"Thief: The Deluxe Edition"
Soundtrack Album Review
Additional Music By Craig Safan
9 Tracks/Disc Time: 47:06
Grade: A- (BEST OF 2014)
1981's "Thief" is one of those special films in that the way it was filmed, written and produced by the great Michael Mann, who prior to this was one of the writers for the brilliant and underrated Dustin Hoffman crime-drama, "Straight Time" in 1978. Adapting Frank Hohimer's novel "The Home Invaders" for the big screen, Mann cast the rugged Oscar nominee James Caan ("The Godfather") as Frank, a hardened and professional B&E thief always looking for the solid score that would pay out handsomely. Aided by his friend and partner, Barry (James Belushi, "According To Jim"), Frank seems to have the perfect legitimate world around Chicago owning legitimate businesses and now has a wife in Jessie (Tuesday Weld, "Falling Down") who accepts his faults and temperment as he envisions in a paper collage of pictures he always carries for his own vision of happiness. Things start to turndown hill when a mobster named Leo (Robert Prosky, "Last Action Hero") offers Frank and Barry a major score in California involving over a million dollars in diamonds. In the process, Frank unwittingly has sold out the freedom and American dream he has built to the ruthless mobster which leads to a memorable finale to the film that one of the best of the 1980's. The film was released earlier this year as part of the great Criterion Collection catalog of films that are worthy of high class attention and "Thief" was definitely that was one that was long overdue and truly worthy of its honor.
With Mann showing off what would be his polished and attentive direction on screen backed by a powerhouse performance by Caan, the musical score in the film also played a major part of driving the story as well as setting up both the thrill and suspense of each chase, heist and violent confrontations in the film. Tangerine Dream would end up with the plumb assignment bring this criminal underworld to life and were the perfect choice to create Frank's world and everything that surrounded it. The group from Berlin were one of the most popular and original groups of the 70's and throughout the 80's and wrote the unforgettable score to William Friedkin's intense action-thriller "Sorcerer", in which Friedkin was quoted as saying that "had he discovered them earlier, they would've scored "The Exorcist" which how highly he thought of his score for the film. The group would go on to score Mann's next film, "The Keep" writing another unforgettable score in which fans of the group as well as soundtrack afficionados have been wanting for decades. They would also score the blockbuster hit film, "Risky Business" starring superstar Tom Cruise as well as "Legend" which also starred Cruise along with some very solid films such as "The Park Is Mine", "Flashpoint", "The Soldier" and "Near Dark".
The score is mostly improvised, but it has a great musical texture as well as structure that is pulsing with energy and moods. A score driven by the intensity of the film which is clearly defined with each unique note that isn't wasted. "Beach Theme" opens the album which in fact is actually the film's "End Credits" a wonderful piece that is memorable and surprisingly melodic with upbeat synthesizer tempos emphasizing Frank's success during the film's lightest scene where everyone is having a good time at the beach which gets an even longer version in "Beach Scene" which in the film plays out beautifully with Mann's sunny visuals. The heist sequences which are exceptionally executed by Mann's direction inspired TD to write a long and lengthy that developed the films opening sequence from the break-in to the final reward ("Diamond Diary") plusing precision and beat for beat with each burn and torch which also plays out in the track "Burning Bar". TD also goes full throttle with the action-suspense scenes with memorable material in "Scrap Yard", "Trap Feeling", and "Dr. Destructo". The best of this bunch to me is easily "Igneous", which plays out in the unforgettable prelude to the films' final and violent confrontation as Frank is destroying the world he's built that his been stolen from him. Each note hammering home Frank's silent rage with each mood and synthesizer sequence propelling him to do so. As with all of Michael Mann's films, he often enlists other composers or pre-recorded music to add another level or dimension to the score as it has established the mood of the film. In this case we have the excellent Craig Safan underscoring the films' unforgettable finale "Confrontation" a lengthy five minute track that fits in with everything that Tangerine Dream had already established up to that point and Safan's cue is memorable in its own right with a rock oriented approach combined with an orchestra that is pretty close to TD and makes it his own that has a very strong presence and character.
Perseverance Records' latest release of the album is the definitive release of the score that features every cue of the score available to the public that has made off the original 1981 Elektra Records album as well as the subsequent Virgin Records and Wounded Bird releases later on. This a wonderful presentation of the score that is definitive as previous releases either dropped one track or replaced one with another which caused all sorts of confusion and to double dip to get all of the music on both record and CD later on to get it all. Great packaging and everything this is a great release for the label that truly deserves it despite some turbulent times in the past and now enjoying great success and hopefully continue to in the future. This release is what makes the label special and as long as they keep releasing great releases/reissues such as this one, Perseverance will always be a player. "Thief" is a special score for a brilliant film and gets the highest recommendation I could give it. Thumbs way way up!
Postscript: On a sad note, well at least for me personally. This will be the last release I will review for the label since I'm currently not receiving any copies of their albums (Sorry, folks I'm bummed too and I've done my best to get word about it. I was looking forward to their future projects including a great one in the end and I hate having to write this). I had to make a special personal exception in buying this CD personally from Best Buy.com because this is a review that I just had to do and to get done because the music is that great while the film was still fresh in my mind after viewing it on Criterion's great Blu-Ray release along with the fact that it's one of Tangerine Dream's brilliant achievements. That aside, it was a pleasure to do the work for them as well as I did and I'm happy that I was able to contribute to their success in some way. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here right now writing this. If anything changes, I will happily do an update. Till then....the balcony is closed. *Tears*