Sunday, 28 October 2007

The Knack (and how to get it)

Over forty years after its release, it's hard to imagine how new, fresh and original 'The Knack' was. Borrowing heavily from the French New Wave in terms of look and feel, the film and its pop-jazz John Barry soundtrack are a fascinating snapshot of the so-called swinging sixties in London.

Whilst The Knack has some stunning elements - the stark black and white photography, the white on white decor and the views of London (somehow familiar yet quite alien) the film is not what it was.

Perhaps its original elements have been copied or pastiched so many times that the film is now a cliche. Scenes of 'wacky' youth leaping around in the street have been done to death. For fans of the movie's director Dick Lester, The Knack is closer to A Hard Day's Night than Help! which he also directed and like those films it has a cool soundtrack.

As with many Barry scores, many of the tracks are variations on the title theme, but each has its own identity. With Alan Haven's groovy jazz organ to the fore it's one of Barry's more overtly jazzy scores. There's some great arrangements with Barry's tradmark swooping strings, bold brass and that sexy muted trumpet used so effectively in his mid-Sixties output. In fact many of the musical styles he used for the Bond soundtracks like Thunderball are evident and there are times when you can almost visualise a tuxedo clad Connery prowling a casino instead of the hapless Michael Crawford looking vacant by the Thames.

If you want to hear well crafted melodies equisitely arranged and performed then look no further than The Knack.

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