Monday, January 31, 2011

John Barry - They Shot, He Scored


The Reaper's certainly set briskly about his grim business this year, carrying out a ruthless recruitment campaign - John Barry being the latest to get his call up papers

I never got round to reading  a John Barry biog although I've been meaning to for years. From the scraps I've gathered through other books - he seems to have led something of  a James Bond-ish lifestyle during the swinging sixties: King's road address, film star girlfriend and international swishing with the champagne and sports cars set

And what a body of work  from Bond to Born Free, Harry Palmer to The Persuaders. I'm no music theorist but -  his innovative instrumentation (using everything from cimbaloms to synthesizers), the scope of his widescreen arrangements and minor modal motifs - could pluck your heartstrings like a harp.

A personal fave is perhaps a lower known TV theme but distillation of the Barry technique and almost a companion piece to The Persuaders, a melancholy toybox style arrangement - opening the Orson Welles Great Mysteries TV show*....

For something that  John Barry himself described as near  biographical I would recommend The Beyondness of Things - you can try a track over at Davy's place

John Barry - Orson Welles Great Mysteries



Of all the 007 themes - this, to me, is the Bondest of them all...



*Previously posted here - but I think we can swing a re-up today

14 comments:

davy h said...

I had to stop playing the sweeping lyrical stuff in the end this morning because it all got a bit too sad: OHMSS certainly lifted the spirits.

Saw him at the Royal Albert Hall when 'Beyondness' came out - was quite a thing.

Thanks for the links to mine.

Mondo said...

He does have a melancholy/bleak underbubble threading through the themes. Beyondness live must have been stunning, we lost a couple of parents in quick succession (my dad and the mother in law) shortly after discovering the album. Love it, but I've never been able to play it since.

drew said...

Haven't heard Beyondness, will need to investigate

Mick said...

The word genius is overused but I think we can allow it here. Do you remember Mondo and Davy we had a bloggy discussion of the relative merits of OHMSS, Orson Welles Mysteries and The Persuaders about three years ago.

Mondo said...

Grab it Drew - sweeping, celebratory and heartbreaking..

Yes remember that Mick, I confessed my memory had been jogged about this tune by a Benny Hill clip (where he parodies the Orson Show as Orson Buggy)

Ishouldbeworking said...

That super-cool generation of Sixties stars are dying away, with little of substance to replace them. It's terribly sad. But what a body of work to leave behind...

John Medd said...

He was up there with the greats - Morricone, Barry Gray (seriously), that's for sure.

Mondo said...

Exactly ISB - what was the last great cinematic soundtrack? No one's doing them now. Although I'd love to hear Goldfrapp giving a Bond theme a go..


With you all the way on Barry Gray John, I think we had a run out celebrating him on the podcasts a while back..and add Lalo Schiffrin and Bernard Herrmann to that list

Hoops Hooley said...

Well said.

In terms of a biography I can recommend Eddi Fiegel's "John Barry: a sixties theme".

And yes the Reaper has definitely got some kind of bee in his bonnet lately about us all carrying on listening to decent music...

AndyMac said...

Love that Orson Welles piece. Beyondness is available to download on Amazon for £2.79, an absolute steal.

Piley said...

As others have said, what a body of work... Not just the stuff you knew, but the stuff you didn't know too... amazing how many times a flick to the credits on a sleeve would show the words J BARRY as composer.

I remember Paul going to see him a few years back do a whole set of film scores.

drew said...

Meant to say earlier inspired post title Mond

Mondo said...

That's the one Hoops I remember seeing it in Virgin at some pay-pennies price and never grabbed. I'll order a copy for defo now..

Great isn't it, Andy it's everything he does best in one forgotten bundle. Low synth rumbles, unusual instrumentation and sparkly top lines

That must have been a magic night P, can't believe he isn't the autgraph collection though..

Cheers Drew - just popped into my head.

ally. said...

is that birkin? bloody hell. well i never knew. the lucky bastard. birkin i mean. well alright both of them. can everyone stop dying just for a minute now it's all getting a bit much and on a pitifully selfish level is making me feel way past old
x