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 Posted:   Feb 6, 2013 - 1:47 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

Well, my copy arrived today. (USA to UK in a week is not bad going.)

What do you think, folks?

Of course, it's not like we've just discovered the greatest thing that Barry ever wrote or something, but as someone who loves the John Barry style, I certainly found it a most pleasing purchase.

After all these years of wondering what it would be like, I sometimes wondered if Barry might have recycled some of the material.

Pleasingly, there's almost nothing in First Love that was recycled, *except* for track 9, which clearly contains material that was re-written into a cue in Hanover Street.

Apart from that, all brand spanking new.

I expected something slow, romantic and typically Barry-esque. Well, yes, that is there, but the harpsichord harks back to earlier and more playful 1970s scores such as Love Among The Ruins and Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. And the ARP is a truly surprising and intriguing part of the mix.

What I *didn't* expect in all these years was some dated but nevertheless quite fun 70s rock source. It certainly adds variety!

Also, I never thought I'd ever hear another John Barry track in the same style as "Doors And Bikes And Things" from The Knack, where Barry takes his main theme and writes a fast, comedic, xylophone dominated version. Well, I did here. That was a very unexpected surprise given the overall tone of the film.

All in all, I'm very pleased to finally discover this score. Yes, it's not Out Of Africa, but it's certainly more varied, fun and interesting than I imagined, whilst still having that solid minor key romanticism we know and love him for.

Your thoughts?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2013 - 2:07 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Cheers, Stephen, for the positive review. I missed seeing the postman today but have two packages to collect from the Sorting Office tomorrow so hopefully my copy will be one of them.

It will make a lovely change from all the Bernard Herrmann, Charles Gerhardt and Rumon Gamba CDs I've been buying these last few weeks!

I can't believe I won't like this John Barry score ... but I suppose there could be one ...

Happy listening,

Mitch

NP: The Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold - Charles Gerhardt, NPO

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 6, 2013 - 7:25 PM   
 By:   barryfan   (Member)

I would say if I had to put this on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being his worst stuff and 10 being his best) I would have to give it a 6.5. I found myself humming the main theme which is always the halmark of good music for me. However, it wasn't as beautiful or majestic as the main theme to High Road to China or the ship raising theme in Raise the Titanic.

That said, I would ABSOLUTELY recommend it to Barryphiles and I am VERY appreciative that it was put on CD. I think with repeated listens I will enjoy it even more.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 3:04 AM   
 By:   cdelelee   (Member)

In case you read French... :
http://melomad.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/first-love-john-barry-la-la-land-records/

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 4:08 AM   
 By:   mortenbond   (Member)

I did not expect a Barry treasure with this one. I expected tunes so slow that you could hardly sense the melodies! I prefer Barry when he is more uptempo and/or majestic. I liked the "Two on a bike" cue, which is too short, but quite fun. The 70s pop/rock stuff is terrible.

I am a Barry fanatic but must confess that I find a lot of Barrys tunes to be very very simple melodies, almost naive and childlike. Mancini had a knack for such melodies, and some of them I cannot listen to as I find them embarrasingly cheesy and infantile. But Barry sometimes goes even further making them even more simple - often repetitive in its construction. I sometime have the imporession that Barry "cheated us" buy making "half-melodies" into themes. Whereas Mancini or Williams wrote themes consisting of a full melody - without the incessant repetiton in percussion or the narrative instrument.

The "Two on a bike" cue I mentioned is a good example. So is his USA Today theme, Kong hits the Big Apple theme and others. (All of these I like, but they are strange creatations - all of them!)

Any thoughts?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 4:08 AM   
 By:   mortenbond   (Member)

I did not expect a Barry treasure with this one. I expected tunes so slow that you could hardly sense the melodies! I prefer Barry when he is more uptempo and/or majestic. I liked the "Two on a bike" cue, which is too short, but quite fun. The 70s pop/rock stuff is terrible.

I am a Barry fanatic but must confess that I find a lot of Barrys tunes to be very very simple melodies, almost naive and childlike. Mancini had a knack for such melodies, and some of them I cannot listen to as I find them embarrasingly cheesy and infantile. But Barry sometimes goes even further making them even more simple - often repetitive in its construction. I sometime have the imporession that Barry "cheated us" buy making "half-melodies" into themes. Whereas Mancini or Williams wrote themes consisting of a full melody - without the incessant repetiton in percussion or the narrative instrument.

