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Composed by

*** 1/2

Album running time

Performed by

Conducted by
Alto sax

Engineered by
Music Editor
Produced by

Released by
Serial number
EK 66370

Artwork copyright (c) 1994 Warner Bros.; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall



Remarkably good action score, considering it contains no action


Probably only John Barry would think of scoring a film like The Specialist with moody jazz rather than bang-bang action music.  And probably only John Barry would pull it off.  I'm frankly amazed - especially given Barry's record since - that he was allowed to get away with it, but apparently he had a fan in producer Jerry Weintraub.  (Though another bridge was burned when he called the head of Warner Bros music department a wanker in an interview after his orchestral end title was replaced by a song.)  A rather silly, though slickly-made thriller from director Luis Llosa, with Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods and Rod Steiger, the movie was essentially about a load of bombs going off; and it's the only real action movie Barry's scored since 1987's The Living Daylights.

However, don't for a minute think it might be like a Bond score.  It does, admittedly, open with a couple of cues of fairly straightforward (for Barry) action material, but thereafter plays as a very satisfying jazz work more than anything else; a cross, perhaps, between the moody sensuality of Body Heat and the latter-day Barry slow-moving romanticism from virtually all of his 1990s scores.  There are two main themes; the first is a surprisingly long-lined melody used as the basis for much of the more suspenseful material, and the seedy jazz piece, usually heard on piano and alto sax, which certainly does hearken back to the more celebrated Body Heat.  One wonderful set-piece is the so-slick-you-might-fall-over "Ray Meets May at her Funeral", a fantastically moody piece including synthesised choir which is tense enough to make you hide behind the sofa.

At almost an hour long, the material is probably stretched a little too thin.  This isn't quite top-drawer Barry, but probably isn't too far behind, but in all honesty this is the sort of score we should be able to put down as a slightly-better-than-routine effort from a composer who was going through the motions because he was doing so much work at the time - and not as one of the final scores he ever wrote.  (And the track titles are absolutely atrocious; I've abbreviated them below to save my fingers, but check out what Barry in his wisdom decided to name the end credits piece - "You Bastard / How Do You Feel? / Better! / 'Did You Call Me' End Title".)

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  1. Main Title (1:41)
  2. Bogota 1984 (2:49)
  3. The Specialist in Miami (2:34)
  4. May and Ray at the Cemetery (1:51)
  5. May Dances with Tomas (2:34)
  6. Ray Covers May (2:37)
  7. After Tomas (2:56)
  8. The First Bomb - Ray's Place (2:57)
  9. Explosive Trent (1:56)
  10. The Parking Lot Bomb (2:31)
  11. Don't Touch Me, Ned / Bomb for Tomas (3:17)
  12. The Death of Tomas (2:07)
  13. May's Room (1:26)
  14. Ray Meets May at her Funeral (2:33)
  15. Let's See That Beautiful Face (2:43)
  16. Closing in on Ray (2:56)
  17. There Goes the Hotel Room - The Fight (2:20)
  18. May Meets Joe / I'm Not a Woman you can Trust (2:58)
  19. You Go In and Get Him (4:04)
  20. The Whole Place is Wired / She's Hot, Ray (3:25)
  21. Get to Hell Out of Here (2:15)
  22. Did You Call Me? (3:09)