Mike Flaherty
April 01, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Backbeat

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Stephen Dorff, Ian Hart, Sheryl Lee, Gary Bakewell
director
Iain Softley
genre
Drama, Biography

We gave it an A

Don Was had his work cut out for him producing the soundtrack to Backbeat, a film documenting the Beatles’ greaser Hamburg days (specifically the relationship between John Lennon and original bassist Stu Sutcliffe). The film, by definition, had to feature the nascent rock & roll covers that-along with prodigious amounts of booze and stimulants-fueled the band’s frenetic, punky club performances of 1961. Problem was, how to imbue these musty standards with enough of an edge to rouse a ’90s audience? Solution: Enlist the best from the postpunk music world-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, guitarists Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and Don Fleming (Gumball), and singers Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs) and Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum)-spend just three days recording, then use only the rough takes. Pretty shrewd, and mostly successful. With Dulli doing Lennon’s vocals and Pirner handling McCartney’s, these ”alterna-stars” bang out scrappy takes on ”Slow Down,” ”Money,” and ”Long Tall Sally.” Granted, no band alive could make ”Please Mister Postman” hip, and yeah, ”Roadrunner” would have been ballsier had Dulli (instead of Mills) belted it out. But there’s little else to complain about on this inspired experiment. A

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