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Top Of The Pulp

A Reservoir of Killer Tarantino Tracks

March 16, 1997|Robert Stevens | Robert Stevens is a Times staff writer

His name can be found all over it and his picture is on its cover. Yet "The Tarantino Connection," a compilation of songs from Quentin Tarantino-related films and two interview segments with the writer-director-producer-actor, it turns out, involved little work from the auteur himself.

In February 1996, representatives from Universal Music International (formerly MCA) pitched the idea for "The Tarantino Connection" to the filmmaker. Producers would compile a list of songs and create the artwork for the album, and then, pending Tarantino's approval, release it with his signature and a note stating that he had authorized it. The label had already internationally released the successful soundtracks to Tarantino's films "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs."

The North American version of "The Tarantino Connection," put out by Hip-O Records, began appearing in U.S. stores last month. The European version has been available abroad since November. So far, the album has sold 250,000 copies worldwide and SoundScan puts domestic sales at 2,000.

According to London-based Julian Huntly, international concepts manager for Universal, Tarantino made changes to the initial list of songs for the soundtrack. Among other things, he dropped all songs from the film "Killing Zoe," (which Tarantino executive-produced) and, "if I remember it right," says Huntly, "he actually added the Burl Ives track ["A Little Bitty Tear," from the Tarantino-scripted "True Romance"].

"The problem was that when we were putting the album together, Quentin was working pretty hard on script-writing," says Huntly, who along with freelancer Nick Franks developed the project. "So we were definitely working at arm's length through his agents and lawyers."

Tarantino, busy adapting Elmore Leonard's "Rum Punch" into a screenplay, was not available for comment, releasing only a statement through his publicist that he is "really happy" with the CD and "that it's doing so well."

"Obviously the most important thing for us was to have Quentin's full participation and authorization to go ahead and make it," Huntly says.

The North American version of the album contains music from six Tarantino projects: "Pulp Fiction," "Reservoir Dogs," "True Romance," "Natural Born Killers," "Four Rooms" and "From Dusk Till Dawn." Because of copyright issues, says Bruce Resnikoff, the executive vice president of Universal Special Markets who runs the Hip-O label, the North American version of the album has Bedlam's "Harvest Moon" from "Reservoir Dogs," rather than Dire Straits' "Six Blade Knife" from "Desperado," which is on the European version.

"We wanted to get music that was really integral to the films," Huntly says. "A lot of music on soundtracks these days isn't even in the movies. You have this wonderful phrase, 'Music inspired by. . . .' "

Hence, songs strongly intertwined with a film's plot, like Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle" from "Reservoir Dogs," and tunes that play during the opening or closing credits (including Dick Dale & His Del Tones' "Misirlou" from "Pulp Fiction") make up most of the album. The interviews include Tarantino discussing the importance of creating cool opening and closing credit sequences and how he finds songs for his films.

This album is the first of a series of "Connection" compilations with prominent filmmakers, says Huntly. Although none have been signed yet, Universal Music International is negotiating with several others, Huntly says.

"We tried to make it a full project, not just a collection of songs," says Huntly, referring to the thought put into picking the tracks and the brief interviews included on the CD. "I'm sure if it hadn't been up to standard it wouldn't have gotten past [Tarantino]."

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