Tag Archives: John Barry




When you look back over the career of composer John Barry he was involved with so many great movies, his music became the soundtrack of more than one generation and still today is inspiring and entertaining music lovers of all ages. But, although the majority of his soundtracks fit comfortably into the popular category, there are a few that seem to have been either overlooked or at times ignored, I think this is because his work on the James Bond series obviously overshadowed not only the music of other composers but at times has also cast a shadow over other works by this highly talented and prolific composer. Films such as DUTCHMAN, THE CHASE, THE WRONG BOX and even scores such as THE KNACK, RUBY CAIRO, FOUR IN THE MORNING, SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, THE WHISPERERS and to a degree DEADFALL are not in the public or film music collectors gaze as often as I think that they should be. Deadfall (1968) is one such case, yes we are all probably aware of the excellent ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA which played a highly integral part of the films narrative, but the remainder of the score, and the song MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES seem to be, dare I say somewhat forgotten. The same can also be said of MIDNIGHT COWBOY and again only to a degree, because we all know and love the central theme and the FLORIDA FANTASTY sequence music, but there is so much more to the soundtrack that again is probably not as familiar as it deserves to be. THE CHASE too has a pretty dramatic and familiar opening theme, but the remainder of the score apart from a handful (if that) of cues many collectors or film music fans would be hard pressed to recognise as coming from the score. But it is DEADFALL I will focus upon at first.




Released in 1968, and directed by British actor turned film maker Bryan Forbes, it was one of those clever caper movies that were so in abundance in the 1960.s. It starred the man of the moment in British cinema at that time Michael Caine, with Nannette Newman. Giovanna Ralli and Eric Portman. It is a classy and attractive crime caper, that brings out solid performances from each of the films central characters, which is probably due to the work of the esteemed film maker Forbes. Who always paid meticulous attention to detail and also the smaller finer points to make the bigger production more credible and also ultimately far more entertaining, the movie was not just a run of the mill crime or heist story, it also contained shadowy yet subtle sexual and psychological elements and looked at the central figures within the story closely, focusing upon each ones insecurities and personalities. Based upon the 1965 book by Desmond Cory, Caine portrays a cat burglar who’s name is Henry Clarke. Clarke is having an affair with Fe Moreau (Ralli) who is the young wife of Clarke’s gay partner Richard Moreau (Portman), who in turn is having a relationship with a young Spanish man Antonio played by Carlos Pierre.

Confused, well it is a little like that but that’s all part of the intrigue and the attraction of the storyline. As all these romantic and sexual secrets are being played out there is a jewel robbery being planned by the Moreau’s and Clarke. Who are targeting a multi-millionaires home Salinas, portrayed by David Buck. As a dry run for the main robbery Clarke decides that they should to break into another home, but the practise robbery goes wrong because Richard cannot break into the safe at the house. This and other scenarios bring Clarke to the decision that he will go it alone and do the Salinas job on his own. The cast also included Leonard Rossiter, Emilio Rodriguez, Vladek Sheybal, Philip Madoc, Santiago Rivero, Antonio Sanpere, Geraldine Sherman, Renata Tarrago (guitarist) and Carmen Dene and composer John Barry who played a conductor at the concert where THE ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA was performed, Forbes using the music to accompany the robbery, which ran with no dialogue and elevated and enhanced the sequence greatly. Filmed on the Spanish Island of Majorca, the film contained stunning locations. John Barry’s score I often think is a Bond score but not for a Bond movie, if you understand what I am saying, except for the Romance of course. The song is straight out James Bond, and would I think have made an excellent title song for the franchise, and maybe was even the inspiration for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and MOONRAKER. Lyrics were courtesy of Jack Laurence, and MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES was performed by Shirley Bassey over the films titles, the release of the soundtrack onto CD came in 1997 on the Retrograde label, and included the tracks from the Stateside LP release plus an instrumental version of the title song and a demo recording of MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES by an unnamed Male vocalist, who for me sounds very much like Scott Walker but saying that it probably isn’t him. The majority of Barry’s score is quite low key, with his trademark breathy woods and underlying mysterious sounding strings that conjure a tense but at the same time melodic and subtly romantic atmosphere. Barry’s delicate and light musical touch purveying both the drama and hints of melancholy throughout. The highlight for me when I first heard the soundtrack was STATUE DANCE, which is a typically Barry sounding piece as in being catchy and upbeat and written in a similar style to that of of other cues such as THE GOLDEN HORN in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and the DEATH OF FIONA from THUNDERBALL and was a pre-cursor for future compositions such as FLORIDA FANTASY etc.


