Release Date: Sep 10, 2013
Record label: ABKCO Records / Universal
Genre(s): Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Vocal Pop, Traditional Pop, Tin Pan Alley Pop
While Boardwalk Empire includes plenty of authentic recordings in its re-creation of the mob wars of the Roaring '20s, Boardwalk Empire, Vol. 2 reaffirms that having contemporary artists interpret the era's songs keeps the HBO series from seeming too archival. Presenting highlights from seasons three and four, the collection features performances from a roster of more established artists than the soundtrack's first volume.
Perhaps it’s not the wisest idea to open this review with an admission that I’ve never actually seen a single episode of HBO’s epic series—okay, its other epic series. Boardwalk Empire has resided in the low hundreds on my Netflix queue for well over a year now, but has been passed up time and again in favor of cheesy horror films and dumb comedies—cinematic chewing gum rather than the multi-course meal of a serious-minded cable TV show. Maybe you’re thinking right now that I’m incredibly irresponsible—or at least critically suspect just for admitting it—but for the purposes of this particular album review, I’ll go ahead and argue that my ignorance of Boardwalk Empire at the very least gives me a certain objectivity to hear this second volume of Jazz Age songs gussied up by contemporary artists not as a soundtrack, but as a musical experiment.
Various ArtistsBoardwalk Empire Volume 2: Music From The HBO Original Series(ABKCO)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Forget for a moment the popularity and critical acclaim that the HBO series has garnered, and focus on the music that adorns the series. That is what the release of two soundtracks, Volume 2 being released this week, asks us to do. Fortunately, the show’s musical supervisor, Randall Poster, is steadfast in his approach to bask in the fruits of the great music of the 1920s, instead of trying to cross-pollinate eras nearly 100 years apart as Baz Luhrmann tried to do with The Great Gatsby soundtrack.
On Boardwalk Empire, Prohibition is a time of corruption, violence and really painful cures for gonorrhea, but musically it was a clever and lively era; many of America's greatest songwriters peaked in the 1920s. On this second volume of Boardwalk songs, a variety of crooners and warblers are paired with the redoubtable revivalists Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Elvis Costello channels Bing Crosby while whistling like a lark; David Johansen belts through the bootylicious "Strut Miss Lizzie"; and Rufus Wainwright, on the jungle-feverish "Jimbo Jambo," suavely lusts for a "dark-skinned bimbo." Even Nucky would smile.