Music From And Inspired By We Were Soldiers (Columbia/Combustion Music/Sony Soundtrax)

Many soundtrack albums are padded with songs that bear no relation to the movie whatsoever; their purpose isn't to expand on or complement the film, but simply to sell CDs, expending as little thought and effort as possible.

Music From And Inspired By We Were Soldiers is another story altogether. The central theme of the Mel Gibson Vietnam flick it accompanies -- the value of friendship and loyalty in the face of a hellish war - comes through loud and clear on the songs gathered here.

Each track on We Were Soldiers adds a little something to the picture of a soldier's life, from the loneliness in Carolyn Dawn Johnson's "Some Mother's Son" to the hope in Rascal Flatts' gospel-fired "The Glory Of Life." Even the shameful treatment of Vietnam vets upon their return to American life is addressed in Montgomery Gentry's stirring "Didn't I."

Although the album is dominated by country stars, a few soft-rock and contemporary Christian acts are mixed in - a jarring effect, but luckily, all the songs share an acoustic-minded sound and a steady eye on the themes of the movie. Even the choral and orchestral music tagged onto the end of the CD flows easily from what comes before it.

Clearly assembled with care, the music from We Were Soldiers stands proudly all by itself.

-- Chris Neal

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