Few artists have created a body of work as rich and varied as Prince. During the '80s, he emerged as one of the most singular talents of the rock & roll era, capable of seamlessly tying together pop, funk, folk, and rock. Not only did he release a series of groundbreaking albums; he toured frequently, produced albums and wrote songs for many other artists, and recorded hundreds of songs that still lie unreleased in his vaults. With each album he released, Prince has shown remarkable stylistic growth and musical diversity, constantly experimenting with different sounds, textures, and genres.
Born John Barry Prendergast to a father who owned a cinema and a mother who played piano, all the elements were in place for John to develop his career as he did. Even when he had to do national service, he managed to secure a job as an army bandsman, so he managed to use that period to hone his craft. John first came to prominence via his recording of Hit and miss, which became the theme to the TV show Jukebox jury. Famous as his TV theme became, John's most famous hit is the James Bond theme. This particular compilation, as its title suggests, focuses on John's recordings for EMI. Many of these recordings date from the early to mid sixties, but there are a few from the nineties too. Most of the tracks are instrumentals, but there are also three Shirley Bassey tracks (Goldfinger, Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Diamonds are forever) and a Matt Monro track (Born free) in which John was involved. Two of the Shirley Bassey tracks are famous, but I'd not heard the other one before buying this CD. It was apparently intended as the theme for Thunderball but was dropped in favor of the Tom Jones song Thunderball. There are 25 tracks altogether and the CD comes with a nice booklet. By no means a definitive John Barry compilation, this does at least contain all those early sixties tracks that I particularly wanted and showcases John's versatility as a composer and arranger. Sadly, John died early in 2011 but his legacy in the history of cinematic music is assured.