CD Reviews John Barry

Beat Girl / Stringbeat

John Barry’s first complete film score is now available on CD, matched up with a non-film related album of pop music Barry arranged and recorded in 1961, called Stringbeat. The Stringbeat material (which is stereo, unlike BEAT GIRL, which is in mono) will be of interest only as a sideline of Barry’s early pop recording … Continue reading Beat Girl / Stringbeat

Body Heat

The Varese re-release of BODY HEAT is a recording of the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely on a single day in early 1998. The sound quality on the Varese release is, as could be expected, far superior to that of the original. The original soundtrack on Soundtrack Collector’s Special Edition label is one … Continue reading Body Heat

Born Free

One of cinema’s most instantly recognisable songs forms the skeleton of John Barry’s 1966 double Oscar winning effort. What John Barry proved, no doubt to the chagrin of Jerry Goldsmith and the Hollywood pack, is that a great song sells. Not just records, but films and recognition. For Barry, already tarred with the brush of … Continue reading Born Free

Dances with Wolves

Following a lengthy absence due to illness and then a false start with STELLA, John Barry makes a welcome return with this well-chosen project. The film, a lyrical and painterly western, deals with the rediscovery of self, and advance word on the score suggested that Barry, in producing work commensurate with the scale of ambitiousness … Continue reading Dances with Wolves

Enigma

John Barry’s score for the anticipated world war two thriller is far more appreciable than the ill-received MERCURY RISING. But then this film is a quality British drama, not a Bruce Willis lowbrower. Noticed and praised in many of the film’s domestic reviews, the score essentially has three elements: a triad of warm, simple themes … Continue reading Enigma

Mercury Rising

As much as I love Barry’s romantic writing, it is nonetheless pleasing to see him tackling diverse subjects. A low-brow Bruce Willis actioner might not bode well (nor does Varèse’s quite indifferent packaging), but my hopes were raised by the adage of RAISE THE TITANIC, which proves that a bad film doesn’t insist on a … Continue reading Mercury Rising

Out of Africa

At first one wonders why we need a new recording of OUT OF AFRICA. True, it is one of the great masterpieces of contemporary film music, a phenomenon far ahead of its film. It is a wonderfully lyrical and romantic score whose majestic themes and colorful orchestral moods make it a champion of romantic film … Continue reading Out of Africa

Out of Africa

Twenty years after BORN FREE, John Barry returns to Africa with his music for this film based on the experiences of Isak Dinesen. Like the case of BORN FREE, I wouldn’t be surprised if OUT OF AFRICA cops the Oscar for best score this year (at this writing Barry has been nominated for a Golden … Continue reading Out of Africa

Raise the Titanic

RAISE THE TITANIC is often misleadingly referred to as a film of the disaster genre, when in fact the only incident of fatal jeopardy in the entire movie occurs when a single submersible implodes while searching for the sunken liner. Sad for the crew, yes – but hardly a major disaster. There is no doubting, … Continue reading Raise the Titanic

Robin and Marian

One drawback that ROBIN AND MARIAN suffers from is an over-familiarity of thematic material and motifs; that archetypal romantic Barry style has become so ad nauseam in his present work that the original examples of this voice a la ROBIN AND MARIAN begin to become just more of the same. By this, you know what … Continue reading Robin and Marian

Somewhere in Time

“I think that in a sense music is the highest of the arts, because it really begins where the others leave off,” wrote C.S. Lewis in his book “They Stand Together.” Of course, when wonderful, emotional… nay, wonderfully sentimental music appears wrapped in resplendent layers of those ‘lesser’ arts, one may then call the result … Continue reading Somewhere in Time

The Beyondness of Things

Fans of John Barry have faced a number of disappointments recently with respect to aborted projects. However, with Barry’s sell-out London concert, the high profile release of his album of “tone poems”, THE BEYONDNESS OF THINGS, a major London record signing, and a number of highly desirable re-issues (including his sixties jazz classic, THE KNACK, … Continue reading The Beyondness of Things

The Golden Seal

Instead of one of those terrible, tiny-budget nature films where a bland family gets trapped in rock slides, attacked by wolves and makes friends with a huge, lumbering bear that drools all over their new cabin, THE GOLDEN SEAL is actually a very good film, sporting stunning photography, likeable characters and an honestly emotional ending, … Continue reading The Golden Seal

The Last Valley

The Michael Caine epic, THE LAST VALLEY, set in 17th century Germany during the Thirty Years’ war offered John Barry a chance to stretch his wings and fully express his craft. The title refers to the utopia that the protagonists – intellectual refugee and barbaric mercenaries – stumble across and the conflict that then arises … Continue reading The Last Valley

The Lion in Winter

John Barry’s Oscar winning score (beating Jerry Goldsmith’s PLANET OF THE APES) is famous and needs little introduction. A study of the internal feuds of a medieval King, the music is both majestic and dark. Heraldic fanfares and choral chant surround themes that introspectively study the complex pain of Henry II and his imprisoned wife … Continue reading The Lion in Winter

The Living Daylights

John Barry’s film score approach is, I’m sure, a great deal more complex than it appears, but at a highly rudimentary level it isn’t difficult to dissect. He often refers to Gershwin’s style of melody and counter melody; it’s Barry at his best. After OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL, two flagging Bond films … Continue reading The Living Daylights

The Specialist

This is one of those “pearls before swine” scores. THE SPECIALIST is a silly and totally preposterous film, often no more than a vanity trip in which Sly and Sharon show off their sweaty anatomy. Even so, it is also one of those films in which all the elements are just right to give a … Continue reading The Specialist