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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Daltrey, Roger - 1980 McVicar: Original Soundtrack
Daltrey, Roger - 1980 McVicar: Original Soundtrack

ARTIST: Daltrey, Roger
ALBUM: McVicar: Original Soundtrack
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: POLD 5034 (UK), PD-1-6284 (USA)
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 1996, Polydor, 527 341-2


LINEUP: Roger Daltrey - vocals * Pete Townshend, Billy Nicholls, Ricky Hitchcock - guitars * John Entwistle, Herbie Flowers, Dave Markee - bass * Kenney Jones, Stuart Elliot, Dave Mattacks - drums * John 'Rabbit' Bundrick - keyboards * Ken Freeman - synthesizers * Ron Aspery - flute

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bitter And Twisted * 02 Just A Dream Away * 03 Escape Part One * 04 White City Lights * 05 Free Me Listen * 06 My Time Is Gonna Come * 07 Waiting For A Friend * 08 Escape Part Two * 09 Without Your Love * 10 McVicar

Roger Daltrey's finest hour as an actor was backed up by this impressive soundtrack full of melodic rock gems that served as the backdrop for Daltrey's gritty portrayal of famed English criminal John McVicar. Daltrey had featured in previous movies such as 'Tommy' and 'Lisztsomania' among others, but as kitsch 70's novelties Daltrey decided to branch out into something harder edged and inspired by McVicar's autobiography and a track 'The Prisoner' from 1977's 'All The Boys' took on the lead role with all the intensity of a typical onstage performance with The Who! With the rest of The Who adding their talents to the soundtrack, the result was very much an AOR dominated affair with Russ Ballard contributing three tracks, Billy Nicholls adding five and Steve Swindells responsible for 'Bitter And Twisted'. Daltrey cut his golden locks off for the role, drastically altering his appearance rightfully to that of a hard man, but thankfully leaving the screams intact!

The Songs
Synthesizers run the show throughout, instantly recognisable on 'Bitter And Twisted', a forceful hard rock workout where Daltrey adds a mass of vocal muscle amidst some tasty synth lazer effects. Russ Ballard's 'Just A Dream Away' is an excellent sensitive ballad, running in time with McVicar in prison dreaming of escape, faultless AOR with a melodic guitar solo of some note. 'Escape' parts one and two are dramatic as you would expect, with a glut of keyboards, barren acoustic guitars and crucially some atmospheric flute work that will have most thinking of Jethro Tull. Progressive to a degree, these pieces seem to sum up the bleak late 70's even if the film was set in 1970, with part two far heavier courtesy some stark riffing. 'White City Lights' never appeared in the film itself if I recall, another ballad, and another great Daltrey performance. 'Free Me' is a forgotten classic, closest to The Who in style, heavy on horns and Daltrey's screams and exceeds Russ Ballard's own version by a mile. This fits in with the context of the film in certain style, absolute drama. Ballard's 'My Time Is Gonna Come' has all the Ballard melodic traits stamped on it, the incessant bass and guitar fills, punchy and melodically delightful. Knowing the film so well it's easy to place the songs within the movie's context so 'Waiting For A Friend' conjures up images of Daltrey wandering the street in disguise trying not to be seen! Typically Who like despite being written by Nicholls, it is led by Townshend's power chords and all round sense of energy. 'Without Your Love' is a sentimental AOR ballad, the type of easy going material Daltrey used so heavily in his solo career. 'McVicar' is a well constructed anthem, the movie closer, with a ton of heady AOR moments within that should appeal to the staunchest critic.

In Summary
After twenty years of involvement with this project, it's one known by heart to the tenth degree on my part and one that endures to this day. A superb prison drama and soundtrack alike make this a special moment in Daltrey's career and one that should be known more in the annals of melodic rock lore. Daltrey included himself in various credible AOR ventures, as documented on the site, and this was no exception. Suffice to say Roger never turned in a display of acting prowess this accomplished in the ensuing years. But this would have been impossible to better.

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#1 | fenton on June 24 2006 13:54:11
Agree. An utter classic. No matter how many time I hear 'Free Me' it loses none of it's force.
#2 | Eric on April 27 2007 20:14:07
On my short list of great soundtrack albums ('Xanadu' and Queen's 'Flash Gordon' to name a few) that are actually thought out instead of just slapping on songs for the helluva it, 'McVicar' is an excellent piece of music and a great film you just don't see on cable very often unfortunatly.
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