Ready When You Are, J.B.! John Barry (1933-2011) made his debut as a solo artist for CBS Records with the 1970 album subtitled "John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits." The composer and former leader of The John Barry Seven had long been associated with CBS, with the label having released the original cast recording of his West End musical Passion Flower Hotel; soundtrack albums to such films as The Ipcress File, The Chase, The Quiller Memorandum, and The Lion in Winter (for which Barry won an Academy Award); and numerous singles featuring "pop" versions of his cinematic hits. Ace has delivered The More Things Change: Film TV, and Studio Work 1968-1972, building an anthology around the core of Ready When You Are, J.B. to spotlight a purple patch in Barry's extraordinary career.
The More Things Change opens with eleven of the original album's twelve tracks; the 1966 recording of another Oscar winner, "Born Free," has been dropped. What's left, though, is some of the most thrilling and melodic music ever penned for the movies in lush, hard-swinging, and altogether groovy orchestral renditions featuring the eclectic instrumentation (cimbalom, guiro, harpsichord, Moog, and so on) for which he was known. Barry at the podium captures the beauty and wistfulness of "Midnight Cowboy" and "We Have All the Time in the World," and transforms his main theme for The Lion in Winter into a Hammond organ fest (with Alan Haven at the keys) with James Bond-esque brass. 007 is here, too, and without aid of any visuals, Barry conjures up his world and ratchets up the purely aural excitement on the theme to On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In addition to the theme and "We Have All the Time in the World," that 1969 film is represented by the slow-burning "Try" and two evocative outtakes, "Who Will Buy My Yesterdays" and "The More Things Change." They're joined by material from Midnight Cowboy (the slinky, late-night ennui of "Fun City"), Deadfall (the haunting "Romance for Guitar and Orchestra"), and The Appointment (the title theme) as well as the premiere of the delicate "Afternoon."
Ace's collection is rounded out by a cross-section of cues recorded for other labels, including Warner Bros. and Polydor, during this period. The theme to ITC Television's The Persuaders gave Barry a top 20 U.K. hit for CBS even as he was on the cusp of moving to Polydor. Three tracks are derived from director Richard Lester's bleak Petulia including the unsettling "A Little Old-Fashioned Nostalgia" and tense main theme, and two from Nicolas Roeg's wrenching Walkabout. Barry - his instincts ever-sharp from his days behind-the-scenes arranging hits for artists at EMI and Ember - frequently reorchestrated his cues for the pop market. "Diamonds Are Forever" from the Bond film of the same name was reinvented and somewhat stripped down for single release, minus the dazzle of Shirley Bassey's alluring vocal version. Just as much fun is the insistently catchy theme to ITC's The Adventurer and the uptempo reworking of "This Way, Mary," a ravishing ballad performed vocally by such artists as Johnny Mathis and Matt Monro. The More Things Change closes out with an instrumental suite from Barry's vivid song score to the 1972 film Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
First and foremost, John Barry's music for stage, television, and cinema always served the characters, settings, and stories being told. But The More Things Change makes a powerful case for the master musical storyteller's ability to transcend the source and create moving, standalone work. In essence, Ace and compiler/annotator Bob Stanley have curated an expanded edition of Ready When You Are, J.B., and such a release has been long overdue - especially as Barry's complete CBS/Columbia recordings haven't yet been issued in one collection on CD. The inclusion of the Polydor material - also not readily available in the format - makes this set indispensable for any Barry fan or collector (and that's to say any fan or collector of movie music). With a 20-page booklet and Stanley's entertaining liner notes, The More Things Change is a potent tribute to a true master of his craft. It's available now.
Ready When You Are, J.B. (CBS LP 63952, 1970) (Tracks 1-11)
- Midnight Cowboy
- We Have All the Time in the World
- Theme from Romance for Guitar and Orchestra
- Who Will Buy My Yesterdays
- Fun City
- The Lion in Winter
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service
- Theme from The Appointment
- The More Things Change
More John Barry
- A Little Old-Fashioned Nostalgia (WB-Seven Arts LP WS 1755, 1968)
- Theme from The Persuaders (CBS single 7469, 1971)
- Petulia (Main Title) (WB-Seven Arts LP WS 1755, 1968)
- Theme from Walkabout (rec. 1970, issued Roundtable PM001CD, 2016)
- Follow, Follow (Polydor single 2058-275, 1972)
- Diamonds Are Forever (Polydor single 2058-216, 1972)
- Highway 101 (WB-Seven Arts LP WS 1755, 1968)
- The Adventurer (Polydor single 2058-275, 1972)
- This Way Mary (Polydor single 2058-216, 1972)
- The Children (rec. 1970, issued Roundtable PM001CD, 2016)
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Suite (Polydor LP 2383-156, 1972)