Film Music Review
The Sammy awards








Music composed, arranged and conducted
by John Barry

14 Tracks (Playing Time =41:24)



Executive Album Producers: Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning. Album produced for BSX Records by James Nelson. Recorded by Dan Wallis. Music editor: Kenneth Hall. Digitally edited and mastered by James Nelson.

BSX Records BSXCD 8846

Rating: ***


This is an example of riding the outer space success of STAR WARS from 1977 with a knockoff film and yes, even a medicore score by the usually dependable John Barry.

I'm not suggesting this score isn't worth a listen though. It is better than the silly sexy Italian sci-fi film with the original title of SCONTRI STELLARI OLTRE LA TERZA DIMENSIONE (or STELLAR CRASH BEYOND THE THIRD DIMENSION).

As Randall Larson writes in his informative CD notes:

"Despite the drawback of the finished product, Barry's elegant score remains a standout. The music is centered around a pretty, melodic theme for space vixen Stella Starr. The melody is in the harmonious flowing style that barry would embrace in scores like OUT OF AFRICA, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, and many others, only here presented in a bold, fast-paced and energetic statement."

That's mostly true, since the opening Main Title (2:36) does have that distinctive Barry "sound" and is quite appealing. That means frequent use of percussive patterns and heavy prominence of horns. I'm not one of those who doesn't like a composer to display a signature style like Barry has done over the years. That of course began with his memorable James Bond scores like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER, but you can hear it in his later scores too. Just listen to a compilation of his scores and you'll hear that distinctive sound.

This CD was previously issued by Silva Screen and is here presented in an extended version with a Bonus track of the STARCRASH Suite (track 14, 7:14). However, the overall sound on this CD isn't so great, with a far-off (no pun intended!) sound to it. It isn't indicated where the score was recorded so that may be where the fault lies. A cheaply made film and a cheaply recorded score as well. The fault seems to be with the score's subpar recording of the 1970s rather than with the editing and mastering done by the prolific and dedicated technician, James Nelson, who also produced this CD.

I felt this score has far too much repetition and far too little memorable music. There's even a theme (track 8, 2:37) that sounds like the Strauss one used in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

But it's a well produced CD, with an attractive cover showing -- if you're a fan of sexy actresses-- a scantily clad Stella Starr played by lovely Caroline Munro, and a colorful CD booklet with Randall Larson's helpful notes.

If you're a die-hard Barry fan or a completist collector you might want to add this CD to your collection.

--Roger Hall, 6 February 2009

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