S.W.F. was an in your face indie film about the survivors of a hostage situation in a Mini Mart that was broadcast on TV live. Cliff Spab, our protagonist is having a hard time with the fame, feeling guilt over the fact that no one seems to care about his best friend who didn’t survive ordeal, and isn’t really sure what to do next with his life. I haven’t seen the film since it’s initial VHS release, and it tanked at the box office.
The Soundtrack however is something that I have kept all these years. Take a moment and look at the release date and note that it was 1994, there were several of these bands that were between notable albums, coming off albums which had been well received or were about to explode on to the world stage. I am going to comment on each of the tracks that appeared on the released soundtrack, those not on the soundtrack are shown in red.
According to the IMDB these are the tracks that were used in the film, I am going to comment on each one and then I have a few words about those not included on the soundtrack release.
"Jesus Christ Pose" Performed by Soundgarden
This was and is classic Soundgarden, it’s easy to forget the power of those first few hit tracks from them. It’s a howl at the world, but it’s also an up front commentary on the voyeurism of the public and their demand for martyrs from the ranks of the famous. When you consider that the film was about reality-TV fame it’s a fitting song to have on the sound track.
"Get Your Gunn” Performed by Marilyn Manson
I can’t say that I was ever a Manson fan, I did own the first album and was left unimpressed. I thought they had a great idea for a band, but never really had the music to back it up. This track, it’s, well, it’s a Alt rocker with industrial undertones and while not awful, it’s just kinda unmemorable…. Next….
"Can I Stay?" Performed by Pretty Mary Sunshine
Can I Stay? No…. ok, I don’t recall this band at all, but listening to this track for the first time in years as I type, I find it to be a mid tempo wha wha petal instrumental with breathy female vox that are just a tad slower than the music. I can hear why it wouldn’t have made an impression on me back in ’94, it’s kinda lost in the swirl of testosterone driven anger of the rest of the record…. But I will have to Google the band and see what their story is/was.
"Teenage Whore" Performed by Hole
I have never been a fan of Hole, mostly because by the time they came along I was already tired of the whole Riot Gurrl thing that they seemed to be marketed as, an was already on the path of listening bands who were talking about the same issues and doing it better…. Die Monster Die, Insane Jane, Legal Weapon, Day 28, Die Cheerleader and was on the cusp of discovering The Avengers, The Nuns and 45 Grave.
"Negasonic Teenage Warhead" Performed by Monster Magnet
I have written about this song a couple of times before as I love it and think that is the next track in the chain starting with Search & Destroy by The Stooges, continues with Sonic Reducer by The Deadboys, and the comes to rest on the shoulders of Monster Magnet. The song like those others wasn’t a hit, but should have been, it captures everything about not only the film, but also about the moment that it arrived on the airwaves. It is the lost classic of the era that I can only hope will be discovered, embraced and covered by young bands to come.
"Like Suicide" (Acoustic Version) Performed by Chris Cornell
Like Suicide was on the hit Superunknown album, but not a hit. Here it is presented as just Cornell and his guitar, and as with his tracks on the Singles soundtrack lead those of us who were fans to expect great things from him as a solo artist… and we all know what happened with that. :(
"No Fuck'n Problem" Performed by Suicidal Tendencies
Skate Punk hold over’s who managed to have a career during the first wave of alternative music before sinking into the realm of cult bands once again. This is a solid mid tempo track that isn’t’ the best thing they ever recorded, but isn’t the worse either.
"Surrender" Performed by Paw Written by Rick Nielsen
PAW, where do I start, they are my favorite forgotten band of the era, their two albums Dragline and Death to Strangers are classics of the early 90s. This track is of course a cover of the Cheap Trick song. It’s gritty and howled and where the original was a Hi Energy pure pop classic, this
"Creep" Performed by Radiohead
The only Radiohead song that I have ever liked and with each passing year I grow more and more fond of it, sure its obvious, but at the same time I think it taps into something more clearly than others who have tried to express the same ideas. I also think that the one sharp loud guitar part that disrupts the whole song is a masterstroke. I would also add that the Richard Cheese did a cover of the song that is the definite cover of the song and the best answer to it as well.
"Two At A Time" Performed by Cop Shoot Cop
I recall wanting to like these guys, I think I owned an EP by them at one point. They were a thrashy alternative band with gravely vocals, but they never seem to have the songs to reach out and touch me.
"Say What You Want" Performed by Babes In Toyland
Better than Hole, and on the same level as L7, I just wish that they had been… I don’t know, more accessible. This isn’t an awful song, it’s just as with Hole there were plenty of others who were doing something similar that hooked me more.
"S.F.W." Performed by Gwar
Let’s be honest, GWAR has never been about the music, It’s always been about the show… but this is perfect for them, a blasting, blistering chanted theme for the film, So Fuckin’ What, isn’t that what GWAR was always saying in a nutshell?
“Spab n’ Janet Evening/ The Green Room” Graeme Revell
This track is Cue music, and I never really noticed it before, upon listening to it, I like it. It’s nice slow tempo surfy instrumental rock, I think I can add Graeme Revell to that list with Pretty Mary Sunshine of acts from this soundtrack that I need to make further inquiries about.
The following tracks were not included on the CD
"Speedball" Performed by Therapy?
"Nosepicker" Performed by 3 Dot 5
"Light In The Black" Performed by Rainbow (as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow)
"Mary, Mary" Performed by Mantissa
"Also Sprach Zarathustra" Performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy & the Cleveland
"In Anger" Performed by Ken Ramme & Lawrence Shragge
"All Systems Go" Written by Nikki Bernard
"Remember Slow Fox?" Written by Ole Georg
"At The Waldorf" Performed by Steve Cairn & Richard Johnson
"Carry Me Away" Performed by Steve Cairn & Richard Johnson
"As Long As We Got Each Other" Performed by Stephen Dorff & Reese Witherspoon
"America the Beautiful" Written by Katherine Lee Bates (as Katherine L. Bates) &
Samuel A. Ward (as Samuel G. Ward)
"Spabs Theme" Performed by Stephen Dorff Written by Stephen Dorff
A few thoughts on the tracks not released on the album are in order. First I am not sure why Therapy? were not on the record, they were part of the early days of the Alternative Music scene, and seem to have been forgotten. I know of the band Rainbow, but not that song, it should be worth checking out. The rest of it looks like music cues and score music, along with a version of America the Beautiful …. What stands out is that there are two tracks sung by the actors which would have been great hidden/ bonus tracks. BTW, yes that is THAT Reese Witherspoon, like everyone else she had to start somewhere and before Election she was in Freeway along with a little film called So Fuckin What!
If you happen to come across a copy of the soundtrack I recommend picking it up, for the songs, but also for it’s place as an artifact of a moment in music and the culture that has recently had it’s momentary revival, but is worth further investigation.
As an addendum I would add the following, which is from Wiki
The director [Jefery Levy ] had this to say: In a way this story parallels what happened to (Kurt) Cobain, says director Jefery Levy of his S.F.W. (So F -- -ing What). It's a movie about a regular kid (Stephen Dorff) with an extraordinary sensitivity. That's why Levy wanted to include Nirvana's All Apologies on the S.F.W. soundtrack and asked Cobain to screen a rough cut shortly before his suicide in April. Kurt really responded to the movie, says Levy, who has not yet been able to secure permission to include the song. Meanwhile, Levy is using Teenage Whore, a tune by Kurt's widow, Courtney Love, and her band, Hole. When she was responding (to Cobain's suicide note in a taped broadcast) she kept using the term 'So f -- -ing what', Levy recalls. It was weird.