Ok, first some ground rules. I'm talking about actual soundtracks, i.e songs that were featured in movies, not the orchestral score. Secondly, I'm not going to feature songs that were in the film, but not on the CDs you can buy in the shops. So no comment on Peaches' "Fuck The Pain Away", from Lost In Translation. Thirdly, I'm talking about the CD itself and nothing more; the movies themselves don't come into it. Fourth, yes there's a lot of modern movies here, but this is my choice. Don't like it? Make your own list!
10. Garden State: This had a nice mix of new and old songs, but the pace never varies. This is a gentle laid back soundtrack that never really pushes too hard.
"Don't Panic" is one of Coldplay's better understated tracks, "Caring is Creepy" is the better of the two tracks by the Shins Zero 7 pop up for some more laid back beats and Colin Hay continue the laid back pace. Cult hero Nick Drake pops up with another rare gem, the minimalistic, acoustic "One Of These Things First".
"Lebanese Blonde" by Thievery Coroporation is the only track that really jars; with so much acoustic music there isn't much room for some beats. The Zero 7 track at the start of the album glides past without interupting the flow. It's not a bad track, but it could have been maybe placed at the end. "The Only Living Boy In New York" by Simon & Garfunkel is one of their best tracks and is a standout here. "Such Great Heights" by Iron & Wine is so slight, it's hardly there. (This track was recently on an advert for Ask.com). "Winding Road" is a nice track and a good closer. Overall tha album feels like a compilation tape made by a college student. Which isn't a bad thing really.
09. Kill Bill Vol. 1: It was hard deciding between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, but in the end Vol 1. won out on it's variety. That's not to say the second album is bad (the brilliant cover/sampling of "About Her" by Malcolm McLaren), but Vol 1. reflects more the mish mash of music styles just like the film does with cinematic genres.
Opening track "Bang Bang" by Nancy Sinatra is glacially cool; "That Certain Female" by Charlie Feathers is an energetic country stomper. Most of the album is instrumental though with tracks from Luis Bacalov and Bernard Herrmann (the woozy and sinister "Twisted Nerve") establishing a grand mood.
Wu-Tang Clan maestro, the RZA pops up with an "Ode to Oren Ishii" before the funky Issac Hayes and "Run Fay Run". There's some pop culutre refrencing in the inclusion of the Green Hornet Theme (the show that introduced Bruce Lee to the world). "Battle Without Honour or Humanity" is the song that everyone knows and has probably heard to death, is followed by the epic flamenco-esque cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". Japanese, all-girl, rock 'n rollers the 5,6,7,8's pop up with the catchy "Woo-Hoo", before some cheesy, almost kitsch tracks like " The Lonely Shepherd" and "The Flower of Carnage"
The album finishes with some small SFX extracts and some music snippets from the likes of NEU! and Quincy Jones. All in all, a unique soundtrack and one that you can enjoy without the film.
08. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas: Fear and Loathing is a hard soundtrack to love. Not because it's bad or it's inconsistent. It's because instead of trying to cover up Las Vegas' gaudy style and cabaret acts, it let's us confront them. And frankly, you'd need a shitload of uppers and downers and a big bottle of ether to sit and enjoy Debbie Reynolds and "Tammy".
But she's not the only Vegas standard; Tom Jones is there with "She's a Lady" and so too is Perry Como with "Magic Moments", which frankly, I can't listen to without remembering those Quality Street adverts from the 80's. But these musical abberations make the other songs on the album sound even better. Like Jefferson Airplane's seminal psychedelic "White Rabbit", and Brewers and Shippley's urgent rocker "One Toke Over The Line". 60's pop stalwarts the Yardbirds pop up with the great "For Your Love" and Booker T and the MGs have the funky "Time Is Tight".
Overall the album feels like a snapshot of the begining of the 70's and the death of the hippy dream. And this is best captured on the moving Buffalo Springfield track "Expecting To Fly" Peppered throughout are monologues from Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) bringing to life the words of the Gonzo king.
07. The Life Aquatic (with Steve Zissou): Most movie soundtracks just lump in together a bunch of songs that are sure to sell. Wes Andreson does things differently. Despite the mix of artists on this album, this is a really cohesive soundtrack, and it's probably down to two things.
Firstly, ex-Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh contributes some great, varied bits of music scattered throughout, the best of which is "Ping Island". Secondly Brazilian actor Seu Jorge covers roughly half a dozen Bowie tracks, in Portugese only on an acoustic guitar. It should be crap, but listen to his cover of "Rebel Rebel" and you'll be charmed immediatley.