Castanets, strings, brass, woods and a cheeky bass line that supports and punctuates the proceedings, all these components combine to create a haunting and entertaining cue. But the main piece within the score is THE ROMANCE, which as a concert piece works so well and supports as well as adding another dimension or level of tension to the robbery sequence. It works gloriously within the film, but at the same time one can listen and enjoy it without even looking at any footage. So, DEADFALL is maybe an overlooked gem of a score, and if you have not yet savored it maybe you should, or like me if its been a while since you sat and listened to it, it is now time to re-visit appreciate and enjoy.




A year previous to working with Bryan Forbes on DEADFALL John Barry scored the directors movie THE WHISPERERS, it was the fourth film that Barry had scored for the filmmaker, and at the time of the film being released Forbes was of the opinion that it was the best score the composer had written for one of his projects. Released in 1967,this British drama was based upon the 1961 novel by Robert Nicolson, it starred the excellent Edith Evans and was filmed in the rather run down town of Oldham in the north of England an area that was once a thriving industrial Centre for the textile industry. The film is still relevant today and deals with the ever-present subject of the loneliness of elderly people or people in general, when they have no family or friends to turn to or to ensure that they are well and ok. It is a movie that although released over half a century ago remains current and shows us that society has not altered its attitude whatsoever towards the elderly person who lives alone. The theme has been a re-occuring one throughout the history of British cinema, and Forbes handles the subject matter with respect and understanding, it is a somewhat disturbing and haunting drama, with the title THE WHISPERERS being a referral to the voices that the elderly Mrs. Ross portrayed brilliantly by Edith Evans can hear at times which are maybe coming from her neighbours or are just a figment of her imagination, because she actually craves company of some sort. The cast list was impressive with Eric Portman, Gerald Sim, Nannette Newman and Ronald Frazer contributing excellent performances.

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The central character Mrs. Ross who has separated from her husband and lives in poverty fending for herself in an uncaring world. The score by John Barry is an affecting one and employs lilting themes and also jazz infused pieces, but it is the emotive and poignant cues such as THE LETTER that tug at the heartstrings, with Barry utilizing solo violin and subtle woods that are enhanced by vibes to purvey a sense of loneliness and fragility. Considering this was a score that came pretty early on in the composer’s film music composing career it is surprising mature and sophisticated. Barry, tailoring his touching and melancholy music to suit the unfolding scenario on screen.
There are also dramatic interludes, which have that unmistakable Barry musical fingerprint as in THE RAZOR ATTACK and THE THREE ATTACKERS, plus there is the central or opening theme which Barry realizes via the use of subdued harpsichord that is eventually supported by woods.


This is a soundtrack that is masterfully written and also one that is precisely placed to support without being intrusive. The soundtrack was issued on LP record in 1967, on United Artists records in both the UK and the U.S.A. it was later re-issued on the MCA Label with LP and also Cassette being available, finally it was released onto CD by Rykodisc in 1998. Again, a John Barry score of great quality, that is maybe overlooked.


1966, was a good year for movies, THE CHASE being one of them, the cast itself was I would have thought good enough a reason to go and see the film. Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, James Fox, Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Angie Dickinson and E.G.Marshall all under the direction of esteemed filmmaker Arthur Penn. Produced by Sam Spiegel the film was set in an American South western community that was populated by a wide range of characters which ranged from wealthy cattleman to lowly farm workers. It is a town that is basically controlled by wealthy banker Val Rogers (E.G. Marshall). A native of the town Bubber Reeves (Robert Redford) has escaped from jail and it is thought that he will head straight for his hometown. The Sherrif of the town portrayed by Marlon Brando is convinced that Bubber is innocent and awaits his return, knowing that Bubber’s wife (Jane Fonda) is involved in an affair with the bankers son Jake Rogers (James Fox) who is also or was at least Bubber’s best friend before he went to prison. The towns people get together awaiting Bubber’s return but things get out of hand and they demand that the Sheriff take action, but he refuses, and they attack him. This is a sultry and steamy affair filled with tension and drama. John Barry’s score is at times highly dramatic the opening theme especially being menacing and unsettling, the composer utilizes elements of this theme in the second cue on the soundtrack release THE CHASE IS ON with solo trumpet taking Centre stage sounding more Morricone than John Barry and introducing a full working of the scores central theme. Which is a combination of percussion, strings, brass, banjo and harmonica.

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This is classic John Barry, with downbeat and sombre compositions, romantically laced interludes and jazz flavoured renditions of the scores core themes alongside groovy sounding Hammond organ tracks as in SATURDAY NIGHT PHILOSOPHER which evoked memories of the composer’s score for THE KNACK AND HOW TO GET IT (1965). I remember buying the LP on the CBS label with its monochrome artwork and the title THE CHASE in bright red standing out. The soundtrack was later re-issued on LP by Varese Sarabande in 1989 and then in 1998 onto compact disc by PEG records which was a Sony special product release. In closing this brief look at John Barry scores that maybe do not get the recognition they deserve or are discussed as his other soundtracks are, PETULIA, THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, MR MOSES, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS etc.



