The Chemical Wedding

Well at least they got something right....

WELL AT LEAST THEY GOT something right. Considering the ill-conceived dog’s breakfast of a movie that is [I]Velvet Goldmine[/I], and the deeply questionable, hackneyed view it takes of pop music in the 1970s, you’d be within your rights to expect a bunch of major label goons making an appropriately ham-fisted attempt at period kitsch, claiming that there’s always been a glam element to their music.

Such is the commercial importance of soundtracks – especially since [I]Trainspotting[/I] – that major record companies now employ teams of people to plug their artists’ recordings onto films and adverts. All of which means the art of the soundtrack in the old-fashioned sense, where your John Barrys and Ennio Morricones would come up with music actually vaguely connected with the trivial matter of what was happening in the film, is in serious decline.

Too often now the soundtrack is just another marketing tool, reduced to shameless product placement, with any notions of music contributing to the atmospheric quality of a film long forgotten. They have the excuse here, as in [I]Trainspotting[/I], of music being a central theme in the movie anyway. But they still fail admirably to add embarrassment to the insult of the movie.

This is chiefly because the likes of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Bernard Butler have somehow been persuaded to be part of Venus In Furs, the supergroup who contributed five efforts here. Significantly, despite potential ego problems, they aren’t so overambitious that they try to inject their own individual sense of glam into what are, for the most part, classic songs from the era.

We can attribute much of this record’s strength to the timelessly elegant brilliance of early Roxy Music, whose songs they cover with impressive faithfulness and aesthetic taste. That said, though, Thom Yorke deserves at least an honorary place in the final of [I]Stars In Their Eyes[/I] for his impeccable impression of Bryan Ferry’s ultra-stylised vibrato croon.

Elsewhere, Placebo do T Rex’s ’20th Century Boy’ and The Wylde Ratz (grunge supergroup including Thurston Moore, Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and ex-Stooge Ron Asheton) give The Stooges’ ‘TV Eye’ a good seeing to. Meanwhile, we look forward to Elastica’s Donna Matthews’ rumoured solo career as the new Bonnie Tyler, after her impressively gravel-throated treatment of the New York Dolls’ ‘Personality Crisis’ with Teenage Fanclub. Even such unlikely candidates as Grant Lee Buffalo and Shudder To Think adopt a silky swagger of which you’d never have imagined them capable.

And if you really must be a snobby arse and insist that nothing but the originals will do, there’s T Rex, Lou Reed, Steve Harley and, finally, Roxy Music themselves included too.

So buy the soundtrack, get the boxer shorts, seek out the original artists, and make them all lots of money. But try and forget they made a film of it all…