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The temptation must have loomed large to simply license the Jaws music: dee-da-dee-da . . . just when you thought it was safe to go back in for a loan . . .

Or perhaps a compilation from the more insightful pop satirists: Pink Floydís Money Money Money; Dire Straitsís Money For Nothing . . .

Instead, they gambled on an original, full orchestral score in the classic tradition. And composer Alan John has delivered a classic in every sense of the word. One to drive a mercantile mogul mad. There are simply no sell outs what so ever. No cheap, contrived hooks to be re-interpreted by a pop starlet over the closing credits and cash in on the charts; no programmed electronica to cover up lulls of inspiration; no bombastic surges of melodrama loosely tied by ambient meanderings; but rather a very traditionally crafted score, driven by impressionistic piano and sublimely arranged strings, that is potent, complex and engaging from first cue to last. Johnís has put in the work, and reaped the dividends. For all of us.

His score is fashioned on the age-old resource of finely tuned dissonance, with measured resolutions. So as to keep us enthralled, and our imaginations ticking. There is enough familiarity for easy listening, and enough originality for repeated indulgence.

Every phrase is rounded in delicate nuance and orchestral timbres selectively deployed for more than just cosmetic decoration. The tenderly edgy piano harmonies and refined drama of the strings establish the underlying, unsettling milieu; and then brass, timpani and choral character are added as the score develops. The emotions are acute but abstract. The suspense and haunting shadows could just as easily belong to Hitchcock thriller; or a teetering on an abyss, into a cesspool of corporate greed.

If one of the scoreís strengths is its fluidity, this fails to suffer with two middle cues that branch off into lounge jazz and mambo. Pickup Bar proves that you donít have to play a swing rhythm to swing. On a solid foundation of a staccato bass ostinato, the scoreís ubiquitous piano frolics into jazzier terrain accompanied by a delicious saxophone. Sweet, reedy and romantic.

Itís scores like this that explode the theory that there are only two types of good soundtracks. The blockbuster, hook, melodic lines and everything but the kitchen sink-ers; and ambient soundscapes whose claims to fame lie in a failure to clash with the visuals.
Here, Johnís takes inspiration from the drama of the screen, and transmutes it to music. It is a marvellous soundtrack; not merely aural wallpaper decorating the cinematography, but a splendid enjoyment in its own right. Invest in it.
Brad Green

Published September 13, 2001

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Read Andrew L. Urban's interview with ANTHONY LAPAGLIA


Track 1 - Titles
Track 8 - Pickup Bar

TITLE: The Bank

ID: 465 703-2

ABC classics


CONDUCTOR: David Stanhope


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