As an ardent fan of 60’s/70’s film soundtracks, Loot must rank as one of my all-time favourites. In 1970, ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson adapted Joe Orton’s witty and satirical stage play for the big screen, roping in the likes of Hywel Bennett, Roy Holder, Richard Attenborough, Lee Remick and Dick Emery to play the parts of the main characters.
The soundtrack brought together two well-known names from the world of late-60’s Pop; Keith Mansfield and Steve Ellis. Mansfield had spent the majority of the 60’s producing and arranging tracks with artists such as Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Marmalade, The Tremeloes, Georgie Fame and Steve Ellis’ very own Love Affair. Towards the end of the 60’s Mansfield became heavily involved with the KPM sound library, providing many a groovy instrumental that would be later used on films, TV shows or adverts. As for Ellis, he cut his teeth as lead-singer for The Love Affair, famous for their 1968 #1 hit ‘Everlasting Love’ (incidentally, produced by Keith Mansfield!). However, having just left Love Affair to start a solo career, Ellis was still grappling with a musical direction just as the offer to sing on the ‘Loot’ soundtrack was made to him.
With the help of Dave Clark Five’s Mike Smith, Caleb Quaye, Clem Cattini, Herbie Flowers, Sue & Sunny, Madeline Bell, Doris Troy and Big Jim Sullivan, Mansfield and Ellis served up just over 30 minutes of brilliant brassy and up-beat Pop, something I’m sure Orton himself would have loved. Opening track ‘More, More, More’ sets the tone – tight playing, swirling brass, Ellis’ soulful-yet-greedy delivery, strong backing vocals and a fantastic arrangement add up to make a compelling track made up of various different parts (check out the smart use of film dialogue within the track). Loot’s ‘The Root’ is a total belter, defiantly one that wouldn’t sound out of place played in a club. Built around a killer bass-line, powerful horns and Mansfield’s groovy Hammond playing, Ellis weaves in-and-out of the vocal line and belts the tune out superbly well. A fantastic tune to dance to, I reckon, and probably the outstanding tune amongst in this set.
As ‘Loot’ was meant as a satirical piece based on society’s greed, the soundtrack provides many humorous moments in keeping with this theme. The lyrics to “Hey, Hey, Hey’ are particulary biting (‘Money is the root of all evil, you must have heard them say. The people who have said it are normally the people who’ve got it, anyway’ – top stuff!), ‘Where It’s At’ is an excellent ‘the story so far’ tune incase you’ve lost your way, ‘Oh Fay!’ isn’t a million miles away from The Who’s ‘Cobwebs & Strange’, whilst ‘We Were Nearly Lovers’ and ‘Mothers Waltz’ see’s Ellis singing in different (yet no less compelling) vocal styles to his usual passionate and soulful delivery.
The last two tracks on the album are reprises of the opening two tracks, ‘And More, More, More’ and ‘Loot’s The Root’, and are a perfect way to round things up; Ellis sounds as if he’s on his knees in delivering the words: ‘More, more, I want more!’, whilst Mansfield wraps everything up with a huge blast of brass, drum and Hammond organ. Fantastic stuff. For fans of Steve Ellis/Love Affair, Keith Mansfield, late-60’s Pop, Hammond, Joe Orton or just film soundtracks in general, this is an essential purchase. As usual with RPM, the packaging is spot-on and liner-notes are on hand to inform you more about the film and the soundtrack itself.
If Loot really is the root of all evil, put it to some good and shell out for this little beauty.