Today, Signature Entertainment release “class war” Welsh thriller Concrete Plans,with a score composed by legendary UK dance music composer Paul Hartnoll.
Paul’s latest work is used to great effect in Will Jewell’s tense thriller featuring a fantastic British cast including; Amber Rose Revah, Goran Bogdan, Charlie Palmer Rothwell, Chris Reilly, Steve Speirs, William Thomas, Kevin Guthrie and James Lance.
Paul says of the film: “I got on it long ago through a music journalist who lives round the corner from me, he just said to me “Would you be interested, I’m working on a film that’s got something to do with the Welsh tourist board, are you interested in doing the score?” and I said sure and over time, director Will Jewell got in touch and said he’s trying to get the money together to do this film. We just spoke over the course of a year until it finally happened, and that was it. I just kept on in the background saying “Yeah, sure I’ll do it if it happens,” and lo and behold it did happen, it was great.”
Here, in a special Music DNA feature, Paul reveals five film soundtracks of which he has found inspirational over the years.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966) ENNIO MORRICONE
I had to have some Ennio Morricone, I love lots of Morricone but this has the The Good, The Bad and The Ugly theme tune and The Ecstasy of Gold in it. I think that has to be one of the pinnacles of Ennio Morricone’s scoring. I like all his scores – even the mad 70s jazz sort of horror ones are brilliant as well – but The Good, The Bad and The Ugly has to be in here.
It’s fantastic, because he made us believe that cowboys listen to surf music, you know what I mean? We now associate anything that sounds like Ennio Morricone with Westerns. It’s got nothing to do with Westerns! That style of music played on that has got nothing to do with Westerns at all, but it has become the narrative for Westerns. It’s brilliant! We all believe that’s the sound of Westerns now, twangy guitars. They didn’t have guitars – well, electric guitars – back then. It’s now the sound of Westerns. It’s great.
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) DANNY ELFMAN
Danny Elfman – Edward Scissorhands because he brought back romance and fantasy in such a massive way. Every bar of that score is so sure footed. There’s no waste, everything is really gregarious and beautiful. And again, it’s been imitated so much in advertising and things like that ever since. He kind of set this twinkly Christmassy sort of gothic fantasy dialogue going, along with Tim Burton’s films. But for me, it’s what Danny Elfman brings to the table – it adds so much beauty. It’s an amazing score and I’ve loved Danny Elfman ever since.
AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999) THOMAS NEWMAN
So for the next one, we have a similar era and Thomas Newman’s American Beauty. I was gonna pick Meet Joe Black. It’s a tough one for me, between those two. American Beauty’s been so rinsed it’s almost boring to listen to now. But when I go back to what it meant, and what it was, and the influence it had, and the diversity of instrumentation that it had… for what it was, which was an American suburban story. The ethnicity and strangeness of the instruments brought along a sense of alienation to the score, which was just immense. The beautiful piano piece, with the plastic bag. Again, how many times have we heard that since? It’s just echoed through popular culture since that point. I loved all his scores from around that time.
Like I said, Meet Joe Black was a massive one. Road to Perdition was a great one. But with American Beauty, it’s like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, you gotta go back to the source, and that was the big one for me.
BRAZIL (1985) MICHAEL KAMEN
My next one is the score to my favourite film of all time, which is Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
The score gets quite forgotten. But if you listen to it – and you’ve seen the film as many times as I have – you realise that Michael Kamen extrapolated the entire score from one piece of Latin American music. Everything is a version or variation on the one piece of music that is the “Braaaziiiilll- duh-duh-duh-duh”, everything. When it’s moody, when it’s scary it’s like “duh-DUHHHH”, it’s immense, it’s so beautifully crafted. There’s no reason why that film is called ‘Brazil’ as far as I can see and I’ve watched it so many times, apart from that that song was the earworm of the era when the action was being played out.
Michael Kamen keeps that theme throughout the whole thing. Even with all the diversity of all of his score, it’s always a variation on that song. I love it as a technical piece of work, but it’s a great score as well. It’s so amusing and works beautifully with the film.
There’s a song called ‘Brazil’, which is an old Latin standard, of which I’ve spent the last 30 years collecting, versions of it. I’ve got a massive collection of variations on that theme from second-hand shops all over the world. I still can’t work out the reason they picked the song for the film. It might be really obvious, and someone might go “Oh it’s because of that, you idiot!”. But I’ve never really spotted it. Every piece of music in the film is based on that one song.
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969) JOHN BARRY
So that’s that! And this is where I get stuck. I’m on 5 and I can’t decide between John Barry or Lalo Schifrin. I think I’m going to go with John Barry, because he makes me cry. Lalo Schifrin is groovy as hell, and I love him, but he doesn’t make me cry. John Barry makes me cry. And I cannot decide between a Bond theme and The Knack …and How to Get It.
I think I’m gonna go for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It’s got a couple of changes of chord which just blow me away every time. It’s beautifully laid back and jazzy. It’s got vibraphones, which I love. It’s John Barry lounging it up in his best way. It’s a really sumptuous score. So many of his scores are brilliant, all the Bond ones. But I particularly like the romance of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And it is a romantic film, it’s the one where James Bond gets married and then loses his wife, it’s terrible! We get a one-off James Bond as well, George Lazenby, God bless him. That was a hard one to pick, because there are so many brilliant John Barry scores, but that’s the one I’m gonna go with…
- Concrete Plans is released via Signature Entertainment on Digital HD from November 23.
- Read the Talking Music Interview with Paul Hartnoll