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*** 1/2 VARIOUS ARTISTS, "The Million Dollar Hotel: Soundtrack Album," Interscope

March 12, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN

This is a pretty grand hotel, at least sonically, with Bono (on whose story the Wim Wenders film is based) in his most intimate Celtic Marvin Gaye mode, trumpeter Jon Hassell blowing like the ghost of Chet Baker and Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, guitarist Bill Frisell and programmer Adam Dorn shaping the atmospheres of the Million Dollar Hotel Band--sort of an extended U2 family with a decidedly sensual bent.

Add to the family author Salman Rushdie, whose words are sung by Bono in the rapturous opening "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" (credited to U2 with Lanois) and "Hotel" co-star Milla Jovovich, who goes from whispering siren to screeching banshee on a version of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love," and actor-singer Tito Larriva, who with the MDH band provides the one full-out rocker with a Spanish-language relocation of "Anarchy in the U.S.A." U2 also contributes "Stateless" and "The First Time," echoing its reaching, romantic title song from Wenders' early '90s "Until the End of the World" and boding very well for the group's album-in-progress.

Rounding out the album (due Tuesday) are several vaporous instrumental pieces by the MDH band evoking an air of gauzy melancholy, yet also an enveloping warmth. Sounds like a strangely inviting place to stay.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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* Excerpts from Eels' "Daisies of the Galaxy" and other releases are available on the World Wide Web. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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