The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

By 1968, composer and conductor John Barry was enjoying a golden era in a career that began in 1957. He had come a long way in a short space of time and already written the soundtrack to four James Bond films and won three Academy Awards. This included two for Born Free in 1966 and one for The Lion In Winter in 1968. For the thirty-five year old it was just the start.

During a long and illustrious career, John Barry won six Academy Awards, a Granny, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award. He had come a long way from the early part of his life spent working in the cinemas his father owned in the North of England. However, both of John Barry’s parents would influence him in later life.

John Barry Prendergast was born on the ‘3rd’ of November 1933, in York, Yorkshire, in England. He was the youngest of four children and came from a musical family. His mother was a classical pianist, and while he was educated at  St Peter’s School, York, he received composition lessons from composer Francis Jackson who was the director music at York Minster. This stood him in good stead during a career spent composing for television and film.

This love of film began when John Barry worked in the cinemas his father owned. He had started life as a projectionist during cinema’s silent era. Little did his father realise when his son started working for him that one day, his son would be composing for some of the biggest films on the silver screen.

Later, John Barry would say that his childhood interests influenced not just his tastes, but his interests. This included a lifelong love affair with cinema.

Before embarking upon a musical career, John Barry was called up for his national service. The two years he spent in the British Army were spent playing the trumpet. He also took a correspondence course with American jazz composer William Russo. Already John Barry was thinking how he was going to spend his life?

After completing his national service, he worked as an arranger for Jack Parnell and Ted Heath’s orchestras. However, in 1957 The John Barry Seven was formed and they went on to enjoy seven hit singles on EMI’s Columbia label. The hit singles included Hit and Miss which became the theme tune to the BBC TV series Juke Box Jury.

By 1959, John Barry was working as an arranger for a number of artists signed to EMI. This included the Three Barry Sisters and Adam Faith.  However, later that year John Barry’s breakthrough came.

He had been asked to compose the theme to Drumbeat, a BBC TV program that the corporation hoped would be a rival and compete with ITV’s Oh Boy. Although only twenty-two episodes were aired, the program launched the career of Adam Faith and John Barry.

In 1960, John Barry composed the score for Beat Girl, which was Adam Faith’s first film.  When the music was later released it became the first ever British soundtrack album.

Later in 1960, John Barry composed the score to another Adam Faith film, Never Let Go. The two men were reunited two years later.

1962 was a busy year for John Barry. The twenty-nine year old composer wrote the score for Never Let Go, which featured Adam Faith. Then John Barry orchestrated the score for Mix Me a Person and composed, arranged and conducted the score for The Amorous Prawn. By then, he his star was already in the ascendancy.

That was why when  producers of Dr. No, the first James Bond film, were unhappy with Monty Norman’s theme and Noel Rogers, the head of music at United Artists contacted John Barry. He came up with a new version of The James Bond Theme,  which was still credited to Monty Norman. However, he wasn’t asked to work on From Russia With Love. That honour fell to John Barry.

He composed the score for eleven of the next fourteen James Bond films, during a relationship that lasted twenty-five years. This also included 1964s Goldfinger, 1965s Thunderball and You Only Live Twice which was released in 1967. By then, John Barry’s career as television and film composer was burgeoning.

Three years earlier, in 1964,  John Barry had written the score to Zulu which was directed by Cy Endfield. 

The following years, 1965 the thirty-two year old composer wrote the soundtrack to the espionage film, The Ipcress File, which starred Michael Caine. It won a BAFTA Award for the Best British film released in 1965.  However, the following year was a game-changer for John Barry.

In 1966, Born Free, the British drama produced by Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin was released. The score was written by John Barry, who was nominated for two Academy Awards. This included Best Original Score and Best Original Song. For thirty-three year old John Barry this was the biggest achievement of his career.

Just two years later in 1968, two Academy Awards became three when John Barry won the Best Original Score for The Lion In Winter.  It featured an all-star cast that included Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hepburn. Later, in 1965,  The Lion In Winter wan a BAFTA Award for the Best Original Score and John Barry was enjoying one of the most successful periods of his career.

