This album has no less than 4 CDs, and covers the outstanding work of composer John Barry from his work on Zulu and the early James Bond movies up to Mercury Rising in 1998. If you are pedantic about it the collection does not quite cover 40 years but including his previous work with the John Barry Seven and Adam Faith he has been in the music business for more than 40 years, and here we have some of the very best in film music during those 4 decades from the 60s to the 90s. Well, mostly film music because there are a few extras also composed by Barry over this time period such as music for a shampoo advert, the theme for the TV series The Persuaders, and Moviola which failed in its initial bid onto the big screen but ended as the title track to one of Barry's albums.
As with many collections by the specialist film music producer, Silva Screen Records, the music has been recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine. As might be expected the CDs cover several of Barry's scores for the James Bond movies, such as "From Russia with Love", "Goldfinger", "Thunderball", "You only Live Twice", "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", "Diamonds are Forever", "The Man with the Golden Gun", "Moonraker", "Octopussy", "A View to a Kill" and "The Living Daylights". These are not the title songs but orchestral tracks from the films often using the title themes. To round off the whole collection we have an orchestral version of the James Bond Theme as composed by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry for "Dr. No". There have been other composers who have worked on James Bond (such as David Arnold for the most recent films) but Barry established the musical credentials of Bond and set the standard for a quarter of a century.
As if being the Bond Maestro wasn't enough, Barry has set the mood for so many well-known film themes and they are all represented here. The collection charts his 60s work on films starring Michael Caine "Zulu", "The Ipcress File", "Deadfall" and "The Last Valley", and his brush with historical dramas with "The Lion in Winter" (the collection includes a truly dramatic choral suite from the movie), " Mary Queen of Scots" and "Robin and Marian". Among so many classics it is difficult to single out individual tracks, but to demonstrate the wide range of Barry's output, we can point to the theme song for "Born Free", the unforgettably melancholic "Midnight Cowboy", the love themes for "Somewhere in Time" and "Out of Africa", the sultry "Body Heat", the jazz music for "The Cotton Club" and the expansive "Dances with Wolves".
Above all this collection is excellent value for money, and an unmissable opportunity to sample John Barry's unique talent for establishing the mood of a movie in his own inimitable style. More details about the CD set including samples from selected tracks can be found at: Amazon.co.uk in the UK, or Amazon.com in the US.