David Bowie even has two tracks of his own, the sombre "Life on Mars" and the glam rock classic "Queen Bitch". Elsewhere, Joan Baez, Scott Walker and the Zombies provide some cool tracks and Iggy and The Stooges "Search and Destroy" still sounds awesome. Sven Lieback provides more instrumentals, but the album is just owned by Seu Jorge's charming Bowie covers.
06. Donnie Darko: this is another album that wears it's time period on it's sleeve. This time it's the god-forsaken 80's, and again instead of going for the big 80's songs that would bludgen the message "Hey, this movie's set in the 80's!", it goes for a much more thematic approach.
This means going for a more melancholy vibe, with songs from INXS (Never Tell Us Apart) and a brilliant "Love Will Tear Us Apart" from Joy Division. Fellow 80's post punkers, Echo and the Bunnymen pop up with one of their best tracks "The Killing Moon"
Elsewhere, there's an outing for a rarer Tears For Fears track (Head Over Heals) and a variety of instrumental tracks that maintain the melancholy vibe. "Lucid Memory" and "Lucid Assembley" are cheesy muzak you would have probably heard in a mall, but are fun at the same time. A haunting "Ave Maria" and "For Whom The Bell Tones" take the soundtrack into an almost classical feel, which is then promptly broken by Oingo Boingo's cheesy "Stay". Of course the film is dominated by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules sombre cover of "Mad World" officially the most depressing Christmas No.1, even more than "Misteltoe and Wine"
05. Pulp Fiction: Ok, so this is no surprise. I think if you own any of these soundtracks then it's going to be this one. To call it seminal would be an understatment. In 1994, this was the first real soundtrack that was cool, the one that people in my generation wanted to own. And considering I was 13 when this album got released along with the film, and I couldn't actually watch the thing, that's saying something.
The album mixes and matches all different genres. Tarantino uses virtually no modern music (Urge Overkill's excellant cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon"), to keep in with the film's almost timeless feel.
First up, and probably the film's highlight, Dick Dale and his Del Tone's "Miserlou"; and awesome exmple of frantic , surf board power chords, played at breakneck pace. There's more surf guitar thanks to the Tornadoes and the Lively Ones. Elsewhere, there's some smooth soul number from Dusty Springfield and the legendary Al Green with "Let's Stay Together". There's also some mournful country number from Maria McKee and Ricky Nelson.
There's some great one off songs thrown in too; Chuck Berry's ode to young marriage "You Never Can Tell" and Kool and the Gang's funky "Jungle Boogie". Interspaced with all of these great tracks is some of the best bits of dialogue from the film, with (let's face it) Samuel L Jackson's being the best.
04. Lost Highway: So most of you would think this is a strange choice. It's a good film, if not David Lynch's best ever, but it's a really strong soundtrack. It was released in 1997, so it still sounds really fresh and features a number of tracks by Lynch's long time associate Angelo Badalamenti. His contributions are up to his usual standard of haunting strings and synths like "Fred & Renee Make Love" and the to-the-point "Haunting and Heartbreaking". However the soundtrack isn't his alone as there's whole host other musicians doing their thing.
First of all Nine Inch Nails mainman, Trent Reznor produces a number of menacing, dark electronic pieces like "Videodrones; Questions". Former Bad Seed, Barry Adamson also contributes some noir-ish jazz numbers like the moody "Mr Eddy's Theme Pt1 and Pt2". But it's not all instrumentals; Reznor cohort at the time, Marylin Manson has two songs on the album "Apple Of Sodom" and a great cover of "I Put A Spell On You". Lynch's favourite band Rammstein contribute two of their usual Teautonic, industrial rock. Even David Bowie gets in on the act with the menacing "I'm Deranged"
It's not all doom and gloom; strangely Lou Reed sounds the cheeriest on his cover of "This Magic Moment" and the Smashing Pumpkins appear with "Eye". But my favourite track has to be the brilliant Nine Inch Nails "Perfect Drug", a woozy electronic dirge at the start, it breaks into a thundering drum beat before the inevitable hushed comedown. Inevitabley, there's a sense of sameness in this album as only about half a dozen artists are spread over the 23 tracks on the album. But this also maintains the mood, and is all the stronger for it.
03. Trainspotting: Can you believe that it was 10 years ago, when this film burst into cinemas? A Scottish film that was actually cool to like? And it had a killer soundtrack. I personally believe that the film introduced Iggy Pop to a whole new generation. Ok, Iggy's a legend anyway, thanks to the three albums he did with the Stooges. But this soundtrack and the masterful use of "Lust For Life" meant the sinewy godfather of punk was cool after loosing his way in the 80's.
