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THIEF

Tangerine Dream

Progressive Electronic


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Tangerine Dream Thief album cover
3.11 | 114 ratings | 7 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Beach Theme (3:44)
2. Dr. Destructo (3:21)
3. Diamond Diary (10:51)
4. Burning Bar (3:14)
5. Beach scene (6:48)
6. Scrap Yard (4:42)
7. Trap Feeling (3:00)
8. Igneous (4:48)

Total Time: 40:28

Extra track on Elektra LP SE-521
9. Confrontation (5:37)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Edgar Froese / keyboards, electronic equipment, guitar
- Chris Franke / synthesizers, electronic equipment, electronic percussion
- Johannes Schmoelling / keyboards, electronic equipment

Releases information

LP Wounded Bird Records WOU521 / LP Virgin records V 2198 (1981)

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TANGERINE DREAM Thief ratings distribution


3.11
(114 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
7%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (40%)
40%
Collectors/fans only (18%)
18%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

TANGERINE DREAM Thief reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By soundtrack standards not a bad album. This album had some commercial success from the movie starring James Caan.Although the tracks are shorter following on from the Exit issue earlier in the year it does have some vintage TD sound. ' Diamond Diary', the emphatic ' Scrapyard' and ' Igneous' being the pick of the bunch. It is hard to get the vinyl now of ' Thief' but worth getting hold of if you are an aspiring new TD fan. The older generation followers may have decided to give Thief and Exit a miss due to the new direction the band had undertaken.

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Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the soundtrack of a movie that I like very much: the story of a man who works alone robbing safes content until a notorious man obliges him to work for him. The thief discovers after that his new boss fools him and thus he decides to take his revenge.

The music here tries to express the feelings of the thief (James Caan): his desire to get a better and happier life with a new found girlfriend; his anger and vengeance for being betrayed by his boss.

The pieces consist in floating, dark and melodramatic keyboards. There are often Froese's well played electric guitar notes, and some sequenced beat. It sounds a bit like the "Exit" album, but in a darker manner. Just play as loud as possible the extremely aggressive & linear keyboards oriented "Diamond diary" track in your car and you can be sure you will be respected by anybody! "Ignition" is an excerpt from "Thru metamorphic rocks" (Force majeure). Many songs here in Quebec were music themes of popular TV series in the 80's ("Love theme", "Burning bar", "Scrap yard"). This album is a very serious one having no peaceful tendencies.

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Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Is taking from yourself actually stealing?

"Thief" was one of Tangerine Dream's frequent forays into the world of soundtrack music. In this case, the main feature was a film starring James Caan called "Thief", alternately known in the UK as "Violent Streets". Willie Nelson also appeared in the movie.

As Tangerine Dream's studio albums lend themselves to being used as film music rather well, the album stands in their discography on pretty much equal terms with its peers. This is borne out by the fact that the film actually uses a fair bit of music from the "Force majeure" album in addition to what is included here. Indeed the track "Igneous" is simply a shortened remix of "Thru' Metamorphic Rocks" from that album.

Conversely, some of the music included here is not taken directly from the film. The two "Beach" tracks for example are simply variations on the same theme from the movie. A number of the tracks such as "Beach theme/Scene" and "Dr. Destructo" unusually feature pleasant guitar played by Edgar Froese. The music though is thoroughly recognisable as the work of Tangerine Dream, especially in view of the pounding repetitive electronic beats.

The feature track is "Diamond diary" at over 10 minutes, although it does not really justify its elongation through being distinctly better than its peers. The track does feature some traditional Tangs synthesiser sounds, which will be pleasing to those who can never get their fill of such works.

Being brutal, there is nothing here which will ever demand recognition as one of Tangerine Dream's finest works, nor is there anything which might be held up as a stunning example of the genre. The album is however enjoyable with plenty of upbeat music to retain the attention.

Footnote: I am amused by the band members each being credited with playing an assortment of instruments including keyboards, synthesisers etc., plus "Electronic equipment". One can only speculate on the nature of such "equipment", presumably not vacuum cleaners, electric drills , washing machines...

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Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Snippets of the new straightforward TANGERINE DREAM sound, culled from the post-'Force Majeure' era and recycled from various sources, make up this soundtrack. The result is a cross between MIKE OLDFIELD at his 80s blandest and a rather amateurish TD mash-up. It feels like EDGAR FROESE has turned his creativity ray on this stuff for all of ten seconds. It's pleasant, mid-tempo, rather dancey music that simply doesn't engage the listener. But then, few instrumental movie soundtracks do.

'Beach Theme' is not bad, though it doesn't need to be so space-fillingly reprised. 'Igneous' is a lift from 'Thru Metamorphic Rocks' and works far better in the context of 'Force Majeure'. The world - and you - simply do not need this, or any TD soundtrack.

Not horrible in itself, but its very blandness is frightening given the sheer intensity of TANGERINE DREAM at their best.

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Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars This was Tangerine Dream's second and by no means last escapade into the soundtrack genre. Thief was an early Michael Mann film that kick-starter his career as one of the most intelligent action movie directors in Hollywood. After the band's first soundtrack to the film Sorcerer became a minor hit in UK, which is something that can't be said about the movie, Tangerine Dream received numerous new requests to pursue this line of work.

