Judgement Night vs The Crow - Round 7
Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Cypress Hill (again), Teenage Fanclub, De La Soul, Violent Femmes, Jane Siberry, Graeme Revell
This is the penultimate post in my deep dive into the two most influential movie soundtracks of the 90s. You can find the earlier posts here.
The late 90s and early 00s saw the rise in popularity of nu-metal and rap-metal, but in 1993/94 it was still a novel idea.
Producer Happy Walters was one of the people responsible for bringing the two genres together. One of the acts he represented were Cyprus Hill, who as we have already discussed were alt-rock fans. Cyprus Hill had two tracks on the Judgement Night soundtrack. We had a listen to ‘Real Thing’ featuring Pearl Jam in a different post. The other track they recorded was with Sonic Youth.
If you ask people who are not interested in rock music who Sonic Youth are, you’ll get vague and confused facial expressions. But anyone with even a passing interest in rock will have heard of them. If you started listening to alternative rock in the 80s or early 90s then you probably own a copy of ‘Daydream Nation’ or ‘Dirty’. If you’re from Cork City, Ireland you will know this story.
Basically, Sonic Youth are the Black Sabbath of experimental noise rock. In the same way Sabbath influenced every metal band ever, every grunge era band were influenced in some manner by Sonic Youth. Ostensibly, a noise rock band, they were innovators of guitar sound. They utilised unpopular tunings, and actually altered the guitar sound by placing objects between the frets and strings (or by playing with objects like drills and drumsticks instead of plectrums).
Cyprus Hill were the most hardcore rap group in the world at the time. So much so that the already legendary Sonic Youth were nervous about the collaboration. In their own words, they didn’t want to be the band responsible for a bad Cyprus Hill track. Based on accounts by both bands, the collaboration was accelerated and accented by copious amounts of weed. Kim Gordon’s vocal hook “Sugar come by, and get me high”, was inspiring enough to B-Real to add the rest of the lyrics. It’s probably the simplest track on the soundtrack, and it’s also one of the best.
We’ve mentioned the shoe-gaze genre in an earlier post on the band Medicine. Another band from that genre, are The Jesus and Mary Chain. JAMC hail from East Kilbride in Scotland. Their early years sound absolutely insane with tales of violence at their gigs, onstage destruction of their equipment as a finale, and bad press from the tabloid newspapers in the UK. Their sound was a completely diy project led by Brothers Jim and William Reid. The two brothers even tossed a coin to see who would be lead vocalist (Jim lost and did the honours, though in reality they both shared vocals). They became absolutely massive, but also achieved a huge deal of respect from the music press, fellow musicians, and their loyal fanbase. Minimalists, their drum kit had just two drums and they also used a two sting bass. Their debut album ‘PsychoCandy’ showed what wonderful soundscapes they could create with feedback and the follow up album ‘Darklands’ showed what they sounded like without the fuzz. Their track for The Crow soundtrack was actually released on a JAMC e.p. about a year before the Movie release, but was actually recorded with the soundtrack in mind. Often overlooked in their ‘best of’ lists, “Snakedriver” is a classic of theirs and one of the best songs on The Crow.
Also hailing from Scotland are Teenage Fanclub. They also share with The Jesus And Mary Chain, a fuzzy guitar sound. That’s where the similarities end however, as Teenage Fanclub have never, (to my knowledge) deliberately or otherwise, started a riot at one of their gigs. They are a bright example of alt-pop and while lauded by critics and fans alike, should have had the kind of success that the likes of Oasis and Blur had in the 90s. Influenced by The Byrds and The Beach Boys they were surprisingly championed by the likes of Liam Gallagher and Kurt Cobain. In short, they made very nice pop-rock songs.
For the Judgement Night soundtrack they were paired with De La Soul. Formed in Long Island, New York, De La Soul were one of the most distinctive, original, and innovative hip-hop groups of the 90s. Hits like ‘Me, Myself and I’, ‘The Magic Number’, and ‘Eye Know’ showed their talent for clever, quirky, rap pop. Like their contemporary Del the Funky Homosapien, they later found new fans from collaborating with Gorilliaz.
