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albums08

Themependium — A Neverending Story

By Geoff Leonard
22 July 2012.

 John Barry - Themependium - SonyBack in the summer of 2006 I received a surprise phone call from a project manager at Sony/BMG. He had been given my name by David Stoner of Silva Screen Records, who had told him that as a fan of John Barry, I might be able to provide some “expert” assistance.

He told me that his company were planning two compilation CDs, one a previously postponed 4-CD box-set and the other a TV-advertised single CD.   Someone had been working on the box-set before departing from the company, so he had a provisional track-listing, but the single CD had to be a very commercial compilation which could be TV-sold.

My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to choose the tracks for both projects, identify the current owners, write suitable liner notes and lend them suitable photos and album covers etc.  In recognition of this I would receive a substantial fee.  Of course, like many of us, I would have been happy to take it on free of charge, as it was a rare opportunity to influence the contents of what Sony hoped would be the definitive box-set.  A year and literally hundreds of emails later, it’s fair to admit that a certain amount of frustration had crept in.

The first thing to happen was that my contact announced his departure to New York and the handing over of the Barry projects to two colleagues.  Yes, that was the first sign of possible trouble ahead in that I would be dealing with two different project managers.

John Barry - Themependium - SonyThey were both very enthusiastic but, not surprisingly for youngsters in the music business today, not necessarily very knowledgeable about the works of John Barry.  This became apparent when it came to the track selection for the “Greatest Hits” single CD when I was asked, in all seriousness, from which films were the tracks The Ipcress File, The Knack, Somewhere In Time & The Lion in Winter taken.

Anyway, back to the plot. My first task was to come up with around 30 of not necessarily the best themes, but the best known, for the TV-advertised CD. I was advised that this could be a joint-project with EMI so there was no problem including quite a few of the James Bond theme songs.  Whereas I could see this would be a good marketing opportunity, I could also see that it would invariably lead to the omission of some arguably better but less commercially successful tracks. However, I could only give my opinion.  What I was keen to avoid was any misunderstanding over the versions of the chosen tracks. I was very keen on original versions whenever possible, and at the risk of offending JB I was particularly anxious that it didn’t become a “Moviola III”. For those not familiar with Moviola volumes I & II, these featured re-recordings of Barry’s favourite tracks but with an often slow tempo and, in some cases, over-elaborate arrangements, which in the opinion of many, did not quite match up to the originals.  I knew this might be a hard nut to crack since Sony owned the Moviola albums and it would be tempting, easier and cheaper for them to utilise tracks from them, but I was determined to try.

We eventually agreed on a 26-track CD which included all the “hits”, plus one or two more unusual tracks.   I soon realised that I would have to spell out not only track title but also film, in many cases, if we wanted to end up with the correct version. While this was going on I was also fielding vast quantities of emails from the box-set project manager who was very often asking the same questions.

I was then told that because the licensing had taken so long, they had missed their “slot” for the Christmas market and so the TV-advertised CD would be postponed. In the meantime I would continue to work on the box-set which was altogether more challenging.   As I said, they already had a draft list of tracks provided by someone who had left the company after the original box-set had been postponed. I could tell that this must have been a Barry fan because they had included, just as I would have done, all the rare B-sides from Barry’s sixties sojourn with CBS (now Sony).  Unfortunately they had also made a few wrong assumptions and included tracks which either didn’t exist or would be impossible to licence.  So my first task was to remove tracks like Drink-a-pinta-milk-a-day and The Black Hole which my predecessor had linked to EMI. I also had to correct the owners of several of the listed tracks (to the best of my knowledge) and try and pick some replacements for ones I knew we would never be able to licence, or in some cases did not exist, such as L-Shaped Room.

I’d had some previous experience of licensing tracks, but was not really prepared for the lengthy delays which now entailed.   Not only that, certain tracks could not be cleared, frustratingly in some cases when it seemed obvious (well, to me) who the owners were. In one case EMI cleared six assorted tracks from the days of the John Barry Seven, but apparently refused a seventh, even though it was from exactly the same era, with the same writer (Barry) and publisher. The most baffling of the rejections was a track called Romance for Guitar & Orchestra which was an abridged version of Barry’s magnificent concert piece for the Bryan Forbes directed film Deadfall. This version had previously appeared on countless CBS/Sony LPs and CDs, yet now they were telling me it could not be licensed — from Sony?

