Video game soundtracks aren't supposed to be this cool, are they? Well, apparently no one told that to the people who organized the cool musical throwback that is the Stubbs The Zombie soundtrack. Lets talk about the game first. Designed by the founder of Bungie Studios and the producer of Halo, Stubbs The Zombie is a third person action game that utilizes an updated Halo engine to deliver some bad ass graphics and stunning game play. The game is set in Punchbowl, PA, a fictional "city of the future", supposedly built by the Eisenhower administration to show off the technology of the 21st century. The main character is Stubbs, a wisecracking zombie who's trying to take over the city one brain at a time. You can check a trailer here. The game looks pretty sweet if you ask me. But the soundtrack... the soundtrack is REALLY damn cool... as long as you're a fan of '50s rock & roll classics.
The soundtrack compiles 13 tracks from 13 different artists - both up and coming and established - who all take their own stab at a classic song from the early days of rock & roll. Ben Kweller's version of "Lollipop" kicks off the soundtrack, sounding very similar to the original Chordettes version, but (of course) with Kweller's signature cool croon providing the vocals. The Raveonettes' contribute their version of "My Boyfriend's Back", originally recorded for and released on their 2005 album Pretty In Black. Death Cab's version of "Earth Angel" offers a more modern, Gibbarded-up take. Cake's "Strangers In The Night" is everything you'd expect - quirky, fun, and cool. Other stand outs include The Walkmen's "There Goes My Baby", Oranger's "Mr. Sandman", The Flaming Lips' Sgt. Peppers-esque version of "If I Only Had A Brain" and, the only original track on the album, Phantom Planet's zombie inspired, "The Living Dead". There is one track however, that stands out above the all rest. Rogue Wave's re-working of the Buddy Holly classic "Everyday" is truly great. Its arrangement is completely original, creative and beautiful. It's something more than just a slight, more stylized variation of the original (which many of these songs are). If there's one song from this album that should go on the next mix-tape you make for your sweetheart, it's this one.
Normally, I wouldn't be writing about video game soundtracks, but after spending some time with this one, I couldn't pass it up. Some serious time and effort went into putting this together and it seems to me that something more than "the bottom line" was considered when producing it (which is a definite plus). Whether you like it or not, the mid to late '50s spawned some of the greatest pop songs ever written and the bands that participated on this album seem to have had a true love for the original versions of the songs they contributed.