Makeover for cult film soundtrack

Richard H Kirk, Cabaret Voltlaire
Richard H Kirk, Cabaret Voltlaire

WHEN Sheffield’s electro pioneers, Cabaret Voltaire, recorded a soundtrack for then little-known film-maker Peter Care they had no idea that, almost 30 years later, that film would become a cult classic.

And now, the film, JohnnyYesNo, has been resurrected, repackaged and re-released with an enhanced version of its original soundtrack by Cabaret Voltaire’s Richard H Kirk.

But while it may be 28 years since the original, its material is as poignant as ever, as Kirk explains.

“The soundtrack is pertinent to the post 9/11 world,” says Kirk. “There are the riots of this summer and discontent in people – it’s almost like going back 30 years.

“The music we made in the late Seventies and early Eighties were about Thatcher’s Britain and the brutalisation of her government and Jesus Christ we’re back there again – only it’s worse.”

JohnnyYesNo was released in 1983, although it was made in 1979. “We went to one of the first screenings at Psalter Lane Art College but it wasn’t until we signed to Virgin in 1983 that we really started working with Peter.”

Both Cabaret Voltaire and Peter Care benefited from this partnership. Care’s videos reflected Cabaret Voltaire’s music and Care’s career benefited from his foray into the then new phenomenon of the music video. Care would later make videos for some of rock and roll’s biggest names, including Bruce Springsteen and REM.

The soundtrack to JohnnyYesNo is dark, brutal and beat-laden. It opens with a loudspeaker-effect speech with a sound quality eerily reminiscent of pre-war recordings of some of Hitler’s speeches to the masses. “That’s actually me,” says Kirk. “The speech was about a premonition.”

And with riots, economic collapse and a Euro in crisis, perhaps that premonition was more accurate than Kirk imagined.

The remake of JohnnyYesNo is out now.