John Barry

Lounge Legends

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Although he is best known to general audiences as the main composer behind James Bond's cinematic exploits, John Barry has scored all sorts of non-action films. He has also recorded several mood music reworkings of his classic movie themes, and this side of his output is given a decent representation by Lounge Legends, a collection of recordings that shows Barry's skills at their most subdued. Most of the selections on this disc come from a string of easy listening albums that Barry recorded for Polydor during the 1970s, albums that he used as an opportunity to explore new, subtler dimensions to these tunes. As a result, the album has a very mellow, stripped-down feel to it: For instance, "Diamonds Are Forever" is stripped of its vocal version's bombast to become a moody keyboard-driven track underpinned by the ominous drone of a synthesizer. Other memorable tracks in this area include "Midnight Cowboy," which forsakes the country elements of its soundtrack version to become a stately, string-driven orchestral exercise, and a stately instrumental version of "We Have All the Time in the World," which replaces the vocal with an arrangement built on mandolin and flute. Lounge Legends also throws in a few Barry-penned theme songs, including a lush, devastating Paul Williams ballad called "Lonely Hearts" and "Way Down Deep," a Donna Summer cut that tarts up Barry's gift for melody with a throbbing beat and disco synthesizers. In the end, Lounge Legends isn't an essential collection of Barry's work (its mood music mindset sometimes causes it to lapse into blandness), but it makes an interesting companion piece to his soundtracks for fans who want another take on this gifted composer's work.

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