Thursday, July 24, 2008

Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989 OST)


This is the soundtrack to the Aki Kaurismäki film. The story of a bunch of Finnish hicks in a polka band whose manager (the late, great Matti Pelonpää, also seen as the Helsinki taxi driver in the Jarmusch film Night On Earth) takes them to Amerika to "make it big", with hilariously disastrous results.
The soundtrack is appealing for the innocent, unjaded accordion music, which varies from your typical polka to Mexican mariachi (Desconsolado, Tequila), from the end of the film where they finally get a gig at a Mexican wedding. It also features more straight-up rockers like their cover of L.A. Woman, which opens the disc and is not from this film but from a Kaurismäki short (as are the second and third songs on the disc).
I picked this disc up in Finland in 1993. Though the film had a US release, at the cinema as well as on VHS, this disc was never released Stateside (nor has a DVD of the film). I looked it up on Amazon and there are 2 Korean "imports" available from secondary sellers, from 57-65 dollars. Ouch. And I put imports in quotes cos one should always be wary of *cough*imports*cough cough* from Asia (unless they're from Japan). I'm not saying they're pirated, I'm just saying be WARY. This is the actual Finnish release on Megamania, so download with confidence. HERE.

Tracks:
01. L.A. Woman
02. Thru The Wire
03. Rocky VI
04. Marching
06. Sunday Morning
07. Highway
08. Blue Swing
09. On The Road
10. Glamour Cowboy
11. No Man's Land
12. Ten Lost Gringos
13. Mambo From Säkkijärvi
14. Desconsolado
15. Ballad Of The Leningrad Cowboy
16. Tequila
17. Chasing The Light

I won't go into the bizarre post-film history of the band (or their matching hair-and-shoe styles), you can get that from Wikipedia. Suffice to say it is interesting. But seek out the VHS, it's well worth a viewing (Cameo-spotting: Jim Jarmusch, the great Samuel Fuller). I often tell friends that Kaurismäki films are like "if Bresson did comedy". And if that means anything to you, you know what an interesting film that would be. Other than that, I highly recommend the easy-to-find The Man Without A Past, which is by now the biggest Finnish film (in America, anyway). And on September 23rd, the Criterion Collection releases a box-set of his three best films as The Proletariat Trilogy (though in Finland it's known simply as the Suomi Trilogy. Suomi is Finnish for Finland. I think considering the different titles together says something about it. Though I really wish they would have stuck with the original. I mean, this is a Criterion, not mainstream release. But this is quibbling...Preorder now!)

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