Various Artists: Salvation! OST US CD 
- New Order: Salvation Theme
- Jumpin’ Jesus: You Can’t Blackmail Jesus
- Cabaret Voltaire: Twanky Party
- New Order: Touched By The Hand Of God [soundtrack version]
- Dominique: Play The Beat
- The Hood: Nightmare
- New Order: Let’s Go
- The Hood: Salvation! [Have You Said Your Prayers Today]
- Arthur Baker: Come On
- New Order: Sputnik
- Cabaret Voltaire: Jesus Saves
- New Order: Skullcrusher
- Dominique: Destroy All Evil
In 1988 a queer soundtrack appeared that couldn’t fail to attract my attention even though the film it was paired with was completely off of my cultural radar. I saw the “Salvation” OST in the bins at Murmur Records and after seeing the names of Cabaret Voltaire and New Order on the cover, I could hardly pass it up. Turning the clamshell over, I could hardly believe it when I saw that almost half of the album was accounted for by those two bands. I had already purchased the import CD singles of New Order’s “Touched By The Hand Of God” earlier that year on UK and Japanese import and had wondered if it was heralding a New Order album at that time and now I knew that it was from this album instead. Not hesitating in the slightest, I bought it on the spot.
With five New Order cuts on here, it was practically half an album of new New Order material. Why had I not heard about this in the music press? It may have been down to the obscurity of the movie. It starred Stephen McHattie as a Jim Bakker-esque televangelist in a ripped-from-the-headlines fashion. Strangely enough, it also starred Exene Cervenka, of X; a band I’d always had no time for, due to her atonal caterwauling. The stars of the film also figure here with material they sung for this OST. “You Can’t Blackmail Jesus” is a country lament by McHattie, and Dominique Davalos, who is prominent on the cover.
Davalos had a spotted career of weird circumstances. She apparently played lead in the video for the song “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” [which I have never heard, but I have heard of it] and in later years, fronted the touring version of the [studio] band that made the single. Wha? The two Davalos cuts are typical 80s cheese-rock with “Play The Beat” having a Patti Smyth feel and “Destroy All Evil” going into the red as full on screeching hair metal!
The album opened up with “Salvation Theme,” a delicate New Order instrumental. This track had a vibe that was a throwback to the early post Joy Division sound of the band; redolent of their “Movement” sound with a distinct lack of the dance machine the band had become following “Blue Monday.” It was modest little number for the theme song, but it retains a charm that got wrung from later New Order music. The only vocal number here was “Touched By The Hand Of God,” which figures here in a much rawer take than what the band eventually re-recorded and released as a Factory single. Months in advance of the actual release of this soundtrack! The take here is interesting and much looser than the single version. I wonder if they had followed the direction of this single rather than their increasingly slick work if they might have held my interest for a little while longer. As it was, my New Order collection ended with the next year’s “Technique.”
New Order’s “Sputnik” is fascinating in that it sounds more like their cohorts on this album, Cabaret Voltaire. Specifically, it recalls the languid dreamscapes of “Arm of The Lord” from 1985’s brilliant “The Covenant, The Sword, + The Arm of the Lord.” Really strongly, albeit without creepy found vocals. “Skullcrusher” really sounds like a close relative to “Murder” from their ill-starred Factory Benelux single. But this track is less chaotic and better defined. Very guitar heavy New Order of the sort that really didn’t happen by this time. Overall, the New order material here has a loose feel that recalls their earlier days before daaaaaaaance music became their impetus.
The pair of Cab Volt tracks here are far from being reflective of the sort of music they were making by this time. This is not industrial funk, but instead harkens back to the earlier, Rough Trade phase of their career, albeit better recorded and arranged. “Twanky Party” is an atmospheric slice of legitimate OST work shot through with dubbed out percussion and edgy synths. “Jesus Saves” is an even better tension-laden piece with distorted choral samples rubbing shoulders with queasily distorted trumpets and horns. The steady bass pulse keeps the moments moving nicely. The Cab Volt material cried out for better surroundings than a lot of the stuff here. Had they been given the full soundtrack I would have probably considered this work to be their last gasp of greatness following “Code.”
Finally, the cover art on most versions of the album is reflected above; a riff on the poster for the [unseen] movie. 26 years later it’s still unseen; it never made the leap from VHS. There might be a good reason for that. For reasons unknown, the Canadian and Japanese markets instead got a Peter Saville Associates cover design with a Trevor Key photo! I can’t help but think that I would prefer to have this in the Record Cell instead!
At the end of the day, the “Salvation!” OST is a weird mixed bag of filler [Arthur Baker, The Hood], star turns [McHattie, Davalos] that are by turns out of place to the overall vibe here if not actually repellent, and largely instrumental work by two bands that I collected at the time. The New Order material is interesting, but the best music here is definitely by Cab Volt. I can’t believe that this and the “Johnny Yesno” album represent their only soundtrack efforts. The results are too good to ignore.
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