Well, this is the soundtrack to a western, but it's also the soundtrack to the bloody new vision of Quentin Tarantino so while it hints at it, it's not exactly the most classical collection of dusty old desert songs you could imagine. It's a soundtrack that packs just as many punches as his movie and brands those wincingly visceral scenes into your mind as if it was an 'r' on Jamie Foxx's face.
From Ennio Morricone to Rick Ross it's a thrilling OST that somehow manages to modernise the western without completely ruining it in the process, I mean perhaps Rick Ross out of context is a little jarring, but John Legend's 'Who Did That to You?' is the smarmy second gun in Foxx's hand after you think he's all out of bullets. It's drawling guitar line wails with a lone gunman swagger as Legend's R&B vocals cry out with an over the top pulp. This more than any other song on the soundtrack encapsulates your thoughts of not what a Tarantino western is, but what it should be.
It's difficult to pick out tracks here that are better than the rest, they're all good, but this isn't a record in the usual sense, it's a soundtrack, obviously, and therefore it's about the feeling it brings with it and Tarantino's choices of tracks like 'Freedom' ring with the authenticity of classic slavery hymnals. It's a record that feels as sadistic and redemptive as the tale is on screen and it's a testament to these musicians that you don't need to see the film to understand the tale. It's spliced with some of the finest cuts of dialogue and death from the movie which add an extra layer of texture to this inspired collection and mean that you get to hear Christoph Waltz say, 'five thousand dollar n***a, that's practically my middle name' as much as you bloody well please.
Some of the finest moments come from the musical genre maestro that is Ennio Morricone and 'The Braying Mule' is one such delightful interlude which with its simple twitchy guitar line bounds along with purpose into the majesty of 'Un Monumento' which signals a shift in style to a more authoritative approach to things and is clearly where Django is. erm. well, 'unchained' metaphorically speaking of course. It makes sense then that the following track be titled 'Unchained' and is a lesson in cool from James Brown and 2Pac that couldn't suit Django's needs any better if it was a pair of pliers. Luis Bacalov's instrumental history in Spaghetti Western's also heightens the senses here as his grand scale transports you to the distinct time and place which is exactly why it's his work you'll have been hearing on the main theme 'Django' which opens the movie with a pulse pleasing rhythm that sets the tone of everything to come. It's imbued with menacing undertones and an overwrought sense of style and substance that are at each other's throats throughout.
It's music that's stamped with Tarantino's mark; 'Nicaragua' is injected with the happy-go-lucky feel of the incredible True Romance score and Jim Croce's 'I Got A Name' is a classic left-field choice that's given new life by its use here. With this soundtrack Tarantino has once again shown his ears are just as good as his eyes.