Film Noir’s Finest: Themes From The Dark Side Of The Lens (album review)

Noir, black as the night , this film genre often conjures up images of trenchcoats, dames and mob bosses with amusing nicknames that bely their power such as ‘Nicky the Nose’ or ‘Johnny Tightlips’. As well as a distinct image, they also have a specific sound: sultry, moody music that conveys danger and sex all in the same set of notes.

Collecting tracks from modern-day film noir hits such as ‘Body Heat’, ‘Chinatown’ and ‘2 Days In The Valley’, the album blends contemporary and classic noir stylings. Although labelling ‘Basic Instinct’ as film noir may be stretching it a tad.

The tracks, originally written by musical big-wigs such as Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin and Howard, have been newly recorded, produced and arranged to give them a fresh feel.

The album does get a tad repetitive though and the charm of the original theme is sometimes lost in a forest of saxophone and piano. It especially jars with ‘Dirty Harry’, as you’d never see the titular character sashaying around in a lounge suit. After enduring several sax solos, he’d be pulling out his Smith & Wesson and asking if any punks felt lucky.

The best way to approach this collection is to try and put what you remember of the original soundtracks out of your mind and focus on the tracks here. As a relaxing, easy-listening album, it works perfectly. Although I’m not sure Polanski had relaxation in mind when he made ‘Chinatown’.

Just right for a day when the rain is so heavy, it washes the scum off the streets. Or maybe a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Aidan Fortune

November 2012


(pub: BuySoundtrax Records. 70 minutes 20 tracks download. Price: $9.99 (US), £ 7.49 (UK))

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Once called a "fountain of useless pop culture knowledge", Aidan is an unashamed geek, grateful that he is allowed share his opinions on a global scale. A journalist by trade, Aidan is a massive fan of comics and recently set up a comics group in Brighton in order to engage more with like-minded people. His home is subject to a constant battle of vintage paraphernalia and science fiction & fantasy toys.

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