Mick Jagger / Dave Stewart

Alfie [Original Soundtrack] [2004]

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Wisely, the soundtrack for the 2004 remake of Alfie doesn't try to ape the original film's impeccably cool Sonny Rollins score and sheer pop perfection of Dionne Warwick's classic version of the theme song. Instead, this version of the film looks for its own musical identity with a collection of songs and a few instrumental tracks performed mostly by former Eurythmic Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger, along with a few tracks by Joss Stone for good measure. Even if the new Alfie's music isn't quite as distinctive as the first one's was, it does at least have a little more creativity and cohesion than most romantic comedy soundtracks. Obviously, Jagger is the perfect choice to reflect the misadventures of a world-weary British Lothario, and he sounds appropriately worn on "Old Habits Die Hard," where his ragged high notes are particularly bittersweet. This track and the equally poignant "Let's Make It Up" rival the best of his latter-day work with the Stones and on his own. However, if the bulk of the soundtrack is anything to go by, 2004's Alfie trades the original's dryly poignant tone for something more obviously sentimental: both versions of "Blind Leading the Blind," "Standing in the Rain," and the Jagger/Joss Stone duet "Lonely Without You (This Christmas)" tend towards gloss and schmaltz. While the soundtrack does a more than adequate job of chronicling the emptiness and letdowns of living a love-'em and leave-'em life, it doesn't reflect enough of the devil-may-care spirit of that lifestyle that would make it attractive in the first place. The instrumentals "New York Hustle," "Jack the Lad," and "Oh Nikki" capture some of that mischievous, flirtatious joy, however fleetingly. Stone's tracks also tend toward the overdone, especially the ill-conceived rap duet "Wicked Time" featuring Nadirah "Nadz" Seld. And though her version of "Alfie" is no match for Warwick's, it should at least please fans of Stone's bluesy pop more than her second, teen poppy album did. At nearly an hour long and featuring several reprises and different versions of the Jagger/Stewart tracks (including a pleasant but not especially vital duet of "Old Habits Die Hard" with Sheryl Crow), Alfie piles on too much; it could've been better if it followed the sparer direction that pops up on it from time to time.