A classic movie needs a classic soundtrack, and composer and pianist Roy Budd delivered that with his music for Mike Hodges' iconic crime movie, Get Carter (1971). Without the opportunity of working with a grand orchestra, he made the most out of a low budget and tailored the sounds to the raw realism of the movie.
The ethos of Get Carter was based on minimalism and it's perhaps surprising how little incidental music there is in a movie that has been acclaimed for its soundtrack. But Budd understood that less can sometimes be more, and he created a powerful theme that became a motif and a psychological characterization of the main character, Jack Carter, and peppered the soundtrack with well-crafted pop songs and carefully constructed cues.
"Carter Takes the Train (Main Title)" has rightfully been canonized among the best movie themes ever made. The key to its brilliance lies in a combination of texture, ambience and catchiness. First of all, like the James Bond theme, it's simply a good melodic line that draws on the music of spy and crime movies, but Budd envisioned a surprising if sparse combination of bass, tablas and keys and used the strange sounds of the harpsichord in combination with electric piano.
Jeff Clyne starts out with a groovy bass ostinato and Chris Karan adds a propulsive lightness with the use of tablas, and then Budd enters with those characteristic harpsichord lines. Later an electric piano solo reveals his background as a jazz musician. The use of traffic sounds adds further ambience to the record and underlines the restless nature of the main character.
The theme can be found on a definitive version of Get Carter from Cherry Red Records that includes the original Japanese version of the soundtrack, a CD of Carter-related extras and not least a further bonus CD with a superb selection of Roy Budd movie music that underlines that the Carter theme was not a one hit wonder. The sumptuous 96-page booklet wraps it all up with loads of pictures, poster designs and information in well-written essays where every aspect of the movie is examined. It's a treatment worthy of a true classic.
CD1: Get Carter (Intro); Dialogue; Carter Takes The Train (Main Title); Dialogue; Lookin’ For Someone; The Race Track
(Dialogue); Somethin’ On My Mind; Dialogue; Gettin’ Nowhere In A Hurry; Dialogue; The Girl In The Car; The Phone
Call (Dialogue); Love Is A Four Letter Word; Dialogue; Living Should Be That Way; Dialogue; Manhunt; Dialogue;
Goodbye Eric + Dialogue; Dialogue; Hallucinations; Goodbye Carter! CD2: Get Carter (Alternative Mix); Plaything;
Dialogue; Hallucinations (Alternative Vocal Mix); Dialogue; Getting’ Nowhere In A Hurry (Instrumental + Dialogue);
Love Is A Four Letter Word (Alternative Mix); Manhunt (Alternative Mix); Dialogue; Get Carter (Alternative Mix);
Getting’ Nowhere In A Hurry (Alternative Vocal Mix); Hallucinations (Instrumental Mix); How About You; Get Carter (7¨
single version); Get Carter (Dope On A Rope Us Remix); Get Carter (De Few 2 Smoking Barrels Remix); Get Carter
(Deadly Avenger Remix); Get Carter (Breakneck Dirtbox Remix) CD3: Mr Funker (M15-FB) (From Foxbat); Way Out M1
(SK 10) (From the Stone Killer); No Doubt (MC-M11) (From the Marseille Contract); Diamond Fortress (From
Diamonds); In the Shadows (From the Stone Killer); Jazz It Up (MC-M4) (From the Marseille Contract); Free Tarrant
(From the Black Windmill); Cassette Jazz (From the Black Windmill); For All My Days (From Kidnapped); No
Cooperation (From the Black Windmill); Teacher and Pupil (From Paper Tiger); Main Theme (From Fear Is the Key);
Love at First Sight (Theme from the Warsaw Concerto) (From the Sea Wolves); How Can We Run Away (From
Something to Hide); Cresta's Song (From Soldier Blue); Theme from Aunt Harriet; The Carey Treatment (From the
Carey Treatment); Versailles Exit; Who Needs Love Anyway.
Personnel: Roy Budd: harpsichord, piano, electric piano; Jeff Clyne: bass; Chris Karan: tablas + various session
African Jazz Ambient / New Age Blues Brazilian Contemporary / Smooth Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Latin Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal