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Soundtrack Review

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Man at the Top
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Roy Budd
Label: Caldera Records
RRP: £13.99
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Release Date: 24 July 2020

Caldera Records presents the original score for the motion picture Man at the Top from 1973, directed by Mike Vardy and featuring music by Roy Budd. Writer John Braine's 1957 novel Room at the Top spawned a movie, which was quickly followed by a sequel and a TV series... and eventually a third film, Man at the Top, which this score was composed for. In the film Joe Lampton is appointed Managing Director of ChemExport, a company overseen by Lord Ackerman. All is not well: six months later, it emerges that Lampton’s predecessor committed suicide. Slowly it becomes clear to Lampton that he might have been appointed to take the blame for a massive marketing blunder that could crush not only him but the whole company...

Serious soundtrack collectors are once again being spoilt by Caldera Records, who have unearthed a rare gem in Roy Budd's music for Man at the Top. Very much a product of its time, the score still stands up fairly well today.

In fact, the only time this feels truly dated is on the tracks 'Demo Jingle' and 'Pipe Tobacco'. The employ of a wah-wah pedal produces the wacka-wacka guitar sound that was synonymous with 'funky' scores of the time.

There are a couple of main themes running throughout this score, but they are presented differently each time, which stops them from standing out or being too repetitive. One nice touch is that there is an alternative version of 'In the Woods' and oddly enough it's an alternative version that I personally thought was better than the original track.

There's a similar vibe, in tracks like 'Night is Falling' and 'Bedtime', to John Barry's early James Bond scores. And keeping with the Barry theme, Budd was also given the freedom to compose two jazz-based pieces ('Bossa Nova' and 'Mingle With Me') which acted as music for dinner parties in the film.

This is a complex and richly layered score that Caldera Records have lovingly brought back to life for soundtrack collectors to enjoy.


Darren Rea

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