After listening to all the Monkman albums from earlier I realized this one was uploaded in a mono rip and I felt it deserved better because of the incredible quality of the music. Hopefully I wasn't the only one who noticed this. There are a few different versions of this work as you can see, including an out of print CD release with bonus tracks, which to my utter shock after buying turned out to be mono as well, and with a bit of digging I found out the original LP was released as mono-- a criminal act for a musician as brilliant as Monkman.
As usual we can go to imdb for information on this movie, which I admit I have never seen:
A shady character, Colin (Paul Freeman -Raiders of the Lost Ark), carrying a suitcase of money pockets a couple handfuls of cash before making the delivery. In a country farmhouse the three men dividing the money in the case are attacked by gunmen. Outside a pub Colin's accomplices are abducted and killed. Colin is later murdered at a swimming pool. The leading gangster in the London underworld (Harold Shand - Bob Hoskins in his breakout movie role) is forming an alliance with a group of rich, shady Americans to fund the very profitable London docklands development of the 1980s.
On Good Friday while Shand's mother attends church, her waiting driver is killed when her car explodes. The news of this is an outrage to Shand who is shocked at the declining code of conduct among the underworld. This decline parallels the decline of his empire throughout the film. He is given 24 hours to fix the situation or the Americans will walk away from the deal. Shand is further unnerved at the news of his friend Colin's murder as well as the discovery of a bomb (which fails to detonate) at his casino. He covers up Colin's murder, the car bomb, and the later explosion of a restaurant where he is about to dine. He frantically rounds up and coerces informants and underworld bosses in an attempt to discover who is behind these events and what they want. He is brutal but he believes his behavior is within civilized boundaries.
Throughout he laments the decline of neighborhoods, respect for the church, respect for his power, England's economy, and honor among thieves. At the same time he professes to be appreciative of history, of what has been great about England, and is driven to build great things on the site of now idle dockyards. Shand finds out that the bombings are caused by the IRA in revenge for Colin's having stolen the relatively small sum of 5,000. We also learn that the three men from the farmhouse at the beginning were also IRA. The IRA has connected Shand to Colin even though Colin was moonlighting as a courier without Shand's knowledge. Shand's top man tells him there is no fighting the IRA as they don't care about money ("they're fanatics") and that even if you kill them dozens more will always be ready to take their place. The IRA is taking over his empire and there is nothing he can do about it.
In a last attempt to end the fight Shand meets with the IRA under pretense of paying them off with 60,000 but he murders them instead. However, the Americans walk away from the deal anyway, dismissing Shand as a gangster. Shand lectures them on how they have no guts or vision and that he will deal with the Germans instead and not be stopped by them. But Shand is abducted by the IRA as he leaves the meeting and his downfall is complete.
Sounds really good, doesn't it? I'll have to find it someday and have a look, the old British movies were always so well done. And how perfectly Monkman complemented the plot with his doom-laden soundtrack. For me the best tracks are the final few, including Ice House (5), Fury (9), and Realization (8). If you listen to the first of these traveling out via the link note how perfectly assembled the soundtrack sound is here, with, following the intro (in F minor), the major D chord with added 9 shimmering and delicately stepping into minor D, evoking the transparency of the title, as the two alternate slowly, major and minor, perhaps like a delicate slow dance. Then the melody moves up to the higher octaves and the string section takes us back down, like a staircase made of ice. Such mastery of music.
The track called Fury pretty much says it all in terms of library composition, with its Stravinskyesque polytonal, polyrhythmic opener recalling the Rite of Spring moving on to the excitement of harshly pummelled electronic chords (a la Lasry!), with a string melody subsequently adding intensity on top in layers and layers of beauty. You can hear it here. Also available of course on youtube (sadly this version is mono too). But notice how one third through, the composition takes a completely different tack on the windy ocean, as our yacht moves towards a melancholy cloudy atmosphere played out by a reedy soprano sax.
Just awesome soundtrack music, the kind that is never made anymore, never, not ever...
It's as if in one track you can read an entire novel, full of drama and passion and new ideas. new situations. That one piece called Ice House-- I imagine myself living inside of it like a palace just exploring all the contours of its beauty, endlessly and for days, with no awareness of time passing, as if I was free to explore the Palace of Versailles with no one else there.
Really worth a much closer listen for sure. Hope you agree.
So what about the mono situation? Well, I eventually found out that a fantastic group put out a more recent CD with artificially created stereo (since they couldn't get the original stereo master tapes), and from other attempts at artificial stereo we know that it isn't by any means perfect. But it's better than mono. And for that reason I am going to post a very limited time link, encouraging you as well to check out the 2-CD release from silva screen...