T2: Trainspotting soundtrack review
Trainspotting was one of the films that defined a decade, with an iconic soundtrack that even those viewers that were cringing in their seats could not help but immerse themselves into fully, featuring composition from the beloved David Bowie as well as performances from Lou Reed, Blur and Iggy Pop. This sequel to the ‘Choose Life’ classic takes place after 20 years, and does not disappoint. With the second instalment likely to come under huge scrutiny, it was a massive gamble for Danny Boyle to reunite Ewan McGregor and co. – but one that certainly paid off.
Track listing – Artist
- Lust For Life – Iggy Pop (The Prodigy Remix)
- Shotgun Mouthwash – High Contrast
- Silk – Wolf Alice
- Get Up – Young Fathers
- Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
- Eventually But (Spud’s letter to Gail) – Underworld, Ewen Bremner
- Only God Knows – Young Fathers
- Dad’s Best Friend – The Rubberbandits
- Dreaming – Blondie
- Radio Ga Ga – Queen
- It’s Like That – RUN-DMC, Jason Nevins
- (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
- Rain Or Shine – Young Fathers
- Whitest Boy On The Beach – Fat White Family
- Slow Slippy – Underworld
**THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME FILM SPOILERS**
The soundtrack begins with a modern take on one of only two songs that featured on the soundtrack for the original 1996 movie, with Bowie’s beautiful composition, which had been performed by Iggy Pop undergoing a radical transformation by The Prodigy. The alternative dance group give the track a fresh new feeling, and make it all the more dramatic in doing so, encapsulating the whole theme of the film; with the characters being revisited, it feels like the song could also be viewed as such, with the modernisation having modified the sound, but the core elements remaining.
‘High Contrast’ is the second artist featured on the album, an artist that cites the Clockwork Orange (another classic cult film from the 70’s) soundtrack as one of his major influences on his music. The song is used to give the film an instant, distinct 21st Century feel from the original as it is a stark contrast to many of the classic songs featured in the previous film. This leads into Wolf Alice’s ‘Silk’ which despite being a piece from the current rising alternative rock stars, would not be out of place on the original soundtrack, saying this I believe is one of the highest compliments I can pay to a group who I am sure will be around at the very forefront of the industry in the years to come.
Young Fathers are a group who feature very prominently on this album, I assume due them forming in Edinburgh (for those who don’t know, this is where both films are set). However the first track that the pop/hip-hop group contribute to the album is largely forgettable, I honestly cannot recall where it fits into the film and when played out on context it isn’t great to listen to. The less said about this the better.
The album then continues with a throwback to an era even before either of the two films were set: with Frankie Goes To Hollywood contributing their smash hit but also now cliché tune of ‘Relax’ which is a welcome change to a more electronica sound after the last track, but also has the effect of removing us from the contemporary feel of both film and album, and instead letting us reminisce about past times, for those older than myself, this may well include the release of ‘Relax’ or the very first Trainspotting film.
The change of pace to ‘Spuds letter to Gail’ provides us with a solemn interlude, with Underworld contributing their first of two songs on the record, narration of Ewen Bremner opening the piece with his suicide note before the vocals of Karl Hyde take over. This allows us a reminder that although the film is generally very entertaining, that we may have missed something, and that it does have a powerful message, and that the situation is a reality for many people up and down the country. At the end of the original film, Bremner’s character is left his share of money from the drug deal and so we assume that he, of all of the characters, he should be doing pretty well 20 years later. However, we find that the opposite is the case, with ‘Spud’ being the only character still a self-confessed drug addict.
The second of songs by Young Fathers is next on the soundtrack, and thankfully is very different from the previous input from the trio, and was made only for release on this soundtrack. With a much more melodic feel and with the contribution of a choir helps the song to give off a much softer and harmonious tone. This song gives the impression that regardless of previous misdemeanours from the main characters, that they might just be finding a way to put it all behind them and move on.
Incorrect unfortunately, as the following piece from comedy hip-hop duo The Rubberbandits, is what I can only describe as Begbie’s inner monologue, each build up to the inherently aggressive chorus with brilliant but ridiculous lyrics allow us an insight into the mind of a psychopath.
Back to the classics now with Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’ which once again lets us travel back in time, this time to the late 70s, but is a song that is still popular today, ad certainly was at the time of the original Trainspotting release. It lets us once again believe that everything in the lives of our beloved (former) heroin addicts will turn out okay, and that they will all get along just fine.
Now here we are, at the elephant in the room; Queen’s ‘Radio Ga Ga’. Again a ‘classic’ of sorts considering it is by one of, if not THE, all-time great band. To be honest it is this that saves the song, it isn’t bad, but it is not the quality of the early Queen songs, as one of the later songs from the Queen era, it is seen to be more ‘radio friendly’ which we all know is code for ‘sell out.’ Is it needed in the film? I don’t think so unfortunately.
The throwback theme continues with Run-DMC with one of the biggest songs from the so-called golden age of hip hop. The track provides a welcome nostalgia and once again gives the impression that the characters are making moves towards getting their shit together. ‘It’s like that’ however can also provide a lyrical reminder that the characters are just stuck in their ways, and that in the grand scheme of things, very little has changed. The nostalgic theme continues with a classic single from The Clash, another leader in alternative rock of their time. The late 70’s single is a welcome addition to the soundtrack as the ‘angsty’ vocals of Joe Strummer seem to reflect the emotion of the characters at several points during the film.
The final Young Fathers track on the album is a worthwhile contribution, with more subtle vocals, the beat does the talking in this one; the elongated build ups add a sense of suspense to the point in the film that it is used, and leads nicely on soundtrack wise in bringing the album to a close.
This closing of the compilation continues with another contemporary alternative rock group; Fat White Family, with a track that could easily been released in the same era that the aforementioned The Clash were at the peak of their time, again I believe this is a great compliment to the band formed in Peckham who released an album that opens with this song last year, and are certainly one to watch.
The final track on the soundtrack is, when taken as an individual track is nothing special, the song is a remix of the 1995 single ‘Born Slippy’ that appeared on the first Trainspotting soundtrack, and was featured in the closing moments of the 1996 film as Renton seemingly walks away from the issues of his past. The inclusion of a remix on the new soundtrack is once again a superb inclusion as it reminds us of all the trails and tribulations of the characters, and despite changes, the core track remains the same, an outlook that can definitely be applied to the foursome even regardless of the twenty years that has passed.
All in all, this is a fantastic soundtrack with an incredibly diverse range of contemporary to classic, rock to electro to hip hop, with a few odd inclusions here and there but certainly one worth getting your hands on.
Author: Jordan Hayman