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"[Madonna's] music is a little off the shelf for me, but it's almost like the lack of personality in the music heightens the personality in her voice."

-- Bono

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Review of The Million Dollar Hotel Soundtrack

Hot Press, March 16, 2000
By: John Walshe


Various artists The Million Dollar Hotel (Universal) Rating: 10 out of 12

By this stage, you're no doubt aware that Bono co-wrote this movie and provides no less than six songs on the soundtrack, some with his old muckers in U2 and others with the Million Dollar Hotel Band, which pries the likes of Lanois and Eno away from the desk and into more standard musical roles.

The movie itself may be garnering mixed reviews, but the music has already been acclaimed, and it's not hard to hear why. The mood throughout is intimate, filled with smoky jazz and smouldering torch songs. In fact, it's not until the demented Latin punk of the closing "Anarchy in the USA" that the pace strays above the stately.

The Salman Rushdie-penned "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" single combines just the right elements of progression and timelessness. "Never Let Me Go" has a jazzy, late night feel, with a throaty Bono sounding perhaps more world-weary and vulnerable than ever before. The man must be the world's most improved vocalist over the past two decades, the vigour of yesteryear being tempered somewhat by style, substance and subtlety.

U2's "Stateless" sees the singer blasting into (William) Orbit over a smooth, smoochy, futuristic backdrop where Adam's searching basslines, rather than Edge's axe work, set the pace. On "Dancin' Shoes," Mr. Vox joins the shades of Dr. John and Tom Waits way down in the hole, while Lanois' steel guitar resounds around the Louisiana badlands.

The real standouts, though, are "Falling at Your Feet" and "The First Time." The former is a masterful duet: Bono playing it straight and sensuous with Danny Lanois as his alto ego [sic], on a love song of total adoration. The latter, meanwhile, drawn from Zooropa, features Bono sounding beautifully bruised but unbowed on a slab of good, old-fashioned U2.

Actress Milla Jovovich does her best Bjork-with-tonsillitis impression on Lou's "Satellite of Love," but even that can't dilute the mood, with Jon Hassel's trumpet playing nothing shy of brilliant.

The Million Dollar Hotel ranges from the spaced-out to the organic, often in the same song, and yet manages to maintain a core humanity and warmth that makes you want to check in, order a penthouse suite and enjoy its manifold charms again and again.

© Hot Press, 2000. All rights reserved.

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