John Barry

Zulu & Other Great Film Themes

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Zulu was one of Barry's first major soundtracks, though not one of his better ones. Only side one of the 1964 soundtrack LP contained music from the film, with most of the music based around an epic, grandiose theme, embellished by some narration by Richard Burton. While this theme impressively conveys a mixture of pomposity and foreboding drama, its incessant repetition over the course of seven tracks hammers home the motif without enough variation to make it interesting listening in isolation from the film. Bizarrely, side two of the LP was devoted to instrumental reworkings of the film's theme in an early-'60s British beat style, not too far removed from the Shadows or some of Barry's own excursions into pop/rock instrumentals. While this isn't bad period instrumental pop, it's again repetitive to hear the variations occupy an entire LP side, and the chirping orchestration in particular makes the arrangements way too frivolous. This is, incidentally, an entirely different recording than a separate release of the soundtrack music as performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic and the Crouch End Festival Chorus. It's been reissued by RPM on a single-disc CD that also includes Barry's soundtrack to the mid-'60s film Four in the Morning.

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