John Barry – The Essential Early Recordings

caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
John Barry – The Essential Early Recordings


I picked up this 2cd set the other week, Discogs says it came out last year (2018), on the Primo label.

Anybody else have this album?
Anybody know much about the music included on it?

There's two pages of liner notes, but the font's about .005pt, I can't read it even with a magnifying glass, so I don't appreciate the context of what I'm listening to. I gather some of it's from his early soundtracks, but that the John Barry 7 also released several singles.

Much of it sounds more like early rock'n'roll than what I expect from the classic Bond soundtracks, or at closest jump blues. Several toons are early rock'n'roll covers.
Lots of "surf" guitar as the melodic lead, usually a plinkety-ploink staccato counterpoint (rhythm guitar or keyboard), both elements heavily echoed. Despite Barry himself being a trumpet player, horns are not prominent in most of these toons, or if they are it usually sounds like a baritone sax doubling the bass underneath everything else.
When the original Bond theme arrives at the very end, the surf guitar vamp sounds similar to the rest of the album. But then the big brass section fanfare comes in, and it's unprecedented. If this compilation is the music he was doing before he got the Bond gig, there was nothing to suggest the kind of sound he was about to give the world.

That's just my tonedeaf musical analysis from the first couple listens.
As I say, I literally can't read the liner notes so don't fully appreciate the context. Any insight you experts can give me will be much appreciated. (I bet Barbel has all the original records memorised!)


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,085Chief of Staff
    :)) Well, rather than re-invent the wheel have a look at

    and see if that answers your question! :)
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
    aw please boss, I was looking forward to your insights to these early records!

    but that AllMusic writeup does answer many questions. I should study that and write up my own legible liner notes.

    Yes, the Seven were a rock'n'roll band competing with the Shadows, and most of this compilation is their singles. (I'm now wondering if theres any soundtrack material here at all?)

    Barry himself was not always an active member, and Vic Flick really the leader ... explaining the predominance of his guitar sound and the seeming absence of expected trumpet.

    and this is interesting:
    they were frequently augmented by the presence of Ted Taylor, a keyboard player who owned a clavioline, an electronic keyboard instrument that made a killer sound in tandem with Flick's guitar.
    one track that really held my attention focussed on an instrument that sounded like an early synth, with very rapid fire attack on the keys and weird trippy sustain ... I wonder if that was this clavioline?
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,085Chief of Staff
    Yes, there are a couple of soundtrack recordings ("Beat Girl", for one- title track from his first soundtrack and I believe the first UK soundtrack album).
    And yes, that's a clavioline played by Ted Taylor. This comp doesn't have "The Human Jungle" which I think is Barry's best use of it. It does have JB himself reluctantly singing, though!
    Though JB may not necessarily be playing (or singing) on all the tracks here, he did the arranging, conducting, producing and often (though not always) the composing. Vic didn't become leader of the group till later, when Barry's film assignments became more frequent and he couldn't devote enough time to the Seven.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
    thanks Barbel, I knew you knew these records!

    That's interesting, his role in his own band was more behind the scenes mastermind rather than an instrumentalist.

    Next time i play it, I'll have to pay attention which track has that zany clavioline.

    The music is not at all what I expected, but it is a very good listen, expanding the sounds in my record collection, so that's a bonus.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
    is that Barry singing on Zip Zip and Three Little Fishes?!!?
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,085Chief of Staff
    Yes, that's the man himself! I hinted at it above. He didn't like it at all, and was persuaded by the label.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
    yes I saw the hints, its what sent me back to specifically those tracks. I see that they were the a- and b-side of the first John Barry Seven single.
    On my first listens I just assumed that was some long forgotten guest vocalist, never suspected that could be our John Barry himself. One thing I gotta admit, he can do an American accent more persuasively than many British actors.
    The next track on the comp You've Gotta Way has him singing as well.

    Connery-Bond'd be begging for earmuffs!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,085Chief of Staff
    :)) :)) :))

    Exec- So, you gotta sing this song, son. (Puffs cigar)
    JB- No, I'm planning to play the trumpet and-
    Exec- I said you gotta sing, boy!
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,298MI6 Agent
    a couple other tracks from this compilation that have really caught my ear. I'm not sure where they all originate from. Most of these feature the horns more prominently than the vocal tracks.

    Long John, wild party music, a bit Benny Hill.

    Big Fella, this has a lot of the Mancini sound

    Cutty Sark, to my ears, this one foreshadows the 007 theme

    the Stripper, this one definitely comes from the movie Beat Girl. Apparantly the first ever British soundtrack lp. Imagine a burlesque dance to that grinding bass line?

    I believe this compilation I have is from a cheapie Euro gray-market label, there's a bunch of those repackaging material that has now fallen into the public domain. I can see from discogs there has been a lot of compilations of Barry's early material and others are much more official looking, and may even have decent liner notes!

    but please lets continue to use my thread to discuss Barry's early music in general, shall we?
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