Next up the TV-advertised CD project made a reappearance with a new project manager. He told me that they would have to reduce the track-listing by two tracks to fit everything in. This surprised me a little because I thought I’d already worked out the timings would not be a problem. It also meant losing a couple of non-Bond tracks, which was a blow to my hopes of keeping a varied line-up.   Then Mr & Mrs Barry entered the fray.  They vetoed my idea to include a JB7 hit, Walk Don’t Run (it had recently been used for a Debenham’s TV advert) and also wanted to remove The Persuaders on the grounds that it was not that interesting.  I’m happy to say the project manager stood his ground at this point, and refused to remove the latter.

I asked for some guidance on the length of liner notes required, since my co-writer Pete Walker was anxious to make a start. We also wanted to establish if these notes should be a reduced version of our notes for the box-set or completely separate.  I was surprised to be informed our services were no longer required. We had apparently been replaced by TV and radio presenter Jonathan Ross, who was willing to do it free.  Moreover they could use his name to “sell” the CD, unlike ours. No argument there!

I carried on with the box-set and when the original project manager came back briefly to work on the TV-advertised CD, I took the opportunity to check if the right versions of The Lion in Winter & Séance on a Wet Afternoon had been included. A few weeks later the CD was released. I never saw any TV advertising for it, though Sony/BMG did send me a video file of it, so I know it existed. They spent ages trying to think of a catchy title — something similar to Themeology, which had sold well for them back in the nineties. In the end we got yet another “The Very Best of …”

Sad to relate, this was very much a low-budget affair in production values. A rather tacky booklet cover with made-up film images relating to some of the tracks. No photos whatever of John Barry and the briefest of notes by Ross which could have been about any composer.

The other problem was the tracks themselves and now it became apparent why they’d had to drop a couple for space reasons. Somewhere In Time, though credited to pianist Roger Williams and MCA, from the original soundtrack, was in fact a nine-minute suite taken from Moviola — the very thing I‘d been anxious to avoid. What’s more, they’d licensed Nancy Sinatra’s main title song You Only Live Twice from EMI, but included her pop cover version for Reprise! 

I’ve neither time nor energy to outline all the comings and goings involved in the compilation of the box-set, now named Themependium.  Suffice it to say the listing changed almost daily as tracks were acquired, refused, replaced or rejected (mainly by the Barrys). 

I had suggested it would be a good selling point to make sure there were 100 tracks spread over the four CDs. This proved somewhat difficult in the hectic last few days before the deadline as most of my suggestions for new tracks were rejected for a variety of reasons. In the end I managed to sneak in a couple of tracks from a CBS compilation album which the project manager was unaware were actually further cues from OHMSS. If she had been she would have refused them on the grounds that she only wanted one track per film.  Sadly, this led to The Lion in Winter Part 2 featuring Alan Haven, being rejected, as I could not disguise its origins.

I did my best to make sure nothing was overlooked in the effort to make this a truly definitive box-set, often getting good advice and suggestions from friends and colleagues. I was pleased we managed to include a few rarities, such as the aforementioned CBS singles, and also that 98% of the tracks were originals or re-recordings by Barry himself. I would have preferred original versions of everything but licensing proved very tricky in some cases and we simply ran out of time in the end.

When it came to the mastering, there were more problems when Sony/BMG couldn’t obtain anything for at least a dozen tracks. The only solution was for me to lend them CDs from my own collection, which I did. I was sent CDRs of everything, and they all contained at least one wrong track.  I think their budget, or lack of one, meant little attention was paid to reducing the noise on the 45s, such as Sleep Well My Darling & Barbra’s Theme, which was a pity.

Now it was time for the notes. Sony/BMG also wanted photos, scans of LP covers etc.  I was told it was a 24-page booklet so if we supplied notes to fill 20 pages, they would fit in the various photos as required.  This was no problem at all and Pete and I duly wrote around 12,000 words, managing to sum up JB’s career and also mention the majority of the tracks. There was another problem, however, because Sony had realised they had nowhere near enough space to accommodate our notes, because of the room taken up by the track credits and the photos. All my photos/scans had been rejected and instead they had accepted an offer from the Barrys to provide photos. They sent me scans of these and I noted three of them were photos John had “borrowed” from me back in the nineties! 