For many critics and cultural commentators, John Barry was at the peak of his powers during the five year period between 1968 and 1973. This is the period covered in a new compilation released by Ace Records, The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry. It features twenty-two timeless tracks from a musical master craftsman.

Opening The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry  is one of his classics, Midnight Cowboy. This memorable and melancholy instrumental featured on the soundtrack when it was released by CBS in 1969. The track went on to win a Grammy Award for the Best Instrumental Composition in 1969.

By 1969, lush strings were a feature of many of John Barry’s soundtrack compositions. This includes the beautiful, emotive instrumental version of We Have All The Love In The World, which featured on the soundtrack to the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

Wistful and melancholy describes Who Will Buy My Yesterdays which originally, was meant to featured on the soundtrack to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969. A year later, in 1970, it was featured on the reissue of the soundtrack as Sir Hilary’s Night Out. On the compilation it’s given its original title and is a welcome reminder of John Barry at the peak of his considerable creative powers.

The Lion In The Winter was released as a single from John Barry’s award-winning soundtrack album by CBS in 1969. He had won two Academy Awards and a BAFTA, for the soundtrack. The title-track finds him deploying synths, stabs of brass and chanted vocals as the track veers between otherworldly and atmospheric to ethereal.

John Barry composed the score to fourteen James Bond films over a twenty-five year period. This includes On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which was released just before Christmas 1969. The title-track features a Moog synth and ferocious drumming and is probably one the most dancefloor friendly James Bond themes John Barry wrote. 

One track that many people may be unfamiliar with is Theme From The Appointment, which was on the soundtrack to a romantic drama released by CBS in 1970. The track featured on the theatrical release but not for the American television version. That’s a great shame as lushest of strings play their part in a track that conjures up pictures of romance in continental Europe as a new decade dawns.

Atmospheric and moody describes The More Things Change which was also written for the score of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. However, it wasn’t recorded until 1970 and is best described as a hidden cinematic gem from the pen of John Barry.

Before soundtrack work took up so much of his time, John Barry wrote a number of themes for television shows. This included  Vendetta in 1966. Five years later, in 1971, he was commissioned by ITC to compose the theme for The Persuades, which featured Roger Moore and Tony Curtis. From the opening bars of this unmistakable, distinctive and memorable theme, the years melt away and suddenly it’s 1971 all over again as the crime fighting duo flit between Britain, France, and Italy in pursuit of the bad guys. 

One of the most beautiful scores written by John Barry was for Walkabout, an Australian film released in 1970.  The soundtrack was meant to be released in 1971, but this never happened. For the next forty-five years it was thought that the soundtrack was lost. That was until the Australian label Roundtable discovered that the soundtrack was in Phil Ramone’s archive. The label released the album later that year, and the gorgeous title-track and ethereal sounding The Children are welcome additions to the compilation.

Understated describes the single version of Diamonds Are Forever. It was released by Polydor in 1971, and has a much more restrained sound. Having said that, it still hints at the danger and drama to come in the seventh James Bond film.

Closing then compilation is Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Suite. It featured on the 1972 soundtrack to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which was released by Polydor. Opening the suite is Curiouser and Curiouser, which is written in waltz time. It gives way to the unworldly but exquisite sounding I’ve Never Been This Far Before. This captivating suite closes with The Me I Never Knew and shows just how imaginative and innovative a composer John Barry was.

For anyone yet to discover the delights of John Barry’s music then this new twenty-two track compilation is the perfect place to start. The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry will be the start of a voyage of discovery through the work of one of the greatest composers of his generation. 

Sadly, John Barry died on the ’30th’ January 2011, aged just seventy-two, in Oyster Bay, New York.  However, the award-winning York born composer left behind a rich and eclectic musical legacy that includes the tracks on The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry which are a reminder of a musical master craftsman at the peak of powers.

The More Things Change-Film, TV and Studio Work 1968-1973 By John Barry.

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