- Composed by John Barry
- BSX Records BSXCD 8864 / 2010 / 66:56
An old-fashioned adventure film starring Tom Selleck, High Road to China seems to be hanging on the coat-tails of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Selleck was reportedly Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Indiana Jones). Needless to say, it didn’t quite match that film’s success and director Brian G. Hutton (who had also made Where Eagles Dare and Kelly’s Heroes) never made another film – and reportedly became a plumber! John Barry was going through one of the busiest periods of his career at the time – this was one of sixteen films he scored in the first half of the 1980s. It’s satisfyingly different from the others he was doing, too – but it goes without saying that you could never mistake any of this music for having been composed by anyone else.
Barry’s symphonic scores live or die by the quality of their themes; there are a couple of great ones here. The exciting main theme brims with adventure, perfect for Selleck’s broad grin and especially appropriate for him here, playing a biplane pilot – there’s a classic spirit of that early part of the 20th century here (or at least, the rose-tinted Hollywood view of it). There’s a sweeping love theme too, of course there is – and it’s a winner, of course it is – vintage Barry. There’s a fair smattering of action music, too – Barry packs quite a lot into the score, given it lasts barely half an hour. This release from BSX contains virtually identical content to the earlier Supertracks release, though a newly-assembled nine-minute suite has been added and some digital mastering errors (which I must admit I never noticed) have been corrected. It’s a winning score, easy to recommend to all Barry fans. ****