Iggy's not the only Bowie associate to be included here; Lou Reed's heroin in the park (or is it?) ballad "Perfect Day" works perfectly, as does Brian Eno's lush, ambient piece "Deep Blue Sea". Elswhere, Scotland's own Primal Scream gift the album their dub/drone piece "Trainspotting" and New Order spike things up with the effervesent "Temptation". The album also features Britpop stalwarts Pulp, with the jaunty "Mile End" and Blur with the blistering white noise of "Sing", a million miles away from the wretched "Country House". Iggy's second track is the brilliant "Night Clubbing" and Blur's Damon Albarn pop's up with "Closet Romantic".
The only real low points are Sleeper's chord-by-chord cover of Blondie's "Atomic" (couldn't they have just got the original) and Elastica's usual pot punk rip off "2:1". But the album clearly belongs to Underworld's thumping "Born Slippy", the song that led a whole generation to shout "Lager Lager" at clubs.
This soundtrack was a great document of the times, when British culture was filled with a sense of (temporary) optimism and promise. Strangely, the year after a followup soundtrack, Trainspotting 2, was released. But it wasn't a shallow rip-off; it featured more great tracks from Iggy, Underworld and Primal Scream, but also great tracks from the likes of Joy Division and Heaven 17.
02. Lost In Translation: the fact this soundtrack came out in the UK long before the actual movie gives you an impression about how eagerly awaited this soundtrack is. This was because Sofia Coppola had managed to entice reclusive ex-My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields to contribute some songs, to her latest film. The two tracks he has here don't reach the heights of his opus "Loveless", but frankly nothing really could.
"City Girl" is a woozy guitar-led ballad, whereas "Are You Awake" follows a more ambient electronic bent. Thankfully. for all you nostalgics out there, My Bloody Valentine pop up with "Sometimes", but ironically Death In Vegas do a much better job of sounding like MBV than their former guitarist, with the epic, layered "Girls". Elsewhere, there's Gallic electronic delights from the likes of French artists Sebastien Tellier and Air. Fellow Frenchies Phoenix pop up with the brilliant Summery pop of "Too Young".
However some of the tracks feel too short, like Squarepusher's "Tommib" and Brian Reitzel and Roger Manning's "Shibuya" feel like they've been cut off just as they are hitting their stride. Top marks have to go to the uncovering of cult 70's acoustic group "Happy End"; their track "Kaze Wo Atsumete" is a great little pop gem. The album rounds off with East Kilbride's finest, the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" from their classic album "Psychocandy". But there's more; hidden at the end of the track is Bill Murray's performance of Roxy Music's "More Than This", which is worth the price of the CD alone. Lost In Translation is a great album in it's own right, melancholy and upbeat pop sit side by side perfectly.
01. The Big Lebowski: Considering the movie's setting, during the early 90's, it's a relief that the Coen Brothers didn't decide to fill the soundtrack with period songs from the likes of Vanilla Ice. But then what would an old hippy like the Dude be doing listening to that fuckwit? Nah, his tastes take in the hipster cool of 70's legends like Bob Dylan and Captain Beefheart.
And it's Dylan that pops up with the movie's most recognisible song, "The Man In Me" taken from the underrated "New Morning" album. The Captain Beefheart track "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles" is also taken from one of his lesser acclaimed albums "The Clear Spot". But the album veers into more exotic territory with the inclusion of Moondog (a blind composer, who would stand on street corners and sing dressed as a Viking) and Yma Sumac (exotica singer with an incredible 4 octave range). The two tracks they have, establish the stranger side of the album. Something that's continued with Illona Steinbruger and Meridith Monk's esoteric songs. Much simpler are Kenny Rodger's country rocker "Just Stopped In (to see what condition my condition was in)" and Nina Simone's beautiful cover of "I Got It Bad (and that ain't good). The Eagles pop up with a great cover too, this time of the Eagles' "Hotel California" and regular Coen brothers cohort Carter Burwell bring the music of the movie's German, nihilist pop group to life with "Techno Pop".
Probably the best track on the album is saved until last, with doomed Texan troubadour Townes Van Zandt and his live cover of the Rolling Stone's junkie fable "Dead Flowers". Delicate, yet forceful, it finishes the album on a melancholy not but also finishes a remarkable variety of music on the one album.