a short site about The Divine Comedy

Gangster Nunber One OST

Over the years the cinema's obsession with organised crime has produced some truly great movies, with soundtracks to match. Be it the atmospheric cool of the Get Carter score or the seventies pop obscurity fest that peppered Reservoir Dogs. The music that accompanies the visuals can clearly add to the authenticity and entire mood of the piece.

Paul McGuigan, director of the recent gangland based brit flick Gangster Number One, has attempted to combine elements from both of the aforementioned soundtracks to compliment his vision of late sixties London. He hand picked the tracks that feature and also employed legendary lounge jazz man and Clio Lane's husband John Dankworth to score the piece and add a touch of class. Whatever your opinion of the brutal, blood soaked thriller this soundtrack is at least, in part, able to stand alone as a slightly kitsch, nostalgic collection of eclectic nuggets, and a contemporary excursion in retro lounge style jazz.

Englebert Humperdink croons his way effortlessly through 'Ten Guitars' while fellow old smoothie Anthony Newly floats gently over the charming 'Why' (just ask your mum, she'll tell you). Alongside the suited and booted classic cool, The Sweets seventies stomper 'Blockbuster' stands out like a silver platform boot in a room full of polished spatz. Some obscure punk action is provided by the elaborately named Alberto Y Los Trios Paranoias whose brutal blast 'Kill' provides a further contrast to the plushness surrounding it.

Dankworth's pieces range from melancholy strings to cheesy sax-driven jazz, to downright funk-laden grooves that push all the right buttons. Each style helps to conjure up images of late night London streets and seedy after-hours bars. The entire album's crowning moment of sheer brilliance comes with Dankworth's collaboration with the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. A reworking of Sasha Distel's 'The Good Life', the lush string arrangements are the perfect accompaniment to Hannon's frankly astounding vocals. Barely recognisable as the foppish creator of 'Something For The Weekend', he bolts out the song with great poise and assurance, sounding as though he could give any crooner, past or present a run for their money.

Despite Simon Fisher Turner's contributions, which don't quite work away from the movie, 'Gangster Number One' is a thoroughly enjoyable predominantly laid back mixture of classic songs and jazzed up atmospherics. In fact even if you haven't seen the movie itself you can lay back, shut your eyes and let your imagination fill in for the screen, it ought at least to be a little less brutal.


Josh Rogan
Launch 14/07/2000