Growing up in the 1960’s was a bit of a rollercoaster ride as far as music and fashion were concerned, it was in the so called swinging sixties that groups such as THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES began to ply their trade and establish themselves as leaders in the world of pop and rock. It was also a time of so many types of music which all seemed to be competing for the admiration of the record buying public young and old. Carnaby street was the go to place if you were A DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION, James Bond began his run at the cinema and the spaghetti western began to raise its head rising like a Phoenix born out of the ashes of the Hollywood Biblical epic which lost favour with many Cinema goers as the 1950’s came to a close and the sixties commenced. It was also a time of a number of movies such as IF that were referred to as art house pictures and was a time when film directors such as Bryan Forbes made his mark with movies such as WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND, THE L SHAPED ROOM, KING RAT, SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON and THE WHISPERERS. There was for me anyway a sense of adventure and discovery linked with the 1960’s and this is probably because I was at the time unearthing the talents of many film music composers, in fact I was discovering what film music was and enjoying it without really knowing what the logistics or purpose of it were.



LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, ZULU, THE ALAMO, COMMANCHEROS and THE GREAT ESCAPE all wonderful movies that would influence me and draw even more into the wold of film and the fraternity of the film music collector. Its funny they do say that when you have been collecting as long as I and good few others have also, that you invariably always return to a certain composer or a particular movie, I suppose this is because one first encountered the composer or the movie at a time when things seemed really great in ones life I am not sure? For me the composer I always come back to is John Barry, why Barry? Well because it seemed that his music was everywhere in the 1960’s, of course 007 figured large with everyone, but there were too the lesser known works such as DUTCHMAN, DEADFALL, FOUR IN THE MORNING, THE CHASE etc, I say lesser known, but still major influences and flashes of innovative brilliance none the less. There were also albums such as STRINGBEAT and his score for the Adam Faith movie BEAT GIRL a film I have to admit I watched the other day and could not make it through to the end so went and listened to the soundtrack instead, even at this stage in Barry’s career one could hear the originality and the creative excellence shining through.

john_barryZULU was my first Barry album on Ember records in Mono, and as the sixties marched onwards and upwards I also discovered THE KNACK AND HOW TO GET IT, THE IPCRESS FILE, THE WRONG BOX and even tracks such as THE SATURDAY NIGHT PHILOPHISER from THE CHASE a score I felt showcased the composers talented beautifully, with dramatic, atmospheric and pop flavours being purveyed. Its powerful opening theme being one of the composers most sinister sounding pieces and the pre-cursor for many scores that would follow. And whilst discovering the ample talents of John Barry the sixties op songs passed me by and I have to say I did not mind a bit. I was content with the artistry of Mr. Barry and looked forward to anything I could get hold of that had his name on it. The Bond films I have to say did not grip me like other people, why? I don’t actualy know the answer to that. I had FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE Dr. NO came later, as I felt this was maybe not a true John Barry score. OF course other composers did try to take my affections away from Barry’s music, Maurice Jarre, Francis Lai, Elmer Bernstein, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, Jerry Fielding, Michel Legrand and even Quincy Jones, Mikis Theodorakis, Lalo Shcifrin and Ron Goodwin tempted me with all manor of thematic finery, but it was always Barry I returned to. THE LION IN WINTER blew me away, because it was such a different sound I was hearing from the composer.

THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM’S WEDNESDAYS CHILD also haunted me as did his theme for the TV series VENDETTA and that GIRL WITH THE SUN IN HER HAIR would not leave me alone, his music for MR.MOSES, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, THE APOINTMENT, PETULIA and a James Bond movie without Sean Connery, ON HER MAJESTIES SECRET SERVICE, which to this day I still maintain is the best score ever written and the movie is pretty high up in my opinion as well all were excellent alongside that sugary but addictive theme for BORN FREE. The 1960’s were coming to an end, things were changing again, and not necessarily for the better in the world of film and film scores, but Mr.Barry was still there, adding grand soundtracks to an even grander CV. THE LAST VALLEY, THE DOVE, THE BETSY, THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, WALKABOUT, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, THE DEEP, ROBIN AND MARIAN, THE TAMARIND SEED, the list is actually endless and exquisite.



But there were some scores that even hardened fans of Barry frowned upon or at least were less enthusiastic about, yes, STARCRASH (what was he thinking) but there again the film did not actually have the quality or direction to inspire and MONTE WALSH for example came in for some criticism. But you cannot always get it just, so can you?


