"It’s a tad disconcerting when the blurb accompanying a soundtrack contains a
quote from the film director asserting that he’s not a big fan of music in films.
Music tends to be used too much "like a laugh track" states Chopper
writer/director Andrew Dominik. Which is apparently why he’s exceedingly pleased with
Mick Harvey’s "minimalist" score.
Minimalist is certainly the word. Some sustained edgy string ambience with a few
sparse, recurring, pizzicato-bass accents and that’s about it. But despite
Dominik’s misgivings, there is some great music on this CD.
Billed as Chopper: Words and Music, it’s a compilation of classic soul, rock and
blues punctuated by excerpts of dialogue from the film. Harvey’s contributions are
limited to an opening and closing theme. So there’s minimal minimalism in fact.
Overall, the songs are a mixed bag, but Frankie Laine’s classy rendition of
Don’t Fence Me In and the old school soul of Renee Geyer’s Sweet Love are far
finer fare than many songs featuring on soundtracks of more musically inclined
Chain’s Black and Blue is the sort of powerful gritty blues that would make the
hair grow on Angry Anderson’s head. Unfortunately, a couple of old Rose Tattoo
numbers remind us that Angry sometimes delivers less right notes than his pate delivers
Angry’s a veritable diva, however, compared to Nick Cave. Actually, Cave has a
habit of making other singers sound good. His duet with Kylie a few years back put her in
the Joan Sutherland class by comparison. Once again he doesn’t let us down, with an
expectedly execrable performance on Release the Bats.
Conversely, Jimmy Barnes, a singer often maligned for his harsh sound, is range and
power personified on my favourite Cold Chisel number, Forever Now. Even if you don’t
like Barnsey, you’ve got to love Mossy’s guitar work on this song, possibly his
finest moment. If you don’t like it at all, well, you’re probably a Nick Cave
As for the vignettes of dialogue, they’re a terrific ad for the film. Which I
suspect is their purpose."