Various I Am Sam

Not the most conventional way of releasing a Beatles tribute album, but this Sean Penn/Michelle Pfeiffer film sounds like it could use the tunes of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison to help them tell this sad story. The roster of artists reads as a who's who in the adult/alternative department and, as always, not all of them are a welcome addition. Typical soundtrack artists like the Wallflowers and Sarah McLachlan contribute throwaway renditions of "I'm Looking Through You" and "Blackbird" but there is enough strength here to make up for the weak. Rufus Wainwright lays down a rather bare version of "Across The Universe," Australian newcomers the Vines add their youthfulness to the lethargic "I'm Only Sleeping" and the husband and wife duo of Aimee Mann and Michael Penn combine their talents on a sweet rendering of "Two of Us." There are also some strong offerings from Eddie Vedder, Ben Folds and Paul Westerberg, but the two tracks that stick out the most are by Grandaddy and Nick Cave. The former completely remake "Revolution" into their song, taking out any meaning it had and replacing it with purely whimsical pop. The latter takes on "Let It Be" in the most perfect way and it becomes clear that Cave was born to record this song. I Am Sam should appeal to any fan of the Fab Four, especially with this interesting cast of musicians. Though, as with most pop soundtracks, it's not completely flawless and should only really be purchased by those who either love most of the artists or just love those moptops. (V2)