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John Barry: The Collection - 40 Years of Film Music (Box Set)

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Album Review

This is a lot of soundtrack music — 258 minutes' worth, actually — which is understandable, as it covers approximately 40 years in the career of John Barry. The 40 years isn't quite comprehensive, skipping past Barry's earliest screen compositions for the films Beat Girl, Never Let Go, and The Amorous Prawn, as well as his music for The L-Shaped Room, Dutchman, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, and King Rat, in favor of the bigger films that the composer worked on during the '60s and beyond. Beginning with his thunderous score for Zulu, represented by a seven-minute track here, the collection concentrates primarily on the international side of Barry's career, while also offering little oddities out of his history, such as his 1968 theme "The Girl With the Sun in Her Hair," from a commercial for Sunsilk. The collection runs right up through Barry's music for Cry the Beloved Country and Mercury Rising, and ends with the disputed "James Bond Theme" (in what is one of the few relatively flat, unexciting performances in this set). All of this material is presented in new recordings by Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied on a half-dozen cuts by the Crouch End Festival Chorus. They're spirited enough, as is Raine's conducting, and the producers have given most of this collection (apart from obvious small-scale pieces such as "A Man Alone" from The Ipcress File) a big, lush orchestral sound that makes much of the material seem larger than life and even larger than it looms in the memory (the main title from Born Free, for example, gets a treatment akin to Mahler's "Third Symphony"); a lot of it works brilliantly, though one isn't too thrilled with his reworking and toning down of the music from Goldfinger. Still, the essentials are here, including perennial favorites such as Somewhere in Time (though one wishes its distant cousin, Barry's score for They Might Be Giants, was represented here as well) and Dances With Wolves. What makes this set unusual and exceptionally edifying, however, is the fact that lesser-known Barry scores, such as his superb, lush music for Mister Moses and later productions such as Robin & Marian, Monte Walsh, and Walkabout (all films that relatively few people saw, though they were [and are] heavily written about) get more generous treatment than familiar fare such as Goldfinger and Thunderball. There's also a decent balance between the thrillers, for which Barry — identified as he was with the Bond films for many years — is best-known, and gentle, lyrical pieces such as his waltz-like main theme for The Wrong Box. The result is a collection that opens up the less well-known aspects of Barry's international career and thus can be appreciated even by longtime buffs. The annotation is more biographical than analytical in nature, and the sound is state-of-the-art and a delight to the ear.

Customer Reviews

Good Collection.

This is a compilation of composer John Barry's music as re-recorded by Nic Raine & City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Though not as good as the originals in most cases, it still is a very good summery of his outstanding work.

John Barry Does Not Perform On This CD

These great John Barry compostions are all performed by Nic Raine & the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. So, to list "John Barry" in the "Artist" column is a little misleading. Me, I'd prefer the versions composed and conducted by John Barry himself.

A Priceless Collection!

This album has all of the soundtracks to dozens of all of mine, (and quite possibly your), favorite movies! John Barry is an exceptional composer, one worth recognition. This of course, is a great way to do just that. I highly reccomend the following themes: Raise the Titanic, Zulu, Out of Africa, and though the album description disagrees with me, the James Bond theme. Trust me, you don't want to pass up this album!

Biography

Born: November 3, 1933 in York, England

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John Barry was one of the best-known composers of soundtrack music of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but his career carried him through a multitude of music genres and styles. He was best-known in film in connection with his work on the James Bond pictures, but Barry was also the holder of five Academy Awards, none of them for the Bond movies. Born Free (for which he won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves are hardly unknown films...
Full Bio

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