On The Right Track
I’m not a huge fan of original soundtracks (OST) of films. Not because OSTs don’t have good music; many of them do. Just that listening to a compilation of disparate tracks isn’t the same thing as listening to them while watching the movie in the context of its screenplay.
Someone gave me a CD of the OST from Martin Scorcese’s 2006 film, The Departed, a movie that I’d thoroughly enjoyed watching. But when I popped the CD in, the sequence of tracks just didn’t work. I mean you start with a great Rolling Stones number, Gimme Shelter, followed by two tracks performed by the New York Police Department’s Emerald Society Pipes and Drums ensemble.
After that there are tracks including a song by the Dropkick Murphys (they play Celtic punk and are rather good), a song by the rapper, Nas, another Stones song (‘Let It Loose’), a Lennon solo (Well, Well, Well), and a version of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. In addition, there was a theme from Antonin Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, an act from tragic opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, as well as a Beach Boys’ song and an Allman Brothers Band number.
An eclectic mix? Yes, and not exactly in a sequence that you may be in a mood to listen to. I mean most of the tracks on The Departed’s OST are really good, classic even, but mainly individually and not together.
Not all OSTs are like that, though. Take the 1992 film, ‘Singles’. A landmark OST, ‘Singles’ has 13 outstanding tracks that epitomise Seattle’s music hothouse of the early 1990s. That west coast city in the US was from where grunge emerged with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and a host of others blazing a hugely influential trail. And the Singles soundtrack showcases that.
I first found ‘Singles’ on a cassette at Mumbai’s famous music store, Rhythm House, and then much later, found a CD. And even now, I regularly listen to it. Besides Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, there are songs by bands like Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees and The Smashing Pumpkins, along with solos by Paul Westerberg (former lead singer of The Replacements) and Chris Cornell (frontman of Soundgarden).
The soundtrack, which went on to become a top-selling platinum album, also has a track by Jimi Hendrix, Seattle’s most famous rocker, albeit someone who died long before the advent of the grunge sound in his hometown.
Since the ‘Singles’ soundtrack, I’ve rarely come across a movie whose OST I wanted to buy and listen to on its own. Till last week when I watched the insanely hilarious ‘Hangover’.
The film is about four guys who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, get wasted and can’t remember a thing when they wake up to find that the would-be groom is missing and their hotel suite has two unexplained visitors—a tiger in the bathroom and an infant in one of the closets. It is entirely mindless but thoroughly enjoyable. And it has a soundtrack that I’m trying to hunt for.
There are around 20 songs on the Hangover OST. There’s Mexican-American rock and roller, El Vez doing ‘It’s Now Or Never’ by Elvis Presley (now you know why he’s called El Vez), there’s hard-rocking US band, Danzig, there’s Phil Collins doing In The Air Tonight, which, incidentally, is the first single with which he kicked off his solo career in 1981, and there’s the all-American all-female hard rockers, The Donnas.
There’s a hat-tip to The Cramps, another American horror punk rock band that was formed way back in the 1970s and whose tenure finally ended this year when its lead singer Lux Interior (aka Eric Lee Purkisher) died in February. Lux and his wife Poison Ivy (aka Kristy Wallace) were the driving force and the only constant members of the often shocking act that ‘The Cramps’ put up for more than 30 years.
There are other bands on the Hangover OST that I hadn’t heard before. Like ‘Revolution Mother’, a hardcore band whose music I’m trying to find without much success. They have a myspace page where a version of their Hangover song ‘Ride The Sky’ is streamable.
Then there’s the under-appreciated Butthole Surfers, alternative rockers whose songs and performances are laced with black humour and psychedelia and who haven’t really put out much by way of recordings in the past eight years. Their albums had strange names, including one called ‘Hairway to Steven’, an obvious reference to the famous Led Zeppelin track, and another one called ‘Electriclarryland’, a parody perhaps of Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.
Hangover also has more familiar tracks—like the widely popular and terribly infectious Baha Men song, ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’, Kanye West’s ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ and ‘Usher’s Year’ — all of which make the OST that much more endearing. Now, to try and get a good digital download…
Listen to ‘virtual’ tracks: