Various Artists: Velvet Goldmine Alternative Soundtrack (1998)

Like many of his films, Todd Haynes' 1998 Velvet Goldmine, a sort of glam rock fable, draws mixed reactions.  Personally, while I thought the plot was a little by-the-numbers (in a Citizen Kane/Eddie & The Cruisers way), I thought some of the gender-bending characterizations were interesting and the musical numbers were fantastic.  For me, it was primarily a great soundtrack which happened to have a film attached to it.

The actual soundtrack is a bit odd.  Haynes originally intended to create a David Bowie biopic of sorts, but Bowie rejected the script and refused to let his music be used; instead, Haynes ended up with a fictional work about the rise and fall of an elusive glam-rock artist ("Brian Slade") that drew from Bowie's history and musical evolution and interactions (primarily with an Iggy Pop stand-in).  So you end up with a movie and a soundtrack which scream Bowie! but don't actually include any of his music.  Instead, Haynes recruited a few indie rock acts (Shudder to Think, Grant Lee Buffalo) to record originals that were reminiscent of Bowie's early 70s style, songs which I find surprisingly catchy (but, again, not Bowie).

And while the glam and proto-punk musical selections that score the film were solid (from the likes of Roxy Music, Brian Eno, the Stooges, T. Rex, and Cockney Rebel), about half the soundtrack used covers of the songs performed by some makeshift supergroups (an all-star crew including members of Radiohead, Sonic Youth, and various others), standing in for Brian Slade and Iggy & The Stooges.  The cover versions are all perfectly fine, pretty faithful to the originals and kinda fun, though they do leave you hungry for the real versions.

Don't get me wrong; the original soundtrack is pretty great; you should get it.  But I always thought it would be interesting to hear it with the covers replaced by the originals, and with the addition of the Bowie songs that Haynes said he had wanted to use (including the title track).  So I burned my own CD-R remix, substituting the originals for the covers and adding the Bowie tracks, while retaining the new songs recorded for the film and adding a couple stray tracks that appeared in the movie that weren't found on the soundtrack. 

Here's a playlist for my (IMHO much improved) version, though the absence of the soundtrack from Spotify means I had to omit the new tracks that can be found only on the original soundtrack.

FYI, here's an audio rip of Grant Lee Buffalo's "The Whole Shebang" from the original soundtrack:
And here's a clip from the movie with Shudder to Think's "Ballad of Maxwell Demon":