The "Two on a bike" cue I mentioned is a good example. So is his USA Today theme, Kong hits the Big Apple theme and others. (All of these I like, but they are strange creations - all of them!)

Any thoughts?

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 9:29 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

First Love ... first play.

Simply gorgeous, superb ... easily my best purchase for months.

Mitch

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

The 70s pop/rock stuff is terrible.

I adore Barry's love themes - Until September is my favorite score by him and Living Daylights's If There Was A Man was an outstanding melody. But the sample of the pop stuff has definitely put me off the purchasing of this. I may come back to it later but... man, it soured my expectations.

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 11:57 AM   
 By:   Jeff Bond   (Member)

That's basically source music. This is a movie about two college students who fall in love...most of the action takes place in and around campus dorms, and people are disappointed because it doesn't sound like High Road to China or Raise the Titanic? That's like being disappointed that The Accidental Tourist doesn't sound like Star Wars...

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 12:38 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

LeHah, whilst you might not like the source music, we're talking about, what, three tracks in an hour-long album?

There is still plenty of pure, non-source, distinctively John Barry romantic story telling going on in this album.

If you'd have bought an album that was shorter by ten minutes and omitted the source tracks, then that's just the same as buying what we have and skipping them.

Seriously, if you love Barry's romantic style, it'd be a shame to miss this for the sake of skipping a few source music tracks.

Personally, I quite like the source tracks in the context of knowing what they are for.

Cheers

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 12:48 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

Mortenbond,

I absolutely agree with you that John Barry wrote relatively simply music and used a lot of repetition.

However, the mistake is, I think, to equate that with cheating and/or inadequacy.

I think what Barry found was a way of writing music which was particular to cinema; a way which successfully gets under the skin of the listener. I don't know if it was by accident or design, but Barry seemed to find that exquisite simplicity with repetition is a great way to make sustained emotionally communication with the audience, whose attention is not partcularly on the music.

And whilst his music is undeniably simple, I believe Barry was still very careful and attentive in giving his music that all-important 'exquisite' quality.

I remember what he said about Midnight Cowboy. That theme is basically two melodies. Each one is just a really simple line. It's when you put them one on top of the other that the magic happens. I think that's the key to understanding his style. The same can be said of so many John Barry scores including You Only Live Twice, Walkabout, Body Heat, Frances and many more.

And he did have an uncanny knack for writing appealing, addictive sounds that get under the skin.

Bruce Lee once said, "It's not the man who has practiced a thousand kicks I fear. It's the man who has practiced one kick a thousand times."

Clearly, John Barry didn't have the same classical schooling as a John Williams and composes in a less complicated way, but he is like the man who practiced one kick a thousand times. He had truly mastered how to get excellent results with range of tools and styles that he had.

This is why I think John Barry is so popular and reverred, even though one can identify that he isn't the most complete classical maestro that ever lived.

Cheers

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 4:46 PM   
 By:   Alex Klein   (Member)

I did not expect a Barry treasure with this one. I expected tunes so slow that you could hardly sense the melodies! I prefer Barry when he is more uptempo and/or majestic. I liked the "Two on a bike" cue, which is too short, but quite fun. The 70s pop/rock stuff is terrible.

I am a Barry fanatic but must confess that I find a lot of Barrys tunes to be very very simple melodies, almost naive and childlike. Mancini had a knack for such melodies, and some of them I cannot listen to as I find them embarrasingly cheesy and infantile. But Barry sometimes goes even further making them even more simple - often repetitive in its construction. I sometime have the imporession that Barry "cheated us" buy making "half-melodies" into themes. Whereas Mancini or Williams wrote themes consisting of a full melody - without the incessant repetiton in percussion or the narrative instrument.

The "Two on a bike" cue I mentioned is a good example. So is his USA Today theme, Kong hits the Big Apple theme and others. (All of these I like, but they are strange creations - all of them!)

Any thoughts?


