Spike Island is coming out later this month, and follows five boys from Manchester as they try and make their way to the eponymous Stone Roses concert, a concert that defined a generation. Unfortunately for the boys, their journey is filled with quite a few challenges. Fortunately for everyone, the movie is also filled with the music of The Stone Roses. So, in anticipation of a fantastic movie music experience, here are the ten movies with the best music. Keep in mind this is soundtracks, not scores. As good as they are, there won’t be any Hans Zimmer or John Williams, because you’re never going to blast one of those songs on your stereo, if you even have a stereo anymore.
The amount of incredible songs in this movie could fill at least two LP’s if not more. What also makes it impressive is that most aren’t the go-to songs for the artists. For the most part, they’re the kind of songs that only real fans might say are their favourite. How many times has “Sparks” by The Who, or Led Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way” shown up in a soundtrack? There are of course some obvious exceptions, such as Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” but that can hardly be considered a bad thing. The film also puts forward some pretty good songs from Stillwater, the fictional band at the centre of the movie.
More impressive than the quality of music in this film is the range. The movie starts off with Bob Dylan’s “The Times they are a’Changin’”, and continues on to throw out “Ride of the Valkyries”, “99 Luftbalons”, a My Chemical Romance cover of “Desolation Row”, and Smashing Pumpkins’ haunting “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning”. The combination of acoustic classics and effect-laden, modern alt-rock is a roller coaster musical experience that manages to perfectly capture the parallel universe 80’s where Nixon is still in power and caped crusaders roam the streets.
Walk the Line
Even if you don’t like country music, Johnny Cash is probably one of the greatest musicians of the past century. Although Johnny Cash didn’t perform any of the songs for the film, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon’s performances make the songs better, if anything. Not that they sound better than Cash, but to have two relative novices be so convincing and moving just demonstrates the craftsmanship and power the songs have on their own.
The opening scene alone would give Trainspotting a place on this list. The projector flicks on and you just see Ewan McGregor running towards the camera to Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”. This is leads into a monologue that would punch Hamlet in the face because he whines too much. The following 90 minutes are just a Britpop injected joy ride fuelled by Blur, Primal Scream, Sleeper, and with a little bit of Lou Reed thrown in.
If Johnny Cash was going to make an appearance, there’s no way Ray Charles would miss out. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as the 10th greatest artist of all time, and number two in their list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, behind only Aretha Franklin. The film manages to pack in 30 songs by Charles, with room to fit a couple songs by other greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Nat ‘King’ Cole.
The Big Chill
What would you get if you put The Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin on the same album? Well, if it also had Marvin Gaye, Three Dog Night, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Exciters, Procul Harum, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, The Rascals, Spencer Davis Group, The Miracles, and The Beach Boys, then you’d have the sound track to The Big Chill. The only people who dislike the songs from this movie only dislike them because they are so unanimously well liked. Cue Dick, from High Fidelity.
One would hope that a film about a bunch of music snobs (as described by Cusack himself) would be filled with fantastic music. With a few exceptions, it succeeds fantastically. It manages to grab some classic artists like Velvet Underground, Aretha Franklin, The Kinks, and Queen, while keeping current (given that it came out in 2000), with Stereo Lab, Chemical Brothers, Goldie, and even The Roots. They may have been jerks about it, but the music’s still good.
The Great Gatsby
Consider this pick the controversial one of the bunch. For one, most of the songs are originals created for the movie. That seems like minor technicality given that each song is clearly intended to live beyond the scope of the film. The other part people might not agree with is the use of rap and hip-hop for a movie that takes place in the roaring 20’s. Really though, that combination is what makes the music so brilliant. What better way to illustrate the easy money and gaudy excessiveness of the Jazz Age than its modern heir and counterpart?
The Boat That Rocked
From the first notes of “All Day and All of the Night” by The Kinks, you’ll find yourself huddled by your speakers like they were your childhood radio; it doesn’t matter if you weren’t actually alive for real radio. Yes, some of the songs came out after ’66, when the film takes place, but they’re all so good you don’t even notice. If rock and rollers go to heaven, then this is where they go.
Over 20 years ago, The Stone Roses played a concert that just might deserve a place on the same list as Woodstock and The Rolling Stones at Wembley. Spike Island can take you back even if you weren’t one of the lucky 27,000. With the baggy pants, shaggy haircuts, and, most importantly, track after track of The Stone Roses, you’ll be dreaming of The Haçienda after watching this movie.