Album Reviews

John Barry/Donna Summer: The Deep Original Soundtrack Recording (Big Break Records)

the deep

The Deep was a 1977 Jacqueline Bisset/Nick Nolte thriller, written by Jaws author Peter Benchley. Like Jaws, the film’s backdrop is the depths of the ocean. The promotional poster for the film featured a poster design that was very similar to the iconic Jaws artwork. It’s a great film; I highly recommend it.

The soundtrack, composed by master composer John Barry, is pivotal to the film’s edge-of-your-seat action. The soundtrack, as used in the film, is atypical John Barry; orchestral selections that accentuate their respective scenes quite well. The Deep is different, in one respect; the selections used in the film are extracted from a greater work, a ballet piece entitled “Return to the Sea, 2033 AD.” It’s an adventurous work, even for a master like Barry; it’s an epic, twenty-four minute affair that goes from languid to terrifying, often without warning. His ability to create dramatic tension is amazing; the piece is a roller-coster ride, often going from languid to terrifying without warning. One need not see the film to feel the full power of this, one of his most experimental works. Anyone who considers themselves a fan of Barry and of 20th Century modern composers should consider adding this impressive side in their collection.

Side Two of The Deep, however, is a different story. The theme song, “Theme From The Deep (Deep, Deep Inside),” was a collaboration with Donna Summer, the soon-to-be queen of the disco scene. The song was released after her international success with “I Feel Love,” and though it’s a good song that incorporates Barry’s score with a beat and Summer’s trademark orgasmic singing, it’s not a particularly memorable number, feeling more like a Donna Summer impersonator. Much better is the song “Disco Calypso,” credited to Beckett, the song is exactly what it says–a disco calypso number that is quite catchy. Also included is an instrumental version of the theme song, which helps to highlight Barry’s ability to incorporate seemingly divergent styles.

The late 1970s was a boom time for movie soundtracks, and The Deep is no exception. Even the relatively weak Summer number doesn’t take away from album’s overall quality. I recommend the movie, and this soundtrack.

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