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Archive for March 19th, 2014

Donna Summer and John Barry Go “Deep” On New Hot Shot Reissue

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The Deep OSTEverything about The Deep was big.  Jaws author Peter Benchley was guaranteed over half a million dollars by impresario Peter Guber for film rights to his unpublished follow-up in a deal which seemed justified when The Deep finally arrived and quickly became a bestseller.   For his big screen-ready underwater adventure, Guber had a big budget, big locations for shooting, and a big partner in Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records.  Bogart wasn’t known for doing anything small, and as the inaugural production of Casablanca FilmWorks, The Deep didn’t disappoint.   The film starring Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset, Eli Wallach and Jaws’ Robert Shaw also needed a big soundtrack.  Casablanca disco queen Donna Summer was tapped, as was one of the true deans of film scoring, multiple Academy Award winner John Barry.  Their collaboration was released on Casablanca Records in July 1977, and that original album has just been reissued for the first time as a standalone compact disc by Big Break Records’ Hot Shot imprint.

The Deep, directed by Peter Yates, centered on several people vying with one another to reclaim medical supplies from a sunken World War II ship as well as treasure from the remains of an eighteenth-century Spanish vessel.   Jaws’ John Williams was an early favorite to compose the score to this aquatic adventure, but the honors instead went to John Barry.  By 1977, three-time Academy Award winner Barry had proven his versatility over and over again.  Though still closely associated with the thrilling, swinging spy sound of the James Bond films – an oft-imitated, never-duplicated style largely of his own making – Barry was also a master at elegantly incorporating influences both classical and contemporary into his work.  His muse as a composer would eventually lead him to a sweeping, lush and grandly romantic style for such films as Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves, but his score to The Deep combines the excitement of the Bond films with the sprawling widescreen approach of those later pictures.  While Barry was occupied with The Deep, scoring duties for 1977’s Bond flick, The Spy Who Loved Me, went to another Oscar winner, Marvin Hamlisch.  It was only the second time Barry hadn’t wielded the baton for a 007 episode since taking over the series as composer with 1963’s From Russia with Love.  (Barry had, of course, been on the ground floor of the Bond series as arranger of Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme” for Dr. No.)

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Written by Joe Marchese

March 19, 2014 at 13:32