Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday November 13, 2019 


"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 directors’ films.

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 flourishing follicles.

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 fan.

As for the vignettes of dialogue, they’re a terrific ad for the film. Which I suspect is their purpose."
Brad Green

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TITLE: Chopper: Words and Music

ID: LIBCD2003.2

PRODUCER: Mark Opitz

FEATURED ARTISTS: Frankie Laine, Renee Geyer, Cold Chisel, Rose Tattoo, Nick Cave, Chain

SCORE: Mick Harvey


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