Forward to the 1980’s a great period for music so I am told, well I suppose if you liked DURAN DURAN, ADAM ANT, et all, it was. But, in film music it was pretty sparse in my opinion, with a few scores being relegated to just a couple of tracks on an album filled to overflowing with ill-fitting songs that were normally just tracked onto the film by someone who called themselves a music supervisor, when in fact that’s all they did was find songs that were cheap to buy the rights to and stick them in the movie in the hope that the songs would sell the soundtrack album. So composers would work hard to write a score that would underline and support the movie and even give it a greater depth and atmosphere, only to be overpowered by mediocre pop songs that were not meant specifically for purpose as in enhancing the film or a certain scene or to bring out the emotion etc. But Barry did become involved a few turkeys himself, or in one case a Duck, HOWARD THE DUCK to be precise. And of course, there was THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER which I thought was a good score, but the film let’s not even go there shall we. The eighties came and went the 1990’s dawned and Barry wrote one of his beautiful and haunting scores, DANCES WITH WOLVES,


What can one say about this film and its score, two peas in a pod, images and music as one, with the music giving the already affecting storyline and expansive cinematography more emotion, more poignancy in fact more of just about everything. The composer followed this Oscar winning score with memorable soundtracks for INDECENT PROPOSAL, CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY, CHAPLIN, ACROSS THE SEA OF TIME, MY LIFE and THE SCARLET LETTER. It was also in the 1990’s that we would hear that Barry’s music had either been rejected or he had walked off the project in films such as THE YEAR OF THE COMET, GOODBYE LOVER and his score for the GOLDEN CHILD only being part utilised. But, maybe it was a case that the composer thought the movies were not that good, and he did not want to be associated with them? In 2001 he scored the WWll drama ENIGMA and within the score we could hear the familiar Barry sound, in 2004 his score for THE INCREDIBLES was rejected, and it was after this that John Barry seemed to fall silent, and in 2011 the composer passed away.


I recall hearing the announcement on the news on Classic FM , It was a shock, this man this great British composer was no more, and I have to admit I shed a few tears that day as the radio played out what they perceived to be his greatest compositions, but all the time I was thinking please play LION IN WINTER,THE LAST VALLEY, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, HOWARD THE DUCK even, but they did,nt. My film music idol was gone, but his memory lives on and will do forever, long after we are all gone, the name of JOHN BARRY will still be a familiar one, his music will never fade and memories of him will live on via his haunting themes, his dramatic and bombastic interludes and his innovative and beautiful music.



And it is being kept alive in other forms and being introduced to a new generation because artists of today are sampling his themes or fragments of them, artists that include, DR DRE and WU TANG CLAN, GANG STARR and probably most noticeably by FAT BOY SLIM in his hit ROCKAFELLA SKANK, when the DJ sampled Barry’s guitar riff from the opening of BEAT GIRL and Robbie Williams utilising the lush strings from the opening of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE in MILLENIUM. The man maybe no more, but we still hear him and celebrate his life because of the rich musical legacy he left for us and future generations.





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Released in 1971 and directed by James Clavell, THE LAST VALLEY is in many people’s opinion an underatted cinematic masterpiece. The movie boasted a quite impressive cast, with Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Nigel Davenport being the main players or at least the more well-known actors participating. Although there were plenty of supporting roles taken by just as talented actors such as Brian Blessed, Florinda Bolkan, Arthur O’Connel, Madeleine Hind and Per Oscarsson. Director Clavell, also acted as producer for the movie as well as writing the screenplay which he based upon the writings of author J.B. Pick from his novel THE LAST VALLEY which was published in 1959. The stunning cinematography which was also a star of the film was the work of, Norman Warwick and John Wilcox and their technique at times added a mysterious and mystical air to the proceedings, and was the last time that the Todd-AO 70MM widescreen process was used until it was brought out of mothballs for the movie Baraka in 1991.

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The movie also contained a wonderfully dramatic and romantic soundtrack composed and conducted by John Barry that added many, emotions, colours, textures and also a gothic style to the motion picture. The music is undoubtedly one of Barry’s finest works, scored for full orchestra and also choir, it is a powerful and at times a relentless and highly emotional musical journey, which matches the action and also purveys the desperation and the fierce tension that is evident between various characters and groups of people within the film. THE LAST VALLEY was set in Germany, during the thirty years war, which took place between 1618 and 1648 and was fought over differences in religious beliefs. It tells the story of a Mercenary the Captain played by Michael Caine and a teacher Vogel portrayed by Omar Sharif who are very different personalities but are both running away from the ravages of a war that they both believe nobody can win. They find themselves in an untouched valley which has miraculously escaped the ravages of the war and remains fertile and beautiful.



