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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** VARIOUS ARTISTS "Grace of My Heart" soundtrack, MCA; *** VARIOUS ARTISTS "That Thing You Do!" soundtrack, Epic Soundtrax

September 29, 1996|Steve Hochman

These movies are both set in overlapping '60s pop-music worlds, but the soundtrack albums follow distinctly different aesthetic philosophies. "That Thing You Do!" wants you to believe--at least for a moment--that these songs really came from that era, while "Grace of My Heart" makes no such pretense, instead combining '90s perspective with early-'60s romance to create its own dreamy, fantasy neverworld out of time.

"Grace" is the more ambitious, with director Allison Anders comissioning collaborations between '90s artists and Brill Building veterans. Such teamings as Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach (the lush, pained, Costello-sung "God Give Me Strength"), Carole Bayer Sager with David Stewart (the giddy, girl-groupie "I Do," performed with period perkiness by For Real) and album producer Larry Klein with David Baerwald and Lesley Gore (the tragic "My Secret Love," sung by Combustible Edison's Miss Lily Banquette) transcend their innately retro qualities.

"That Thing You Do!" does not exceed its modest goals, but meets them admirably. Only too-clean production gives away the actual vintage of these numbers--four of which were written or co-written by writer-director-co-star Tom Hanks. Every song here--the exuberant, Beatlesesque title song, the absurdly squeaky-clean "Lovin' You Lots and Lots," the Peter Gunn-like "Theme From Mr. Downtown"--could be snuck onto the K-EARTH playlist. But in the end this is little more than an enjoyable novelty record.

*

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

* TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. "That Thing You Do!" *5721

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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