Sounding as if he’s hunched over a synthesizer in his home studio, Bruce Springsteen sings his sullen theme song for the soundtrack of ”Philadelphia” (Epic Soundtrax) as if he’s trying very, very hard to relate to the tragedy of being an AIDS victim. For the most part, he pulls it off. Lines like ”I can feel myself fading away” are somewhat generic, but ”Streets of Philadelphia” is the most arresting track the semiretired Boss has done since ”Tunnel of Love” nearly seven years ago.
Unfortunately, that song is the only reason to hear this typical patchwork of a soundtrack. In keeping with the Springsteen number, the songs dwell on feelings of sorrow and loss, but with drastically varying results. While Sade’s numbed-out remake of Percy Mayfield’s 1950 hit ”Please Send Me Someone to Love” and an eerie new Peter Gabriel track, ”Lovetown,” are indelible mood pieces, Neil Young’s ”Philadelphia” is embarrassingly mawkish. And Spin Doctors’ remake of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ”Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” only confirms their status as the world’s luckiest bar band. Director Jonathan Demme and album co-executive producer Gary Goetzman also toss in upscale R&B, world beat, and an aria by opera diva Maria Callas. Still, it’s Springsteen’s moment that will linger long after you’ve left the theater or turned off the stereo.