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Great, tuneful Barry score is great to have - such a pity this is the way we have to have it
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1974 St George Productions; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
A light travelogue based on a true story, The Dove follows a young man's journey around the world in a small boat. Along the way he encounters various characters and - I can scarcely believe it! - falls in love with a beautiful girl. It's generally well-considered, and Joseph Bottoms won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Robin Lee Graham, the central character. It was directed by Charles Jarrott (he of Anne of the Thousand Days), who reacquainted himself with his Mary, Queen of Scots composer John Barry for the project.
Barry was at the tail end of a run of decent films (mixed in with some dross, admittedly) at the time, and it's interesting to note how diverse his 1974 output was - as well as this, he tackled The Man with the Golden Gun (not his finest hour as Bond composer, it has to be said) and The Tamarind Seed, which is probably his greatest score which is yet to be released on CD. The Dove is nothing like those - cheerful and summery, it's a melodic delight.
The main title would surely be considered a Barry classic had it accompanied a more famous film - breezy, free-flowing, a great evocation of a happy life out on the ocean waves. This is succeeded on the album by "Sail the Summer Winds", a lovely song performed by Lyn Paul (of The New Seekers) which certainly adds weight to any positive argument about Barry's songwriting prowess. "Hitch-Hike to Darwin" introduces another new theme, a sprightly piece for harmonica - again it's very, very happy music, which is not what some people like; but if this doesn't put a smile on your face, then nothing will!
It's not all so bright and breezy - there's a much-needed edge to some pieces, beginning with "Here There Be Dragons", a fine piece of typical Barry action music, constructed around small repeating phrases and featuring a James Bond-style xylophone as part of the ensemble. These darker moments are an important part of the album, in terms of providing some balance, but certainly don't dominate. We're quickly back to cheerful, tuneful music in "The Motorbike and the Dove" (with another new theme - when people ask where all the themes are in today's film music, them having seemingly become oddly unfashionable, it's worth remembering that many film scores didn't just have great main themes - they each had four or five great themes!) "Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea" is a very dark piece of suspense music which is gripping, in Barry's unmistakable style.
This is a great score, but I was caught in a moral dilemma over (a) whether to buy it at all; (b) having done so, whether to review it. The problem is that it's apparently a bootleg. It has production values consistent with that - mastered from vinyl, and not particularly well (I'm sure a few people who have done the same thing at home will have achieved better results), so it doesn't sound great. And of course, the worst thing is that the record label is charging people to buy it, but not paying anything to the composer or performers of the music, nor indeed the publishing company who owns it. Now, you might think this isn't a problem - they're all rich enough anyway, surely - but it is a problem, because it means that if Varese or FSM or Intrada or some other reputable label had been planning on releasing a proper album of The Dove, with improved sound and maybe even additional music, then they are very unlikely now to ever do so. So, my recommendation comes for the music, not the album, and for once I would say that if you have any way of acquiring the music which doesn't involve giving any money to the bootlegging company, then surely that would be preferable to paying them.