Produced by Francis Ford Coppola, Hammett is the fictional story about a time in real-life writer Dashiell Hammett's ("The Maltese Falcoln") life. Directed by Wim Wenders, the 1920's era noir mystery contained an equally noir score by veteran composer John Barry. Fresh off of Body Heat and Somewhere in Time, Barry had no problem writing the jazzy score, which contains an interesting combination of slinky jazz numbers and ethnic Chinese cues. Beginning with the "Main Titles", which is performed by a single piano and clarinet, Barry immediately draws the listener in to this dark seductive world. The theme is simple and elegant, yet has an underlying sensuality about it. That sensuality is never fully realized in full orchestral form - except for a small moment in "The Wrap Up / Finale" - but it's still a very enjoyable theme.
Though John Barry achieved popular recognition for the swinging, loungey, noir-ish soundtracks he composed for the James Bond films, he moved to the front rank of film composers with his score for 1966's BORN FREE. Stylistically, the music of BORN FREE is miles removed from Barry's Bond soundtracks, though the composer's fondness for brass fanfares, stirring strings, and lush, intricate charts with stunning dynamic range is still intact. On the whole, however, the music to BORN FREE has a playful, innocent quality, evoking the nature of the wild animals at the film's center. As the movie is set in Africa, Barry employs a range of African percussion instruments, and sections of flute music (which often seem to echo the sounds of birds or other creatures). The arrangements are expansive and sweeping, giving rise to the sensation of open plains, and Barry's recurring musical themes parallel the film's action (the track titles indicate plot events). The score is, for the most part, surprisingly subdued, with occasional bursts of energy (mirroring tumultuous events onscreen) and its stirring title theme the exceptions. Barry won an Academy Award for the score in 1966.
Mercury Rising is a 1998 thriller directed by Harold Becker and starring Bruce Willis, Alex Baldwin and Mike Hughes. The government creates an unbreakable super code, they think. As a totally irresponsible and implausible decision some idiot in the government publishes the code in a magazine as a test. They never though the code could be broken, but a 9 year old boy with autism somehow breaks the code. Some people in the government then sees the boy as a threat to national security and wants to eliminate him. FBI Agent Art Jeffries, played by Bruce Willis, takes on the task of protecting the boy. This was quite a decent movie I thought, even though I felt the whole premise was very unrealistic. The government people are so incredibly stupid and even a boy with autism can’t break an unbreakable code. Besides that, there’s some fun to be had and this was while Bruce Willis still had a name worth checking out. The score is composed by John Barry.
Barry White has been to the top of the charts an admirable number of times, but only one of his hits was a ballad (a studio effort for the Quincy Jones album Back on the Block that included El DeBarge, James Ingram and Al B. Sure!). However, as a solo artist, White has never had a ballad usurp the number one spot on the Billboard charts. The Icon Is Love's featured release fills that void. "Practice What You Preach," which unites the maestro with producers Gerald LeVert and Edwin Nicholas, has a simmering arrangement, evocative lyric, and White's brawn delivery. The catchy melody and sensuous female backing vocals enhance this already stellar single. It stayed on the Billboard R&B charts for 30 weeks and had a consecutive three-week run at number one.
Aja was cool, relaxed, and controlled; it sounded deceptively easy. Its follow-up, Gaucho, while sonically similar, is its polar opposite: a precise and studied record, where all of the seams show. Gaucho essentially replicates the smooth jazz-pop of Aja, but with none of that record's dark, seductive romance or elegant aura…