Unknown Contributor Roles: Crosby, Stills & Nash; Debbie Gibson; Indigo Girls; Joe Cocker; Judson Spence; Julian Lennon ; Richie Havens; The Escape Club; Van Morrison; Was (Not Was); Buffalo Springfield; Carole King.
The cuddly, sepia-warm tones of the hit Fox TV series spill over into this soundtrack, which is redolent with memories of childhood summers, walking in the park, barbecues out back, and all the other good stuff that the show waxed nostalgic about. Of the 13 tracks here, a full seven are covers. These include pop-gospel act Judson Spence's take on Dobie Gray's "Drift Away," Joe Cocker's soulman exertions on the Beatles' "With a Little Help (From My Friends)," and two peace-and-love chestnuts -- the Indigo Girls' version of Dino Valente's "Get Together" and Richie Havens doing Cat Stevens' "Peace Train." There's also Julian Lennon, sounding rather like David Bowie on "Ruby Tuesday." Most of the covers are faithful, if unremarkable; the oddest of the lot is little-known Brit dance-pop act the Escape Club's funked-up version of the Doors' "Twentieth Century Fox" (would that be a plug for the studio, now?). Speaking of dance-pop, there are two tracks by '80s teen queen Debbie Gibson. Schmaltz is represented by Crosby Stills, Nash & Young's "Teach Your Children" and Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." And there's Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," as well. All things considered, this record may have a fair bit of MOR hokum and not an especially inspired selection of songs. And the 1994 release The Wonder Years may be a more comprehensive document of the era capsuled in the show. Still, if you're in the mood for some quick-fix nostalgia, it fits the bill. ~ Leslie Mathew