Your post has some interesting thoughts, but the final Barry examples you mention to prove your point are god-awful. The USA Today theme and Kong hits the Big Apple were not important cues that demanded serious attention. That's why they are "half-melodies" and not "full melodies", to quote your terminology (actually, they are motifs). When Barry had an important character and/or scene where his music wouldn't get in the way of dialogue, he did write full melodies, some of the best ever written for cinema (John Dunbar's theme, Goldfinger, Karen's Theme, Into the Valley....the list is endless!!). In other words...are you kidding me??

Alex

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 4:55 PM   
 By:   Alex Klein   (Member)

Now, getting back to FIRST LOVE, I just finished listening to it. The lyrical themes are definitely not memorable but there are some darn good moments in the score. The Main Title is excellent, especially when the bass riff kicks in halfway through (sounds like it comes straight from AMERICANS, Barry's jazz concept album). "Elgin's Room" sounds like Barry harkening back to his BEAT GIRL days (seriously!), and the layers of dissonance in "Soccer game" are truly fascinating. Sounds like a bi-tonal dialogue between the orchestra and the off-beat acousting guitar...very interesting, especially coming from Barry.
All in all, a fine score, if not as inspired as Robin & Marian or Out of Africa. It does prove that Barry really saved his best efforts to films that better deserved them.

Alex

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 5:22 PM   
 By:   jonathan_little   (Member)

But the sample of the pop stuff has definitely put me off the purchasing of this

Those couple of "pop" tracks are terrible but everything else is wonderful Barry. Simply skip "Elgin's Room" and "The Hallway." Don't let those scare you off!

Listening tonight I noticed the main title has a tiny precursor to The Black Hole's main title right after the middle bass guitar section ends. Those four notes.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 6:21 PM   
 By:   scrapsly   (Member)

Great thread ! First Love is not among Barry's best efforts, but John Barry on a bad day is better than most on their best day. Needless to say, I am loving it ! LaLa Land, way to go deep into the vaults and release this title on CD ! As thankful as I am for First Love (and The Golden Child), I am still hoping for Year Of The Comet and Goodbye Lover (not to mention all the other John Barry titles that need to be released). Once again, kudos LaLa Land for making the release of First Love happen !

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 8:56 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO LEHAH-Glad to see someone else loves IF THERE WAS A MAN-always thought it was a great romantic melody nicely performed by THE PRETENDERS.

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 11:45 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

The lyrical themes are definitely not memorable but there are some darn good moments in the score

You say that Alex, and I would agree the theme is less 'instantly' memorable and less 'instantly' discernable than an Out Of Africa, but after a few addicted repeat plays, I really can't get the theme out of my head.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 12:10 AM   
 By:   Dylan S   (Member)

Well, I'll be the one to go on here and say that I believe it's one of Barry's very best scores. "The Big Love Scene" is easily in his top five (or three?) cues ever, and it's amazing & unbelievable to me that it's languished in a vault unheard for 35 years. The entire score is a masterpiece in Barry's most unabashed romantic style.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 12:37 AM   
 By:   mortenbond   (Member)

Mortenbond,

I absolutely agree with you that John Barry wrote relatively simply music and used a lot of repetition.

However, the mistake is, I think, to equate that with cheating and/or inadequacy.

I think what Barry found was a way of writing music which was particular to cinema; a way which successfully gets under the skin of the listener.

Stephen, you are a keen analyst and you are absolutely right. I am listening to the Raise the Titanic score in my office right now and it is such a good example of why Barry is the master, whereas so many others - particularly contemporary composers will never match him. For suspense scenes, or just simple scenes of nondescript drama Barry wrote his "half-melodies" making the score a coherent and memorable listening experience. Even outside the cinema. So much contemporary writing lacks this memorable quality, being just sound design/mood setters. That goes for action scenes as well as slower moments. So simply put: Barry did some great "full-melodies", no question, but what makes him the great SCORE composer is his abilty to produce several "half-melodies" for each score. How many times have you not heard a short cue in a Barry score and thought: Why did he not save that brilliant idea and expand it into a full melody- song or main title? I guess that happens when you have an abundance of talent.

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 2:05 AM   
 By:   Thomas   (Member)

I'm still awaiting my copyfrown Looking forward to hearing it though, reading from the comments in this thread.

 
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