The Captain is the leader of a band of mercenaries who fight for whoever has the most money and pays the most and are a mix of Atheists, protestants and Catholics. Which in itself is a volatile combination. Vogel convinces the Captain to winter in the valley and hide away from the war and plague in the outside world. His words to the Captain are, “Live, while the army dies”. Advice which the Captain takes. The Captain forces the villagers and their head man Gruber (Nigel Davenport) to give in to is wishes and appoints Vogel judge to settle any disputes between the soldiers and the villagers.


Everything seems to be working until one of the soldiers attempts to rape a local woman and flees the valley with two other soldiers to find another band of mercenaries, their aim being to attack the village and pillage it. They are fought off as the villagers and soldiers join forces to defend the valley. Soon after this the Captain hears of a decisive battle that will be fought in the Rhineland and decides that he and his men must leave the valley, but he leaves behind a few of his men and also instructs Vogel he too must stay and if he leaves or tries to then the village will be raised to the ground and the inhabitants killed. While the Captain is away fighting a woman from the village Erica (Florinda Bolkan) who he has been living with is burnt at the stake for practising witchcraft by the fanatical Priest (Per Oscarsson). The Captain returns with a handful of men but is mortally wounded and dies in the forest outside of the valley, telling Vogel “You were right” as he takes his last breath. Vogel then leaves the valley and runs off into a fog shrouded forest, knowing that the Valley will be safe now.

The original soundtrack from THE LAST VALLEY was originally issued on the ABC label on long playing record, with a bootleg CD following this some years later on the German Tsunami label, there have also been re recordings by the City of Prague Philharmonic under the direction of Nic Raine a long time associate of John Barry, which I have to say was a very faithful rendition of Barry’s score but did I have to say falter slightly in the choral department.

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The soundtrack was then released by Intrada and more recently has had another re-release onto compact disc by the Spanish label Quartet. However, I still think that the bootleg release by Tickertape has the better-quality sound, and as it is a direct transfer of the tracks from the original LP recording for me stands head and shoulders above any other edition. On first hearing the score, many collectors remarked that Barry had basically repeated the style and the sound that he had fashioned for THE LION IN WINTER which was released three years prior to THE LAST VALLEY, but this is certainly not the case, the Latin choruses in THE LION IN WINTER are truly amazing and also hav to them an imposing and commanding aura, but, THE LAST VALLEY is in my opinion for what its worth more of a developed and accomplished score especially in the choral writing.


Yes, we are treated to rather urgent and forthright chorale flourishes within the films opening titles, which are sung in German and have to them a formidable and foreboding persona. The track opens quietly, with choir and strings combining in a low almost humming sound that is a background to seven note motif that is played on apprehensive sounding strings, choir then builds and swells to introduce the central theme from the score, which is underlined by martial sounding timpani that acts as punctuation to a choral and horn combination, for which the composer was to become well known for in later years. In some prints of the movie, the opening included a striking open sequence with two warriors crossing swords as the main title credits began to roll and Barry’s superb theme began to rise and take command. Then as the music builds it reaches the 1 min 44 sec point and alters into a more urgent and striking choral performance, that is bolstered by pounding percussion and warlike timpani.


Going back to THE LION IN WINTER and the comparisons that were made between it and THE LAST VALLEY, it would be true to say that both Lion and Valley were two scores that stood out amongst the many scores that Barry penned during this period of his career, (from late 1960’s through to the mid 1970;s) and maybe that is why so many draw the comparisons that they do when discussing them because they are so different from his Bond scores for example, but let us not forget, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS and also ROBIN ND MARION, which were scores from historical dramas but even these were different stylistically.  It has always confounded me as to why Barry received awards for THE LION IN WINTER but not for THE LAST VALLEY, it was probably because THE LAST VALLEY had a mixed reaction at the box office, with most of this reaction being negative. However, both the movie and the score have stood test of time well and on viewing the movie recently I was still entertained by the performances of the cast and Barry’s beautiful and epic sounding music. I think it is true to say that THE LAST VALLEY score, consists of two central themes, we have the commanding and powerful composition which opens the proceedings of which certain elements are utilised within the more tense and dramatic parts of the storyline such as THE PLAGUE PIT, VILLAGERS FIGHT FOR THE SHRINE, MAIN TITLE THEMES part 2 (which is a more pronounced version of the opening track minus the German chants, these being replaced by grand horns and laced with glockenspiel that drives the piece forward) and NIGHT BATTLE AT RHINEFELDEN.



