Walkabout [Original Motion Picture Score]

John Barry

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Walkabout [Original Motion Picture Score] Review

by William Ruhlmann

John Barry may be best known for his scores to James Bond films, but he has had a long career encompassing far more than just adventure movies. This collection of music from his scores is largely devoted to more contemplative work. It is titled for Walkabout, the 1971 Nicolas Roeg film about the experiences of two children in the Australian outback, with the 27-plus minutes of music from that source said to constitute the entire score and to be the world premiere recording. (There was an earlier Walkabout soundtrack album [GSF 1005, 1978], but that seems to have been an unauthorized release, and the liner notes here carefully state, "after years of unavailability the score is finally recorded in its complete form.") More than half of the album is taken up by three- to six-minute excerpts from eight other films, including They Might Be Giants, released the same year as Walkabout, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, released in 1972. For the most part, this is not the John Barry of the James Bond movies. The Walkabout cues are full of delicate passages and wistful, romantic themes. One section of the Séance on a Wet Afternoon excerpt has the suspenseful feel of the Bond music, and the second part of the They Might Be Giants excerpt, "The Game's Afoot," builds into a martial climax. But most of this is much calmer, more introspective music. And it's apparent that Barry lavishes the same care on his scores no matter what film they're going into. Such movies as The Betsy and Until September were hardly masterpieces, and the track called "Moviola" didn't even get into a picture, being Barry's unused theme for The Prince of Tides, the victim of his falling-out with Barbra Streisand. But the music is just as evocative as anything in the scores for well-respected films such as Walkabout and Séance on a Wet Afternoon. Now, thanks to the City of Prague Philharmonic and conductor Nic Raine, listeners can hear the music for some of the less impressive films without having to sit through the movies themselves.