"Mission: Impossible" - Various Artists

Soundtrack Album

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Full Track Listing:

  • Theme from Mission: Impossible (3:28) – Adam Clayton / Larry Mullen
  • Spying Glass (5:21) – Massive Attack
  • I Spy (5:56) – Pulp
  • Impossible Mission (5:35) – Danny Elfman
  • Headphones (5:41) – Bjork
  • Weak (3:31) – Skunk Anansie
  • On & On (4:10) – Longpigs
  • Claire (2:55) – Danny Elfman
  • Dreams (4:13) – The Cranberries
  • You, Me and World War III (4:28) – Gavin Friday
  • So (3:34) – Salt
  • Trouble (3:33) – Danny Elfman
  • No Government (5:32) – Nicolette
  • Alright (3:36) – Cast
  • Mission: Impossible Theme (Mission Accomplished) (3:05) – Larry Mullen / Adam Clayton

Background Information

Mission: Impossible was a spy series produced for television in the 1960s. The series usually started with a taped message to the spies, which would go up in smoke after it had been heard. And in 1996, the television show was remade into a big budget Hollywood film featuring Tom Cruise. And with any good blockbuster you need a good theme. Paramount Pictures originally approached U2 in full about working on a theme song, but the band was just starting to reassemble to start work on the “Pop” album. Adam Clayton explains why U2 would turn the project down: “It seemed like the last thing the band wanted to do, as we were about to start focusing in on our own music and start scheduling our own record. We said no, because these things tend to take up more time than you could imagine. At the same time, everyone was excited about this great tune. Then I thought about it. There’s always a bit of hanging around while we make a U2 record, and it is an instrumental, so maybe it was something Larry and I could so. So we went ahead. Mission: Impossible is such a great tune that we thought we’d try to do an updated version, and think of it more as something that would work in clubs rather than something that would promote a movie.”

Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton would produce two versions of the theme which appear on the soundtrack album. Further, the album was to be released under U2’s own “Mother Records” label. Adam and Larry being in different parts of the world, started work on the track individually. They brought both working tracks back to Paramount hoping for some direction on which to finish, and Paramount requested that they finish both. The remainder of both tracks was worked on together. Recording took place in various locations, including Dublin, recording with an orchestra in London, and some work with a percussion player in New York. Both versions of the track appear on the soundtrack album, and they both appeared on the single which was also released.

Adam Clayton discussed some of the differences musically between the two versions of the track: “Technically speaking, the original score was based on blues, which was what bands in the Sixties had been doing, but in order to make it a little bit different, he switched the time signature to 5/4, which is kind of Sting territory. It changes the emphasis of the beat and makes it very difficult to dance to. He was able to smooth it over using South American rhythms. That was successful, but it wasn’t going to work in a club situation. So now we did another version in 4/4 time, which is fudging the actual tune. People don’t quite know what’s different about it, but one you can dance to and one you can’t.”

A video was produced for “Theme from Mission: Impossible” which featured scenes from the movie playing in a room full of televisions cut with close up shots of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen performing the song. We also see “mug shots” of Adam and Larry being analysed by computer. Throughout the video Larry and Adam are lit in blue and red, in reference to the blue and red wires typically used in creating an explosive. One of the remixes of the song was titled, “Cut the Blue not the Red”.

The soundtrack was a mix of songs inspired by the movie, and not a collection of songs that were actually in the movie. Out of the tracks appearing on the album only five tracks are actually heard in the movie, including the initial version of “Mission: Impossible” by Clayton and Mullen, the song by the Cranberries and the three tracks from Danny Elfman’s score to the movie. Many of the other acts contributing to the movie were acts with ties to Mother Records, such as Bjork and the Longpigs who recorded for the label. Also included was longtime U2 friend, Gavin Friday. Although there has been a number of sequels to the movie, none have used the Mullen / Clayton version of the theme, and on each sequel the theme has been re-recorded. The song was successful and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category “Best Pop Instrumental Performance”. It also finished fifth in a Hot Press Readers’ Poll for “Best Irish Single”.

Liner Notes

Theme from Mission: Impossible: Music written by Lalo Schifrin. Produced and arranged by Larry Mullen and David Beal. Engineered by David Beal and Dan Gellert. Mixed by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent. Assisted by Adam Brown. String arrangement by Craig Armstrong. Percussion by Bashiri Johnson.

Mission: Impossible Theme (Mission Accomplished): Music written by Lalo Schifrin. Produced and arranged by Howie B.

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