Plus, the composer arranges and orchestrates this core theme into various guises to suit scenes such as, THE VILLAGERS FIGHT FOR THE SHRINE and THE VILLAGE ATTACK, the latter I must admit sounding just a little 007 in places. Another stand out piece that utilises the same style is WITCHCRAFT/ERICA IS BURNED AT THE STAKE or WITCH BURNING as it was originally titled on the initial release of the soundtrack, Barry conjuring up a other-worldy sound and creating a dark and harrowing atmospheres.
Then we have the softer and less urgent interludes, where Barry produces lilting melodies performed by strings and also choir, the most striking and memorable of these being track 2 on the Intrada release and also on the original LP THE LAST VALLEY, it is the music that plays over the scene where Omar Sharif’s character Vogel first see’s the valley after witnessing the horrors of war and plague. It is text-book John Barry and rivals anything that he wrote in his long and illustrious career, the emotion and poignancy is enveloping and affecting, it basically says everything that Vogel does not because he is unable to speak because of the sight he is seeing. Heart-achingly exquisite and totally touching. Then there are the various songs such as delightful, THE CHILDRENS SONG, THE CHRISTMAS SONG and the hauntingly stunning EVENING SONG. These are performed in the main by accapella choir, and yes are not unlike certain vocal cues from THE LION IN WINTER. Even when we hear AN OFFERTORY CHANT it remains emotive but has to it dark undertones.

The style of heart-breaking theme performed by strings also manifests in THE DEATH OF THE CAPTAIN/END TITLE, the secondary theme underlining the final minutes of THE CAPTAIN (Michael Caine) after he returns to the valley fatally wounded in battle with a handful of his men to be reunited with Erica who unbeknown to him has been executed for being a witch. Vogel has not the heart to tell him Erica is dead and it is at this point that we see that Vogel is truly affected by seeing the Captain dying in front of him, and maybe also realises that he is a friend rather than a feared enemy. Barry’s music grows and swells into a crescendo of thematic glory with strings and female voices developing into a tumultuous and lush piece, which brings the movie to its end.



The intrada release I have to say I can do without, there is no extra music and the sound quality is much to be desired, which brings us back to the bootleg edition, on Tickertape this is long deleted, the Intrada release also focuses upon the actual movie within its liner notes, which is strange as it is a soundtrack release, one would have thought that the music would have been the central subject. Then we have the aforementioned Silva Screen re-recording, which of course has a bright and fresh sound, plus lots of extra cues, I do not normally say this but go for either the Tickertape if you just want what was on the original LP or for sound and extra cues it has to be the Silva Screen version. The quartet records release again lets us down in the sound quality department and again a straight repro of the original LP content. But either way, the music is masterful and it’s a soundtrack everyone should own.



There is no doubt in my mind or indeed anyone else’s I have spoken to that John Barry was the most prolific, inventive and innovative composer of film music that we have seen, each day I still hear a piece of his music and lament that he is no longer here with us in body, he however is still with us in spirit and via his music. At last a new release of his music, sadly nothing new or anything that has been discovered that we did not already know about, but a compilation of his standards and our ultimate favourites. The compilation opens with THE JAMES BOND THEME well why not? It continues with stalwart themes from JAMES BOND MOVIES which include GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and also tracks from those scores including MR KISS KISS BANG BANG and the 007 THEME. It then moves into two pieces from the TV series VENDETTA these include the catchy theme from the series plus the DANNY SKIPIO THEME which were both originally released on a CBS single (I can still see the bright orange label with the CBS logo on it). WEDNESDAYS CHILD comes next from the cold war thriller THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM again whilst hearing this I can envisage the purple cover of the original CBS long playing record. We then go back to the world of JAMES BOND with the SPACE MARCH and also the instrumental version of the theme from YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Some of the recordings on this compilation are taken from those great albums that CBS used to release back in the day that were so naively called THE BEST OF JOHN BARRY or JOHN BARRY’S GREATEST MOVIE HITS, who could imagine back then what the composer would create or achieve during his illustrious career. Moving onto track number 13, which although unlucky for some is not unlucky for us the listener as we experience the upbeat and rhythmic theme from the first BOND movie without the suave Mr Connery (ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE). George Lazenby stepped into the shoes for just one excursion as the spy licensed to kill, and shoot me if you like but I still rate this as the best BOND score ever and to be perfectly honest Lazenby was not as bad as they all said. The compilation also includes another track from the OHMSS soundtrack, which is the laid back piano and jazz influenced TRY. WHO WILL BUY MY YESTERDAYS is next in the running order, I think I am right in saying this is the version or arrangement originally released on the READY WHEN YOU ARE JB album as was the next track THE MORE THINGS CHANGE if my memory serves me correctly. For the last two tracks of disc one we return to 007 territories with instrumental versions of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and OCTOPUSSY (ALL TIME HIGH).




