The soundtrack probably reached its apex in alternative rock with Singles, a compilation that packed the Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam on to 13 lean tracks, and still found room to nod to the fogeys by including Mudhoney, Paul Westerberg, and even Jimi Hendrix. If that is the gold standard for the genre, then Eastbound & Down is the super gorilla platinum version of a soundtrack, containing, as promised on its back jacket, “all the hits, motherfucker.” There is, of course, absolutely no reason for someone who doesn’t already know and love Danny McBride’s take on John Rocker to buy this album, but for fans of the show, the two-disc collection offers a listening experience at least as audacious and schizophrenic as the show itself.
The album begins with Freddie King’s “Going Down,” familiar as the show’s opening tag. Immediately following is the first of a dozen short samples from Eastbound & Down’s dialogue. To have these snippets of wisdom, including Powers dictating his literary opus You’re Fucking Out; I’m Fucking In, discussing why Neal is a better name than Toby, and having a surprisingly open exchange of homoerotic metaphors with Adam Scott and Matthew McConaughey, at one’s fingertips is sure to be a sublime joy for fans and the bane of many of a wife and girlfriend’s existence. Though these are definitely the standout tracks on the collection, the rest of the music selections, however, hold up surprisingly well.
It would have been easier and more predictable to pack the album with hair metal anthems, but Eastbound & Down the album, much like Powers, has the mind of a fucking scientist. Those who can stop listening to McBride long enough to sample the music will find cuts from the Stooges, MC5, Black Keys, Too Short and Mr. Kenny Rogers. Though none of these artists has any reason to be on the same record, Eastbound & Down never feels forced. Some of the transitions, particularly Lil Whyte’s “Fucked Up” directly into Los Monstruos’ “El Monstros, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut,” are a little jarring; it’s nothing fans of the artist known as Kenny Powers shouldn’t already be expecting.