Game of Death Original Soundtrack Recording by John Barry – Remastered + Multi-Page Photo Booklet

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    This two-albums-in-one compact disc contains two remastered versions of the Game of Death and Night Games film scores from legendary English composer John Barry. First is Game of Death, the score for the final official film featuring martial arts icon and film star Bruce Lee.

    Game of Death combines archive footage of the legendary screen star, along with unconvincing new footage using body doubles. As such, the film wasn’t well received at first by fans or critics. However, over the years it has become part of the Bruce Lee lexicon, thanks in no small part to the action-packed finale sequence, which featured the real Bruce Lee squaring off against martial arts masters Dan Inosanto & Han Jae Ji, NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hugh O’Brian. The sequence was filmed prior to Lee’s untimely passing, just after completing work on Enter the Dragon.

    Barry managed to serve up a worthwhile action score that combined the regal orchestral punch of his work on the James Bond films with some exotic Asian-styled touches. Like his James Bond scores, Game of Death is built on two key musical themes. The first is the “Main Title,” a hard-hitting slice of action music that mixes brassy, dramatic horn arrangements with swirling strings over a jazzy rhythm section perked up with electronic percussion. The other theme is a romantic theme entitled “Is This the Song I’ll Be Singing Tomorrow,” which is presented in both instrumental and vocal versions. This theme is a lounge-y track that blends a jazzy, saxophone-driven melody with easy listening orchestral touches. The remaining tracks are variations on these themes. This approach could have easily gotten dull, but the themes overflow with strong melodic content, and Barry’s skill as an arranger shifts them in directions that keep them consistently interesting: “Garden Fight” pares the main theme down into a slower, more ominous track that is spiced up with staccato horn and drum passages, and “Billy and Ann’s Love Theme” strips the lounge and jazz elements from the romantic theme to create a lush orchestral track.

    The other score on the disc was completed for Night Games, an offbeat erotic thriller from French director Roger Vadim. For this film, Barry created a score that mixes his traditionally classy orchestral touch with moodier, more eccentric touches that work with the film’s unusual tone. For instance, “Descent Into Decadence” starts with a lilting theme built on piano and gentle strings, but soon transforms into a creepy theme full of low strings and spooky wordless choir vocals. This element of darkness is balanced with some playful elements, such as the track “The Lesbian Tango.” The end result is a score that is more experimental than most of Barry’s work.