Their track had a sample of ‘Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty and (this was in the pre-digital age), De La Soul had to go and find the physical vinyl record in order to add the clip. They were recording in a town called Cheadle Hulme in England, with Teenage Fanclub in the studio. Apparently the Tom Petty record was located in a shop somewhere between Stockport and Manchester. You couldn’t make it up! The song is so laid back and happily chilled out, that it’s one of the best on the record. It makes a nice counter balance to Faith No More and Boo-Yaa Tribe’s ‘Another Body Murdered’ (and Slayer/Ice-T, Therapy?/Fatal and all the other murdering songs on Judgement Night).
Violent Femmes are primarily famous (at least on this side of the Atlantic) for ‘Blister in the Sun’. An acoustic punk song, ‘Blister’ owes its vibe more to The Beatles or even The Monkees, than say The Ramones. Though the tempo and delivery are cheerful, the lyrics are dark and hint heavily at addiction. Many of Violent Femmes more successful songs follow the template they used for ‘Blister’. Fusing a folk sound with a punk attitude, their focus was on clever lyrics, delivered with an ironic smile by vocalist Brian Gano. The song they contributed to The Crow soundtrack is a departure from their norm. ‘Color Me Once’ still has the laconic drawl of the vocalist, the clear but lowkey guitar and bass sound, and the skilful drum fills. But this is a dirge, not a punk anthem. It could have been a darker song by The Clash for example. Recorded before they heard about the movie, when they were offered a space on the soundtrack they immediately submitted it. It works.
So what are the scores today in the final shootout between The Crow and Judgement Night?
Cyprus Hill & Sonic Youth score for an infectious riff and a sublime rap. - 1
Jesus And Mary Chain equalise with a shoegaze classic 1-1
Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul take the lead again for the Judgement Night ost with possibly the most pleasant rap-rock crossover track of all time. 2-1
Violent Femmes laconically equalise with their slacker dirge vibe. 2-2
So that’s it folks. Out of 11 tracks on each soundtrack The Crow has scored 9 and Judgement Night has score 9. A well deserved…
News just in…
There are 3 more tracks on The Crow soundtrack than on Judgement Night. How did this happen? How did the Aquanaut miscalculate the permutations of this epic battle between the greatest movie soundtracks of the 90s? Or was this his plan all along: to misdirect and confuse the reader from his watery lair? Read on and find out!
I’m going to drop one more track from The Crow in this post.
Jane Sibery is a Canadian singer-songwriter who has been recording since the early 80s. Sometimes compared to Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, Jane’s music has evolved over the years and has found that quiet kind of success you only get from hard work, buckets of self belief, and raw talent. Her YouTube channel is here, and is worth a deep dive of your own.
Her track on The Crow soundtrack is an important one as, in the storyline, it is written by the protagonist Eric Draven. In reality it was co-written with the composer of the score for the movie, Graeme Revell.
I’ve mentioned actress Rochelle Davis in an earlier post. She was 12 years old when The Crow was filmed and had become close to Brandon Lee and his fiancé Eliza. The phrase ‘it can’t rain all the time’ is first uttered by her character Sarah, and then later by Brandon as Eric Draven in the below scene.
Rochelle’s performance in the movie is stellar and her voice overs at the beginning and end of the movie induce chills and goosebumps.
Jane Sibery’s track plays on the outro and end credits of the movie. It’s both lovely and sentimental. Graeme Revell deserves praise too for his credit on the track, and for his score which blends seamlessly with all the goth rock and angsty metal.
I’m crying right now, thinking about that song. Teenage Aquanaut is standing in the rain back in 1994 wiping away his tears outside the Cineplex, and you better be crying too, goddamnit.
Next week we wrap up this series of posts about the two soundtracks. We take a listen to Machines of Loving Grace, and Stone Temple Pilots. The Aquanaut will also try to contextualise the impact of these soundtracks on the music of the time and their legacy today.