In 1996, Danny Boyle smacked movie-goers in the face with the cold hard truth of Scotland’s cultural underbelly – “smack” being the operative word. Trainspotting arrived as one of the finest book adaptions in cinema history: the dark humour, tragedy and soundtrack perfectly complimented the blueprints first laid out in Irvine Welsh’s gritty 1993 novel of the same name.
In his debut novel, Welsh takes the reader through a matrix of Scottish slang as the life of heroin addict Mark Renton arrives at an uncomfortable crossroads. Perverse dark humour and musical references are a constant feature of Welsh’s novels, and Trainspotting debuted both with style. The Scottish youth caricatures presented throughout the story, including Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud, are near-constantly arguing about music tastes or football – that is when they’re not lying catatonic on the floor at Mother Superior’s place.
When creating his film adaption in close collaboration with Welsh, who also cameoed in the movie, Boyle recognised the necessity for a gripping and befitting soundtrack. In February 1996, the first soundtrack album was released, featuring songs included in the final cut of the movie. It included memorable hits by the likes of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Blur, Underworld, New Order, Pulp and more. Suffice it to say, the soundtrack album was a resounding success following the positive reception of the movie.
A second soundtrack LP, consisting of songs from the movie that didn’t make the cut for the first compilation and further tracks that were shortlisted for the movie, was released in October 1997. This included omitted short-listers like Fun Boy Three’s ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’, David Bowie’s ‘Golden Years’, Joy Division’s ‘Atmosphere’ and Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’.
Today, we’re reimagining the soundtrack with 30 more tracks that would have been perfect for the Trainspotting soundtrack. Many of the below songs are alternative choices by the same artists as heard in the original soundtrack, while others are tracks by similar artists or those native to Scotland.
The original soundtrack brought a wealth of variety, collating songs from the contemporary rave scene and Britpop generation alongside earlier hits from the punk and post-punk eras. George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ may seem out of place considering its neighbouring tracks, but the former Beatle’s beloved classic was featured in the novel. If it’s good enough for Welsh, it’s good enough for me.
Have a listen on Spotify if you like what you see.
Alternative ‘Trainspotting’ soundtrack:
- Arab Strap – ‘First Big Peel Thing’
- The Stranglers – ‘Golden Brown’
- The Velvet Underground – ‘Heroin’
- The Modern Lovers – ‘Hospital’
- Suicide – ‘Dream Baby Dream’
- Happy Mondays – ‘Wrote for Luck’
- The Clash – ‘Hateful’
- New Order – ‘Elegia’
- Boards of Canada – ‘June 9th’
- The Rolling Stones – ‘Sister Morphine’
- Iggy Pop – ‘Tiny Girls’
- David Bowie – ‘Ashes to Ashes’
- Section 25 – ‘Dirty Disco’
- Suede – ‘So Young’
- Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – ‘Chinese Rocks’
- Brian Eno & David Byrne – ‘Mea Culpa’
- The Orb – ‘Earth (Gaia)’
- Bowery Electric – ‘Beat’
- Blur – ‘Beatlebum’
- Spiritualized – ‘You Know It’s True”
- Cocteau Twins – ‘Fifty-fifty Clown’
- The Jesus and Mary Chain – ‘Just Like Honey’
- George Harrison – ‘My Sweet Lord’
- Altered Images – ‘I Could Be Happy’
- Felt – ‘Primitive Painters’
- Primal Scream – ‘Slip Inside This House’
- The Vaselines – ‘Son of a Gun’
- Bert Jansch – ‘Angie’
- My Bloody Valentine – ‘Lose My Breath’
- Joy Division – ‘The Eternal’