Obsessed with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms,” director Edgar Wright conceptualized a car chase sequence affixed to the adrenaline-filled blues number. Years later, he made a music video featuring a confident, music-loving getaway driver waiting for his criminal counterparts to return from their unknown unlawful mission. He fleshed out those ideas and came up with what turned out to be the hit action thriller Baby Driver.
While Wright doesn’t include Mint Royale’s “Blue Song” – the tune in the getaway car video — The Blues Explosion tune opens the film, and the rest of the scenes rest in close relation to its soundtrack. The songs would end up commenting on and providing the emotional and speed-driven beats in the script. His success at taking an audience into this criminal underworld under a long-form music video guise made “Baby Driver” one of rare the non-franchise, non-superhero hits of last summer.
The 30 tracks on Baby Driver: Music from the Motion Picture act like a fantastic Spotify playlist that’s filled with old school R&B, punk, classic rock and engagingly esoteric songs. Like the film, it begins with “Bellbottoms” and goes from that frantic groove to a slinkier one on Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle,” which may be better known by the Rolling Stones cover version.
From there, the film’s set up of romance, heist and action runs through numbers by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, The Beach Boys, Carla Thomas, Dave Brubeck, The Damned and The Commodores. Surprisingly, lesser tunes by T. Rex (“Debora”) and Beck (“Debra”) pause the nonstop good times.
The Incredible Bongo Band rights things and you find everything from The Detroit Emeralds’ “Baby, Let Me Take You (in My Arms)” to the appropriate “Nowhere to Run” by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas to Blur’s “Intermission,” the manic “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” and later Queen’s “Brighton Rock.”
Taking the compilation deep into the 21st century with tracks by Kid Koala and Run the Jewels and Big Boi seem more like a pander to be contemporary when compared to the exhilarating deep tracks that precede them but it’s not enough to leave this high-speed tasteful treasure trove of tunes to skid off the road and crash.