Super Ultra Rare Bizarre Soundtrack Day 4: Millennial Movie Edition

Strange Days – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Strange Days came out in October of 1995, made about five bucks and then vanished forever. It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, (Near Dark, Point Break) and written by her ex-husband James Cameron (yea, that James Cameron – she’s wife number three of five). As much as I love Near Dark and Point Break I’d have to say that Strange Days is Bigelow’s best film to date. I also think that it’s the best thing Cameron’s ever written as well, it’s sure as fuck better than Titanic.

I love this movie. I was one of four people that saw it in the theater and have loved it ever since. I love everything about it. The cast (Ralph Finnes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis) do an amazing job. The script is incredible. The set design, costumes, editing, it’s all amazing. I own the movie on laserdisc for fuck’s sake. In my version of the 1995 Oscars, Strange Days beat Braveheart for Best Picture and Best Director, Ralph Finnes scored a stunning upset and beat Nic Cage for Best Actor, and he was joined on stage with Angela Bassett as Best Actress and Juliette Lewis winning Best Supporting Actress (Kevin Spacey is still Best Supporting Actor – he was really good in The Usual Suspects). The movie also would have picked up statues for art direction, set design, editing, screenplay and costumes.

However, as I hinted to before though, the movie didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Critics weren’t especially kind to it (although Ebert loved it) and it sunk quickly and quietly in the theaters. Time hasn’t been very kind to it either, as it’s instantly dated by the fact that it’s set in the then-future of 1999 – where people wore special headsets that allowed people to record their experiences for others to play back, on MiniDiscs even!

However, while its setting may be dated, and the technology never happened, its story is actually more relevant than ever. Police brutality, media control and alternate media sources, high gas prices, corrupt governments…all sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? This movie is ripe for rediscovery and so is it’s great soundtrack -which not surprisingly is out of print.

I actually discovered a lot of music from the Strange Days soundtrack, and it influenced much of my musical tastes in the following years. Through Strange Days I discovered Lords Of Acid, Tricky and Skunk Anansie. And through enjoying their music I found out about countless other bands including much of the British trip-hop and techno scene, including Faithless, Massive Attack and Portishead. From there I got into deep house, IDM and industrial…the list goes on.

Most of the movie’s great soundtrack is unavailable elsewhere, the exceptions being “Overcome” by Tricky, “The Real Thing” by Lords Of Acid and Skunk Anansie’s “Selling Jesus”. All of those are in-print on each band’s respective albums (which are all great and you should buy), so I’m not including them here. However, for the rest of them…

Deep Forest – Coral Lounge

Deep Forest has always kind of annoyed me. They bill themselves as “world music” but they are really just two dudes from France with an affinity for African beats and foreign sounding vocals. They must have fans though, as they’ve been around for a long time. Even though they get on my nerves I like this song a lot, very tribal/trance. If I meditated I would listen to it while doing so.

Strange Fruit – No White Clouds
These guys are one of the few bands you actually see performing in Strange Days and they’re probably the most abrasive group on the soundtrack. They got some weird jazz/rap hybrid going on and it’s really fucking aggressive. There’s a rap group out now called The Strange Fruit Collective but they aren’t the same group as far as I can tell. I can’t find anything out about these guys.

Juliette Lewis – Hardly Wait
This is a cover of a PJ Harvey song. Back in 1995 when Strange Days came out Lewis was not known as a singer and many mocked her for her effort. Many are assholes. I’ve always liked Juliette Lewis as both an actress and a singer and I’m a fan of her punk band Juliette & The Licks. Last year they played Lollapalooza and she really delivered with an amazing and energetic set which included an awesome cover of the disco classic “Hot Stuff.” Not every actor who goes into music sucks you know (look at Milla Jovovich.) In the movie she also covers “Rid Of Me” but that song isn’t on the soundtrack.

Me PHI Me – hereWEcome
I have no idea if this dude is still recording, great song though. It was the hit single by the film’s rapper Jeriko One, who’s murder is the starting point for the story. I like that the fire of a shotgun serves as the backbeat. Mean.

Skunk Anansie – Feed
Great great great great great band. Skin is my goddess heroine and she could kick my ass anytime. She appears briefly in the movie decked out like she is in the video for “Selling Jesus,” ripped to all hell with a white cross painted on her bald, black face. Skunk Anansie never broke through in America, but they had a few small hits in Europe. Skin now has a semi-successful solo career in the UK. Skunk Anansie was a band that really made the rounds on the soundtrack circuit, so if you watch enough movies you’ve probably heard them at one point. They got tunes in Mission: Impossible and Hollow Man. They’re most prominently featured in Cruel Intentions, where their beautiful ballad “Secretly” plays over the end credits. I might feature some more Skunk later sometime.

Prong – Strange Days
This is a great cover of The Doors song and that really means something from me since I can’t stand The Doors and I’m not the world’s biggest Prong fan either.

Satchel – Walk In Freedom
This is an excellent trippy electronic rock track. But I have no idea who Satchel is or what ever became of them. They aren’t an easy band to search for on the internet.

Kate Gibson – Dance Me To The End Of Love

This is a Leonard Cohen song, but I have no idea who Kate Gibson is.

Lori Carson – Fall In The Light
This woman has an absolutely beautiful voice and her lack of exposure is a complete mystery to me. She worked with The Golden Palominos in the past, which was a revolving door group that featured at one point or another John Lydon, Michael Stipe, Don Dixon and Matthew Sweet just to name a few.

Peter Gabriel & Deep Forest – While The Earth Sleeps
Both Deep Forest and Peter Gabriel have long showed an affinity for vague ethnic music, so it only made sense that they would eventually team up. I can’t tell if Gabriel’s lyrics are nonsense or if he’s actually speaking another language. Pretty song though, it closed out the movie.

Less soundtracks, more remixes next time.

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