Sound of Superman

Various Artists
Sound of Superman

(East West/Rhino)

First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6

Written by John Metzger


Boys will be boys, and rock ’n‘ roll is their playground — hence the stream of comic book characters that dot its musical landscape, not the least of which is DC Comics’ action hero Superman. Artists as diverse as AC/DC (What’s Next to the Moon), Genesis (Land of Confusion), XTC (That’s Really Super, Supergirl), Eminem (Superman), and Jim Croce (You Don’t Mess Around with Jim) have drawn The Man of Steel’s world into their own. Coinciding with this summer’s return of Superman to the silver screen, Rhino compiled the 14-song set Sound of Superman, but instead of emphasizing artists with a proven track record, the collection takes a significantly less costly approach of featuring a slew of relatively unknown power-pop ensembles.

Although Sound of Superman begins in a promising fashion as The Academy Is... takes a page from Matthew Sweet’s playbook and cranks up the volume on a cover of The Clique’s bubblegum pop hit Superman — a tune that younger fans likely will attribute to R.E.M — the album quickly devolves into mediocrity, or worse. Part of the problem is that the newly written selections are vastly inferior to the better known fare, though equally troubling is the fact that most of the performances are indistinct and dull. Not to pick on Motion City Soundtrack — there’s plenty of blame to go around — but its meshing of Coldplay with The Outfield creates an amalgamation that is best left alone. There’s little doubt that the collection’s weaker moments serve to uplift its more interesting tracks, but in the end, The Sun’s disco-meets-punk rendition of The Kinks’ (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman, The Films’ angst-filled version of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman, and Royal’s equally goofy (though largely faithful) interpretation of The Dukes of Stratosphear’s Braniac’s Daughter are little more than disposable curiosities. star

Sound of Superman is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box