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Two decades before Dances with Wolves, John Barry scored Monte Walsh (1970), a character study of aging cowboys (Lee Marvin and Jack Palance) who face the end of their way of life in the 1880s. Directed by William A. Fraker, for whom Barry later scored The Legend of the Lone Ranger, the film features authentic locations and production design to go with the sterling cast, which also includes Jeanne Moreau in her American debut.
John Barry's score is the bittersweet heart of the film and centers around his title song, "The Good Times Are Comin'," with lyrics by Hal David. "The Good Times" is performed by the late Mama Cass in the opening and closing credits, and also once in the body of the film; in its instrumental form, it becomes the love music for Marvin and Moreau's characters.
For the rest of the score, Barry adopted a European approach (despite the American subject matter) in that he wrote several distinct themes, repeated as appropriate, rather than a great deal of connective tissue. No less than three themes pertain to the movie's cowboy protagonists: a bold, brassy and purposeful theme which shines in a mustang round-up sequence; a goofy theme with harmonica and guitar for the cowboys' lighter moments of tomfoolery; and a haunting, bittersweet theme (often for solo oboe or harmonica) which reflects upon their uncertain future. Additionally, there are two major setpieces: a beautiful, Midnight Cowboy-meets-American folk theme for a poignant exchange between Monte and Chet ("Old Friends") and a 007-styled climax, complete with minor brass chords and clanging marimbas ("Sit Him High").
The first 31 minutes of this hour-long disc features the best selections of the Monte Walsh score as might have been assembled for an LP, had one been released. The back half features source cues (including 15 minutes of Barry honkytonk), two additional renditions of "The Good Times Are Comin'" (an extended version and the 45rpm single recording), and a suite of score outtakes. The disc has been mastered from mono reel-to-reel elements located at the CBS Inc. Collection, courtesy of UCLA Music Library Special Collections, in clean and vibrant sound; track 24 is in stereo. The 16-page booklet features liner notes by Pete Walker & Geoff Leonard and track notes by Lukas Kendall.