At the time, Thief might have been considered a risky project to undertake because, unlike William Friedkin, Mann didn't have much of a resume to talk about. The same went for the now renowned producer Jerry Bruckheimer and the cast that featured James Caan, James Belushi, Willie Nelson and Dennis Farina. Luckily Tangerine Dream decided to follow through on the deal and even continued their collaboration with Michael Mann by writing the music to the 1983 cult classic The Keep.

The soundtrack is comprised of a few short suites and one lengthy track titled Diamond Diary. The style of these compositions are far from what was displayed on Tangram, only a year earlier. The music is often very melodic while the atmospheric synthesizer layering is used sparsely giving way for the more traditional '80s style sound. The two takes of Beach Theme might be considered unnecessarily direct unless they are experienced in the context of the movie. While Dr. Destructo and Diamond Diary are definitely the low points for me since they sound generic to my ears and lack that important Tangerine Dream touch. Having said that I still have a soft spot for this release which most probably has to do with the excellent movie that it's supporting. If there was ever needed to be a definition for a great '80s action movie then Thief would easily make the cut, even though the 1984 version of Scarface is probably its strongest competitor.

Unlike the band's previous soundtrack that might have overshadowed its movie material, Thief is definitely a better movie than this soundtrack gives it credit for, but when this album is experienced in context the material creates that unique '80s movie feel that many people seem to be so nostalgic about. A good soundtrack but far from the excellent material of the past for Tangerine Dream.

**** star songs: Beach Theme (3:46) Burning Bar (3:12) Beach Scene (6:52) Scrap Yard (4:39) Trap Feeling (2:59) Igneous (4:46)

*** star songs: Dr. Destructo (3:19) Diamond Diary (10:50)

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Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars The Pink is turned into Grey.

The 80s brought a change to TD as to many other bands. Froese & co start moving into more commercial and pop-oriented landscapes causing a lot of disappointment to their hard fans. But is this change so bad? I feel a sense of regret for the fantastic atmosphere of the pink period, but in the same time I have to admit that if this band wasn't TD, this album would have received better comments, actually.

The tracks are shorter, as on the predecessor "Exit", and the space rock is lost forever but we have to take into account that's also a soundtrack and side-long suites don't fit well into a screenplay.

What about the music? I think the songs here can be compared to Vangelis and when you think that more or less in the same period he was releasing the poor "See You Later" this scores another point for TD.

Think to "Dr Destructo". The guitar work over the rhythmic bass is something Floydian between "More" and "Obscured By Clouds", only with the square waves that are typical of Froese's choice of sounds.

Also "Trap Feeling" deserves a mention. I have recently listened to Wright's Broken China. The sounds of this short track is what that album is mainly made of.

All the tracks of this album and in particular "Diamond Diary" even if deeply dated into the 80s are very good. Forget that this is the band of "Zeit". They are still unique and even if in this period they are moving to soundtracks and maybe newage are still able to produce excellent music. Less challenging, more pop-oriented, but surely of good absolute quality.

Compare Thief to anything released the same year. It's surely one of the best albums of 1981. Non essential but like everything else in these bad times.

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Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Having made their Hollywood debut with the soundtrack for William Friedkin's criminally-ignored 1977 suspense thriller 'Sorcerer'(a remake of the classic 1953 French film 'The Wages Of Fear') Tangerine Dream were chosen by director Michael Mann(Manhunter, Heat, Public Enemies) to write, record and produce the music for his 1981 debut 'Thief'. Featuring James Caan as an in-demand safe-cracker, Robert Prosky as a vicious gangland boss and Tuesday Weld as the hero's girl, 'Thief' smartly blended neon-lit visuals, stylish action sequences and an existensial thriller narrative in a way that prefigured the director's 1995 epic crime masterpiece 'Heat'. Both films rank amongst Mann's very best(alongside 1987's gripping 'Manhunter', his dark reading of Thomas Harris' 'Red Dragon' novel) and the movie would open many doors for Tangerine Dream, the German outfit enjoying a commercially lucrative period throughout the 1980s as they provided music for a number of Hollywood films, including Michael Mann's 'Theif' follow-up 'The Keep'(1983) and Kathryn Bigelow's vampire noir thriller 'Near Dark'(1987'). With their sparse and moody electronic rhythms perfectly suited to a number of genre's, Tangerine Dream soundtrack work would produce some of their best music. Blending the experimental mystery of their mid-seventies output with the gleaming synthesized sounds of 1980s albums such as 'White Eagle' and 'Tangram', 'Thief' proves to be a dark and dazzling affair. Similar in style and scope to their work on 'Sorceror', 'Thief' both compliments Mann's visual style yet conversely also proves itself as a stand-alone album. Seen either in context with the movie or simply listened to on it's own, this is Tangerine Dream at their most ethereal and modernistic, with delicately-crafted keyboard melodies and slow-burning beats adding a hazy sheen that coats the music in an almost mystical ambience. It's best listened to as one, continuous piece of music, though individual tracks such as the glorious, up-tempo 'Beach Scene' exhibit a keen ear for melody. Alongside 'Sorcerer' and the spellbinding music found on 'The Keep', 'Thief' ranks as one of the teutonic group's most endearing works. Just like the film it represents, this is a superb piece of work.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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