I do like films. I’m currently ploughing through a 21-disc set of Hammer films from the mid to late 1960s that all seem to have been filmed in the same village in Cornwall, but are fun nonetheless. So it should come as little surprise that I’m also a fan of film soundtracks.
Movie soundtracks are a strange affair when removed from the film they were created for. Many struggle to hold my attention, as most are written to be accentuate whatever’s going on up on the big screen, and even being utterly iconic doesn’t always help – Bernard Hermann’s Psycho theme is one of the most famous pieces of modern music, but it doesn’t lend itself too well to a relaxed evening in with the headphones on its own. Not compared to Lalo Schifrin’s funky approach to, well, everything, anyway. But this doesn’t mean that the expolitationfest that is the theme to Magnum Force is culturally superior to the screechy strains that accompanied Hitchcocks’ finest hour and a half, it’s just a bit easier to dance to.
Then you have the utter greats, where the composer and his work becomes this whole other entity and sit alongside – Ennio Morricone’s work on Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy, John Barry and Harry Nilssen’s amazing score and song for Midnight Cowboy make great films even better, and stand up as great music in it’s own right.
And there’s also the soundtrack that does away with scores for the most part, and assembles contemporary artists and songs in order to make some cash back when it turns out that the film is a bit crap. The confusing oddness of Less Than Zero has a musical background that is far more famous than the film itself, as it gave the world The Bangles doing Hazy Shade of Winter, Slayer offering their cover of In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida (a song also covered by Boney M, so there’s probably a musical first in there somewhere) and Glenn Danzig’s finest work in the film’s title track – which, if memory serves me right, was relegated in the film itself to about five seconds on a tinny radio in the background. And this album fits firmly into this category.