Various Artists – Freaks and Geeks Original Soundtrack and Score

Various Artists
Freaks and Geeks Original Soundtrack and Score

There’s long been a disparate gap in television between shows that are embraced by critics and those embraced by fans. Sometimes critics pan a show and fans save it (see Star Trek’s hot-and-cold history), and often critics lavish praise on a series that is fated to less than a season. The latter was the case of Freaks and Geeks, perhaps one of the most lauded television series in recent memory. Although it barely lasted a season, the six-DVD box set has sold over 80,000 units already, proving it hit its mark.

And I was definitely one of those who found Freaks and Geeks to be the Wonder Years of our generation. This was a show for the rest of us, those primarily forgotten in high school, those who spent the years afterward putting high school out of our minds for good. Even though it took place a few years before my time, the show hit a nerve and quickly became what I and many others thought to be the best in recent memory.

Because of the time period and the nature of those highlighted in the program, the music was almost the uncredited character in the film. There was music playing everywhere, and these set the tone for the events in the film perfectly. Much as music frames our own life and brings back memories, the music in the series framed these characters’ lives. So for those that loved the show, the music should be required listening all over again.

Comfortably rooted in the late-70s and early-80s, the soundtrack features songs by Warren Zevon, Joe Jackson, Heatwave, Rush, and others. Perhaps the one song that best represented the attitude of this show is Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation,” one of the best damn-the-establishment songs of all time. This song kicks off the album, as it should, and sets the tone for proud freaks and geeks everywhere. Fortunately, many of the other standouts are not the radio hits but deeper album tracks highly worth mention, such as “No Language in Our Lungs” by XTC and “I’m One” by The Who.

The score is suitably fitting to those who remember these characters well. Mostly short pieces of classic rock-infused moments, they bring to mind the characters of Lindsay, Clem, Daniel, and others. And at the end of the CD, four songs from the series by the actual cast members, “Lady L,” “I’m Eighteen”, “Jesus is Just Alright,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” while not perfectly recorded, feel like you’re watching the show all over again.

I would have loved for liner notes to include thoughts about the music from the creators, but there’s just a brief blurb from Jake Kasdan, the director and consulting producer. The majority of the notes are by Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild, and his thoughts are comfortably similar to my own. Perhaps some video footage of the songs performed by the cast members would have made this an even better album, but it’s hard to fault this release in any way. Primarily, it serves to remind us how great this show was, and to put us firmly back in the lives of these oft-missed characters.