Disc two opens with the wonderfully haunting and somewhat sleazy and jazzy theme from THE IPCRESS FILE which is taken from the original soundtrack, however track two which is also taken from THE IPCRESS FILE is a re-recording of A MAN ALONE and I have to say that it does lack the attributes of the version which appeared on the original soundtrack release. Also included on disc two is Barry’s epic theme from ZULU again a re-recording which is a great shame as although it is a solid performance it just lacks something that the original has, I cannot understand that when putting together a compilation such as this record companies settle for non-original or re-recordings and even if these re-recordings are conducted by the composer they just do not sound the same. ZULU is followed by the mysterious and edgy music from Bryan Forbes 1960, s movie SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, I remember seeing the movie and thinking how superbly Barry’s music supported it and its storyline and although the composer was very sparing with his music within the film I think it worked so well. THE KNACK (and how to get it) which was released around the same time as SÉANCE is totally different with the composer adding choral support for this particular arrangement of the infectious theme complete with easy strings and Hammond organ supported by a groovy sounding bass, which together all build up to a crescendo that enlists the help of percussion and brass. THE WRONG BOX, THE CHASE, BORN FREE, THE WHISPERERS, THE DUTCHMAN, THE APPOINTMENT all feature on disc two, most are re-recordings taken from the aforementioned CBS album compilations but evoke memories of early days of soundtrack collecting and discovering new music. Also included is a short excerpt from THE ROMANCE FOR GUITAR AND ORCHESTRA from another Bryan Forbes movie DEADFALL in which Barry appeared conducting a concert whilst Michael Caine carried out a daring robbery. The original recording took up the B side of the soundtrack LP record, the A side containing selections from Barry’s main score which included the Shirley Bassey vocal of MY LOVE HAS TWO FACES and a particularly entertaining typically John Barry track STATUE DANCE. Disc two comes to its conclusion with THE GIRL WITH THE SUN IN HER HAIR which was used for a TV ad back in the late 1960’s that endured into the eighties I am sure. Disc number two opens with the composer’s iconic theme for MIDNIGHT COWBOY again not from the original soundtrack but a track from the CBS compilations way back when, another selection FUN CITY is also included.




Disc three includes musical excellence from movies such as WALKABOUT and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS, alongside BODY HEAT, FRANCES, CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY, THE SCARLET LETTER and DANCES WITH WOLVES and tracks from CHAPLIN, UNTILL SEPTEMBER, THE COTTON CLUB and THE SPECIALIST. This is a good representation of the musical works of John Barry, but still it is not all of his hits, if there is such a thing for a film music composer, I found this a great listen and a varied selection from a composer who’s output verges upon the unbelievable and who will be missed forever more. Worth adding to one’s collection.john-barry

CD 1

1. The James Bond Theme
2. 007
3. From Russia With Love
4. Goldfinger
5. Thunderball
6. Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
7. Vendetta
8. The Danny Scipio Theme
9. Wednesday’s Child (From The Picture ‘The Quiller Memorandum’) (John Barry Orchestra)
10. Sleep Well My Darling
11. You Only Live Twice
12. Space March (Capsule In Space) (John Barry Orchestra)
13. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
14. Try
15. Who Will Buy My Yesterdays
16. The More Things Change
17. Diamonds Are Forever
18. All Time High From “Octopussy”
CD 2
1. The Ipcress File
2. A Man Alone (Theme from the film “The Ipcress File”) (John Barry and his Orchestra)
3. Barbra’s Theme (John Barry and his Orchestra)
4.The Syndicate
5. What A Question
6. Zulu
7. Seance On A Wet Afternoon
8. The Knack
9. King Rat March
10. The Wrong Box
11. Main Title: The Chase
12. Born Free
13. The Whisperers
14. Dutchman
15. Theme From “Romance For Guitar And Orchestra”
16. The Lion In Winter
17. Theme From “The Appointment”
18. The Girl with the Sun in Her Hair (John Barry Orchestra)
CD 3
1. Midnight Cowboy
2. Fun City
3. Walkabout
4. Afternoon
5. Mary, Queen Of Scots
6. Body Heat
7. Frances
8. Until September
9. The Cotton Club
10. Out of Africa
11. The John Dunbar Theme
12. Journey to the Buffalo Killing Ground
13. Chaplin-Main Theme
14. Moviola
15. The Specialist
16. Coney Island
17. Cry, Cry The Beloved Country
18. End Title to “The Scarlet Letter”


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Dwarfing the mightiest, Towering over the Greatest, this was the tag line that I remember for ZULU, and it is 51 years ago that the movie opened to excited audiences in the UK in the January of 1964. Hailed as the greatest British war movie ever made, the film is a classic in every sense of that words meaning, it set Michael Caine on the road to stardom and further established Stanley Baker as the iconic British actor that we all now know and love of course Baker also co-produced the film. I wonder what Baker would have made of the success and also the longevity of the film if he were alive today. Although essentially flawed historically in the storyline department, ZULU still attracted the audiences and I am sure if it were to be re-released today in cinemas it would still pack em in. It was a great adventure movie I suppose the stuff that boys dreams are made of, brave soldiers defending what is thought to be a hopeless position against overwhelming odds but in the end triumphing and managing to hold out. 4,000 Zulu warriors made their way to the mission station at Rorkes Drift on the Buffalo river in Natal Colony South Africa, to basically wipe it out, they aimed to kill the British garrison that was there, a garrison of just over 150 men many of whom were sick.

