A Tribute To Repo Man

Alex Cox’s Repo Man has been one of my favourite films since I rented it in the mid-80s – the best 1980s sf film set in LA [think about it], great cast, hilarious script, how could I resist? What I didn’t know when I picked up the the VHS was how important music was to the film, from Iggy blasting the theme song over the opening credits onwards, or that the soundtrack would be my introduction to LA punk. The soundtrack album included tracks by Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, the Circle Jerks, and the Plugz, who also provided the score (though there’s not much of it on the album, beyond the final track ‘Reel Ten’). It is, in short, a delight – the perfect music for a cult film people have loved for nearly thirty years.

Which makes this tribute album something of a gamble. American Laundromat Records, based in Mystic, CT, specialise in tributes (to Pixies, Kim Deal, Neil Young, the Cure and the Smiths, etc), which, I think you’ll agree, is a noble calling. But these are pretty big shoes to be stepping into… We get some old hands – Black Francis & Spanish For Hitchhiking (the Plugz’ ‘El Clavo Y La Cruz’; Frank had already produced an idiosyncratic cover of ‘Repo Man’ on an earlier American Laundromat release), Mike Watt & The Secondmen (Fear’s ‘Let’s Have A War’), and Matthew Sweet (the Plugz’ version of ‘Secret Agent Man’, ‘Hombre Secreto’) and they sound like they’re having fun. The others are much newer bands, and on the whole they do a great job too. Those Darlins’ version of Iggy’s song is pretty faithful, and pretty good:

Some of the covers are a little too straightforward for my liking, not adding very much, but I liked Amanda Palmer’s take on ‘Institutionalized’ by Suicidal Tendencies. Not only is this a tricky track to play – talky bits turning into hardcore thrash – but Palmer manages to tell this sorry tale without sounding either daft or like she’s taking the mickey. Here’s the original, featuring some of the props from the film and a nod to the plot too:

‘Institutionalized’ – Suicidal Tendencies

The CD arrived with a fantastic haul of merch: badges, one of the little trees you’ll find in every car, and a t-shirt I will wear with pride. Though maybe I should have bought the other design as well 😦

You can order mp3s from Amazon if you’re in the US, and American Laundromat Records are here. Watch out for that lattice of coincidence.



About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on September 18, 2012, in Album reviews, Covers, Soundtrack and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead

  2. You hear the most outrageous lies about it.

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