hmv.com presents… The Best Soundtracks of All Time: This Is England
As part our 'Decades' series, every day we'll be picking the best soundtrack, one for every year, starting with 1950 right through to the present day. Today we're up to 2006 and we're recommending the soundtrack to This Is England…
This Is England, Shane Meadow’s semi-autobiographical tale about growing up around ska, punks and skinheads in the 80s.
So what’s the film about?
Having lost his dad in the Falklands War, 12-year old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is always in trouble at school and is far more than his mum can handle. Desperately needing some sort of guiding influence in life, he falls in with a crowd of older skinheads, who take him under their wing and he even get a girlfriend.
The original gang are multi-racial, apolitical skinheads, united by a passion for new wave and ska music and fashion. This all changes when Combo (Stephen Graham), an older skinhead who used to run with the guys returns from prison. Most of the group reject his racist views, but the young Shaun starts following him to National Front meetings, and starts to treat him as a replacement father figure. As well as his hateful views however, Combo is deeply troubled individual, prone to violent and disturbing outbursts….
Is this a score or a soundtrack?
It’s a soundtrack.
So who’s on it? Anyone I might know?
It’s a collection of classic new wave and ska tunes from the early 80s. It brings together Jamaican reggae artists like Toots & the Maytals and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry alongside 80s alternative British bands like The Specials, Soft Cell and Strawberry Switchblade.
So which songs are on it? Did any of them become hits?
There’s a couple of massive 80s hits on here, including Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ and Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s ‘Come On Eileen’. Elsewhere Toots & the Maytals contribute three tracks, including a great cover of 50s rock & roll standard ‘Louie Louie’. ‘The Return Of Django’ by The Upsetters and The Special’s ‘Do The Dog’ are also fantastic pieces of vintage ska.
What’s the best moment?
The one contemporary recording on the soundtrack, English folk band Clayhill’s bittersweet cover of The Smith’s classic ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’, which plays over the film’s climatic scene where Shaun symbolically disposes of his St George’s Cross flag.
Has it stood the test of time?
Of course. It’s a brilliant snapshot of an important point in recent British history – one that still resonates today – and is lovingly compiled by director Shane Meadows.