Various Artists Rocknrolla Review

Soundtrack. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

This is often very cool stuff.

Sophie Bruce 2008

Back in the days before he became Mr Madonna, Guy Ritchie's films were hot property. Following the success of his 1998 low budget debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Hollywood bankrolled the big-budget, Brad Pitt vehicle Snatch in 2000.

Heist films were Ritchie's thing. Somewhere you could combine comedy and violence with casual sexism, racism and homophobia – set to some of the coolest music around. The OST for Lock Stock… mixed classics from Pete Wingfield, James Brown and Dusty Springfield with modern hits from the Stone Roses and, err, Robbie Williams. Two years later, Snatch's OST followed the same pattern: classics from The Stranglers, 10CC and err, Madonna alongside Mirwais and Massive Attack.

Ritchie was on fire. Unfortunately, the smoke signals attracted Madonna – and Ritchie's cult status went down the pan as fast as his film career with wife-starring stinker Swept Away and the critically panned Revolver. But Rocknrolla, a return to heists and tipped as his 'make or break film', has so far been pretty well received. So what of the accompanying tuneage?

It starts stylishly with Black Strobe's I’m A Man (cockyness personified: ''I’ll make love to you… in an hour's time''). Ritchie is back to the old formula – classics from Lou Reed and The Beat sit alongside The Hives and The Subways. The only difference this time round: no dodgy pop. The stand-out choices here are The Clash's Bank Robber and Outlaw by War. This is often very cool stuff.

It only falls down with selections like Steve Isles' Ruskies - isn't the comedy foreign mafia music a bit clichéd now? And although the Tarantino-esque snippets of film dialogue included are stylish, the subjects - glamourising swearing and violence, poking fun at gay men – are a bit tired considering we're almost through the Noughties.

That considered, this IS a return to form for Ritchie. He and music supervisor Ian Neil understand that choosing soundtrack music is a vital, fiddly task that can do anything from ruin a scene to elevate it to cult status (think Stealers Wheel in Reservoir Dogs). This collection definitely has the style - and balls - of a rocknrolla.

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