Monday, January 31, 2011

[Turn toward camera with gun drawn & cue brass section]

It's not breaking news that composer John Barry is dead. Most know him from his work writing theme music and scores for the James Bond films. And no, he didn't write the Bond theme, but it was his arrangement that everybody knows.

The Typing Monkey encourages readers to celebrate Barry's music by watching the 1960 film Beat Girl, aka Wild for Kicks. Barry wrote or co-wrote nearly every song in this tale of teen delinquency and his agility with various genres -- sugary Your Hit Parade pop, beach-nik (sic) rockabilly, greasy rhythm & blues and noir-ish jazz, among others -- always impresses us no matter how often we see the film.

If you buy the soundtrack reissue from él Records it won't disappoint and you'll be able to stage your own (implied) cannabis-fueled teenage layabout shindig as you dance to the incomparable "It's Legal" as sung by Shirley Anne Field.

In a film dominated by Adam Faith and Gillian Hills vocals -- neither of them too shabby -- it's Field's syncopated ode to all the things teens can do without breaking the law that steals the show. Something tells us she's in danger of ignoring her own message.

There's a full stream of Beat Girl on Youtube, or you can watch it in nine installments, which unfortunately breaks Field's one vocal number right in half. ["It's Legal" begins around the 9:15 mark in this link. It picks up again here.]

Adieu, John Barry, and thanks for all the music.

Tangent obituary: Esoteric electronic music composer Milton Babbitt also died. The AV Club has an educational and compelling summary of his career and influence.