Paul Weller announces first-ever film soundtrack for Jawbone
Story by Jack Foley
FOR the first time in his long career Paul Weller has embarked on his first ever full film score.
The film’s star (and writer and co-producer), the BAFTA-nominated actor Johnny Harris and a long-time fan of Paul’s, approached him a few years ago through a mutual friend on the off-chance he would be interested.
However, at that point all that existed was the script – no cast and no budget – but Weller was keen almost immediately and a great partnership (and friendship) was forged.
Johnny Harris said: “Paul would constantly send through any new ideas, demos, or recordings, and what was unique and beautiful about this approach was that Paul’s new compositions were now inspiring and influencing the story as I was re-writing it.
“I’d also send Paul through new drafts of the script, or any new ideas as they were forming along the way, and a beautifully collaborative process evolved.”
Jawbone, directed by Thomas Napper, is the semi-autobiographical story of a former youth boxing champion. Jimmy McCabe (Harris) is a man desperately in search of hope but looking in all the wrong places.
When he hits rock bottom he turns to his childhood boxing club and the only family he has left: gym owner Bill (Ray Winstone), cornerman Eddie (Michael Smiley) and promoter Joe (Ian McShane). In a battle between fear and faith, Jimmy risks his life, as he tries to stand tall and regain his place in the world.
Jawbone hits UK cinemas on March 17, 2017.
Jawbone: Music From The Film will be released by Parlophone Records on March 10.
The 36-minute album is available on Vinyl LP, CD, Download and Stream, and features the following tracks:
1. Jimmy / Blackout
The album’s sprawling 21-minute opener Jimmy / Blackout signals that Jawbone: Music From The Film is a collection quite unlike anything else from Paul Weller’s extensive discography.
An experimental sound collage which provides much of the film’s score and underlying mood, Jimmy / Blackout segues across a variety of different and often dissonant tones. Its eclectic tapestry of sounds flourishes and fractures with choral vocal harmonies, bursts of droning guitar and the swirl of vintage synthesisers.
Weller’s inimitable vocal takes on a more ethereal quality when it finally surfaces shortly after the 18-minute mark as the tracks heads towards a dramatic crescendo.
2. The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe
Second track The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe finds Paul Weller in more familiar territory with an acoustic song written in the folk tradition. It’s a song which reflects the situation and emotional turmoil which troubles Johnny Harris’s lead character.
As Weller sings: “I’ll beat my head ‘til dawn / Figure out what I’m running from / Only then will I find peace in me.” A closing snippet of dialogue from the film offers a further insight into Jimmy’s desperate state of mind.
Commencing with almost completely different sounds emanating from each speaker, the film’s title track is an aggressive, guitar-heavy psychedelic instrumental which feels like a hazy jam session straight out of the late Sixties. Again it features dialogue taken from the film, this time between Jimmy and his trainer Eddie (Michael Smiley).
Recalling The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe, Bottle is even more reflective in nature as Paul Weller channels the spirit of a character has descended to a new low and questions: “Where is the man I was?”
5. Jawbone Training
While training scenes are often accompanied by inspirational chest-beating anthems, Paul Weller takes an entirely different approach. This jazz-infused piece plays around a core percussive motif which builds with an intensity that echoes an escalating heartbeat. Dialogue comes from Ray Winstone as gym owner Bill, who offers Jimmy some ominous advice.
6. Man on Fire
Man on Fire is the closest that the Jawbone soundtrack comes to a traditional score, with a minimalistic production which sets mournful strings to plaintive piano.
7. End Fight Sequence
Like Jawbone Training before it, End Fight Sequence also presents an antidote to the expected conventions of a boxing film. An almost hypnotic beat provides the basis for this foreboding album closer, as the track’s layers of sound become more cacophonous and unpredictable before drifting to silence.