Filmmaker Roger Vadim created an entertaining, risque and psychedelic trip into a fantastical and often erotic and violent world when he filmed the sexy space yarn BARBARELLA. The movie which was a Italian/french/American co production starred the directors wife Jane Fonda in the title role was released by Dino de Laurentis and Paramount pictures and was when thinks about it the first of its kind, by this I mean that we had not really seen anything quite like it before and is the reason that the word CULT was invented. The movie soon established itself as a popular movie and was taken to the hearts of cinema audiences all over the world for all sorts of reasons. The score for the film was originally written by the flamboyant and somewhat extrovert Michel Magne, however for reasons known only to him, Vadim decided to engage composers Bob Crewe and Charles Fox to provide the score. The duo produced what is now an iconic soundtrack that is a fusion of dramatic and pop orientated thematic material that is scattered with a sprinkling of catchy vocals, although saying this sections of the Magne score still remain in place in certain scenes and it is rumoured that it was Magne who conducted the score possibly also arranging certain cues, and it has to be said that on studying and listening to the score it certainly does contain various quirks and traits of orchestration that are synonymous with Magne. The soundtrack was originally released on a Stateside long playing record at the time of the films release, and then in later years a bootleg version was issued on compact disc but this was in mono and also had no pauses between the tracks probably because it was taken directly from the original record.
This edition of the soundtrack released by Harkit Records who are based in the U.K. contains more or less the same track listing as the original vinyl release but also has a number of bonus tracks which include three radio spots and six cues from the score that are performed by a group called THE YOUNG LOVERS these are instrumental and very much belong to the easy listening or lounge genre of music with organ, saxophone and laid back percussion being the order of the day and I have to say are pretty faithful to the original compositions. But for me it is the score that is the main interest, Harkit have done a reasonable job on the presentation, utilising the original LP art work for the front cover and also providing informative notes and snippets of trivia which are insightful. The label have also worked on the sound quality giving it a much needed clarity from previous releases, although the YOUNG LOVERS tracks do seem to contain a little distortion and chatter and are a little dull in places as if they have been taken directly from a vinyl recording. Other than this I have to say I was pleased with the release especially the mini poster of Jane Fonda in BARBARELLA garb which is inside the compact disc liner.
The CD opens with the title song from the movie which is played over the now famous opening titles where we see Fonda as BARBARELLA gradually removing here space suit as she floats sensually towards us on screen. “BARBARELLA PSYCHADELLA” is a perfect opening to the proceedings performed by THE GLITTERHOUSE who were part of the BOB CREWE GENERATION and is the first of four vocals within the soundtrack the others being the outrageous LOVE, LOVE, DRAGS ME DOWN, the easy going and pleasant I LOVE ALL THE LOVE IN YOU which for me evokes that Bacharach/David effect, plus there is the end title vocals AN ANGEL IS LOVE. There is a slight mix up with the tracks however, they seem to get ahead of themselves by this I mean SKI RIDE is billed as track number 4 on the track listing, but it displays as track 5 when played, obviously something to do with the way in which the tracks were put together for the recording or the way in which certain cues spill or segue into others so this does kind of throw all the timings out but don’t think about it or you will focus on that and miss the great music. It is just a minor mishap and it does not spoil the listening enjoyment, it is the music that is the important thing and also the sound quality as well and the sequencing seems to rectify itself by the end of the compact disc anyway.
To select any one cue as being a stand out composition or a highlight piece from the score is quite honestly impossible as the music is consistently excellent throughout. My own personal favourites being, the aforementioned SKI RIDE, PYGARS NEW WINGS, FIGHT IN FLIGHT, ENTRANCE INTO SOGO, THE BLACK QUEENS BEADS, THE PILL, THE DESTRUCTION OF SOGO, and all the aforementioned vocals, (of course there are other cues available). Just how much input Michel Magne did have on the scoring of the film is unclear but saying that DESTRUCTION OF SOGO certainly evokes some of his music for films such as FANTOMAS. This is a classic soundtrack and if it is one that you have not experienced then you are missing out on some highly infectious and entertaining music.