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January 31, 2011


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Larry Aydlette

My favorite Barry moment: Jack Warden singing "Born free, as free as the wind blows..." as he walks up the steps to Julie Christie's pad in "Shampoo." RIP.


It has to be the opening to Beat Girl! Pure, concentrated cool!


Great picture you snagged Glenn. He was one cool cat.


As much as I like 'The Incredibles', it's too bad Barry himself didn't score it (as opposed to Michael Giacchino's pastiche). They did at least use his thrilling 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' theme for the teaser trailer.


Matt S.

Whenever I see a "RIP John Barry" post, I have to mention that my favorite score of his is for Disney's "The Black Hole." Yes, my predilection is (almost) completely colored by nostalgia. But it's still a damn fine piece of music, and if not the one for which he will be remembered, it's the one for which *I* will remember him. Godspeed, Mr. Barry.


Mentioned it elsewhere, but Barry could class up ANYTHING; Watch something like the 1976 "King Kong," and that Barry sound is so haunting and precise (subliminally reminds you of Bond and so many of his lush, epic '60s scores), you'd think you were watching the most powerful and beautiful movie ever made. Ditto for "Indecent Proposal," or "The Specialist"... I'm assuming even "Star Crash" sounds like "Lion in the Winter" crossed with "Out of Africa."

Always was partial to his "Moonraker" score, especially the bit in the rain forest where Bond is lured to Drax's compound by the stunning women. Or the Doberman attack scene. Just world-class music for even the goofiest Bond movie.

David N

I haven't seen them mentioned much alongside the usual reliables in all the obits, but my favourite Barrys are his lovely scores for ROBIN & MARIAN and PETULIA. Working with Richard Lester brought out the best in him, evidently.
Also fantastic: A DOLLS HOUSE.


Sadly, Lex, his score for "Star Crash" is pretty terrible. But I agree completely about "King Kong"--it gives the movie a grandeur it would otherwise lack, but sounds great on its own. And while "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is undeniably his best Bond score, the title song for "You Only Live Twice" deserves to be much better known than it is. Genuinely haunting stuff.


In my book, his score for 'Out of Africa' is some of the most moving music ever created. When my mom and dad passed away, not very long ago, I spent many hours, quietly listening to his sounds, as tears gently flowed. Grateful for those moments.

John Barry was a true artist. And although he will be missed, fortunately for us, his work lives on.

God bless. Rest in Peace.


I have a soft spot for Somewhere in Time -- the score, not the movie. RIP.

Kent Jones

Pinback, I love the OHMSS score, especially the ski chase - great movie, great score. And I agree with Jimmy - OUT OF AFRICA has a great score. And the Coppola movies, THE TAMARIND SEED, WALKABOUT, so much else... Man, he was good!

D Cairns

Add in The Knack as the other Lester collaboration. Sadly, Robin & Marian wasn't a collaboration as such -- Lester's preferred composer was fired and Barry took the job and delivered the score without communicating with Lester at all. It ended any possibility of them working together again.


What about his score for ZULU? That film seems to have always fall under the radar. Too bad, cause it really is too good...

Dan Callahan

"Out of Africa" really is a beautiful score, as is "King Kong," and his edgy, melancholy music for "Petulia" really makes that movie. Barry had real range; I was just listening to his score for "The Lion in Winter," and it's perfect for that hammy movie: royal, sinister and slightly silly.

But the gold standard for me, which hasn't been mentioned much yet, is his score for "Frances," with the plaintive piano melody getting trapped by the orchestra but continuing to reach upwards before it gets swamped, only to reappear as a full orchestral theme. It's as moving and precise as Jessica Lange's performance.

Pete Apruzzese

Listened to a bit of Barry last night in his honor - the standout was Body Heat (a perfect example of a movie that is inseparable from the score). Also listened to Raise the Titanic, a wonderfully elegant and sad score for a terrible movie. Barry had the ability - as did Jerry Goldsmith and a few other true talents - to transcend bad material and score a movie the makers *wished* they had made.

