Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Various Artists - Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night - Orange Vinyl (/5000)


Music On Vinyl (2020, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

If there is an album that I would consider to be quintessentially high school, it would be the Judgment Night Soundtrack.  It came out in late 1993 when I was starting out my junior year.  While I wasn't listening to much in the way of rock or alternative music at the time, I was neck deep in one of the best years in hip hop history.  I had really enjoyed the Anthrax/Public Enemy version of "Bring The Noise" a couple years earlier and I remember being pretty psyched about this album, even though I have no memory of actually being aware of the movie.

In a nutshell, this album paired some interesting hip hop luminaries with some rock and roll bands.  History looks back on this album as something of a bridge between those two worlds and the start of the sort of rap-rock stuff that would take hold in mainstream music in the late 90s.  I don't really agree with that assessment.  In my eyes, this is a total fluke record.  It's better than it has any business being and none of the creatively bankrupt followups ever achieved what it did.

That's not even to say this album is a success from start to finish.  There's several songs that I think are pretty terrible.  Ice T and Slayer's cover song medley doesn't have any hip hop in it at all, making me wonder what the point of it even was.  Same thing with Fatal and Therapy?'s "Come and Die."  Even Run DMC (who essentially created this sort of thing, at least on a mainstream level) come up flat when paired with Living Colour on "Me, Myself & My Microphone."

That said, there's some great songs on here.  I'm pretty confident that the very first time I ever heard of Sonic Youth was because of the low key groove they provided for Cypress Hill on "I Love You Mary Jane."  Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. really tear it up on "Another Body Murdered." Even the weird-on-paper pairing of Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot yields impressive results.  

The pinnacle of this album and probably the main reason I bought it is for the Del The Funky Homosapien song.  He teams up with Dinosaur Jr. (Also, definitely the first time I ever heard of them), and their contribution "Missing Link" is the epitome of what could be possible when two unique artists work together to try to create something new. The music that J Mascis put together is a perfect canvas for Del's left of center flow, allowing him to meander around with his innovative rhyme structures and cadence in a way that's completely unique to the album.  The entire record is worth it just for this song.

I couldn't ever listen to this record on a super frequent basis.  It sounds really dated and as mentioned earlier, there's a few songs on here that are pretty bad.  But it does make me nostalgic for a time where music was taking chances.  I don't know that you could ever create another album like this again, so I'm glad it was able to happen when it did.

Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night (YouTube Music full album playlist): 

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