10 Essential Soundtrack Albums
From Dazed and Confused to Almost Famous, here are 10 superlative soundtracks to get your collection started
Ever since Bill Haley first made his way around the clock face back in 1955, movies and musicians have walked hand in hand, with rock's great and good providing the soundtrack to big screen rebellion, coming-of-age comedy, and films in which the blind are gifted pinball operatives.
Here are 10 soundtracks that provide a stellar backing to their celluloid companions.
Various Artists - Dazed And Confused
Like a slacker version of American Graffiti, Richard Linklater’s movie follows a group of stoned 70s high school kids as they dodge lessons, party hard and try to come to terms with the impending demands of grown-uplife. And at a time of downright hostility to rock, this soundtrack was joy to behold.
Pink Floyd - The Wall
A soundtrack album that came out two years before the movie? In truth, Alan Parker’s film was more like the ‘picture track’ to the album. Years later, the two are now inseparable, the movie making sense of this, the Floyd’s last classic. And those solos on Comfortably Numb...
Various Artists - Tommy
Pete Townshend’s song of a deaf, dumb and blind messiah was turned into an apocalyptic pinball ride by Ken Russell. The Who dominate the soundtrack, but Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Elton John add their charm. Is this better than the original album? It’s a lot more bombastic.
Various Artists - Almost Famous
The soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s love letter to music is a brilliant 70s rock mixtape. Elton’s Tiny Dancer gets a new lease of life and is joined by tracks from The Who, Bowie, Zep and more. Fever Dog by Stillwater is the best 70s rock song that never was.
Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same
A fascinating documentary principally based around the iconic band’s three-night stint at Madison Square Garden in New York at the end of 1973. The soundtrack also served as Zeppelin’s first official live album. Dazed & Confused is Page at his best.
The Who - The Kids Are Alright
Soundtracking a film that covers some of the most glorious moments of their career, this is basically a live best-of from one of the best live bands in rock. A Quick One While He’s Away was so good the Stones pulled it from Rock’N’Roll Circus.
The Band - The Last Waltz
From the ‘yodelling bit’ in opener Up On Cripple Creek to a climax that makes Bob Dylan sound heavier than ever, via guest spots from Joni, Muddy and Van, The Last Waltz is a 70s rock essential. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is epic.
Various Artists - Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Stomping soundtrack stuffed full of Californian 70s rock. From Jackson Browne to nearly all the Eagles in solo guises, to Stevie Nicks and Oingo Boingo. It’s genius stuff. Fast Times... is possibly the best thing solo Sammy Hagar has ever done. Seriously.
Various Artists - Detroit Rock City
A ‘Kiss movie’, but a soundtrack with a difference: a playground scrap in which modern rock bands tackle classics while Sabbath, Lizzy and, yup, Kiss fly the flag for the old school. The old school couldn’t lose. And you gotta hear The Boys Are Back In Town by Everclear.
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
The film might not be all that fab, but its soundtrack is. Does it get any better than a collection of Beatles classics that includes Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, Fool On The Hill and All You Need Is Love? It’s easy to forget how good that title track is.