John Barry RIP

NOTE: This week we got the sad news that the mighty John Barry, the dean of 1960s film composers passed away.

When you get a moment, see his Wikipedia entry for an idea of his vast catalog and influence.

I decided to mark his passing by reposting two very different tunes of his that have appeared at Iron Leg over the past few years.

I hope you dig them, and I’ll be back on Monday.



John Barry – A Man Alone (Jazz Version) – originally posted 5/2009


John Barry


Listen / Download John Barry – A Man Alone (Jazz Version)

Greetings all.

I hope all is well with you this fine Friday (or Thursday late depending what position you hold on the globe).
The tune I bring you today is something groovy with a dash of international intrigue.
A variation on the theme from the ‘Ipcress File’ (a different arrangement of the same number appears on the other side of the 45) ‘A Man Alone (Jazz Version)’ is one of my favorite John Barry selections. Barry, who has been featured here before (in his pre-soundtrack era) composed and performed the soundtracks to countless films and television shows from the early 60s on.
‘The Ipcress File’ was the very first ‘Harry Palmer’ film for the mighty Michael Caine and was adapted from the novel of the same name by Len Deighton. The 1965 espionage thriller is a primed example of a swinging 60s take on the ongoing cold war, and Caine is – as always – the very epitome of dry, limey cool.
‘A Man Alone (Jazz Version)’ swings along aggressively with a beatnik edged hi-hat and bongo pulse, before the main theme is stated by the unofficial spy theme instrument of record, the cymbalum (or some variation on the cymbalum/santoor dulcimer-esque hammered thingy), which carried in its tinny strings the very essence of mysterious international intrigue, with the fezzes, lugers, dark Eurasian back alleys and trench coats.
Barry does change things up a little (the “jazz version” one would assume) with a decidedly English-sounding horn chart, featuring a just-this-side-of-incongruous alto sax (maybe doubling a muted trumpet?) solo.
Sit back, close your eyes and visualize Caine speeding down a dark, rain-slicked street chasing (or being chased by) nemeses from behind the Iron Curtain.
Groovy indeed.
I haven’t seen the movie in a few years, and I can’t remember if this piece actually appears in the film. If you know (this means you Bill…), drop me a line.

The John Barry Seven – Monkey Feathers – originally posted 12/2008


John Barry Seven


Listen / Download – The John Barry Seven – Monkey Feathers

Greetings all.

The end of the week is upon us, and I have a special treat for you all.
One of the great bones of contention between my lovely wife and I is the movie ‘Zulu!’, the 1964 epic retelling of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa. It’s one of the great war/action movies, Michael Caine’s first starring role, and as much as I love it, the wife hates it.
Some years back, my man Mr. Luther passed on a tape with a couple of tracks from the soundtrack, one of which I bring you today.
For some reason, I used to think that the John Barry leading the John Barry Seven was not the hugely successful soundtrack composer who wrote many of the most famous James Bond related themes, as well as the theme to ‘Midnight Cowboy’ (the famous instrumental, not Fred Neil’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’).
As it turns out they are in fact the same guy. Barry got his start as a jazz arranger, moving on to composing for British teen idol Adam Faith, composing the soundtrack to the cult film ‘Beat Girl’.
He went on to work on the Bond films, and then on to ‘Zulu’.
While the theme to the movie – the a-side of this very 45 – is a cool Shadows-esque tune, ‘Monkey Feathers’ takes the whole reverb thing and runs with it, adding a surf-like feel over a martial beat.
Very cool.





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  1. I’m stumped brother, haven’t seen a Hary Palmer flick in a good decade or so! Great bit as always! John Barry R.I.P., the original Austin Powers (had his own “pad” in London while married to Jane Birkin for “after late nights in the studio”, she left him because he was shagging the au pair). Naughty boy!

    • This track is not in the film, though it’s a terrific version. Also, Jane B did not leave John B in those circumstances – Bill is thinking of the end of his first marriage!

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