[Review] Tangerine Dream: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “Thief” (1981)

This was actually voted one of the worst soundtracks of the year, proving that no one saw Shock Treatment.

Kronomyth 12.5: Caan Mann.

As a rule of thumb, mine’s usually pointed down on the Tangerine Dream soundtracks. Their music is a natural for film, especially in concert with a stylish director like Michael Mann, but a band that makes brilliant tone poems shouldn’t be cut into four-minute slices. In the case of “Igneous,” that’s exactly what happens as the second half of Force Majeure’s “Thru Metamorphic Rocks” is pressed into service again. Which isn’t to say that TD’s fans won’t want to catch Thief. Anyone who sifted through Brian Eno’s Music For Films for gold will find tracks like “Trap Feeling” rewarding. And electronic music fans are a curious lot by nature, apt to find morsels of mind candy in even the most arid compositions.

If, in my cynical mindset, “Beach Theme” sounds like an electronic version of “Freebird,” to your open mind it might sound like an heroic overture. And should you hear in the digital blips and buzzes of “Burning Bar” a new lexicon of electronica, far be it from me to speak against it. There are dozens of proper TD albums, however, where richer discoveries await you and several soundtracks besides (Sorcerer, The Keep) that are better. Of minor interest to those of us who have nothing better to do than pore over the poor relations in TD’s discography, the US and UK versions of this soundtrack differ slightly. In the UK, a remixed version of “Beach Theme” (entitled “Beach Scene”) appears, while the closing “Confrontation” (written and performed by Craig Safan) does not. Safan, incidentally, ends up doing a much better David Gilmour impersonation than Edgar Froese.

Original LP Version (Europe)

A1. Beach Theme
A2. Dr. Destructo
A3. Diamond Diary
A4. Burning Bar
B1. Beach Scene
B2. Scrap Yard
B3. Trap Feeling
B4. Igneous

Original LP Version (US)
A1. Beach Theme (3:44)
A2. Dr. Destructo (3:18)
A3. Diamond Diary (10:48)
A4. Burning Bar (3:11)
B1. Scrap Yard (4:40)
B2. Trap Feeling (2:57)
B3. Igneous (4:45)
B4. Confrontation (Craig Safan) (5:44)

All compositions by Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Johannes Schmoelling unless noted.

Expanded CD Version (2004)
1. Beach Theme
2. Dr. Destructo
3. Diamond Diary
4. Burning Bar
5. Scrap Yard
6. Trap Feeling
7. Igneous
8. Beach Scene
9. Confrontation

The Players

Chris Franke (synthesizers, electronic equipment, electronic percussion), Edgar Froese (keyboards, electronic equipment and guitar), Johannes Schmoelling (keyboards and electronic equipment). Produced by Michael Mann and Tangerine Dream.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in March 1981 in Germany (Virgin, 203 472-320), the UK (Virgin, V 2198), the US (Elektra, 5E/5CS-521), Canada (Virgin, VL/VL4-2213), Italy (Virgin, VIL-12198) and Japan (Virgin, VIP-6974). Reached #43 on the UK charts and #115 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1985 in the UK (Virgin, OVED 72).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in June 1988 in the UK (Virgin, CDV 2198).
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc on August 30, 1995 in the UK (Virgin, TAND12).
  4. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc on April 13, 2004 in the US (Wounded Bird, 521).

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