We had to edit our notes considerably but Sony still wanted all the tracks to be mentioned. This was not an easy task, as we didn’t want it to become merely a long list. Nevertheless I was quite pleased when we got it down to around 9000 words without losing the thrust. But this wasn’t good enough for them and we had to make two further edits before finally notes of around 8000 words proved acceptable. Both Pete and I were disappointed that our efforts to inform had been somewhat thwarted, though we hoped it was still readable.

I was told that JB had personally approved both the track-listing and the notes and I should be delighted with my part in the project.  Well, yes, it was good to be so involved in this definitive project, but incredibly frustrating in the time it took (well over a year) and because of the tracks we couldn’t include.

So, if your favourite track is missing it probably wasn’t for the want of trying that it wasn’t included.  Of course, since the box-set was released, many more Barry soundtracks have been released, and some of the omitted tracks are now available.

Now, what else was there?  Oh yes, what about the substantial fee?  Still waiting …..

Geoff Leonard

Read 6053 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:25
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  • Comment Link Patrick Sunday, 24 May 2015 22:31 posted by Patrick

    Thanks Geoff, very interesting read. It's still a great compilation because of your efforts.

    It's frustrating that Lion In Winter part 2 is currently unavailable. I recently heard it via YouTube and it deserves to be in my collection! I'm a big fan of part 1, Alan Haven transcends the lounge/easy category and the combination with JB's brass/choir is very exciting. Part 2 is a different beast, but equally worthwhile. What a great 7-inch single it was! I wonder if somebody like Jonny Trunk (Trunk Records) could issue it?

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PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

Contact the JB site

If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

Email
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Location
Bristol, UK

Geoff (owner) and Ruud (webmaster) have been running the John Barry website since June 18, 2001.

This website is not endorsed by the composer's family.
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big screen hits s

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John Barry related Events or Concerts


Submit your Event or Concert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will not be responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.


 The Music of Bond RPO 11 April 2017

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents
The Music of Bond
Tuesday 11 April 2017
Doors: 6:45pm
Starts: 7:30pm

Website

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall to perform The Music of Bond, following its sensational sell-out performance in October 2015.

Presented by A View to a Kill’s ‘Bond girl’ Fiona Fullerton, we celebrate over fifty years of timeless James Bond theme songs with hits from Goldfinger, Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Spectre and many more, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Simon Bowman.

Gareth Hudson conductor
Alison Jiear vocalist
Simon Bowman vocalist
Fiona Fullerton presenter

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


Sheffield City Hall
Irwin Mitchell Oval Hall
James Bond: The Music of 007

from £22.50

Booking Fees May Apply
Friday, 30 Jun 2017
Start Time: 19:30
Doors Open: 19:00

Website

The music that capture a world of pulse-pumping action, glamorous femmes fatales, villainous arch enemies and, of course, unforgettable tunes. With roaring brass, lush orchestrations and sensuous songs, these movies have produced hit after hit all over the world. The list of credits includes the thrumming James Bond theme itself, 'Diamonds are Forever', 'Moonraker', 'Thunderball', 'From Russia with Love', 'Goldfinger', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'Skyfall' and many more.

Smooth as a vodka martini, elegant as a tuxedo and cool as a cucumber sandwich, Stephen Bell, the Hallé's suave, sophisticated maestro leads the world-renowned Hallé Orchestra as they celebrate the ultimate British hero – James Bond. Immerse yourself in the spine-tingling sounds that gave musical voice to the films in catchy title sequences and haunting songs performed here by star vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

An evening packed with some of cinema's most iconic themes, come dressed as your favourite Bond character, knock back a Vodka Martini and be prepared to be shaken and stirred!

Tickets for The Music of James Bond with The Hallé' (subject to booking fees) at Sheffield City Hall are available online at www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk through the ticket hotline on 0114 2 789 789 and in person at the Sheffield City Hall Box Office.


A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


31 Mar 2017

   Germany   Nürnberg A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

31 Mar 2017

 31 Mar 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond
01 Apr 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

01 Apr 2017

   Germany   Stuttgart A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

02 Apr 2017

   USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

 02 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Leeds

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

02 April 2017

Tickets: £30, £27, £24, £19, £14, £10 (discounts available).

