Judgment Night to my mind is proof that a great soundtrack doesn’t necessarily need a great film to be tagged onto it. In fact after owning a copy of this LP since 1993 I only saw the film a year ago – it was okay, a bit preposterous, bits cribbed from ‘The Warriors’ and some bits were genuinely pretty exciting – I don’t even remember hearing any of the music in the film.
As a long time Def Jam disciple and lover of most things loud and crude, rap mixed with rock was always just one of the most thrilling sounds to my young ears – Walk This Way, Raising Hell, The Biz Vs. The Nuge, Body Count, She watch Channel Zero, Bring the Noise, Rock the Bells – I mean come on, this was way better than the pallid Indie nonsense the music press spent a lot of time and energy foisting on us. This was music to drink, dance, shout and headbang to. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and The Family Cat didn’t stand a chance. Then along came Judgment Night where for each track some rockers had been teamed up with some rappers, it could have been tailor-made for me.
Two friends and I operated a rotational buying policy back then due to lack of funds and so if three LPs came out we liked, we’d buy one each and tape them for the others. I can’t remember what my end of the bargain was this time, maybe Ice Cube Lethal Injection ? but I got a taped copy of this, not only a taped copy but a super souped-up copy at that (but more of that later). I remember us getting beer in for the ceremonial first listen and just being royally blown away by the music.
Helmet had passed me by a bit and as for House of Pain, like everyone else on planet Earth I loved ‘Jump Around’, but found the rest of their stuff half-witted at best. Team them up though and the opener ‘Just Another Victim’ was just immense, thanks to crunchy riffing and an aggressive rap coda. I found myself banging my head listening to this track again just now, sadly my long flowing locks no longer whip backwards and forwards when I do so and my reading glasses came off, knocking over my walking stick which was resting on my paunch at the time – okay, okay you get the picture, I’m older now, but this still makes me want to go smash shit up*.
Second track ‘Fallin’ a collaboration between De La Soul (actually my favourite track of theirs by far) and Teenage Fanclub, a band who never really did it for me – IS EVEN BETTER! It’s an absolute belter of a tune, although in all honestly apart from being name-checked towards the end, I’m not entirely certain how much TFC contributed, apart from provide a sample. This really is a masterful example of De La Soul’s laid-back slyness and any song that references Daisy Dukes ** has to be all right by me.
From then on we get Living Color and Run DMC, as well as the heavier pairing of Biohazard and Onyx, both good cuts but not up to the standard of the opening pair. Then we hit real paydirt, as far as I am concerned anyway Slayer and Ice-T covering a medley of three songs by The Exploited, under the title ‘Disorder’ – it scared me the first time I heard it, genuinely, it was that heavy. After a huge opening salvo of drums (was Dave Lombardo playing in Slayer at that point?), Ice and Tom Araya (my favourite Chilean) bellow ‘War !! Waaarrrggggghhhhh!!’ and then the opening line is ‘This Government is fucked’ – it just gets heavier from there on in. I didn’t own any Slayer at the time, despite the fact they were on Def Jam, they scared me too much but this gave me an ‘in’.
Boo-Yaa Tribe and Faith No More are next with ‘Another Body Murdered’ and to my ears this is the truest-sounding collaboration on the LP. It’s a complete mix of the two groups styles and is heavy as shit (a lot of swearing going on here tonight) and is fabulously framed by Mike Patton’s tuneful wailings – I loved Faith No More and I haven’t listened to them properly in a long time. Again this is another great track. Unfortunately, I am far-less enamoured with Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth’s track – although I have to say I feel very ambivalent towards both bands, I alone out of my generation of rap fans never liked Cypress Hill – they bored me in exactly the same way as people I’ve known who got way too into dope do and as for the Youth? there’s a lot to admire, but you could fit the bits I actually liked onto an EP^. This track creeps and crawls along and does very little for me.
Luckily another two really good tracks pop up to restore the balance Sir-Mix-A-Lot and Mudhoney chuck in simply the funnest track on the LP next and then Del Tha Funky Homosapien and Dinosaur Jr. just soar away with ‘Missing Link’, J Masics laying down some simply brilliant mellow guitar playing, whilst Del’s delivery over the top is just flawless – in fact I enjoyed this track more than anything else on Judgment Night just now, a really pleasant surprise. Sadly the LP peters out a bit from there with Fatal and Therapy? and Pearl Jam and Cypress Hill, putting in okay but not spectacular tracks.
This wasn’t an easy LP to find on vinyl and the copies that came up on eBay went for a lot, but in the end I sourced one in Korea (pretty sure we’re talking South, not North) for about £30. I bought it of course and it arrived quickly in perfect condition, entirely as advertised. It pains me to say it, but it sucked good style and I confess that when I listened to this LP again to write this, it was on iTunes and not my vinyl copy. I know, I know, Richard Nixon was brought down for less. Why? for some reasoning the sequencing is completely different on this version. In fact it opens with my least favourite track, the Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth one, what were they thinking? it’s a dirge, you don’t open an LP with a goddamn dirge!^^ the track ordering is so wrong I can’t physically listen to this LP. That’s one expensive paperweight. Maybe I’m just being precious.
The tape my friend Matt did for me opened with Public Enemy’s ‘Lost at Birth’ and had Run DMC ‘Walk this way’ and the PE/Anthrax version of ‘Bring The Noise’ shoehorned in at the end. How to make a great, but a bit flawed LP, even greater. All hail.
*although I’ve got WAY too many meetings tomorrow to wreck stuff, so if its okay with y’all we will just have to pencil-in smashing shit up for Thursday afternoon, after my presentation.
**not that I’m some hormone-addled adolescent trapped inside a 41yo body, I’ll have you know that some days I can go for a whole 19 minutes without thinking about Catherine Bach.
^What a damn good one it would be too! Death Valley ’69, Dirty Boots, 100%, Kool Thing, Teen Age Riot and Tunic (Song for Karen) – great idea RSD 2014.
^^although when I get around to forming it, my goth metal band Dark Chalice will open our debut LP Pimp My Hearse with a dirge, to be followed by 11 more dirges and a very gloomy cover of ‘Talk Dirty To Me’.