just a dream. Yet in the movies, anything is possible. The movie received positive reviews, and in Travolta's case, has their been a real bad movie he as done? Probably not.

    The movie and soundtrack's most popular hit was by Eric Clapton -- "Change The World." This song was never released on a studio album by Clapton, and it also reached #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. Despite Clapton's heartbreak loss of his son, Connor, he picked himself up and kept busy recording. Of course, the outcome of this tragedy was his hit "Tears In Heaven," which would also reach #1 on the AC chart. "Change The World"Phoenomenal. This song was the leadoff track to the soundtrack, and more great songs would follow.

    Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) would have his own successful solo career, where such songs of his, like "Kiss And Tell," and his version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" would receive major popularity. "Dance With Life (The Brilliant Light)" is by him, and this song could be a song that even Clapton could have recorded, for his Adult Contemporary career. (The Brilliant Light would be a good title, with the movie's plot, of Travolta's character receives his genius and powers from the flash of light.)

    Does the next song sound familiar? Michae Buble fans would say yes, as "Crazy Love" was recorded by him in recent years. This song is actually a remake, as Van Morrison originally wrote and recorded it. Aaron Neville gets a little help from The Band's Robbie Robertson for the soundtrack. "Crazy Love" is definitely a great tune. Just as Van the Man originally recorded, Aaron and Robbie does very well, with their own version. Speaking of the Band, which Robertson was famous in, the next song, could have been recorded by the Band -- Taj Mahal's "Corinna." A good song to follow "Crazy Love," and speaking of that particular tune, Jewel's "Have A Little Faith In Me" has verses that resembles that of "Crazy Love" also.

    "And now for something completely different..." More unique, in the case of Genesis' first lead singer Peter Gabriel. "I Have The Touch" is more of an Alternative Rock sounding song, and with this title, it also fits the movie's storyline - Having the touch, to move objects, as Travolta's characters powers does. Yet a very pleasing sound of music (yet it does make you sad, in how his life ended), Marvin Gaye's "Piece Of Clay" was originally recorded in 1972, from his album (that was never released that year; it was released decades later) You're The Man." "Piece Of Cake" fits today's Adult Contemporary format, and if Marvin was alive today, this song could probably have been a hit, if it was originally released in 1996. (An interesting story about this song, and album - Click here As this article states as a "painful listen, his lyrics stand out, even for today: Father, please stop criticizing your sons / Mother, please, leave your daughters alone / Donít you see thatís what wrong with the world today? / Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay)

    The next track is a good breakaway from the Adult Contemporary format, if you will -- "Para Donde Vas" by The Iguanas. It's a spanish/latin tune, as they are a roots rock band from New Orleans, formed in 1989. Their sound has been described as combining Chicano rock, R&B, Conjunto and various Latin styles into a deep groove. You can visit their website, here.

    And talk about a disovered gem -- "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore was recorded in 1976, and would become her biggest hit. It's a great soulful R&B song, and to be quite honest, I had never heard of this song, nor of Dorothy Moore. "Misty Blue" reached #1 on Billboard's R&B chart. Soulful as it gets, she is easily compared to the many great Soul singers of the 1960s/1970s. More info on Dorothy Moore can be found here.

    J.J. Cale was more of a songwriter than a performer. His most famous written song (actually 2), were recorded by Eric Clapton -- "Cocaine," and "After Midnight." Cale was another great artist, and if you have never heard of him, he is another one to discover. "A Thing Going On" is on this soundtrack, and if it's a J.J. Cale song, it has to be great. And it is, great Blues. J.J. Cale left us in 2013, but left behind great songs to his legacy. Visit his website here.

    Ending the soundtrack, is an instrumental by Thomas Newman, "The Orchard." This song is one of those, where you hear in a movie -- A traveling scene, or another scene, where one is trying to reach some kind of destination... Newman is known for many film scores. Among his credits are The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, [Skyfall, Spectre] (James Bond films, starring Daniel Craig). More info on Thomas Newman can be found here.

    The soundtrack to Phenomenon starring John Travolta is excellent. With it's great songs, and great storyline, the movie is a must see. With the storyline of having given genius status, and powers, this storyline I definitely want to check out. The music to this film has great Adult Contemporary and Blues for the most part. The entire part, is the fact this soundtrack is excellent, and has songs by artists that you may have not have heard of, easily to discover. Among those is Dorothy Moore. Her song "Misty Blue" is one of the standouts, likewise Clapton, and others.

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