Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Repo Man Soundtrack Revisited & Show # 502

In 1984, Alex Cox released his cult classic film Repo Man, a film that he wrote and directed that took the seedy underworld of a repo man and wrapped it around Punk Rock music and Science Fiction. The film stars a young Emilio Estevez who portrays a visceral performance alongside Harry Dean Stanton who is his mentor throughout the film. Along with the film’s strong memorable characters, there were quotable lines such as: “The life of a repo man is always intense.” “Put it on a plate, son. You’ll enjoy it more.” “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are” and “Look at those assholes, ordinary people. I hate’em.” Repo Man also has a very interesting soundtrack.

The Repo Man soundtrack documents the LA Punk scene at the time, featuring music from The Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Fear, The Plugz and others. The Circle Jerks have two tracks featured on the soundtrack “Coup d’Etat” from their 1983 album Golden Shower Of Hits and a lounge/acoustic version of “When The Shit Hits The Fan” also from the same album originally. In the film, the band also makes an appearance as a lounge act performing the soundtrack version of “When The Shit Hits The Fan”. The Plugz also provide quite a few tracks to not only the soundtrack, but also in the film. The band puts their Punk noir spin on Surf Rock covering “Secret Agent Man” and the songs “Reel Ten” and “El Clavo Y La Cruz”. “Reel Ten” significantly creeps in and out of the film, especially in the films ending sequence. It should be noted that along with being a part of the soundtrack, Tito Larriva and Steven Hufsteter of The Plugz created the film score for Repo Man. Along with these tracks there is also the films “Repo Man” theme that drifts in and out of the film like the demented character Dr. J Frank Parnell in his radioactive 1964 Chevy Malibu. The film’s main theme was written and performed by Iggy Pop. When the films director Alex Cox approached Pop, he advised him to do what he felt like for the film’s soundtrack. The result was a song influenced by Davie Allan & The Arrows as Pop mentions on the Criterion edition of the film.

The recording sessions for the theme by Pop, were tracked and done quickly. On the website repomanfilm.com, assistant engineer Chas Ferry discusses the session which took two days to record. The other musicians involved in the recording of the “Repo Man” song were Clem Burke on drums and Nigel Harrison both of which made up the rhythm section of Blondie and Steve Jones on guitar from Sex Pistols. With Pop as director the collection of musicians quickly came up with the parts necessary for the song and laid the track down in two takes. Chas conveyed his excitement:

“We began setting up with the engineer, Bev Jones, and the musicians started to arrive. Clem Burke from Blondie arrived to Play Drums. Then Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols and Nigel Harrison of Blondie arrived. I couldn't believe I was going to be involved in this. Iggy arrived. He came up to me and said, "Hi I'm Jim, nice to meet you". Then he started talking with the band. “

The vocals were recorded the next day due to a drug related misstep. The vocals were recorded in a similar fashion to how they were done on Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album, which was run through a Fender Champ amplifier and Space Echo. Chas elaborated a bit more on this for his piece once again on repomanfilm.com:

“I knew about the Lust for Life setup and had it ready in the booth. Iggy was totally excited about that and ready for lots of distortion on his voice. Bev Jones arrived and Iggy excitedly told him about the setup. I realized by the look on Bev’s face that I'd just totally screwed up and put him in a very bad position. Now Bev was stuck with Iggy wanting to record his voice through an old Fender Champ and a Space Echo. Bev knew this was probably going to sound like shit, but if he didn't agree to it he might offend Iggy. Bev, being a very cool character, calmly suggested that we put up a good Neumann for Iggy, move the Champ to the bathroom and route the vocal back to the Space Echo/Champ through an aux send. Iggy consulted with Sachi (his wife at the time), and she agreed that it was probably a good idea.”

In 2012, a tribute version of the soundtrack was recorded featuring new artists. While the original 1984 version is long out of print, the soundtrack, along with the film has grown in status since its original release. The film leads fans to the soundtrack and vice versa. Repo Man the film stands as both a document of the LA Punk scene in the 80s, but also a story that is both bizarre, funny, was unconventional and defied classification. The film also pays tribute to the film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Its radiating glow was different showing a sense of detachment from mainstream culture and the films soundtrack took us for a ride along the way.

The Play List:

1. The False Poets - A Girl I Know
2. Your 33 Black Angels - Patient Love
3. Dum Dum Girls - Under These Hands
4. Old And Weird - Lamps
5. Os Tartaros - Tartaria
6. The Plugz - Hombre Secreto (Secret Agent Man)
7. The Circle Jerks - When The Shit Hits The Fan
8. The Folk - In Silence
9. The Mods - Coming In And Out Of The Rain
10. The Young Canadians - Don’t Bother Me
11. Teenage Head - Some Kinda Fun
12. BA Johnston & The Moby Dicks - McDonald's Coupon Day
13. Korean Gut - Your Misery, Our Benefit
14. Topless Mongos - Hey My My
15. The Ketamines - You Can't Serve Two Masters
16. Frustrations - Damaged Goods Make History
17. Silicone Injection - At War With Peace
18. Radio Birdman - Do The Pop
19. Generation X - 100 Punks
20. The Libertines - The Good Old Days
21. The Modern Lovers - Old World
22. The Teardrops - Teardrops And Heartaches
23. Iggy Pop - Repo Man Theme
24. The D4 - Mysterex
25. The Rolling Stones - Factory Girl

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 1. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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