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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Tangerine Dream - 1981 Thief
Tangerine Dream - 1981 Thief

ARTIST: Tangerine Dream
ALBUM: Thief
LABEL: Virgin
SERIAL: 203 472
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1995, Virgin, 7243 8 40520 2 7 TAND12 * 2004, Wounded Bird, WOU 521


LINEUP: Edgar Froese - keyboards, guitar * Chris Franke - synthesizers, electronic percussion * Johannes Schmoelling - keyboards, electronic equipment

TRACK LISTING: 01 Beach Theme * 02 Dr Destructo * 03 Diamond Diary * 04 Burning Bar * 05 Beach Scene * 06 Scrap Yard * 07 Trap Feeling * 08 Igneous


With such a vast discography it's hard to fully grasp the many tangents taken by Tangerine Dream since their inception in 1967. The German progressive legends spent the majority of the 70's releasing a slew of mostly instrumental albums, capturing the essence of the prog dominated decade like few others. In 1977 the band took the leap into soundtrack work, providing the score for 'Sorcerer'. This appeared to form the basis for the band in the 80's, where they would conjure up scores for numerous films, with one of their best efforts being their work for 1981's 'Thief'. Soundtrack reviews aren't the norm here at Glory Daze, but the sheer excellence of this score is truly deserving of a mention. The movie itself was directed by Michael Mann and starred James Caan as a jewel thief in a quite amazing performance, with the music perfectly capturing the violent and gritty tone of the movie.

The Songs
In order to properly place the music in context one would have to watch the film itself to place the mood of the pieces, but even without it this is a dramatic, tension filled score. The key track is the near eleven minute 'Diamond Diary' which is used as the backdrop to Caan meticulously performing a heist. There's an impeccable buildup of characteristic Edgar Froese keyboard work, with the synth work pulsating in a sense of near dread, ideal early 80's stuff. The eventual addition of guitar hands it an edge of brutality, some of the most atmospheric soundtrack work I've ever heard. 'Beach Theme' is much lighter in tone, reflecting a calmer scene in the movie and another showcase of the guitar-synth perfection. There's a heavy metal menace to 'Dr. Destructo' which again shows how varied the band could be in their approach to songwriting. 'Burning Bar' pushes the synth element to the limit, almost Alan Parsons Project like in its formula, as is the frantic pace of 'Scrap Yard' which is so rooted in the 1981 timeframe it's almost mesmerizing. 'Trap Feeling' is very quaint by comparison, a foray into hypnotic keyboard territory. The only track not featuring Tangerine Dream is Craig Safan's 'Confrontation,' which in its own way is just as powerful as the rest of the album, with a guitar solo reminiscent of Pink Floyd's stale 'Comfortably Numb'. Apparently Tangerine Dream had already finished their contribution for the album and Mann needed another instrumental and hired Safan to add this on. Watched in relation to the film's final scene with Caan going on a rampage makes this a superb emotional achievement.

In Summary
The band would also provide the score for Mann's 1983 flop 'The Keep' which is nothing near as effective as their 'Thief' masterpiece. Mann himself utilized an excellent high-tech AOR soundtrack for 1986's 'Manhunter' with the likes of Red Seven and The Prime Movers providing superb tracks. The 'Thief' soundtrack however is a must hear for those with a fondness for both Tangerine Dream and 80's synthesizer scores of the highest quality.

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#1 | Eric on October 02 2013 11:52:39
In their vast catalog, a standout.
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