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Robin and Marian - review by James Southall

Tuesday, 01 January 2002 14:32

Deeply personal account of Robin Hood legend Robin Hood has appeared in cinemas many times: his most prominent appearances were in cinema's earlier days, when Erich Wolfgang Korngold applied his unmistakable style to Errol Flynn's swashbuckling antics; and then in more modern times, when Michael Kamen's thematically-strong but obviously-rushed action score accompanied Kevin Costner, supping with his father in 'Notting-HAM'. In the mid-70s, an oft-overlooked (not, it has to be said, without reason) take on the Robin Hood legend was released. Directed by Richard Lester and starring the dream partnership of Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, this time the film tried to be more serious and was set in the latter years of Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

Providing the score was John Barry. The politics that preceded that decision still rankle the parties involved today: director Lester hired French composer Michel Legrand to write the score for his movie but, after it was recorded, the movie's producer decided it wasn't commercial enough so turned instead to Barry, who had written music for Lester in the past but this time was very much hired against his will. To this day Lester mentions how much he hates Barry's score; he must be the only person who does. Barry is also never slow to aim a quick aside at Lester.

It hardly needs me to say that Barry emphasises the romantic aspects of the story above any other, but what may surprise listeners is just how incredibly dark much of the score is. The characters are in turmoil and Barry, always one to delve into the emotions of the characters in any movie he is scoring, represents this by his sometimes-brooding music. There is also a share of action music (more than would be expected in a Barry score) that is precisely written and orchestrated and very exciting.

Despite only having two weeks in which to write his score, the producer still found time to dislike certain aspects of Barry's music and tv composer Richard Shores was drafted in to write some generic action music for a couple of scenes. There is no coherent explanation for why this could have been. (One Shores cue appears on this recording and sounds very out-of-place - I wish it had been excluded.)

The cornerstone of Barry's score is his love theme, considered by his fans to be among his finest. It appears in a few variations, most poignantly in the very last cue on the album. It really is very beautiful, more restrained than similar pieces penned by the composers in more recent years, and arguably all the better for it. This recording is new, with the City of Prague Philharmonic conducted as ever by Nic Raine. The recording is tight and the performance precise: perfect for this score. Jon Burlingame's liner notes are brilliant (he's the best in the business) and Robin and Marian is another essential entry in Silva's burgeoning Barry collection, especially given that the score has never been available in any format before.

James Southall

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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:

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

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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.

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!

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 6th May 18
New Victoria Hall, Woking
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)

The Music of BondThe Music of Bond
Royal Albert Hall
Wednesday 19 September 2018
Starts: 7:30pm


Presented by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace). Over fifty years of timeless James Bond themes from all your favourite 007 films.

Hits from Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Spectre, From Russia with Love to name just a few, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Gareth Hudson Conductor
Alison Jiear Vocalist
Matthew Ford Vocalist

James Bond fans are in for a treat in January 2019, as renowned Band, the popular Q The Music Show, are putting on a special concert - performing all the music from Moonraker on

26th January 2019

at the

Wycombe Swan Concert Hall,
High Wycombe,
United Kingdom.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

They are drafting in professional musicians from London to create a 100-piece Orchestra and Choir to recreate all of John Barry’s iconic cues from the 1979 film. As there is only around 50 minutes of music in the film, they will perform the best of the James Bond songs in the second half in true Q The Music style, but with full orchestra.

Because of the nature of this concert, and the huge costs involved, they are crowd funding it, so tickets have to be purchased by 6th May this year for the concert to go ahead on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Q The Music Show are popular with James Bond fans all around the World thanks to their dedicated and authentic versions of the music and were chosen to perform at Sir Roger Moore’s Memorial Event at Pinewood Studios in October last year. The concert will be compered by Bond girls Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro, who have been working with Q The Music this year on their theatre tour of the UK.

The concert will not be available to buy on recording after the show, and the Moonraker score has never been performed live, so this is a unique opportunity for fans to see it. If the project is a success, Q The Music plan to go on a do a different Barry/Bond score each year.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

*Please note, this is a music only performance – no images or footage from the film will be shown, and Q The Music are not associated with EON, Danjaq LLC, or the James Bond Films in any way.

Warren Ringham
Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
The London Showband - Party & Covers Band