Thursday, November 23, 2006

The flesh is weak, Johnny. Only the soul is immortal.

David Holmes - Johnny Favourite (Exploding Plastic Inevitable Mix)

‘Angel Heart’ is a fantastic film. For a start, watching a Certificate 18 aged 14 (as I was when the film came out in 1987) was a proper risky thrill. I’m sure da yout of today get their kicks in much more exciting ways, but for me and mine, the illicit thrill of underage movie viewing was right up there. Innocent times maybe, but there is nothing innocent about ‘Angel Heart’. I won’t ruin it in case you haven’t seen it (you must), but all I will say is that it’s the sort of film that stays with you after the credits roll, and no matter how many times you watch it, it will always leave you with unanswered questions. You start off thinking you’re watching a fairly straightforward film noir, but it soon twists off and ducks down a hellish corridor of chilling horror, voodoo worship and blood-drenched sex and murder. At the centre of it all is a sterling performance from Mickey Rourke. Sometimes I forget what an icon Mickey Rourke was in the 1980s. Now he’s all puffy of face and plastic of lip after taking a battering in the boxing ring when the decent roles started going to his younger contemporaries. But back then, if you wanted moody, enigmatic and compelling, Rourke was the man. And I will always think of Robert De Niro when I‘m eating a hard-boiled egg…

I know, I know – if you want film reviews you’ll go elsewhere. So, where’s this heading? Well, today’s track is David Holmes’ ‘Johnny Favourite’, named after the character Rourke’s downbeat private eye Harry Angel is paid to track down. Holmes eventually made his name scoring film soundtracks for the likes of ‘Out of Sight’ and the remake of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, but this track, released by Warp Records in 1994, represents an early foray into the field by the Belfast DJ-turned-producer. While it’s not an actual soundtrack, ‘Johnny Favourite’ plays out much like a film, moving through different stages of pace and mood, before hurtling towards an incendiary denouement. The track features the briefest snatch of dialogue from the film (an eerie whispering of the name ‘Johnny’), along with samples of the trip down the lift shaft (the clanking sound that occurs throughout) undertaken by Angel at the end of the film. These elements are woven into an epic 15-minute excursion into the realms of intense percussive techno and atmospheric mood music. ‘Johnny Favourite’ was a co-production with Jagz Kooner and Gary Burns from the Sabres of Paradise, and it actually sounds a lot like the Sabres output from the same period, but with Holmes playing the role normally taken by Andrew Weatherall. As a track, it takes you on an incredible journey, and on the rare occasions I’ve heard it played out, the climax tears the roof off as the pounding beats release the tension that accumulates as the song gradually builds.

Search ebay for David Holmes - 'Johnny Favourite'
Buy David Holmes from Amazon
Warp Records website
'Angel Heart' Special Edition DVD at Amazon
Mickey Rourke at Wikipedia