Friday, 19 September 2008



Released in 1997 this compilation pretty much represents the mindset of the moment.  Following up the equally cheesy original compilation Cult Fiction, with the Quentin Tarantino selected soundtracks of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction appearing in the racks chock full of obscure and weird sounding “lost gems” here was the opportunity for labels to jump on the bandwagon and cash-in breathing new life into passed over classics.  Fostered by the spirit of Loaded, lad culture, Trainspotting and the general optimism and musical backward glance of Britpop, these songs were generally where we wanted to be.

Collecting together twenty three tracks of movie music moments and TV themes here was a successful collision of kitsch with cool done in a beefed up manner and despite the packaging being cheesy, the goods held within were not.

All in all this is a pretty solid selection of songs mostly going with recognisable tunes, tracks that won’t fail and hits that don’t quit.  On the tracklisting coupled next to each title is the movie or advertisement that they come from.  Nothing’s subtle about this package.

The placement is key here.  Out of context many of these tracks would otherwise struggle to hold their own but offered here as part of this apparent movement it made sense.  Not that the album is excellent from the off…..

It begins with The Who and “The Real Me” from Quadrophenia.  There are better Who songs.  Then the album takes a real cheesy turn with the CCS instrumental cover of “Whole Lotta Love” followed by “All Right Now” by Free.  The latter song in particular haunts me off the back of its popularity with a certain friend at school that wouldn’t know good music if it fucked his arse.  That said he was the first of our gang to get his end away on a regular basis so with his Robert Palmer records and Dannii Minogue fixation I guess life was just trading off.

The tempo finally ups with the rejuvenated “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop offered in connection to Trainspotting.  Then as a sense of euphoria grips proceedings up next is “Theme From The A-Team” by Mike Post.  Offered at full length the song seems funny, extended and overblown.  The once subtle guitar solos are no longer subtle or even bearable.  I pity the fool that bought this compilation.

Resuming the ruckus “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf and “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple follows seeming with the intent to turn the listener into their father.  Here are two tracks born to sit next to each other on a Top Gear compilation.  Petrol or diesel – who gives a fuck?

Another cover version arrives in the form of Echo & The Bunnyman’s take on The Doors’ “People Are Strange” from Lost Boys.  This was always a great track attached to a testing soundtrack.  It is very close to the original, subtly clothed.  And on the topic of cover versions also present on the disc is the Urge Overkill version of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” which for better or worse became their career high appearing in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction during a key scene/moment.

Keeping things cheery comes “Werewolves Of London” by Warren Zevon taken from The Color Of Money when quite frankly it might better be suited to John LandisAn American Werewolf In London.  Essentially this is just a colourful bar song.

And with that the record finally begins to kick in with the obscure, weird exotica of Vampyros Lesbos and “The Lions And The Cucumber” taken from a better, trashier time.  It sounds like a Serge Gainsbourg track from his Melody period.  With that before comedown can be achieved the very Beatle-esqe “Porpoise Song” by The Monkees drops into the mix.  This was the band finding their own voice at the end of a long line of stimulants.  Drawn out and psychedelic is serves as a good gateway/pathway to “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane which appears off the back of its appearance in Platoon.  Finally in this section “Venus In Furs” by the Velvet Underground serves to solidly mark the mind.  Sadly the credibility of the track here is slightly tarnished by the fact it is only present through appearing in a Dunlop Tyres advertisement.  That said the pounding drums, lurching strings and twisted words of Lou Reed on this track will never grow old.

David Lynch’s influence makes a brief appearance as “Be Bop A Lula” by Gene Vincent appears off the back of its part in Wild At Heart.  It always sounded like a Elvis knock off to me.  “Green Onions” by Booker T And The MGs then arrives to sooth the scenery.

With this we arrive at the real reason I purchased this CD: “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen.  For years this was the great lost song in our scene.  We knew it but couldn’t find it in any record shops even though it kept appearing in so many movies including the amazing Animal House, the decent Coupe De Ville and the odd Quadrophenia.  In many ways this is the most perfect song in history.  Often it is the first song you learn to play when you first get a guitar.  And it is so blissfully sloppy.  It arrives here associated with the aforementioned National Lampoon’s Animal House in which is plays the ultimate in party roles as a heroic room of loser drunkards with personalities in reach of the viewer dance and celebrate while chanting along.  It’s a perfect moment.

From here the compilation closes out and peters off with a selection of instrumentals.  “Bring Down The Birds” by Herbie Hancock from Blow Up arrives seemingly based solely on being the baseline from “Groove Is In The Heart”.

The harmonica drive of the “Theme From Northern Exposure” by David Schwartz offers a smile and some joy as to hear the song play out for a full three minutes is an odd experience, as equally strange as using such Caribbean music for a show set in Alaska.

The duffest note occurs next as “Duelling Banjos” from Deliverance appears in the tracklist.  Who the fuck wants to listen to that?  Did you know the performers were Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell?  More importantly, did you care?  This is buggery.

Returning to television “Suicide Is Painless” by Johnny Mandel (incorrectly credited as Jamie Mandel) from M*A*S*H offers a late slash.  I always found it strange that this song had words.  For a while I even thought that the Manic Street Preachers had come up with them.  Just what connects these sad words to the Korean War remains something of a mystery to me.

A real gem arrives in the penultimate spot with the haunting Jevetta Steele track “Calling You” from the movie Bagdad Café (as opposed to the TV series).  The inclusion of this track shows somebody somewhere selecting the songs for this record knew what they were doing.  This is truly an obscure gem.

Then with that the CD plays out with “Cavatina” from the John Williams’ orchestrated Deer Hunter score appearing as if backing a set of imaginary closing credits.

This was a funny fucking compilation.

Thesaurus moment: stratagem.

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