Various Artists: Almost Famous: Music From the Motion Picture (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) (UMe) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Various Artists

Almost Famous: Music From the Motion Picture (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)


Sep 09, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

“Every time the bus is pulling away as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Tangerine’ plays as the end…it kind of crushes me a little bit,” notes Jason Lee, who played Stillwater singer Jeff Bebe in the movie Almost Famous. “All my favorite scenes in the film are because of the music playing in them,” says John Fedevich, who played Stillwater’s drummer Ed Vallencourt. “Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ when Anita leaves home, and especially the scene when Stillwater arrives in New York in the limo and ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ is playing—that is f-cking cool!”

These are among the recollections from the cast and crew included in Almost Famous: Music From the Motion Picture (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition), reflecting how the actors are as passionate about music as the characters they played. Fans of the film who share those feelings about how the music connects them to the experiences of young music journalist William Miller (based on those of writer/director Cameron Crowe), “Band-Aid” Penny Lane, and the band Stillwater, can delve into a full Almost Famous immersion with this 5-CD set (also available in other configurations, including vinyl).

A denim-style notebook covered with band names and doodles (as you see at the start of the movie) opens to extras such as replica concert tickets, a Stillwater poster, and a newsprint Rolling Stone issue that includes William Miller’s full Stillwater cover story. The set’s book contains photos and recollections from the cast and crew, along with Crowe.

While the visuals in the set are a treat, the discs provide a deep dive into the sounds of Almost Famous experience. For a soundtrack that’s key in a movie about a rock band, the Super Deluxe Edition expands it over three CDs, where the listener can hear the full run of songs from artists including Iggy & The Stooges, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, along with performances by Stillwater, original score music from Heart’s Nancy Wilson, memorable spoken clips from the film (“One day you’ll be cool,” says William’s older sister, played by Zooey Deschanel), and the tour bus version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” with Stillwater and the cast singing along.

In addition, there’s a disc of six Stillwater recordings, unreleased demos from Nancy Wilson and Peter Frampton, and unreleased backstage jams. Hearing tracks by a fictitious band makes for a particularly unique experience, and the book’s notes look back on the work involved to see that Stillwater had an identity and was a credible entity worth an audience’s attention. The set also devotes a disc to Nancy Wilson’s original score and outtakes.

Away from the pleasure of watching Almost Famous, the 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition gets you back to the sounds of the early ’70s and hitting the road with Stillwater and friends. It’s about as close as you can get without a seat on the bus. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 3/10


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