Perhaps best known as a co-founder of British post-punkers Swell Maps, Epic Soundtracks reinvented himself as an eccentric, critically acclaimed piano balladeer during the '90s. Soundtracks -- who trademarked his stage name, forcing Epic Records' soundtrack division to change its spelling to "Soundtrax" -- was born Kevin Paul Godfrey in Croydon, England, on March 23, 1959 (although several sources list Paul Godley). In 1972, he and his older brother Nicholas -- later Nikki Sudden -- started playing music together, influenced chiefly by Can and T. Rex, and often using found objects as percussion. By 1976, this project had become the seminal Swell Maps; over 1979-1980, the band issued two cultishly adored albums that influenced underground icons like Sonic Youth and Pavement.

Swell Maps disbanded in early 1980, and Soundtracks issued two solo singles on Rough Trade, "Popular Classical"/"Jelly Babies" and "Rain Rain Rain," in 1981 and 1982, respectively. (The latter featured Swell Maps bandmate Jowe Head.) In 1984, Soundtracks joined his brother Sudden's new project the Jacobites, playing the drums on their first two albums (The Jacobites and Robespierre's Velvet Basement). A year later, he joined former members of the Birthday Party in Crime the City Solution, and appeared on their 1986 album Room of Lights. In 1987, Soundtracks and guitarist Rowland S. Howard departed Crime to form These Immortal Souls; Soundtracks appeared on two albums and an EP with them over 1987-1992, playing drums and occasional piano.

Yet, through all of that, Soundtracks had an affinity for pure pop and singer/songwriter sensitivity that had thus far gone unfulfilled. In 1993, he returned to his long-abandoned solo career to explore just that, signing with Bar/None to issue his first ever album, Rise Above. Although it featured guest appearances from alt-rock admirers like Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon, and J Mascis, the album was a warm, gentle exercise in traditional-style pop that placed Soundtracks and his piano firmly at center stage. Surprised at the results given Soundtracks' post-punk pedigree, critics responded with equal warmth. A follow-up album, Sleeping Star, appeared in 1994 and duplicated much of its predecessor's low-key charm. In 1995, Soundtracks joined Lemonheads leader Evan Dando on his solo tour, and wound up co-writing the track "C'Mon Daddy," which appeared on the group's next album, 1996's Car Button Cloth.

That same year, Soundtracks issued his third solo album, Change My Life. Sadly, it would also be his last to be released while he was alive: on November 22, 1997, Soundtracks was found dead in his London flat (the cause of death was ruled inconclusive). In 1999, Nikki Sudden went through tapes of his brother's numerous unreleased recordings, and assembled the posthumous collection Everything Is Temporary. Miraculously for Soundtracks fans, the demos he recorded in 1996 with Kevin Junior for his proposed fourth solo album saw release in 2005 as Good Things. Recorded on four-track in Epic's flat, the songs are among his best and serve as a bittersweet reminder of just what a talent Epic Soundtracks was. In 2012, more previously unreleased songs taken from radio sessions, live shows, and the studio surfaced on the second disc of the double-CD hits-and-rarities collection Wild Smile, released by Troubadour Records. The label continued to work hard to keep the memory of the songwriter alive with an expanded double-album version of Rise Above in late 2015, then another collection of unreleased songs, Film Soundtracks, in mid-2017. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi

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