Rock the Kasbah

Songs By: Various Artists

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the comedy based on real events, Rock the Kasbah, Bill Murray is Richie Lanz, a rock manager from Van Nuys, California, who finds himself dumped and stranded in Kabul by his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel).  But all is not horrible for it is here that he discovers Salima Kahn (Leem Lubany), a Pashtun teenager with a terrific voice who dreams of becoming the first woman competitor on the Afghanistan version of American Idol.  Can a washed-up rock manager somehow find his way past dangerous cultural prejudices to make his newest client a star?

                The Rock the Kasbah Soundtrack features songs by various artists, including members of the cast, and musical score by Brazilian pianist and composer Marcelo Zarvos.  Breaking out into the movie score scene with his composition for Kissing Jessica Stein in 2001, Zarvos has since created musical scores for a number of notable film and television projects such as Ray Donovan, The Good Shepherd, The Words, Sin Nombre, Brooklyn’s Finest, The Affair and more.

                The musical score created by Marcelo Zarvos is reflective of the film’s locale, but also speaks to Richie Lanz’s rebellious and often unusual alliances he makes in an effort to get his client what she deserves.  According to Zarvos, “The idea was to combine elements from Afghan music with classic Wild West music.  Along with various Afghan string and percussion instruments we had harmonica, strings and electric guitar. Another important element was the voice at the center of the story. It was also key that the score blends with the eclectic source music that is all over the film.”  The resulting tracks of score included on the Rock the Kasbah Soundtrack, Welcome to Afghanistan and The 4 Sacred Bonds, are amazing.  I have great respect for this composer and his ability to infuse his scores with the ethnic qualities of the culture or country in which the movie or television show take place. 

                But the real draw of this album is Leem Lubany.  Her renditions of Cat Stevens Wild World and Peace Train are amazing – she has such a beautiful voice.  Her vocal range is perfect for these songs, but I would love to hear more from her in the future.  Funny enough, an original Cat Stevens rendition of Pop Star was included on this soundtrack and I thought it was a joke performance by Bill Murray, who also actually does appear on the last track of this album with a horrific, yet funny rendition of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water.  Another enjoyable track on this album is Bob Dylan’s Knockin' On Heaven's Door.  Unfortunately, Zooey Deschanel still thinks she can sing and so, she performs Meredith Brooks Bitch on this album.  Good God, Woman!  It’s supposed to be edgy and rebellious – put a little emotion in there, can’t you?  After one listen to this rendition of one of my favorite songs, I played it three more times, belting it out as it should have been.

                With the exception of a couple of not so great songs, I really enjoyed the Rock the Kasbah Soundtrack.  Leem Lubany is more than enough to give this soundtrack a listen, but add in Marcello Zarvos’ amazing score and Bob Dylan and you have a really good soundtrack worth checking out.


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