I recently saw Shane Meadows’ new film, Somers Town, a beautiful short film that I highly recommend (ignore any of the reviews that made disparaging comments about the fact Eurostar contributed some funding to the film, it doesn’t compromise it at all).
I’m a big fan of Shane Meadows’ work in general, and one of the things (among many) that always mark his films is his use of music. So here are ten tunes he’s memorably used, some of which I already knew, some of which were new to me...
10. Sunhouse were a short lived Midlands band whose sole album Crazy on the Weekend was born out of the soundtrack work they did on Meadows’ debut feature film, 24/7. A couple of songs were used in the film, but I’ll kick off with ‘Crazy on the Weekend’, the first song on what’s something of a great lost album.
9. Shot in b&w, 24/7 was a debut film that featured some memorable images, but perhaps none more so than the boxing club boys being led in silhouette along a ridge in the Peak district (in the pissing rain, of course) to the sounds of the Charlatans ‘North Country Boy’.
8. This is England has a master-class period soundtrack, featuring ska, two tone and other 80s classics. At number 8 is the first of the three Toots and the Maytals tunes used. They’re all great but this one, with its brilliant intro, is up first, ‘54-46 (that’s my number)’.
7. For Dead Man's Shoes, Meadows’ homage to the violent Spaghetti Westerns of Peckinpah, he took a turn away from his largely British based music to the more atmospheric sounds of Americana. Things start in fine fashion with Smog’s lovely and spooky 'Vessel in Vain' - "I can’t be held responsible for the things I’ve seen" - which can be read as a kind of a mission statement for what’s to follow.
6. And on to the title track (nearly) ‘Dead Man’ by the ever genius M. Ward. As many great Americana tunes do, this combines gorgeous melody and instrumentation with an elusive, mysterious atmosphere.
5. From the end of This is England, The Smiths ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ is the perfect expression of the film’s theme of adolescent confusion and yearning (they used a cover for this, I know, but I’m guessing that was for budget or permissions reasons, so I’d seek out the original).
4. ‘Going Down’, an early Stone Roses classic is the perfect choice at the end of A Room for Romeo Brass, a suitably upbeat soundtrack to the film’s cathartic, hopeful, magic show ending.
3. The soundtrack to Somers Town was done by Gavin Clark, the front man of the aforementioned Sunhouse (and the person who covered the Smiths song above), and Ted Barnes. They were subsequently in Clayhill, but the score they provided here sounds more inspired to me, and at no. 3 is the instrumental theme, ‘Raise a Vein’, which acts as a kind of refrain through the film.
2. At 2 is the same film’s final tune (‘Painted Glass’, I think it’s called), with its lovely French feel, suitable to the film’s escapist coda. Again, some of the critics didn’t like the ending, but surely they were missing the point - the shift to colour should have been a clue to them...
1. And in at no. 1 is ‘Corpses in their Mouth’, still my favourite Ian Brown solo track, which plays as Romeo goes with Gavin to the hospital in A Room for Romeo Brass. This moment of calm and friendship is also the final scene before Paddy Considine’s stranger enters the film and everything changes.
ps. If anyone knows how to get hold of a physical copy of the soundtrack to Somers Town then please let me know. I can’t see it listed to buy anywhere...