I'm not usually a big fan of soundtrack CDs. Sometimes they work and the music is evocative of a great film or television series. But often, the music tracks are too varied and you'll find you like some and hate others.
But I decided to buy the soundtrack CD to Ashes to Ashes, because the music is integral to the television series and while watching it, I often remarked on how good the music was. Ashes to Ashes is set in 1981 when I was 11-12 and fairly regularly buying singles, so I did think it would be worth buying this album.
The 1980s theme of the series is great and it is reproduced well in this CD. The album has twenty songs from the time, plus a couple of short interludes and the theme tune to the TV series. It lasts a total of 69 minutes.
The CD is a Digipak version, whereas I really prefer the more sturdy box. It looks good though with a nice cover featuring Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt and Keeley Hawes as Alex.
Here is a brief resume of the tracks and my thoughts and feelings about them.
INTRO - This is Alex's bit from start of show and is spoken by Keeley Hawes. A good way to start this album.
ASHES TO ASHES by David Bowie - I didn't like it much before, but really like it now, as it reminds me of the series. I tend to sing along to the "I'm happy, hope you're happy too" bit, as I like that especially. Overall, it's a bit hippy, a bit weird and very of the time, but original.
FADE TO GREY by Visage - I remember this well from time and seeing Steve Strange in his silver paint on Top of the Pops. It is good to hear it again and has aged pretty well.
LOVE ACTION by The Human League - This song does sound a bit dated, very 80s, but I remember this one well too. It's not a great classic in my opinion, but it's okay. It reminds me of school discos.
GIRLS ON FILM by Duran Duran - I wasn't a big DD fan at the time nor since, but they did some good tracks. It's almost compulsory to sing along to the chorus. Overall, it's poppy, pretty good and harmless fun.
GENO by Dexy's Midnight Runners - This was one of the first records I ever bought and I still love it. It reminds me of going to the fair with my Dad and hearing it playing there. I've no idea what it's about but it's a great tune. I still can't pick out all the lyrics!
SOUVENIR by OMD - This one is slower paced, quite pretty, but a bit dull and boring. Overall, it's rather forgettable, and not one you'll go round singing afterwards!
NO MORE HEROES by The Stranglers - This one is much faster paced again. It reminds me of the car chases on the television series and our hero on the show Gene. It goes on a bit though, with a long boring instrumental bit in the middle, but it's okay overall.
I FOUGHT THE LAW by The Clash - This is a very recognisable song. Let's all sing along now! It's angry, passionate, shouty and generally a good song, which fits in well with the police theme as well as the era of the show.
FASCIST GROOVE THANG by Heaven 17 - What a strange title! After a frantic start, it becomes a bit of a messy song and in my opinion, it doesn't really work. Not quite bad enough to fast forward though, but dull.
INTERLUDE - Gene Hunt. Awww. Cute.
GENE GENIE - Gene Hunt's Theme. This is okay, but not as good as when it is accompanied by Philip Glenister on screen. It doesn't stand up brilliantly with audio alone - and it's short too, only one minute and twenty seconds.
IN LOVE WITH A GERMAN FILM STAR by The Passions - OMG. Dull, dirgey, yawn, fast forward....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY by Altered Images - I got this CD for my birthday that year, I remember it well. These days, I'm not so keen on Clare Grogan's irritating high-pitched little voice though and it does seem repetitive. It was so overplayed at the time but is quite nice to listen to now - occasionally! I can sing along, but it's hardly great lyrics! The song goes on a bit too. You want to send her to the naughty step by the end of it.
IT'S DIFFERENT FOR GIRLS by Joe Jackson - My cousin Lorraine was a fan of his, but he otherwise passed me by! This track is okay. He sounds like Elvis Costello - pleasant enough but a bit dull.
MONEY by The Flying Lizards - You might not recognise the group but you'll know the song - "I want money, that's what I want..." - yes, that one. It's a weird little song, but catchy. It makes you jump around the room strangely. Or is that just me?
DOORS OF YOUR HEART by The Beat - I didn't know this one at all, and it's a bit dull, but it grows on you. I like the reggae bits, they remind me of The Specials - but not as good. I was a big fan of The Specials as a kid, Too Much Too Young was the first single I bought. Anyway, I digress...
STARING AT THE RUDE BOYS by The Ruts - Another song of its time, this track is quite angry and passionate. It's okay, not the best nor the worst track, but rather repetitive. I seem to think Rude Boys was a term used around that time, but it sounds dated now. Wasn't it part of that mods, rockers and skins kind of scene?
REWARD by The Teardrop Explodes - I recognise this one, though I'm not sure if it's from the series or before - probably both! Catchy music, but I'm not so sure about the vocals. It's okay though, it gets your head nodding along!
SWORDS OF A THOUSAND MEN by Tenpole Tudor - Another one to sing along to. This has a great beat, gets you moving. I do recall this from the time.
LET'S STICK TOGETHER by Bryan Ferry - All sing along again, we all know this one. It's rather catchy. I don't think I realised it was Bryan Ferry though for some reason. This one feels older than the early '80s.
VIENNA by Ultravox - I know this one well too, I remember it being at number one and the moody, smoky video that accompanied it. It's pretty, but I've heard it a bit too much by now.
TITLE MUSIC TO SERIES by Edmund Butt - I like this - the title theme tune - it reminds me of Gene and the car chases. It's short, less than a minute, but anything that puts an image of Phil Glenister in my head has to be a good thing!
EPILOGUE - More dialogue. More Gene. Nuff said.
So, that's your lot really. I would have liked more dialogue snippets or Gene Hunt quotes between songs, that kind of thing, but - let's face it - it's worth buying for the Phil Glenister pics alone! Hee hee...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Introduction - Dialogue: Alex Drake
2 David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes
3 Visage - Fade To Grey
4 The Human League- Love Action
5 Duran Duran - Girls On Film
6 Dexys Midnight Runners - Geno
7 OMD - Souvenir
8 The Stranglers - No More Heroes
9 The Clash - I Fought The Law
10 Heaven 17 - (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thing
11 Interlude - Dialogue: You're Nicked
12 Edmund Butt - Gene Genie (Gene Hunt's theme from `Ashes To Ashes')
13 The Passions - In Love With A German Film Star
14 Altered Images - Happy Birthday
15 Joe Jackson - It's Different For Girls
16 Flying Lizards - Money
17 The Beat - Doors Of Your Heart
18 The Ruts - Staring At The Rude Boys
19 The Teardrop Explodes - Reward
20 Tenpole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men
21 Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
22 Ultravox - Vienna
23 Edmund Butt - Title Music from `Ashes To Ashes'
24 Epilogue: Dialogue: Fandabydozy