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Moondust OST - Review & competition

Moondust

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IN SUMMER 2002, journalist Andrew Smith (The Face, Observer) set out to find the men who’d walked on the Moon. Only 12 had ever set down on the surface, between the summer of ‘69 – about three weeks before Woodstock – and end of ’72, and no one had left Earth orbit since.

A chance encounter with one of the Moonwalkers changed all that. Smith found himself hearing about breakdowns, religious epiphanies and retreats into stony silence. The impossible-seeming feat had been executed with less computing power than the mobile phone, and held the entire world rapt.

Smith wondered how the men who’d enjoyed what Norman Mailer described as ‘this surreal adventure’ felt now, and what had become of them. With this in mind, he set out to find the Moonmen, and his search became the book Moondust, which was nominated for two British Book Awards in 2006 and remained in the top ten of the Sunday Times best-sellers list for four straight months, a rare feat for non-fiction.

One of the first things to strike Smith was the way music intersected the story at every turn. It swirled around the politics which gave rise to the Space Race, the people who conducted it (the average age of Mission Control staff was 26) and the astronauts themselves, who were allowed to take a cassette of their own music.

The closer Smith looked, the more he came to see the lunar adventure and the counterculture as flip sides of the same coin: America’s parallel routes to getting high in an era defined by hope and chaos in equal measure.

Like the book, the Moondust album focuses on three distinct but related journeys – the Moonwalkers’ space odyssey, the quest to find them, and America’s passage through the Space Age years from ‘57 to ‘73. Each was touched by music in a different way, as specially-written sleeve-notes – which effectively function as a musical appendix to the book – make plain.

More than anything, though, the aim was to make a great album. The tracklist has been chosen by the author, who began his career as a music journalist at Melody Maker and spent three years as the Sunday Times’ chief rock critic.

It includes artists who granted special permission for their work to be used (including David Bowie and Ringo Starr) and one by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, who has never allowed any of his songs to be used before. Dreamily mixed by Richard Norris (Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve / The Time & Space Machine), Moondust is a different kind of trip for readers and non-readers alike. And while certainly trippy in places, it’s an intriguing listen and a worthwhile compilation.

Popular classics such as The Byrds’ Eight Miles High and The Flaming Lips Do You Realize (a classic) mix with Gyorgy Ligeti’s spaced out, haunted and minimalist Lux Aeterna and Brian Eno’s sparse, beautiful An Ending (Ascent).

You can tell the tracks have been carefully selected to represent the psychology of the spacemen the series follows, as well as the views and experiences they had along the way. Try putting it on at a dinner party, though, and you may get as many looks of bewilderment as you do appreciation, as the tempos and styles continually change.

You could even refer to Moondust as the first really cerebreal compilation mix. And nothing is obvious. Even Bowie’s inclusion doesn’t offer A Space Odyssey or Starman, but rather Moonage Daydream, which has been mixed seamlessly into Howlin Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning. It’s for such moments alone, this is worth hearing!

Read our review of the novel

Win signed Moondust albums and books

To celebrate the release of Moondust, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 signed copies of the soundtrack, as well as the book upon which it is based. Simply answer the following question…

Q. What is the name of the David Bowie track that features on the Moondust soundtrack?

Simply send the answer to Moondust competition competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email.

Download picks: An Ending, Do You Realize?, Moonage Daydream/Smokestack Lightning, Hallelujah, Incense And Peppermints, Bad Moon Rising

Track listing:

  1. Prelude And Outer Space – Bernard Herman
  2. Eight Miles High – Byrds
  3. Incense And Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock (The)
  4. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  5. Indifference – Moby Grape
  6. Moonage Daydream – David Bowie
  7. Ignition [interlude] – Richard Norris
  8. Do You Realize – Flaming Lips (The)
  9. It Don’t Come Easy – Ringo Starr
  10. We’re Floating In Space [interlude] – Richard Norris
  11. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  12. Cry A Tear For The Man In The Moon – Richard Hawley
  13. Candyman – Grateful Dead (The)
  14. Our Blue Sky – Handsome Family (The)
  15. View Of Earth [interlude] – Richard Norris
  16. Star Spangled Banner And Smashing Of Amps – Jimi Hendrix Experience (The)
  17. Mean Machine – Last Poets (The)
  18. Love From Outer Space, A – AR Kane
  19. Lux Aeterna – Groupe Vocal De France
  20. An Ending (Ascent) – Brian Eno
  21. Celestial Nocturne – Les Baxter
  22. Moon River – Danny Williams