Time was when the soundtrack album was strictly film territory, and it’s fair to say that it never used to have the best of reputations. Usually accompanying a flashy Hollywood blockbuster and filled with bland MOR tracks, they were never usually taken that seriously by music fans.
Quentin Tarantino changed all that with his eclectic selection of songs for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and it wasn’t long before any hip TV show worth its salt muscled in on the act. Nowadays, shows such as Six Feet Under and The Sopranos have their own soundtrack album, and Nip/Tuck is the latest of the bunch.
Shown on Sky earlier this year, and due to receive its terrestrial premiere on Channel 4 in August, Nip/Tuck is the latest show from over the Atlantic and all the signs are it will be a massive success. Yet even if you don’t enjoy the television show it’s a fair bet that if slightly doomy, downbeat trip-hop is your bag, then you’ll find something to enjoy here.
Unusually for a soundtrack album, all the tracks here are mixed together in the style of one of those ‘clubby’ compilation albums. The mixing is courtesy of Gabriel & Dresden and not being the world’s greatest expert on DJs, I’m not really qualified to comment as to whether their mix skills are up to scratch. All the tracks do flow seamlessly into one another though, and the record works perfectly as a cohesive whole as well as a collection of songs.
The album is bookended by the show’s theme tune, The Perfect Lie by The Engine Room – a breathy, atmospheric piece of mid-tempo trip-hop that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Goldfrapp album. The remixed version that opens the album is by far superior to the rather abridged ‘theme song’ that closes it though. Following track, Poloroid‘s lovely So Damn Beautiful is in a similar vein and is a truly haunting song, the lyrics nicely fitting into the show’s theme of plastic surgery.
Wax Poetic‘s smooth Angels benefits no end by featuring the vocals of a certain Norah Jones. Say what you like about Jones’ music, but there’s no denying she has one of the most beautiful voices around. This is a mile away from her normal jazzy shtick, but she’s perfectly suited to the backbeats and saxophone provided by the band.
The instrumental tracks fit well into the relaxed, downbeat atmosphere here – All The Way To The Top is cool and funky, while Chris Coco samples a Greig piano piece to stunning effect in the heartbreaking Falling. Elsewhere, Bebel Gilberto is typically sassy and slinky on Lonely, while Syntax’s Pride sounds distinctly out of place here, certainly the biggest nod to rock on this otherwise dance orientated soundtrack.
Inevitably with compilations, the quality control dips sometimes. Fever was a great song when Peggy Lee recorded it all those years ago, but the world really doesn’t need a dance version, no matter what Daniel Ash would seem to think. Gavin Rossdale of Bush can’t save Kinky‘s The Headphonist being rather mediocre, and the second half of the album drags somewhat, with too many mid-tempo songs drifting by unremarkably, if pleasantly.
Fans of the show may be disappointed that some key songs from memorable episodes are missing – Elton John‘s Rocket Man is used to particularly moving effect in one episode, but perhaps it wouldn’t have fitted with the mood of the album here. However, if you want a souvenir of a great TV show or even just fancy picking up a new chill-out compilation, then this comes highly recommended.