Neil FC

"You Only Live Twice" gets my vote as the best Bond song. And forget about the Fun Loving Criminals. My Bloody Valentine did a great cover of "We Have All the Time in the World" (Well worth checking out, if you can find it.)

Tony Dayoub

I am happy that there seems to be a growing consensus throughout the web that Barry and Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice" is one of his best Bond songs. It always struck me as an underappreciated tune.

Pete Segall

The Black Hole. A fantastic and weird score.

Jason LaRiviere

The Last Valley is an absolutely amazing score--part of an unofficial Anglo-centric trilogy he scored from 68-71: LION IN WINTER and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS being the other two.


"You Only Live Twice" is a great song, absolutely one of my favorite Bond songs (I do think that "We Have All the Time in the World" is pretty underrated, and not just because Louis Armstrong pronounces "world" as "woild", though that's certainly part of it), and in general I've always had a lot of affection for the infrequently mentioned, non-Bassey ones. Well, up to a point, anyway.

You know why the film YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is so awesome though? The main reason? It's because of the rooftop scene, where James Bond punches people while he's running.


Wow, I'd never heard that Magazine version of "Goldfinger." Very cool. I've done a crappy job of following their career, even though "The Correct Use of Soap" is one of my favorite albums ever (the ballsy cover on that one: Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You").

Re Nancy Sinatra's vocals: I thought she did a bang-up job on "Bang Bang," which I don't think I had heard until KILL BILL. Nice arrangement, too.


Thought I shared this upthread, but guess it was elsewhere:

Not long ago back I was delighted by my discovery (probably already realized by some) that Barry's haunting, beautiful "Midnight Cowboy" theme is almost entirely a slow-down of "You Only Live Twice," with the same basic progression.

Glenn Kenny

Good call, Lex.

Stephen Whitty

The "You Only Live Twice" theme shows up, slightly, in his score for the 1995 "Cry the Beloved Country" too, I think. But then, as Hitchcock said, "Self-plagiarism is style."

And speaking of style, I don't know, but when I saw the pic of Barry at top? Seems to me you've been rocking that lean, saturnine look yourself lately, Glenn.


I've always had a soft spot for the themes from "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker." They're hampered a bit by the need to work in the titles of the movies (easier for the former than the latter, I think), but Bassey sings the hell out of them, transforming Black's alternately lovely/awkward lyrics into pure, torched yearning. Whenever I hear them I think that Barry could've been a great musical collaborator/foil with Sinatra.

Pete Apruzzese

Sinatra was supposed to be the vocalist for Moonraker. I don't remember offhand why he didn't end up doing it.


@Pete-- interesting! I wasn't aware of that.

Jason LaRiviere

@Stephen Whitty: That's the ZULU theme that reappears in CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY.

Account Deleted

My favourite Barry Bond score is 'The Living Daylights', a real return to form after the weak (by his standards)'View to A Kill' score. 'Necros Attacks', 'The Sniper Was A Woman', 'Kara meets Bond', 'Into Vienna', 'Mujahadin and Opium' and 'Air Bond' are all classic Bond tracks, probably Barry's finest Bond score since 'OHMSS'. He went out on a real high, and the Bond movies were never the same for me afterwards, David Arnold's attempts to copy Barry being particularly embarrassing.

Stephen Whitty

@Jason -- Ah, thanks, and you could certainly be right, although I suspect we both are; I hadn't seen "Zulu" when I reviewed "Cry the Beloved Country" many years ago, but I did make a note then that some of the score felt like mid-period Bond. Perhaps I was thinking of another score? Have to dig out that soundtrack (although I don't feel like sitting through the movie again.)

@markj -- agree with you and so many others on the merits of "OHMSS," just a wonderful, wonderful score. Probably my favorite Barry, with the sneaky sinuous jazz of "Body Heat" being a close second.

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