Sometimes a soundtrack can elevate a film beyond its own origins, sometimes it can hamper it and sometimes it can influence a whole generation. Three soundtracks from my youth that makes such a lasting impression were the music for the films Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers and Trainspotting. Each film is so different, but each of them had an extra character in the form of the soundtrack. In the UK, the sequel to Trainspotting (T2) has been released and I went to see it the other day, it was something of a nostalgia trip and relied heavily on the audience being wrapped up in the original that they would come back to catch up on some of the darkest characters to come out of the mind of Irvine Welsh. I will not give any spoilers to the film, but I will say that with the new movie, the film felt like it had a fifth main member of the cast. So, for this review I want to see how the music from the film feels without the imagery to back it up......
01 - Iggy Pop - Lust for Life (Prodigy Remix)
The song that was so iconic before it was used in the first film has been given a new set of clothes from The Prodigy and releases it to a new generation as a dance/rock hybrid that is very heavy on the bass. I am not going to lie and say I prefer it over the original, anyone who says otherwise is trying to score hipster point; but as far as remixes go, it is not too bad and it still keeps those immortal words from Mr Pop alive and buzzing (but does it need the help?).
02 - High Contrast - Shotgun Mouthwash
High Contrast is the stage name of Lincoln Barrett, this is a new song that was composed especially for the film. It is bass heavy electronica with an industrial overtone and some ambient synths that are laced over the machine screaming. It has a lot of punk attitude to the music and the words, it is fast, hard and very interesting. It also has me intrigued about other works from High Contrast, so watch this space.
03 - Wolf Alice - Silk
Taken from their debut album 'My Love Is Cool', this is probably the most memorable song from the soundtrack as it was used to great effect on the original trailer (the song now causes a lump to rise in my throat as I type this) and it reinforces the power behind that beautiful song. The song had a presence before it was used for this film, it is now one of my favourite songs in the last few years and one I could listen to on repeat.
04 - Young Fathers - Get Up
The first of three songs from Young Fathers and one that was taken from album 'DEAD', this song is another that is used for great effect on the movie. It is also one of those songs that works well in so many situations, mainly because it is a kick arse tune and not due to its inclusion on this movie - basically, anything that this band releases is something I want to hear. It is dark hip-hop and it sounds like the edge will never fade.
05 - Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax
A song that has always courted controversy and has made people feel uncomfortable at times, it is an 80's classic and it does sound great. But to be honest, it is one of two songs on here which were used and felt out of place for me on the movie if I am honest; they are already so well established that it feels too dominate for the OST. But, not my film and if you have the money....
06 - Underworld & Ewen Brewner - Eventually But (Spud's Letter to Gail)
Using an emotional sample from the character Spud (played by Ewen Brewner), this is laced over a gentle synth piece from Underworld and it is so emotional and heart-breaking. It is a polar opposite to 'Born Slippy' and it is a song that will become just as important as the years go by. I will not spoil where it is in the film, but this is one of the most important pieces for movie.
07 - Young Fathers - Only God Knows (Featuring Leith Congregational Choir)
The second song from Young Fathers on this album, this is also a new piece and by deity it is glorious. It is attacking, it is biting, the choir adds a layer of beauty to the sound, they have not blunting their sound to fit in; what this shows is that the band are already expanding how they sound and it is just as important a song as 'Shame' was on 'White Men Are Black Men Too', it is so frantic and important.
08 - The Rubberbandits - Dad's Best Friend
This is an Irish alternative comedy rap duo who deal with some fucked up subject on their music, this one is a perfect representation of Renton and his relationship to his fellow friends on the film. It is a dark number, it sounds as if it could start a fight on its own and it makes the world feel as if it is closing in and ready to attack. It works so well on the film, but it feels so wrong outside of the movie.
09 - Blondie - Dreaming
On the very first Trainspotting OST, Sleeper covered the song 'Atomic' which was originally performed by Blonde; it is a nice touch that they included another Blonde song on this soundtrack, especially an original one and not a cover. It is a classic and thankfully it is not one of their mega hits, it is a beautiful number that keeps the nostalgia going, but in a good way (more on that later).
10 - Queen - Radio Ga Ga
I do not know why, but I struggle with this song on this soundtrack for some reason. The song itself it obviously a classic and was used to good effect in the nightclub scene of the film (that is not a spoiler boys and girls, so shhh). But for some reason it seems to be jarring for me on here, but I can totally accept that this is me on this one; it is a classic song, just in the wrong setting for me.
11 - Run DMC Vs Jason Nevins - It's Like That
Bass heavy, club ready and another classic that was used briefly in the film. This remix from Jason Nevins was one of the bestselling songs of 1998 (so it is almost twenty years old) and it still sounds as fresh as a daisy.
12 - The Clash - (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
Using another classic artist here, this time the punk mainstays The Clash and their song which bemoans a gig that some of the bands had attended and the general state of the UK '78 and their rivals in the UK music scene. It is a slow reggae influenced number, it was taken from their first album 'The Clash' (the American Version) and it is not one that I have any real affection for. It is decent enough, but I have no real attachment to this one.
13 - Young Fathers - Rain or Shine
Take from their second album 'White Men Are Black Men Too' and sounding as harsh as ever, 'Rain Or Shine' is one of those moments on the album where everything is right (which seems to be a lot when the work of Young Fathers is involved. It is a pounding number that drives you forward and stays in your mind long after the final note has faded into the distance.
14 - Fat White Family - Whitest Boy on the Beach
The song which was released as a single from the album 'Songs of our Mothers', Fat White Family are a post punk/alternative indie band from Peckham, South London. The sound of the song is dirty and the vocals are mixed low in the song and the music is droning over with a Holy Fuck quality and effect that is very interesting. I do have to find out more about this band....
15 - Underworld - Slow Slippy
Underworld & Trainspotting were defined by 'Born Slippy' whether they liked it or not; it was such a huge song that even to this day when those first two notes hit, it can send a room into a euphoric high. 'Slow Slippy' is a different beast and is almost industrial. It does eventually have that connection to the original, but thankfully it does not morph completely into it as that might have been too much and the band are far too clever for that one - nostalgia and looking back are one thing, moving forwards is also another.
The thing with the last Trainspotting OST was that is showcased classic songs with modern songs (at the time and some classic tracks from iconic rock artists, for the most part on here they get it right. But I will be honest it is the nostalgia element of the film (and by extension this soundtrack) that makes this OST a hard one to love. By its very existence, it is instantly going to be compared to the original OST's that were released for the first movie and it does not compare as well. The songs that work so well are Young Fathers, Wolf Alice, Fat White Family, Underworld, Blonde and High Contrast; everything else (even song I like) have the feeling of filler about them on this soundtrack. But in the movie, the music sort of felt like it was another character and it has not transcended to music when it is out of the film. Also, it feels as if they have a little more money here and some of the songs have been licenced and it does not have that wonderful smash and grab feeling of the originals. I guess that much like the movie, the nostalgia element on here is something that I am naturally rebelling again in some sort of way and it feels a little sad in places. So, the soundtrack is not as iconic as the original, but neither is the movie so it feels sort of fitting; worth a listen (and the film is definitely worth a watch), but do not expect that same sort of experience you had with when Renton pounding down the street.
7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top song - Young Fathers - Only God Knows (Featuring Leith Congregational Choir)
At the time of writing, the soundtrack is not available on streaming sites (probably down to licencing and all that jazz).