Saturday, September 12, 2015

Trainspotting To Return?

There were reports this week that Danny Boyle has plans to make (and direct) a sequel to his classic movie Trainspotting, 20 years after our last encounter with Edinburgh’s most famous on-screen schemies, Renton, Begbie, Sick Boy et al. The basis for such a movie, or at least its script, would be Irvine Welsh’s novel Porno, an inferior book to the original Trainspotting but one that nonetheless revisits the lives of the Trainspotting characters a notional ten years on.

One of the very best things about the original movie, of course, was its (then) state-of-the-art soundtrack, a real favourite of mine throughout the late Nineties. There was also a sequel to the original soundtrack, Trainspotting 2, which was released just over a year after the first one. Here are my reviews for each of those albums:

Trainspotting OST (1996)
Now here’s a thing – a great soundtrack doing justice to a great movie. Not something that can always be taken as an automatic given, but considering this movie’s content, theme, setting, and target market, the compilers of the Trainspotting OST album were always likely to be onto a winner providing they got the mix right. Which they do.

Released around the same time as the Brit-Pop “wave” was reaching its zenith, it’s hardly surprising that the album includes cuts from several bands at the forefront of that scene: Blur (‘Sing’), Pulp (‘Mile End’), Elastica (‘2:1’), and Sleeper (with a cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’). Damon Albarn also appears in his solo guise on ‘Closet Romantic’.

There’s a nod towards the omnipresent techno genre, a staple of the Nineties, with class acts Underworld, with the classic ‘Born Slippy’, and Leftfield, with 'A Final Hit'. Plus we also get Bedrock and KYO’s rather more forgettable brief moment in the sun ‘For What You Dream Of’.

New Order (‘Temptation’) and Primal Scream (‘Trainspotting’) provide genuine highlights, but the real feature of this album – one that distinguishes it from other more run-of-the-mill compilations – are the contributions made by the grizzled old veterans Lou Reed (on ‘Perfect Day’), Brian Eno (‘Deep Blue Day’), and Iggy Pop (with the magnificent ‘Lust For Life’ and ‘Nightclubbing’). You simply don’t get any more iconic than that trio, and their presence alongside more youthful contenders here provides for an exceptional balance and a soundtrack that offers great variation.

Highly recommended ... and certainly a leading contender for the best soundtrack album of the Nineties.

Trainspotting 2 (1997)
The second volume is the lesser heralded of the two. Part of the reason for that, I suspect, is the overkill factor. Individually these are excellent tracks but I’m struggling to recall the presence of many of them in the movie itself, and it could well be that some of these selections are merely “inspired by” the movie rather than “featured in” – I’m really not certain, to be honest.

Three tracks from the first edition (albeit different versions) feature a second time around – Underworld’s 'Born Slippy' gets a remix, as does Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’, and Leftfield is back with a longer taste of ‘A Final Hit’.

Underworld and Iggy actually contribute two tracks each, with the welcome addition of the techno duo’s ‘Dark And Long’, and Iggy’s classic ‘The Passenger’. We also find Iggy’s pal David Bowie in fine form with ‘Golden Years’, and the drama quotient is upped considerably with a brief foray into ‘Habenera’ from ‘Carmen’.

As with the first album we again get tracks from Sleeper (‘Statuesque’) and Primal Scream (‘Come Together’). Where we had New Order last time out, we now have Joy Division (‘Atmosphere’), and the smiling Mancs are joined by fellow Eighties stalwarts Heaven 17 (‘Temptation’) and Fun Boy Three (‘Our Lips Are Sealed’).

The obligatory club/dance reference points are provided by Ice MC’s ‘Think About The Way’ and Goldie’s excellent ‘Inner City Life’.

Overall, not bad, not quite as good as the first volume, but again we have a nice blend of the old and the (then) new to keep things nicely balanced. Not as essential as Trainspotting 1 but a bloody good listen all the same.

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