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4.0 out of 5 stars THE NAME'S BARRY, JOHN BARRY, 15 April 2011
This review is from: Revisited (4 CD Box Set) (Audio CD)
John Barry wrote the music for the 1963 US TV documentary "Elizabeth Taylor in London" and it was arranged and conducted by Johnnie Spence. The music is full-bodied, but at times sounds derivative, and for me the best track is the Jazz Waltz. The six music-only tracks are reprised in stereo after the mono recordings of all twelve. Hearing the disembodied voice of Liz Taylor on six tracks is a somewhat disconcerting experience. That is because the pieces she recites should move the listener emotionally, but she adopted a mid-Atlantic accent for her delivery, which she failed to project. That detracts from the effectiveness of Wordsworth's "Westminster Bridge", Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Portugese Sonnets", and "Queen Victoria", and fatally undermines the remaining three. "Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury", "Pitt's Speech", and the "Churchill Speech" were all proclamations, and need to be decaimed boldly, preferably by men in the latter two cases. I suspect that the music and spoken word worked better as an integral part of the television programme.

The second CD is the original soundtrack of the 1964 epic film "Zulu", the opening and closing tracks of which incorporate narration by Richard Burton. The remaining six tracks comprise a selection of Zulu stamps performed by the John Barry Seven. The complete album is in stereo, and it seems to me the most successful CD of the set.

The 1965 feature film "Four in the Morning" is not so well-remembered, but the score is dark and atmospheric. It comprises fifteen tracks, four of which are excerpts of dialogue only by the actors involved, namely Judi Dench, Ann Lynn, Norman Rodway, Brian Phelan and Joe Melia. The eleven music-only tracks are reprised in stereo after the mono recordings of all fifteen. The music incorporates a recurring theme, which would have proved a unifying factor on-screen, but may become repetitive heard in isolation.

Despite its title "John Barry Plays 007", the fourth CD is the most disjointed, because it is made up of the Ember singles, only four of which are connected with James Bond films. The first two tracks came out in 1963 and were a best-forgotten attempt to cash in on the Profumo affair ("Christine", for those who don't remember, was Christine Keeler). Tracks 7 & 8 are commercial recordings of two of the numbers from the first CD, and tracks 9 & 10 duplicate tracks 10 & 13 of the second CD.

If you can ignore these drawbacks, you'll find this a well-produced and presented boxed set which should appeal not just to John Barry enthusiasts, but also to collectors of esoterica, particularly relating to the Swinging Sixties (as it came to be known).
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Barry McCanna
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Normandy, France

Top Reviewer Ranking: 112