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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


High Road to China
Music by John Barry
BSX Records BSXCS 8864 (US)
21 Tracks 66:56 mins

Having successfully conquered TV with Magnum PI, but at a cost - missing out on playing Indiana Jones, Tom Selleck finally got his big screen break with the fun adventure film 1984's High Road to China. Unfortunately, he was never to make a huge splash on big screen, but this was nevertheless an enjoyable romp.
The film's score was provided by John Barry, who could always be relied upon to provide good hummable themes and masterful scoring in his own distinctive style. This particular score is based around a typically gorgeous, soaring string theme (also played effectively by sultry sax in the "Finale"), very typical of the composer at that time; an adventurous, propulsive action theme; and another, grimmer, action theme, somewhat reminiscent of Barry's work in Game of Death. All expertly play off one another, and are varied to suit the occasion. Throughout, a thoroughly entertaining listen.
The soundtrack for High Road to China has been issued many times over the years, the most extensive being the Super Tracks release of 2000. I can't imagine that any self-respecting John Barry fan or collector of quality film scores will not have at least one of these releases, though you may not have the Super Tracks version, which wasn't that widely available. This new BSX release reprises all 20 tracks from that album and adds a 9 minute plus bonus suite at the end. The score tracks are the same as per the standard releases, but the Super Tracks version (and this one) adds 11 source tracks, two of which were composed by Barry himself: "Mohamet's Dance" and "Waziri Source," both of them spare, ethnic flute and percussion pieces.
As for the bonus suite: well, there's nothing really new here, just a chance to revisit the main highlights of Barry's score in one uninterrupted sitting. It would make a great concert piece.
Accompanying the disc are Mike Joffe's notes on the film and its composer, plenty of stills, and a note from Tom Selleck himself.
If you would like to add this, the most complete version of High Road to China yet, to your collection, you'd best hurry along to, as it is limited to just 1500 units.


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