Trainspotting: Music from the Motion Picture (1996)
Trainspotting based on the Irvine Welsh novel follows the lives of several Scottish mates, most of whom are addicted to heroin. The movie depicts the staggering destruction the drug can do in a person’s life but also mixes in plenty of laughs and one of the best film soundtracks ever. Mixing alternative classics, Britpop and techno – the soundtrack was massively successful upon release in 1996. The album starts with the first of two big indie disco night hits with Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”. Originally released in the late 70s, the song gets a new release on life as a whole new generation discovers the classic drum beat from Hunt Sales.
The album immediately takes it’s foot off the gas for the ambient sounds of Brian Eno and the bubbling dance sounds of Primal Scream. Sleeper performs a very good faithful cover of Blondie’s “Atomic” before the New Order’s “Temptation” sings of “Oh, you’ve got green/blue/grey eyes”. The album then takes one of the highlights from Blur’s underrated first album with “Sing”. Lou Reed soundtracks one of the most powerful scenes in the movie when “Perfect Day” plays while Renton (Ewan McGregor) ODs before being revived in the hospital. The song’s deadpan singing of a wonderful day out perfectly fits the harrowing scene.
Originally a b-side, Pulp makes an appearance with “Mile End”, a fitting track that describes an unlivable flat in London that captures the domestic lives of the characters. Nearly bookending the album, Underworld’s smash techno crossover hit “Born Slippy .NUXX” appears. Playing in the final scenes of the movie, the song with it’s “lager lager lager” lyrics is regarded as a landmark electronic track.
Arriving a few years before Napster and online streaming, the Trainspotting soundtrack plays like an excellent mixtape that people used to pass on to one another. While the segue from Iggy Pop to Brian Eno is an odd one, several of the tracks flow nicely from one track to the next. Like any good mixtape, it has well known favourites and a few unknown gems for listeners to discover. Like the movie, the Trainspotting soundtrack still holds up 25 years later.