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High Road to China
Album Cover Art
1990 SCSE
2000 Promo
Album 2 Cover Art
2009 BSX Records
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Arranged and Orchestrated by:
Al Woodbury
Labels Icon
Soundtrack Collector's Special Editions, SCSE CD-2

Super Tracks Music Group (Promo)
(April, 2000)

BSX Records
(December 17th, 2009)
Availability Icon
The original 1990 album was once considered a top collectible. Only 2,000 copies were printed, with an estimated value of $100 or more during the mid-1990's. A later "gold" re-pressing from SCSE added 750 copies and its number is SCSE CD-2-G. Its value was not as great as the original by the same label. In 1999, extra stock of these original CD's began appearing at online retail stores.

The expanded 2000 album is a limited promotional release, available only through soundtrack specialty outlets. The 2009 BSX Records album is limited to 1,500 copies and available at the same outlets for a new price of $15 (or less).
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are an unreserved enthusiast of John Barry's lush and occasionally soaring romance themes and rhythmic action motifs, no matter their relatively stagnant foundations.

Avoid it... if you expect an ounce of originality from Barry in this score, for what you receive is a clear cross between Raise the Titanic and Out of Africa.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 6/27/97, REVISED 11/30/11
High Road to China: (John Barry) The 1983 adventure High Road to China was meant to be actor Tom Selleck's victorious transition from television to feature films and introduce a rival to the "Indiana Jones" franchise. In the Brian G. Hutton movie, Selleck is a drunken, depressed pilot hired in the 1920's by a British heiress to help find her captured father and thus ensure that his riches transfer to her. With those somewhat curious parameters in mind, the film doesn't ask you to sympathize with any of its leads, but it rather entertains you with its aerial journey from Turkey to Afghanistan, Nepal, and ultimately China. With a budding but never realized relationship between the Selleck's rogue and the heiress (who is revealed to be deceiving her partner in that she's a skilled pilot herself and simply needs his planes to make the rescue attempt herself), the film balances a bittersweet romantic element with the stunning aerial photography central to its appeal. No doubt a logical hire for the scoring assignment at the time was John Barry, who was well equipped to not only provide the flowing romanticism necessary by those two main features of the story, but also the stock suspense that accompanies attempts by other interested parties in killing off the heiress. Barry was balancing two major sides of his career at the time: the continuing formula of the James Bond scores and the bloated, string-dominated lyricism that would eventually yield two Academy Award wins for the composer. Collectors made cynical by Barry's consistency in these efforts throughout the decades have rejected both sounds, flocking instead towards the few efforts by the composer that do not squarely fit in one of those two genres. For these listeners, High Road to China is truly a nightmare of redundancy. In the film, the majority of music heard is actually source material consisting of jazz and classical pieces from the era. Barry wrote two of these source cues, and most of the others are standards that mainstream cinema-goers will likely recognize. The score itself offers absolutely nothing new to the composer's career, but it does have the advantage of stating Barry's obvious mannerisms with a more effective voice than many of his other similar scores.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.94 Stars
***** 579 5 Stars
**** 369 4 Stars
*** 201 3 Stars
** 89 2 Stars
* 92 1 Stars
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Lawrence of Arabia
roybatty - June 21, 2007, at 4:59 a.m.
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1990 SCSE Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 30:04
• 1. Main Title; Charlie Gets the Knife (2:50)
• 2. Airborne (1:15)
• 3. Love Theme (1:46)
• 4. Waziri Village Attack & Escape (3:22)
• 5. Farewell to Struts (2:52)
• 6. O'Malley & Eve (2:15)
• 7. Charleston* (1:26)
• 8. Von Kern's Attack (1:50)
• 9. Flight From Katmandu (1:38)
• 10. Eve Finds Her Father (2:40)
• 11. Raid On Chang's Camp (2:30)
• 12. High Road & End Title (5:50)
* source cue written by Jimm Jonson and Cecile Mack
2000 Supertracks Promo Tracks   ▼Total Time: 57:58
2009 BSX Records Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 66:48

Notes Icon
The inserts of all of the albums contain extensive notes about the film and score. All copies of the original SCSE release were hand-numbered. The 2009 BSX Records album incorrectly lists itself as a 2010 product on its packaging.
Copyright © 1997-2020, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from High Road to China are Copyright © 1990, 2000, 2009, Soundtrack Collector's Special Editions, SCSE CD-2, Super Tracks Music Group (Promo), BSX Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/27/97 and last updated 11/30/11.
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