- Composed by John Barry
- Intrada Special Collection Volume 143 / 2010 / Complete score 58:46 / Original album 44:43
The IMDB’s description of The Deep states: “Featuring extended underwater sequences and a look into the affairs of treasure hunting.” Wow! The excitement! It’s based on a novel by Peter Benchley and John Williams was at one point meant to score it, so it’s not difficult to imagine which film’s success the producers were hoping to emulate and it did do reasonable business, despite largely unfavourable reviews. At the time, John Barry was bizarrely alternating between reasonably high-profile fayre like this and King Kong, inexplicable garbage like Starcrash and a parade of tv movies. While this allowed for a reasonably varied output from the composer, I don’t think the mid-to-late 1970s was one of his more satisfying periods of output. The Deep, for much of its running time, is made up of murky, turgid, uncomfortable music which is 100% spot-on for the film. Barry clearly spent a lot of time on it – the music is rich with detail and vivdly nuanced. Does it make good listening on an album? I think it would take a brave man to suggest so and I am certainly not known for my bravery. It all depends on your tastes, of course; but those whose exposure to this composer is limited to either his dazzlingly sexy 60s output or his great romantic triumphs of the 80s and beyond may be in for a bit of a shock.
On the other hand, there’s always the disco music – Donna Summer’s presence presumably the reason why the original soundtrack album sold over two million copies back in the day – in the context of today’s 3,000-copy (or less) runs of most soundtrack albums, that’s truly extraordinary. But that disco music – brought out for the end titles only – is positively cringeworthy. Summer only appears on disc two (a reproduction of that slightly odd, wildly-successful original album, which edits the score down to a single 24-minute piece and then has four disco tracks); but Barry did bring in the disco beat for the conclusion of his score. More’s the pity – the actual love theme, which forms the basis of the Summer song and that end title piece, is a really lovely melody; hearing it in this way may raise a nostalgic smile or two, but it wasn’t one of the periods of pop music which translated particularly well into original film scores. Speaking as a major, major fan of this wonderful composer, even I am forced to admit that this is a score which can easily be admired in the film; but not nearly so easily enjoyed away from it, where the listener doesn’t even have the benefit of being able to sit and stare at Jacqueline Bisset’s chest. **