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Review: The soundtrack to the Tom Hardy film ‘Legend’

Written and directed by renowned Oscar-winning filmmaker Brian Helgeland, Legend charts the rise and fall of the Kray Twins, two East London-born gangsters (both played by Tom Hardy) who terrorised the city in the 1960s before being sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

As one would hope, the soul, blues, jazz and “beat” music of that particular period, arguably the greatest decade in pop music history, features heavily on the two-disc original soundtrack, released internationally on September 11. Seminal 1960s acts such as Herman’s Hermits, Helen Shapiro, The Yardbirds and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas are all represented.

Green Onions” by Booker T & the MGs is the first recognisable song and is followed by the funky Meters instrumental “Cissy Strut.” “He’s in Town” by Birmingham beat group The Rockin’ Berries is one of the less familiar tunes, but is very enjoyable, echoing the pure sound of The Beach Boys.

After some jazz, courtesy of Poncho Sanchez’s version of “Watermelon Man,” and Herman’s Hermits’ timeless classic – and my mum’s favourite song – “I’m into Something Good,” we have the first modern-day artist, who also pops up in the film (and who has a total of three songs on this first disc), Duffy, with “Are You Sure?”

One could never tire of hearing The Dixie Cups sing “Chapel of Love,” while East Ender (she was born in Bethnall Green, like The Krays) Helen Shapiro’s 1962 hit “Little Miss Lonely” sounds as beautiful as ever.

Further highlights on Disc One include another instrumental (this one the pick of the bunch) “Sleepwalk” by Santo & Johnny, used to stunning effect on another film, 1987’s Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba, and Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye‘s take on “Somethin’ Stupid.”

Disc Two gets off to a pretty good start with Georgie Fame’s “Dawn Yawn.” “I’m the Face” is interesting as it was the only single released by The High Numbers, a name used by The Who for a few months in 1964.

The trend for including more obscure tracks by well known artists continues with “What Do You Want” by The Yardbirds, Rod Stewart‘s first single release “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town,” “My Baby Loves Me” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and “Hung on You” from The Righteous Brothers, the underrated B-side of “Unchained Melody.”

Other stand out moments on this second disc, that is perhaps not quite as good as the first, are “The Look of Love” by legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach, Hattie Littles’ “Back in My Arms” and “Come on Do the Jerk” by the great Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

Whoever compiled this soundtrack has shown a great deal of creativity in not selecting the songs one might expect to hear from a movie set in the Swinging Sixties (“Chapel of Love” apparently being used for a wedding scene is a bit more obvious), and well done to them for throwing in a few long-forgotten surprises.

This is pretty much the perfect soundtrack to what, by most accounts, is a less than perfect cinematic release saved from being below average by Hardy’s towering performance.

Legend, the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is available now and can be downloaded from iTunes.

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