Website

Featuring Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Skyfall.

Leeds Town Hall

Concert begins at 4pm

Orchestra of Opera North
Gareth Hudson - conductor
Mary Carewe - voice
Simon Bowman - voice

The ultimate Bond concert with excerpts from all 24 films from Dr No to Spectre. With classic songs made famous by great artists such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Matt Monro, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Adele, Sam Smith and more, this evening is dedicated to the world’s most famous spy.

Led by Gareth Hudson and joined by two of the leading vocal artists of the Bond repertoire, Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman, from the moment the Orchestra of Opera North strike up the iconic James Bond Theme you will realise that Nobody does it better as you’re immersed in an evening of classic Bond music which will leave you shaken AND stirred. 

Channel your inner spy or become a Bond-girl for the evening as we encourage bookers to dress to impress.

Norman/Raine - James Bond theme
Barry/Raine - Thunderball
Barry/Raine - Goldfinger
Barry/Raine - You only live twice
Barry/Raine - From Russia With Love: Title Song
Barry/Raine - Moonraker
Barry/Raine - Diamonds Are Forever
David & Bacharach/Raine - Casino Royale
Hamlisch/Raine - The Spy Who Loved Me: Nobody Does It Better
Barry/Raine - The Man With The Golden Gun: Title Song
Barry/Raine - On Her Majesty's Secret Service: We Have All The Time In The World
Barry/Raine - Suite: A View to a Kill
Walden & Cohen/Raine Licence to Kill: Title Song

Interval

Barry/Raine - A View to a Kill
Conti/Raine - For Your Eyes Only
Barry/Raine - Octopussy: All Time High
Barry & Waaktaar/Raine - The Living Daylights: Title Song
Bono & The Edge/Raine - Goldeneye
Arnold & Black/Raine - Tomorrow Never Dies: Surrender
Arnold - Die Another Day: Welcome to Cuba
Arnold & Black/Raine -The World Is Not Enough: Title Song
Cornell & Arnold/Raine Casino Royale: You Know My Name
White/Raine Quantum Of Solace: Another Way To Die
McCartney/Raine - Live And Let Die: Title Song
Atkins & Epworth/Raine - Skyfall
Smith/Raine - Spectre: Writing’s on the Wall


 08 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Belfast Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond

08 April 2017
Belfast
(United Kingdom)         
Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond
Ulster Orchestra conducted by Stephen Bell - Ulster Hall

Website

Program Info:
An explosive evening of the very best themes from the James Bond series. Stephen Bell will be the man with the golden baton, leading the Ulster Orchestra through classics from across the decades, from early films such as Goldfinger, right through to the present day and hits such as the Oscar-winning theme to Skyfall. Favourites such as Live and Let Die, Diamonds are Forever and Licence to Kill will leave you shaken and stirred at this fabulous concert!


External links:
Details & tickets


 11 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   London The Music of Bond

13 Apr 2017

13 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
14 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
15 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007

  30 Jun 2017

   United Kingdom   Sheffield James Bond: The Music of 007

*

James Bond Spectacular
August 18, 2017
Time: 19:30

The Harlington Theatre
236 Fleet Road
Fleet
Hants
GU51 4BY

Website

Back by popular demand, popular Q The Music Show is coming back to The Harlington, Fleet bringing their fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success at other theatres with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians, dancers, and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.

Don’t miss this superb evening as…Nobody Does It Better!


*

James Bond Spectacular
August 20, 2017
Time: 19:30

Buxton Opera House,
Water Street
Buxton
Derbyshire SK17 6XN

Website

The popular Q The Music Show brings its James Bond Concert Spectacular to Buxton Opera House. The 13-piece band will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success all around the world with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.


19 Nov 2017

   Canada   Thunder Bay Shaken Not Stirred – The Music of James Bond

*

James Bond Spectacular
December 1, 2017
Time: 19:30

Camberley Theatre,
Knoll Road,
Camberley,
Surrey, GU15 3SY,
GB

Website

The popular James Bond Concert Spectacular by Q The Music Show is coming to Camberley Theatre. They will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert.  This show has been a huge success all around the World with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.
 
Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies...