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Album running time

1: Main Title (4:17)
2: "I just love the army" (:12)
3: Alone in Three-Quarter Time (2:30)
4: "Is this a promotion, sir?" (:28)
5: A Man Alone (1) (3:15)
6: "A fair appraisal" (:25)
7: Meeting with Grantby and Fight (3:28)
8: "Do you like music?" (:03)
9: Jazz Along Alone (3:23)
10: "I like birds best" (:14)
11: A Man Alone (2) (3:20)
12: "Button mushrooms and birds" (:45)
13: The Death of Carswell (3:41)
14: "The best meal you've ever eaten" (:48)
15: Alone Blues (6:19)
16: "There's a dead American agent in my flat" (:14)
17: If you're not Clean, I'll Kill You (2:25)
18: "Lose yourself" (:37)
19: Goodbye Harry (2:59)
20: "You used me" (:16)
21: A Man Alone (3) (2:56)

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Artwork copyright (c) 1965 Steven SA; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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Classic Barry is the sound of a generation

John Barry's numerous achievements and Oscars will never disguise the fact that to many, he is the sound of James Bond and little else. Of course, he worked on other spy movies as well as Bond, remarkably giving each one a unique sound. The Ipcress File is one of his most feted works, and frequently posited by his fans as one of his greatest accomplishments.

It's a monothematic score if ever there were one, but on reflection it is easy to see why Barry made the choice: the film is so confusing and works on so many levels, there would be grave danger of the audience simply losing track (or worse, interest) without some constant running through it, and that Michael Caine's signature performance is accompanied by Barry's theme is certainly that constant. The main theme has been heard so many times in countless cover versions, adverts and so on, but it never loses its impact. Sultry, jazzy, always with a cimbalom punching though, it is absolutely perfect.

While he has never explored the breadth of orchestral composition like his peers (and has been derided for it in some quarters), virtually all of them would come off unfavourably if compared on dramatic instincts. Through the 1960s, Barry was absolutely at the peak of his game, imbuing each film on which he worked with a unique and indelible score. The point of this rather lengthy rambling is that while this music may be monothematic (and the eleven tracks on this album are all variations on the main theme), it is so dramatically astute as to astound.

Because of the relative brevity of ideas in the score, the producers of this reissue have included dialogue clips between every track. While the motives for this are obvious, I'm not sure it works - it's not as intrusive or irritating as usual (the mix of music and dialogue is so good, it couldn't be) but still has a slightly negative affect on the music's flow. Still, I do think something had to be done to break up the music, and that would seem as good a thing as any. The album was previously only available on a Japanese CD with questionable sound quality, so Silva Screen's new release is welcome for its improved audio along with the new liner notes. Great album.

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