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It was to be the second victory of the Zulu army or so they thought, the first being the massacre of 1,500 British soldiers on the slopes of the mountain Isandlwana on that morning. Lord Chelmsford had made a fatal mistake and thinking that he was fighting an inferior trained force decided to split his column, leaving one half camped on the mountainside whilst he took the remaining force up country towards the royal kraal of Ulundi, this proved to be one of the biggest military blunders in the history of Great Britain. In fact the battle at Rorkes drift would not have taken place if it were not for the insubordination of the Zulu Kings half Brother, who decided after pursuing survivors from Isandlwana that it would be a good idea to take his impis of warriors over the river into natal and attack the British at the mission station, the Zulu King Cetshwayo had forbidden his army to invade Natal.

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The film was a success no doubt of that but there were many historical blunders in the screenplay, some of which were basically an insult to the memory of both the British and the Zulus. Henry hook for example was a disciplined and model soldier and after the battle became a sergeant, but in the movie was depicted as a lazy good for nothing who had been taken into the army because he was a thief, he was also depicted as drunk, when in real life Hook was teetotal, the performance by James Booth although being an entertaining one for the purpose of the storyline, was totally inaccurate and at the premiere of the movie in London the real life daughter of Henry hook walked out of the cinema in disgust at the films depiction of her Father.

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The colour sergeant Frank Bourne, portrayed by Nigel Green and a popular mainstay of the cast, was also incorrect, Green’s character came across as a seasoned veteran of numerous campaigns with years of experience, in reality Bourne was just 24 years of age in fact he was the youngest colour sergeant at the time in the British army, his subordinates often referring to him as “THE KID”. In the movie the character displayed a number of medals on his tunic, this too was fictitious as he would not have been allowed to do so. After the battle Bourne was offered a commission but because he lacked the money necessary to be a commissioned officer he refused it, but eleven years later he did accept the commission, Bourne was the last surviving member of the garrison at Rorkes Drift and became a full Colonel, before his death which was in 1945. The song MEN OF HARLECH that was used in the movie was also incorrect, in fact at the time of the battle the regiment although based in Brecon was not technically a Welsh regiment, it was the 24th but attached to the 2nd Warwickshire, regiment of foot. They did not become The South Wales Borderers until three years after the battle in 1881. The song did eventually become the regiments song, but at the time of the Zulu war their regimental song was THE WARWICKSHIRE LAD, and of course there was no battlefield singing contest between the British and the Zulus. William Allen who was a corporal and in the movie depicted as a model soldier had in fact been demoted from sergeant for drunkenness just prior to the battle. Corporal Christian Ferdinand Scheiss who was attached to the Natal native contingent was depicted like Colour sergeant Bourne as a seasoned Zulu fighter in the movie despatching a number of the attacking warriors even though he was himself injured, in fact Scheiss was just 22 at the time of the battle. So if the movie was to be re-made nowadays with all the PC that is around maybe it would be a very different tale that it would tell. One thing that remains unblemished and still as fresh and vibrant as the first time I heard it is John Barry’s magnificent score, which although short in its duration is probably the film score that set the composer on the road to becoming one of the worlds leading film music composers. Yes he had already achieved success with the James Bond movies DR NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, but with Zulu we saw another side to Barry, he took traditional Zulu stamps or dances and arranged them converting them into a score that was dramatic, exciting and in many ways as savage as the action that was taking place on screen. The composer very cleverly used his score sparingly, but each time the music was utilised it underlined and elevated the scenes superbly.

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Zulu was my second soundtrack LP, it was released on the Ember record label and was on sale for the princely sum of 39 shillings and 6 pence which in today’s money would be just under two pounds I guess, with the A side being occupied by Barry’s epic score and the B side of the album being taken up by the composers take on some of the other Zulu stamps and dances which he had arranged and given an upbeat sound which was not dissimilar to some of the hits he had enjoyed with THE JOHN BARRY SEVEN it was an essential purchase. Although the movie was historically incorrect in places, it is still a classic film and one which has endured the test of time, an epic production the like of which I do not think we will see again.

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