[Review] Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me: Music from the Motion Picture (1999)

The shagadelic soundtrack to the second Powers movie, featuring Madonna, R.E.M., Green Day, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello.

Kronomyth x.x: Why don’t you just call it Operation Wang Chung.

The followup to the first Austin attracted a predictably high-profile list of musicians who wanted in on the action figure: Madonna, R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz, Green Day and Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello. The highlight is Madonna’s Grammy-winning “Beautiful Stranger,” a brilliant bit of modern psychedelic sunshine that reflects her recent Ray of Light. R.E.M.’s razor-straight reading of Tommy James’ “Draggin’ the Line” is another keeper.

Draggin’ it down are disappointing covers from Melanie G. (a/k/a Scary Spice, a/k/a That Salesperson at Marks & Spencer Who Looks Just Like the Black Spice Girl) and Lenny Kravitz, plus a completely unnecessary instrumental from Green Day. As for Myers’ turn at the mic, “Just The Two of Us,” it’s as funny as the movie (secret decoder ring translation: not that funny).

The idea of having artists either re-spin psychedelic classics (The Zombies’ “Time of the Season”) or create their own (The Flaming Lips) is a good one, too bad only Madonna meets the challenge halfway. “Buggin’” has all the earwigmarks of an outtake and the unholy alliance of Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello must surely be one of the signs of the Apocalypse. As for the people who praise Elvis as an interpretive singer, stop encouraging him lest we face the collective terror of Christmas With Elvis Costello some day soon.

A few points of minor interest: Costello and Bacharach both made a cameo in the film, Mike Myers “starred” in Madonna’s video for “Beautiful Stranger,” and “Time of the Season” marks the only appearance of the quickly cancelled Big Blue Missile.

The Songs

A1. Madonna: Beautiful Stranger (Madonna/William Orbit) (4:21)
2. The Who: My Generation (Live from the BBC) (Pete Townshend) (3:24)
3. R.E.M.: Draggin’ the Line (Robert L. King/Thomas Gregory Jackson) (4:27)
4. Lenny Kravitz: American Woman (Randy Bachman/Burton Cummings/Jim Kale/Gary Peterson) (4:20)
5. Melanie G (aka Scary Spice): Word Up (Larry Blackmon/Tomi Jenkins) (3:39)
6. Dr. Evil: Just the Two of Us (Ralph McDonald/William Salter/Bill Withers/Robin Ruzan) (1:43)
7. Green Day: Espionage (Green Day) (3:23)
8. Big Blue Missile (with Scott Weiland): Time of the Season (Rod Argent) (3:25)
9. The Flaming Lips: Buggin’ (The Flaming Lips) (3:17)
10. The Lucy Nation: Alright (Anna Nystrom/Andy Cousin) (3:58)
11. Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello: I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) (3:20)
12. Quincy Jones and His Orchestra: Soul Bossa Nova (Dim’s Space-a-Nova) (Quincy Jones) (3:07)

The Players

Produced by Madonna & William Orbit (1), R.E.M. & Pat McCarthy (3), Lenny Kravitz (4), Timbaland (5), Sauce (6), Green Day & Rob Cavallo (7), Scott Weiland (8), The Flaming Lips & Dave Fridmann (9), Lucy Nation & Marius De Vries (10), Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello (11); additional production by Doug Grean, Hyperfreez & Still James (8); additional production & mix by Peter Mokran (9); remix by Bill Appleberry (6), Chris Lord-Alge (7/10), Dmitri from Paris (12); remix and music supervision by John Houlihan (6); engineering and mixing by Jimmy Douglass (5); additional engineering by Andy Bradfield (5); soundtrack produced by Danny Bramson and Guy Oseary; soundtrack executive producer: Mike Myers.

The Pictures

Photography by E J Camp, Mark Fellman, Kimberly Wright. Art direction by Kevin Reagan. Design by Kevin Reagan and Stefan G. Bucher.

The Plastic

Released on compact disc on June 1, 1999 in the US (Maverick, 47348-2); reached #5 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record).

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