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"Rock School: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Trillion Records; 2005)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

The word on the street about the film "Rock School" is that it is not Jack Black silly, but Paul Green harsh. More in line with reality TV than a daydream believer comedy vehicle, "Rock School" is reported to chronicle the Paul Green School of Rock Music, an after-school emporium of monster riff tutelage. Judging by the movie trailer, Paul Green seems equal parts prick and music motivator as he molds a horde of aspirant ragamuffin rock musicians into viable players. The accompanying cover tune soundtrack is an audio display of these kids’ accomplishments, which is made more impressive by the inclusion of many of the actual artists associated with the songs whose waters are tested in the great rock stream. 

For instance, you will hear Ann Wilson sing along with a fast-tempoed backup on “Barracuda,” and you will hear Ian Gillian shriek for all he’s worth to a steady rendition of “Highway Star.” Billy Idol checks in with the Paul Green prodigies on “Rebel Yell,” as Marky Ramone accompanies “I Wanna Be Sedated,” along with guest-star Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects, and even Santana cohort Gregg Rolie reprises his vocal duties on a pretty accurate redo of “Black Magic Woman.”

For the most part, the cover songs of these remarkable young musicians are the selling point of this soundtrack. If you’re not awed by the lightning quick prog following on their cover of Yes’s “Heart of the Sunrise” (coupled by none other than Jon Anderson, who still sounds vital today), you’re a bit hopeless. It’s an outstanding facsimile, as is “Peace Sells,” which is only missing the double-time rolls on the song’s finale. Dave Mustaine sounds like he’s having a ball lending his throat to these kids’ cause and it’s the coolest track on the disc. 

Unfortunately, not even Stewart Copeland’s rock godly percussive omnipresence on “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” can rescue this cover from its dreadful choruses, but you know what? It’s the message beneath that counts, that Copeland, along with all of the other established professionals who give themselves to help make the dreams of these kids a reality is a genuinely noteworthy thing, that it effectively passes the torch unto a new generation of appreciative listeners and performers and hopefully more beyond the young talent of the Paul Green School of Rock.

If this soundtrack wasn’t a mere novelty, it would have absolute staying power, but more than likely you’re going to give it a single spin, then leaf through your collection for the original material. Therein at least lies the subtle brilliance of this concept: keeping the power of rock alive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that.


Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08 Jan 2016 11:33:10 -0500.