Movie Legends: The Music of John Barry

July 16, 2014


RPO SP 042




Here is yet another compilation of John Barry material for the listener so what makes this one special from the others. Nic Raine has had a long successful working relationship with John Barry and it’s because of this connection that this CD is slightly superior to the others in the marketplace. Raine’s knows the material and has an edge, a strong one. While there are others who guest conduct it’s Raine who did the arranging and the orchestrating and you can hear the difference. This would be the attraction to the soundtrack collector who likely already has all of this material already. I think the RPO put this CD out for the few places like Walmart where the customer can still look the bins and seeing the name Barry turning it over and reading the track listing thinks this would be a nice addition to his modest collection.

A very unusual thing about this CD is the absolute absent of any James Bond material which leads this reviewer to believe that there is a future installment featuring only Bond selections. Bond and Barry go together like tuna and mayo as there was a twenty five year run of Barry being the composer.

This CD is the ideal background music as the lovely sweet strains of Born Free, Somewhere in Time, and Out of Africa fill your date’s ear with music that she is likely familiar with. The arrangements are very pop and could be called elevator music, yet the tempos and the accenting of the right note in a passage is all there. One reviewer called Born Free syrupy which I question. The drum roll beginning is an eye opener to me that certainly got my attention.

Controlled light jazz is the description for Ipcress File as it  begins with a cool sounding drum solo followed by the throaty strains of a flute playing in the lower register and then the theme is introduced by a cimbalom which has support orchestration from flutes, piano, double bass, and muted trumpet. This is a favorite of mine that I’ve got several different jazz interpretations of, that include artists other than John Barry.

Chaplin will tug at your heart strings as an especially romantic version of “Smile” is introduced by the piano and continued by lush sounding strings all designed with love in the air. The initial piano offering brought a tear to my eye.

One of the most seductive themes that Barry wrote was the theme to Body Heat with the strains of the alto sax luring the male into a situation he knows is bad but can’t resist the temptation. The sax was nicely played by Martin Williams and properly arranged by Nic Raines who knows Barry all too well.

Mary, Queen of Scots offers a solo violin that plays the melody that Tchaikovsky would be proud of. It is very yearning and well played by Clio Gould. Not complicated at all but very elegant.

Midnight Cowboy is one that misses the mark in my opinion. The harmonica arrangement is weak and not nearly as defined as the original recordings from John Barry. The recording itself doesn’t have the separation of the instrumentation that I listen for. The overall sound I found shrilly.

There are no liner notes at all only a listing of the soloists and a small biography about the RPO. This also leads me to believe that this CD was not aimed at the collector at all. I can say that overall I like it and I’ve already included The Ipcress File in one of my playlists on my iPod. This is a case where I feel that the good outweighs the bad. It’s available from Amazon in MP3 or CD format as well as other places.

Track Listing:

  1. Born Free (3:58)
  2. The Ipcress File (4:20)
  3. King Kong (5:09)
  4. Dances with Wolves (3:52)
  5. Chaplin (5:07)
  6. King Rat (3:13)
  7. Enigma (3:26)
  8. Zulu (2:27)
  9. Mary, Queen of Scots (3:23)
  10. Midnight Cowboy (4:41)
  11. The Specialist (4:41)
  12. Somewhere in Time (6:31)
  13. The Quiller Memorandum (2:48)
  14. The Knack (1:43)
  15. Indecent Proposal (3:58)
  16. The Persuaders (2:12)
  17. Body Heat (4:05)
  18. Out of Africa (3:30)

Total Time 68:53


One Response to “Movie Legends: The Music of John Barry”

  1. Tim Says:

    Good review Tom. Aside from tracks like Born Free I would never describe JB as “elevator” music, it’s always had too much of an edge for that.

    A nice compilation and good to see some ‘oddities’ like Indecent Proposal and Enigma there. However I have more than enough Barry compilations so personally this one isn’t for me.


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