Entertainment Weekly - 10/12/01, p.40Ranked #71
in EW's "100 Best Movie Soundtracks" - "...This eclectic set features prime arty spew from the Pixies, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, and Cowboy Junkies..."
Unknown Contributor Roles: Concrete Blonde; Cowboy Junkies; Chagall Guevara; Liquid Jesus; Pixies; Bad Brains.
In a sense, Pump Up the Volume was the second in Allan Moyle's Disillusioned American Youths trilogy, released ten years after the new wave runaway drama Times Square and five years prior to the truly horrid record shop angstfest Empire Records. Like Times Square, and to a somewhat lesser extent Empire Records, Pump Up the Volume's major players are music obsessives who immerse themselves in rock groups that float away from the mainstream radar. In this case, the protagonist is pirate radio DJ Hard Harry (Christian Slater), a hyper-hormonal high-school student who takes great delight in playing the likes of Leonard Cohen and Sonic Youth for his audience of confused, angst-ridden schoolmates. The soundtrack reflects much of what is played during the movie, including Soundgarden's pre-fame "Heretic," Concrete Blonde's version of Cohen's "Everybody Knows," the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation (U.K. Surf)," and two songs that deal with the movie's theme of censorship, Above the Law's "Freedom of Speech" and Bad Brains' (with Henry Rollins) cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams." Unfortunately, Was (Not Was)' delightfully perverse "Dad I'm in Jail" is excluded, as is Nora Diniro's lusty ode to Hard Harry ("Jam me, jack me, push me, pull me," etc.). At any rate, the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack works well for those who want a decent snapshot of early-'90s alternative music. And if you're feeling nostalgic for that frustrating period of your life when you looked like Christian Slater but couldn't get any girls to pay attention to you, it works equally well. ~ Andy Kellman