Album + Soundtrack
It's hard to believe that many hearts were filled with joy at the news that there was to be an American remake of the 1960's Brit-flick Alfie. Fewer still will have leapt at hearing that the original soundtrack of jazz giant Sonny Rollins was to be replaced by music from Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger.
Neither man has done much to excite audiences in the absence of their better halves (Annie Lennox and Keith Richards respectively), and the combination gives every appearance of having been conceived in the boardroom rather than the rehearsal studio. The temptation therefore is to dismiss it out of hand as the faceless unacceptability of corporate culture, but in fact it's not as bad as it might have been: just a bit bland and pointless.
The two big new songs, each turning up in two versions, are "Old Habits Die Hard" and "Blind Leading The Blind" -the very titles of which indicate the dearth of inspiration. Harmless enough, they resemble the heritage bands that were such a minor feature of the 80's rock scene: they'd fit comfortably on an old album by the Hooters, say, or the Rainmakers. Although Jagger's in fine voice, he's let down by treadmill material.
In addition, you get five instrumental tracks by Stewart, which dust down the cliches, from the Bo Diddley rhythms of "Oh Nikki" to the synth-strings and piano of "Counting The Days". Fair enough in the context of a movie, but not the kind of thing you'd want to hear in the privacy of your own home.
More interesting is the prospect of Joss Stone turning up in this company. She provides a new version of the Burt Bacharach title song, which is sung beautifully of course but lacks the creative arrangements of her own albums. And her duet with Jagger on "Lonely Without You (This Christmas)" turns out to be little more than a chorus, rather than a fully-fledged song. The hackneyed title (again) is matched by the lyrics: 'It's the season of good will - I guess I love you still.'
Which leaves us with "Wicked Time", which samples Stone's "Alfie" over a lazy rhythm, and throws in a rap from Nadirah Nadz Seid and some moaning from Jagger. And with "Darkness Of Your Love", featuring P-Funk veteran Gary Mudbone Cooper, which is neither dark nor lovely.
It's still hard to believe that many hearts will be filled with joy.