Today in Exploring Soundtracks, we’ll be going back a bit, two decades, to be precise, to take a look at Guy Ritchie’s debut, “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”. This British, Tarantino-esque crime comedy film put Guy Ritchie on the map, and did it with a killer soundtrack, too.
“Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” follows four lads with a foot in the London crime world as they pool their money together to get into a local high-stakes poker game. But when the game gets fixed by “Hatchet Harry” (P.H. Moriarty), the four friends end up with debt up to their elbows.
When they’re given a week to come up with half a million pounds, they get desperate. Fortunately, their neighbors are crooks and their walls are thin. So when they hear that they’re planning to rob a group of drug dealers, they plan to steal the money back from the thieves in order to pay off their debt. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, and mayhem quickly follows a few key miscommunications.
“Hundred Mile High City”
The film opens with Jason Statham’s character Bacon selling stolen goods to a crowd of curious Londoners. He gives a nice monologue here, but when he and his partner Eddy (Nick Moran) are found out by the cops, they start running. During the chase, “Hundred Mile High City” by Ocean Color Scene plays, as the narrator introduces our main characters.
The song is a grungy, driving ride, perfect for depicting a life on the edge. It’s also interesting that the music video for “Hundred Mile City” depicts the members of Ocean Color Scene running from the cops themselves. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with its placement in the film, but it’s a charming coincidence at the very least.
Guy Ritchie manages to squeeze two James Brown singles into “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, and the first of those is “The Boss”. It comes at an appropriate place, and serves as an introduction to one of Hatchet Harry’s goons, Big Chris (Vinnie Jones).
The lyrics, “Look at me / You know what you see / You see a bad mother” give a glimpse inside Big Chris’s mind, while at the same time revealing him as the kind of guy you really don’t want to mess with. We can imagine the song as a soundtrack to Big Chris’s life, and as an accurate representation to how the character sees himself.
“I Wanna Be Your Dog”
When Eddy steps up to play cards against Hatchet Harry, he’s confident in his abilities, but perhaps a bit too much so. There’s no way for him to know that the game is rigged, but he still ends up taking a loan from Harry to continue playing.
When he loses a big hand against Harry, he is shocked, stunned, and speechless. The camera distorts Eddy’s image as he leaves the room in a daze to The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be your Dog”. The droning, distorted guitar is the perfect accompaniment for the state of Eddy’s mind at the moment.
- “Hundred Mile High City” by Ocean Colour Scene.
- “It’s a Deal, It’s a Steal” by Tom, Nick & Ed.
- “The Boss” by James Brown.
- “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Skanga*
- “Hortifuckinculturist” – Winston.
- “Police and Thieves” by Junior Murvin.
- “18 With a Bullet” by Lewis Taylor & Carleen Anderson.
- “Spooky” by Dusty Springfield.
- “The Game” by John Murphy & David A. Hughes.
- “Muppets” by Harry, Barry & Gary.
- “Man Machine” by Robbie Williams.
- “Walk This Land” by E-Z Rollers.
- “Blaspheming Barry” by Barry.
- “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges.
- “It’s Kosher” by Tom & Nick.
- “Liar, Liar” by The Castaways.
- “I’ve Been Shot” by Plank & Dog.
- “Why Did You Do It” by Stretch.
- “Guns 4 show, knives for a pro” by Ed & Soap.
- “Oh Girl” by Evil Superstars.
- “If the Milk Turns Sour” by John Murphy & David A. Hughes (with Rory).
- “Zorba the Greek” by John Murphy & David A. Hughes.
- “I’ll Kill Ya” by John Murphy & David A. Hughes (with Rory).
- “The Payback” by James Brown.
- “Fool’s Gold” by The Stone Roses.
- “It’s Been Emotional” by Big Chris.
- “18 With a Bullet” by Pete Wingfield.
If you’re looking for a movie with a fun, upbeat, funky soundtrack, great dialogue, and hilarious mix ups, look no further. “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is a rip-roaring good time all around, and remains my favorite Guy Ritchie film.
Leave a comment if there’s a movie out there with a killer soundtrack you’d like to see covered, and I’ll get to it when I can.