Music – and particularly a playlist of mid-1960s songs – played a major role in inspiring the look and feel of Edgar Wright’s red velvet-flecked, dreamy thriller, Last Night In Soho.
With the official soundtrack available now on Mondo Music, we’ve chosen five of its tracks, as well as five additional companion songs, that we feel fit the movie’s mood perfectly.
On the soundtrack
‘Last Night In Soho’ by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Beaky had all the fun
Yes, this is the track from which the movie takes its name, following a conversation between Edgar Wright and his pal Quentin Tarantino, during which the latter said the song was “the best title music for a film that’s never been made”. A little-known song by a band more famous for their whip-crack-propelled mariachi pop novelty ‘The Legend of Xanadu’, which reached the top of the charts in 1968, ‘Last Night In Soho’ is a less excitable proposition, concerning a loved-up chap who is “led astray” in Soho and feels he’s “let [his] life go”. There’s creams that’ll clear it up, mate.
‘Beat Girl’ by The John Barry Orchestra
James Bond’s music guy gets groovy
John Barry is best remembered for his work on the Bond franchise, supplying not only the best Bond movie songs (‘You Only Live Twice’, ‘Goldfinger’) but also the Bond theme itself. But he wasn’t all about sexy spies: this track – inspired by the mod-offshoot ‘beat’ movement – is written for the dancefloors of Swinging Soho.
‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ by R. Dean Taylor
It’s a metaphorical ghost, but it still slaps on a Halloween playlist
R. Dean Taylor was a curiosity even in his heyday – a white Canadian man signed to Motown, the Detroit pop factory, making downtrodden honky soul, best exemplified by his hit ‘Indiana Wants Me’. This track, however, is a Holland-Dozier-Holland song that captures the 1960s dancefloor sound that would later be known in the UK as Northern Soul, when kids in Lancashire obsessed over lost, decade-old soul tracks. And that’s why this first charted in the UK in 1974. Spooky!
‘Wade In The Water’ (Live at Klooks Kleek) by The Graham Bond Organisation
A blast of jazzy rhythm & blues
Soho wasn’t just about pop singers in bands posing with targets and Union Jacks, despite what tourists might suspect. No, it was a melting pot of poets, writers, jazz performers, blues bands and much more. Very much at the jazzy, bluesy end of the spectrum are The Graham Bond Organisation, whose name belies their fiery on-stage energy which was propelled by all-time-great drummer Ginger Baker, as you can hear in this recording from the ultra-hip Klooks Kleek jazz and blues club in West Hampstead.
‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ by Cilla Black
A blind date with melodrama
Long before she became a fixture on TV, the presenter of primetime 1980s and ’90s favourites Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise! was a major pop star with a peculiar style, concentrating on big, melodramatic ballads delivered in the manner of Édith Piaf working on a veg stall in Toxteth. When it worked – as it did on the towering ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ – Ringo Starr’s mum’s hairdresser could sing tingles up your spine.
NME‘s companion picks
‘The London Boys’ by David Bowie
Bowie’s mod-era meltdown
Before his glam-rock breakthrough, David Bowie had a slow-to-start career as a mod ‘face’ about town. This track, from late in that era, seems to capture the yearning sense of striving for something that’s just out of reach as it describes a young person moving to the city. “Bright lights, Soho, Wardour Street / You hope you make friends with the guys that you meet,” it begins. But, by the end of the song, the protagonist is popping pills and spinning out of control – it’s young Major Tom in his own ‘Soho Oddity’.
‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark
The birth of ‘out out’
In Last Night In Soho the brilliant Anya Taylor-Joy performs this track in character as Sandi, and it’s that version that appears on the soundtrack. So we couldn’t resist throwing in the original by Petula Clark: not just for a sound so joyful you can’t help but picture yourself cartwheeling down Frith Street at the start of a big night out, but for the effect this track had. A huge hit in the States, it poured fuel on the British Invasion kicked off by The Beatles, selling an irresistible image of the British girl-about-town.
‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ by The Rolling Stones
Stones do Beatles, magic happens
This song was born in Soho when the Stones hopped in John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s cab when it passed them on the street. Griping about their need to score a hit single with their first release, Lennon and McCartney kindly proffered their composition ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, and a 60-year career was born. That’s the way Macca tells it, anyway.
‘As Tears Go By’ by Marianne Faithfull
The quintessential cool girl
The ultimate Soho scenester, Marianne Faithfull evoked an other-worldly aura. Where all around her was colourful and silly, Faithfull would be the emotionless, ghostly vision radiating cool simply by her presence. Her biggest hit in her own right, Faithfull’s chart debut was a Jagger–Richards composition that sets her detached, disaffected charm to music.
‘The Crying Game’ by Dave Berry
Swooning, sad and soaring all at the same time
Songwriters in the 60s pulled no punches when it came to emotional heft, and this soaring sadbanger from Sheffield pop idol Dave Berry is about as emo as it gets. But amid all the strings and rat-a-tat drums, there’s something dark and sinister at the heart of this song – helped, no doubt, by its association to the bleak 1992 thriller that took its name from Berry’s hit.
Last Night In Soho is in cinemas Friday. You can hear director Edgar Wright’s own playlist below.