John Barry

The Living Daylights [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by Evan Cater

Timothy Dalton's debut as Agent 007 received mix reviews, but John Barry's original score is well above the average for a mid-'80s action film. In 1987, many of Barry's peers were following the lead of synthesizer champions like Giorgio Moroder and Vangelis. As a result, a high percentage of the movie soundtracks from the '80s sounded more out of date a decade later than the film music of the '70s. But Barry is sparing in his use of keyboards and drum machines, generally using them only to enhance the impact of action sequences. Most of the incidental music in The Living Daylights was performed in rich, resonant acoustic string orchestrations. The soft, flute-based "Kara Meets Bond" and the soaring brass-and-string piece "Mujahadin and Opium" even seem to anticipate Barry's Oscar-winning score for Dances With Wolves (1990). If it weren't for the three original pop songs by A-Ha and the Pretenders, one might take this for a mid-'90s soundtrack. But the production on those tracks is unmistakably '80s. A-Ha's contribution is a strong sample of Seven and the Ragged Tiger-influenced Europop, enhanced by Morton Harket's powerhouse falsetto vocals. "Where Has Every Body Gone" and "If There Was a Man," both performed by the Pretenders, are more run of the mill than anything else on the soundtrack.

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