Album review: JOHN BARRY – Plays 007 and other ’60s themes…

JOHN BARRY - Plays 007 and other '60s themes...

El Records [Release date 19.08.16]

Perhaps more than any other British composer, John Barry’s music sums up the “swinging sixties”, not least the emergent secret agent James Bond.  He was as much a shaper of the scene as Terence Conran or Mary Quant.  Maybe even cooler.  One of our most talented film composers, Barry’s background was in jazz and whilst redolent of the times his themes are always rooted in great rhythm and deft orchestration.

His early sixties film and TV work is now celebrated in this latest compilation.  His calling card will always be 007, and included here are his scores for ‘From Russia With Love’ and ‘Dr.No’ plus the theme in its stereo, mono and “film” versions.

Often soundtrack music only works in context but throughout this collection the music can be appreciated in its own right and without the visual cues.  This is possibly helped by the obscure nature of some of the original films.

Amongst the highlights, 1960′s “Beat Girl” – which starred Christopher Lee, Oliver Reed, Shirley Anne Field and a young Adam Faith – whilst Barry was also responsible for several BBC radio themes, represented here by ‘Hit & Miss’ (Juke Box Jury), ‘Easy Beat’ and ‘Saturday’s Child’ (Saturday Club).  All that’s missing is Brian Matthew’s voiceover.

There’s a lot of twangy Hank Marvin guitar but then we are talking early 1960s and if you come over all Austin Powers listening to this – oh, behave.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.


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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.

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