Various Artists – Black Cat Moan (OST) (2007)

FrontCover1Black Snake Moan, the 2007 movie that stars Samuel L. Jackson as a God-fearing, bent broken soul and tortured former bluesman, with Christina Ricci playing the town tramp he feels he has to redeem by any means necessary, is a wildly provocative look at spiritual and cultural mores — and is sure to set some folks on edge. The soundtrack that accompanies it on the other hand, is a pure shimmy-shaking blues extravaganza. The film is dedicated to the memory of R.L. Burnside. His digital ghost performs “Old Black Mattie” here, and his tune “Just Like a Bird Without a Feather,” is covered by Jackson with Burnside’s adopted son and sideman Kenny Brown. There are also cuts here by the Black Keys, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Scott Bomar the soundtrack’s producer, John Doe, Outrageous Cherry (covering Junior Kimbrough no less), Bobby Rush, Precious Bryant and the North Mississippi Allstars. Sure, musically this is a mixed — but mostly satisfactory — bag. Jackson can’t sing worth a damn, but he’s got the feel of the blues to be sure; it’s in the grain, it’s not a posture. He can tell a hell of a story too; check his spoken word intro to the title track with Jason Freeman on a killer serpentine guitar. Doe does a very spooky reading of his “The Losing Kind” here, and the Allstars kick it on the end credits like a mother. The Kimbrough cover is adequate but it doesn’t fit here at all, and begs the question why the producers didn’t just use Kimbrough’s own music.


Bomar’s instrumental theses are quite beautiful; they’re as deeply influenced by Ennio Morricone as they are by Ry Cooder. “Alice Mae” and “Stackolee,” with Jackson singing in front of a real Mississippi juke-joint crowd, are pretty great. This is Burnside’s backing band with Brown, and Cedric Burnside with Luther Dickinson. Jackson doesn’t need to actually sing, he’s got plenty of vibe and the band kicks ass. His history is off, though, dating the latter track to 1962, when it is as old as the blues itself, but who cares? It rocks. For the most part, these are the modern-day Delta blues rather than Robert Johnson’s, though there are a couple of mean voice-overs by Son House here, and that is as it should be. The soundtrack to Black Snake Moan stands on its own as a fiery good time. (by Thom Jurek)

The soundtracks contains mostly previously released material, but also a few tracks featuring Jim Dickinson along with his sons Luther and Cody and special guest Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica.

Inside1Personnel (recorded especially for this movie):
Scott Bomar (bass, guitar on 01., 11., 12.)
Kenny Brown (guitar on 03., 13., 14.)
Roy Brewer (strings on 11.)
Cedric Burnside (drums on 13. + 14.)
Cody Dickinson (drums, washboard on 01.
Jim Dickinson (piano on 01., 11., 12.)
Luther Dickinson (guitar on 01., 11., 12., 14.)
Jason Freeman (guitar on 07., 11., 12.)
Samuel L. Jackson (vocals on 03., 07., 13., 14)
Jonathan Kirkscey (strings on 11.)
Edward Murray (tympani on 01., 11., 12.)
Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica on 01., 11., 12.)
Jonathan Wires (strings on 11.)

One of the “hot” scenes of the movie

01. Scott Bomar: Opening Theme (Bomar) 0.38
02. Son House: Ain’t But One Kind Of Blues (Traditional) 0.12
03. Samuel L. Jackson: Just Like A Bird Without A Feather (Burnside) 2.23
04. The Black Keys: When The Lights Go Out (Auerbach/Carney) 3.13
05. Jessie Mae Hemphill: Standing In My Doorway Crying (Hemphill) 4.40
06. Bobby Rush: Chicken Heads (Rush/Carter) 2.33
07. Samuel L. Jackson: Black Snake Moan (Jefferson) 4.05
08. Precious Bryant: Morning Train (Traditional) 3.01
09. John Doe: The Losing Kind (Doe) 2.33
10. Outrageous Cherry: Lord Have Mercy On Me (Kimbrough) 3.05
11. Scott Bomar: Ronnie And Rae’s Theme (Bomar) 1.08
12. Scott Bomar: The Chain (Bomar) 2.51
13. Samuel L. Jackson: Alice Mae (Burnside/Brown) 3.48
14. Samuel L. Jackson: Stackolee (Traditional) 3.31
15. R.L. Burnside: Old Black Mattie (Burnside) 4.11
16. Son House: That’s Where The Blues Started (Son House talks) 0.22
17. North Mississippi Allstars: Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down (Dicksinson) 7.32