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Hollywoodland: Music from the Motion Picture

Focus Features' Hollywoodland excavates 1959 to recall the investigation into actor George Reeves' death. A soundtrack of songs from the film comes courtesy of Decca Records, and it's an appropriately moody sampler of 1950s music. Kicking off with a re-recorded version of the theme from The Adventures of Superman (in which Reeves starred), the disc offers melodramatic pop, period easy listening, and representative jazz tracks of the day. The Platters' "The Great Pretender" exemplifies the fifties sound and the film's characterizations of people who lived to lie, whether by acting on or off screen; Conway Twitty's achy "It's Only Make Believe" covers similar stylistic and thematic ground ("He Will Break Your Heart," from Jerry Butler, also skews to pop melodrama). On the flip side, Frankie Laine's uninspired version of "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and Little Richard's gleefully hyperactive dance track "The Girl Can't Help It" ably represent the lie that everything's alright. Jazz cuts include Lionel Hampton's signature big-band tune "Flying Home" and three tracks from Arturo O'Farrill: "El Cumbanchero," "Elephant Walk" (by Quincy Jones), and "At Last" (O'Farrill's Orchestra and, in particular, the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra follow in the footsteps of Arturo's late father Chico). John Coltrane's "Theme for Ernie" and King Pleasure's "You're Crying" lend swanky noir atmosphere to Hollywoodland. Rounding out the disc are two blues-rooted tracks: Bo Diddley's self-titled hit and Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae."
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