Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trainspotting - Soundtrack


I have a bit of a weird feeling about this soundtrack.  On the one hand it features some great songs by some fantastic artists, songs I love to listen to over and over again.

On the other hand, it's the soundtrack to Trainspotting, a movie that has the honour of being the only movie with a scene in it I just can't watch.  Don't make me tell you which one.  But it involves Ewen Macgregor and a very dirty.... ooops, nearly threw up there.

I mean, I have no problem with Begbie glassing people and babies crawling across ceilings and heaps of the other totally gross-out stuff the movie's packed with.  But that scene?  I started watching it once, and only managed to get through it by closing my eyes and having someone tell me when it was safe to open them.  I've promised myself I'll never watch it again.

OK, I'll just listen to Lust For Life and wonder how I ever managed to walk the line between not choosing the three-piece suite on hire purchase - and not choosing heroin.  Glad I did.


Some soundtracks are just background music used in order to add ambience or atmosphere to the visuals on screen.  Others help the viewer identify with the times the movie is representing.  Very few, however, can claim to be defining of a generation.  Like the movie, the Trainspotting soundtrack is one such set of songs.  Just as the movie consistently makes top lists around the globe, the soundtrack too has become one of the most popular of all time.

Director Danny Boyle used Iggy Pop's seminal Lust For Life to accompany the opening scene of the movie, so to use it to open the soundtrack was a no-brainer.  This track fairly pumps with urgent energy and as a scene-accompaniment, sets a very particular tone for the movie. 

However, the problem with soundtracks is that while particular songs go well with the visuals, it can mean the dynamics for an album can be all over the place.  For example, after starting with such a bang, track two, Brian Eno's Deep Blue Day, effectively dampens the energy of the first track.  This isn't to say it's a bad song, just misplaced.  This is followed by the seemingly Eno-inspired Primal Scream title track, a lengthy instrumental, again a great track, but at 10 plus minutes, overly long and out of place.

This is a small complaint, though, as Trainspotting features some of the best Britpop bands of the time such as Blur, Pulp and Elastica. While I'm a fan of Blur, it is actually Pulp's Mile End that is a surprising delight as is Elastica's 2:1.  But what Sleeper's cover of Blondie's Atomic is doing there is beyond me as it is almost a note-for-note copy of the original.


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