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Soundtrack Review

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Mike Leigh's Meantime, High Hopes, Naked and Secret & Lies


Composer: Andrew Dickson
Label: Caldera Records
RRP: £13.99
Click here to buy -
Release Date: 16 December 2019

Caldera Records present a selection of Andrew Dickson’s music for Mike Leigh’s films, most notably Naked from 1993. Over a span of nearly 50 years, Leigh has garnered 7 Oscar nominations, 14 BAFTA nominations (winning four), a Palme d’Or, a Golden Lion, and countless other prestigious awards. He had already shot Bleak Moments and several BBC productions when, in 1981, he met Dickson. Their collaboration would become one of the most fruitful between composers and directors...

Caldera Records's latest release is certainly going to split fans right down the middle. You'll either love this or not really understand what it's all about. I used to be a huge Mike Leigh fan... I was even commissioned by the BFI many moons ago to write a short piece on Nuts in May. I have to say, though, even back then the music was never something I really enjoyed. It helped to add atmosphere and another layer to the movies, but always seemed to only work inside the films themselves. I loved High Hopes, and the music was very notable there, but listened to on its own... it just sounds disjointed and out of place - you really need the onscreen imagery to tie everything together..

By the time Life is Sweet was released in 1990, I'd already moved on to following other directors and didn't really keep up with Leigh's output until 2008's Happy-Go-Lucky. Even though I enjoyed that film, I never managed to reconnect with Leigh's other pictures.

Like Leigh's movies, Andrew Dickson's scores feel a little adlibbed and ultimately rather bleak. While this isn't a collection of scores I really enjoyed, I do agree completely that Dickson's music work incredibly well in the films, becoming a major character.

I found this an interesting collection, from a technical point of view, and thoroughly recommend that any film studies students should explore this to get underneath how a composer manages to expertly weave characters into their themes, but I wouldn't really want to listen to this for pleasure.

The interview with Leigh was a welcome bonus track. It was interesting to hear his views on working with composers and his thoughts on the importance of music in his films.

I love the fact that Caldera have taken the time and effort to put this release together (it's another carefully crafted labour of love). If you're a fan of Leigh's output you'll welcome the opportunity to add this to your collection.

Track listing:

01. End Credits (3:20)

High Hopes
02. Suite (11:15)

03. Opening Titles (3:56)
04. Tribal Initiation (0:30)
05. On a Cold, Grim Night (1:49)
06. The Mysteries of His Trade (1:22)
07. The Party’s Over (2:40)
08. Jeremy is Angry (0:44)
09. Friendly Visit (0:44)
10. Brian in the Window (1:31)
11. Sneaking Out (0:56)
12. Taking a Bath (0:39)
13. Blank It All Out (2:38)
14. Johnny Returns Home (0:43)
15. Bad Quartet (1:24)
16. Sandra (0:45)
17. More Heartbreak (0:47)
18. Escape to Nowhere (2:08)
19. End Credits (1:36)

Secrets & Lies
20. Opening Credits (0:31)
21. Burial/Wedding Photos (1:52)
22. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (1:46)
23. Maurice and Monica (1:22)
24. I’ll Be Thinking Of You (1:42)
25. A Night Out (1:12)
26. End Credits (2:21)

27. Interview with Mike Leigh (6:07)


Darren Rea