Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2024 January 15 • Monday

The 813th Soundtrack of the Week is John Barry's score for Hammett.

The main title theme is a sultry, bluesy jazz number played just by piano and clarinet. It has a lilting quality that balances out its melancholy feel.

You hear it again right away in “Hammett’s Dream”, this time as solo piano, and then halfway through the strings come in and introduce a secondary theme, the kind of gently insistent and slightly modern piece that Barry was so good at creating and building on.

Some east Asian instruments get added to the mix for “Ryan Is Missing”, a suspenseful cue whose harmonic movement looks back toward some of Barry’s Bond movie cues.

The Asian instruments keep a rhythmic pulse going for the moody and atmospheric “Chinatown Incident” and then take center stage entirely for “Moonlight Over Spring River”.

A melody reminiscent of the main title theme but played by boozy and woozy sounding New Orleans-style combo brings us to “Cookie’s Speakeasy” while “Shoeshine Blues” is a bluesy small combo tune that features the trombone.

The secondary theme comes back for “Shadow Man” and then some low bass tones introduce “The Library”, which dips into the “Chinatown Incident” cue.

“Hammett Meets Salt/Suicide Is Fascinating/I’m Calling It In” is basically the main theme again until an orchestral wrap up at the end.

The boozy speakeasy band sounds like they’ve returned for “Look for Me at Fong’s”, thoug a little less drunk this time, followed ny what’s probably source music, “classical” sort of background music for “Potted Palms”.

The first really tense notes open “The Opium Den/Escape from Fong’s”, leading to a prettier and more relaxed section before the strings starts bowing frantically, driving the escape cue at a frantic pace.

The main theme gets another go round in “Hide and Seek” and then the secondary and tertiary (“Chinatown Incident”) themes return for “The Numbers Ticket Cue/A Belly Full of Daylight”.

No surprise that “Dixieland” brings back the speakeasy band for another very loose swinging tune. The Chinese instruments come back as well for “You Can’t Forget Her/Don’t Be a Chump, Let Her Go”, which begins with the secondary theme and ends with some very heavy, pounding chords for dramatic underscore.

After a suspenseful introduction “A Cool Million” segues into the main theme while the secondary theme gets brought back for “Waterfront Rendezvous”.

For “The Wrap Up” several of these themes are hinted at, deconstructed, flirted with and finally, in the case of the main theme realized.

Of course you hear the main theme again for the end credits, of which there’s also an alternate take, as well as a few other source music pieces at the end.