Various Artists – Metropolis

This week’s movie soundtrack comes direct from 1984, while the original movie was released all the way back in 1926. As a huge fan of the original film, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this album – on the one hand it’s the legendary Metropolis, with a soundtrack by the legendary Giorgio Moroder. On the other hand, it is pretty awful. But I haven’t actually seen this version of the film, so I can only really judge the soundtrack on its own merits.

First up is Freddie Mercury delivering a typically lively performance on Love Kills, which also sees Giorgio Moroder excelling himself with an enormous 1980s backing track. It doesn’t always quite seem to complement Mercury’s vocal, but by and large it works. Whether or not you think it’s any good will probably depend on how you feel about the performers, but however you look at it, this is a pretty strong opening track.

Next we get Pat Benatar to perform a pretty poor song called Here’s My Heart. Although written and mixed by Moroder, he doesn’t seem to have had much a say on this particular track unfortunately. Jon Anderson (of And Vangelis fame) turns up after that for the entirely competent Cage of Freedom, followed by Cycle V with Blood from a Stone.

Without having seen it, it’s difficult to even begin to imagine how this might have sounded as the actual accompaniment to the film. At times you wonder how it ever could have worked, but at others it’s rather more clear, such as the pleasant instrumental The Legend of Babel, which closes side A. But even in its better moments, it is, unfortunately, extremely dated. It might well be only thirty years since its release, but it sounds like considerably more.

Side B opens with Bonnie Tyler, whose heart seems to have recovered to the degree that she can deliver Here She Comes with some degree of flair. It doesn’t help hugely – it’s a pretty poor song, but she’s doing her best.

Slightly better, but still very much a 1980s power ballad is Destruction by Loverboy. You can almost see them making silly faces on Top of the Pops when you listen to this. Was it just that Moroder’s sound was so defining of the early eighties, or did he go out of his way to make this album sound as dated as possible? It’s difficult to be sure.

The later tracks don’t really help matters, as Billy Squier and Adam Ant do their level best with On Your Own and What’s Going On, but neither really achieves a huge amount unfortunately. Finally, Moroder turns up again for another instrumental, Machines, which this time proves just to be a bit of fairly aimless synth noodling.

I’ll watch it one day, but for all I know the Giorgio Moroder version of Metropolis may work extremely well. It is, however, difficult to see how this album might reach its sixtieth birthday and stand the test of time anywhere near as well as the film had when it was released in this form. Best avoided.

The 1999 reissue of Metropolis still seems to be available from major retailers, such as here. You can find the DVD of this version here.

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