March 05, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Writer-director Wes Anderson is the rare filmmaker who understands how crucial music is for setting a movie’s tone, and Rushmore‘s wonderfully strange ambiance owes a great deal to this similarly eccentric soundtrack. Featuring familiar names (the Who, John Lennon, Cat Stevens), less-familiar ones (the Creation, Unit 4+2), and originals by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, this collection won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the movie. But for anyone who left the theater singing along to the Faces’ ”Ooh La La,” it’s an essential soundtrack. A-

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