INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Record Collector DECEMBER 2016 - by Jonny Trunk
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING
Still loving the alien
For many unknown reasons and rumours, the music from Nic Roeg's cult sci- movie from 1976 was never released. There was a time, apparently, in the not-too-distant past when even David Bowie himself was attempting to release the music. Rumour also has it that Bowie had produced an unusable score once filming had finished and was back on the all-white diet. But the fact remains that one of the most interesting scores to one of the most interesting of modern movies, has never been issued.
But original tapes have been uncovered, and now, in AD 2016 and thanks to some wheeler dealing (and possibly some deep pocket digging) by Universal we have a pretty much complete issue of the music across all formats. The entry level two-disc set has a fine, informative booklet with short, but interesting notes and some awesome photos. The big bad collector's edition has two LPs, two CDs, a 40+ page book with superb stills and rare behind the scenes shots and a reproduction poster.
What's important here though is the magical music. It begins with Stomu Yamashta's Poker Dice; a startling, attention grabbing opener of percussive strangeness, immediately whisking us to a new and very different world. This is one of several fine Yamashta pieces throughout the soundtrack, all cribbed from his various early '70s LPs. The other star of the show here is John Phillips, commissioned by Roeg very late in the day and therefore under immense pressure to supply cues for an already near complete film. Many of his thirteen tracks were improvised with the help of guitarist Mick Taylor (post Stones), and are often rooted in blues, boogie and traditional American musical forms.
Adding to the cocktail we have familiar folk from the The Kingston Trio, trad jazz from Louis Armstrong, some truly magical contemporary versions of Holst (from The Planet Suite, natch), and then even a bit of olde Christmas with Robert Famon. The first disc is the stronger of the two, and there is a lot to hear and take in over the release, but the whole is cohesive, addictively peculiar and very well timed. Not only is the film back out and all cleaned up, but more of the world is now prepared for musical curiosities. It's just a shame this release is not a year older, and then the actual Man Who Fell To Earth may have been thrilled at its touchdown.