Movies and music do not combine in much more gutwrenchingly evocative a
fashion than in the closing scenes of Trainspotting, when the unmistakable opening bars of Underworld’s Born Slippy – a track poised right on the pin-thin membrane between euphoria and sorrow – plays as Renton slips out into the dawn, betraying his friends to start a new life.
Danny Boyle’s 1996 film about heroin addicts in Edinburgh was seminal, and its emotional charge burned from an equally seminal soundtrack, a generation defining mixture of Britpop, rave and proto-punk.
Brilliantly, Oasis refused to take part – believing the film to literally be about trainspotters. ‘Between it and Pulp Fiction you pretty much had in your hands an A to Z of decent music with absolutely minimal effort,’ remembers Lias Kaci Saoud of Fat White Family, who appear on the soundtrack to T2. ‘It doesn’t get any more zeitgeist-stranglingly definitive than Trainspotting and its soundtrack.’
Rick Smith, one half of Underworld, describes the inclusion of Born Slippy – originally just a B-side – as ‘definitely a serendipitous moment. Danny walked into HMV while working on the film edit. He saw the 12-inch vinyl of Slippy in a rack, bought it, listened, and immediately knew it was how he wanted the film to end.’
Over two decades Underworld, and most notably Smith, have gone on to work with Boyle on various incredible films and projects, including Frankenstein at the National Theatre and the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. ‘I’m still a bit stunned when I think of the wonderful experiences I have had,’ says Smith, ‘that all just started by Danny asking for some help with music.’
So who else could the director trust to score, curate and direct the music for T2?‘Three months or so before they started filming Danny sent me the script,’ says Smith. ‘I began writing and collecting music on the same day.’
While T2 inhabits a modern world of Snapchat filters and sushi chains, it poignantly nods again and again to the first film. Likewise, some of the score’s biggest emotional buzz comes when it reworks classics from the first film, including Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life (remixed by The Prodigy to awesome effect) and Born Slippy itself, now called Slow Slippy. And Boyle aficionados will be happy to hear that his favourite song of all time, The Clash’s (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais, has finally made it on to the big screen too.
But the soundtrack also features younger artists, including High Contrast, Wolf Alice and the Edinburgh-based, blisteringly original, Mercury Prize-winning Young Fathers.
‘Danny invited us to the T2 set,’ explains the trio’s Graham Hastings, in an exclusive interview for Metro. ‘He showed us round and described some scenes where he wanted our music involved. He asked us for a new song as well – cheeky bastard. So we obliged and wrote Only God Knows for him.’
T2 has so far been greeted with a warm embrace – and there are scenes where you’ll taste your heart in your mouth even as your ears are buzzing. So get ready to plunge in and float deep down into the mix.
T2 Trainspotting soundtrack (Polydor Records) is released on Friday