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Tied only with Ennio Morricone's "L'uomo dell'armonica", John Barry's "James Bond Theme" from 1962 is perhaps the most recognizable film score instrumental of all time - here's some background on where this music came from. John Barry's first notable venture into film music was for the movie Beat Girl (released in 1960). You can judge the significance and impact of this work by the fact that Beat Girl was the first UK movie ever to have its score released on a significant scale. The LP was very successful, reaching the Top 20 of the UK charts.

Beat Girl was basically one of the British counterparts to a wave of exploitative US films from the mid-late 1950's - typically B-Movies - that dealt with teenage delinquency and the Beatnik culture. The problem the film makers had was that something similar to the Beatnik movement existed in the UK, but it was ill-defined and amorphous at the time. Remember, this was before Beatlemania, and therefore largely before UK pop culture really came into its own.

Arguably, the youth culture portrayed in Beat Girl is what would later morph into the mod movement. However, in 1959, when the film was made, it was even unclear which music British teens were supposedly listening to - at the time it seemed that rock 'n' roll might have been little more than a fad. Bill Haley's hit "Rock Around the Clock" was four years old, British Beat (despite the movie's very title!) was a couple of years away and the latest trend coming from the United States at the time was hard bop - a style of jazz that used elements from R'n'B/Soul music for a more "hot" sound after many musicians had become tired of cool jazz.

So what to do? Disoriented, the movie makers decided to hatch their bets. They signed up British rock'n' roll teen idol Adam Faith for the film and let him play some of his songs, but they also decorated the teen's favorite hangout spots with jazz posters, and let the characters talk about jazz. John Barry's score would also become a hybrid.

Thus, in order to combine jazz and rock elements, for the theme from Beat Girl, Barry used an uptempo jazzy, exciting backdrop created by the brass section, and over that he laid an infectious, rousing guitar line. The formula for Barry's work for the James Bond movies was born! Indeed, it comes to show that the most iconic things are sometimes born out of disorientation. Try playing the track to someone you know - unless they are familiar with Beat Girl, they will most likely guess it to be from a James Bond score.

Iron Noder Challenge 2017