LP reviews

LP REVIEW: Benjamin Wallfisch – King of Thieves Soundtrack

Benjamin Wallfisch – King of Thieves Soundtrack
(Milan Music 398 115-2. LP Review by Peter Jones)

If, like me, you love the classic 60s/70s film soundtracks of Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, John Barry and others, you will get a big kick out of this: it’s a shameless wallow in nostalgia. The excuse is yet another drama about the most celebrated real-life crime caper of the last half-century – the 2015 Hatton Garden jewel robbery. The gang barely had time to jump into their getaway cars and shout Go! Go! Go! before the cameras started rolling on Hatton Garden: The Heist (2015), closely followed by The Hatton Garden Job (2016). This year, at a more leisurely pace, came a third – King of Thieves, directed by James Marsh, who had a big hit with the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. In case you missed the publicity, King of Thieves is a full-on diamond geezer fest, featuring Messrs Caine, Winstone, Broadbent, Gambon et al. Sadly, reviewers gave the film a good kicking.

But never mind that: we’re here to talk about the music. Producer/composer Benjamin Wallfisch, fresh from his triumph with Blade Runner 2049, was handed enough cash to rent Abbey Road Studios and hire the Chamber Orchestra of London and some very fine individual jazz musicians. Among the sparklers are ubiquitous flautist Gareth Lockrane, trombonist Mark Nightingale, guitarist Adam Goldsmith, bass funkster Phil Mulford and top drummer Ralph Salmins.

All the musical ideas are nicked: it’s gold-plated pastiche – moody alto flute, funky Fender Rhodes working closely with the bass, plus some slinky strings and fat brass. There’s also a rather odd sequence where the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy forms the basis for the score accompanying the heist itself. Great, highly-polished stuff, but still odd. The parts the producers loved the most, however, and rightly so, were those written for cimbalom, that big wood-framed instrument whose metal strings are hit with beaters. The description doesn’t necessarily help, but the sound, when you hear it, instantly rings bells: it’s that jangly metallic twang, redolent of dimly-lit central European cafes where spies meet to switch briefcases. John Barry used it for The Ipcress File, and anyone old enough to remember TV’s The Persuaders will be instantly transported back to those childhood teatimes of 1971.

King of Thieves also benefits from a beautifully lush production, enhanced by its release in the vinyl format. Round up some mates and blag a copy, if you think you can get away with it.

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