Purely Because of a Movie – Songs on My iPod Part 6
Continuing my summer of 2014 series, which was begun right here and chronicled my history with said device, examining the music that ended up on my iPod byway of the films that featured it on their soundtracks. An inventory, as it were, and one I continue to add to. Especially since I press on with my movies-watching and music-listening.
New song and those of a more vintage variety, even years after the initial screening, which still got there purely because of a movie. As alluded in another series, the convergence of the music and film arts is one I’ve spent much time toward. I’ll attempt to break these songs up into the categories most fit into, at least for my bizarre thinking, purely to make it more manageable in presentation. Fewest to most.
Bond, James Bond
This category should be fairly obvious, especially for any fan of the famed MI6 operative. Me? Guilty as charged. In fact, I’d say if you didn’t have any music of this venerable series stored somewhere, you’re nowhere close to attaining that famed double-O licence. Though I’ve ranked my Top Ten for this subject, and sung praises for Shirley Bassey, I’ve not listed out those worthy of storage and regular listening on my iPod.
Only 19 out of the official 23 (as of this writing) have made it, along with one unofficial film, not including other well-regarded tracks from the various scores.
What’s missing, you ask? Those from Octopussy, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day — poor Pierce Brosnan really shortchanged via most who wrote theme songs during his stint — and Quantum of Solace. It’s just me and my tastes, I reckon. I’m sure there are plenty of fans for these songs, and a special place in Hell for those who somehow value Madonna’s travesty of a tune for Die Another Day. 😉
James Bond OO7 Theme: Composer Monty Norman wrote it, but it’s also John Barry’s utmost arrangement. Instantly recognizable from the outset, the theme forever attached to its iconic OO7 character.
Dr. No (1962): Using the famed theme as a lead, “Kingston Calypso” care of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires provided a fun contrast. Not the best, but it remains an interesting track.
From Russia With Love (1963)
From Russia With Love Opening Titles Theme [James Bond is Back] (1963): John Barry’s first as primary composer, and presented a lively, though brief, instrumental for the opening titles. Alan Haven’s jazzy organ work, along with the brass horns Barry drops into the tune, a true highlight.
OO7: The adventure theme composed by John Barry for the film remains one of the classics for the entire series. Reused in Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker, but was written and performed here first.
Goldfinger: As mentioned, “…like almost everything associated with Goldfinger the film, this one set the standard that all others are judged by. The Bond theme songs that came before are almost an afterthought due to Shirley Bassey singing “the song in a pull-out-the-stops manner”, as AllMusic noted.”
Goldfinger Into Miami: While it’s just less than a one minute long, it offered a marvelous big jazz band feel with its introduction to the sights and sounds of Miami Goldfinger, and James Bond, wandered into.
Dawn Raid on Fort Knox: A brilliant score piece by John Barry. Exciting in the tune’s scope, and ultimately thrilling in that wonderful sequence of the film it accompanied. Another stellar arrangement that builds tension, delivers the goods, and trails off. Leaving you wanting for more.
Thunderball: Written in rush — not uncommon for this particular movie franchise — by John Barry working with lyricist Don Black hoping to create a theme song with the movie title in lyrics and name. Pulled it off, I’d say as it’s in Rolling Stone’s and my Top 10.
Switching the Body: A delightful musical mix by John Barry that used the main theme, along with the melody of the track below to establish a darkly moody composition.
Dionne Warwick’s version of the same is not bad, either.
Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: The unused Shirley Bassey number, written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, is really underrated as a number. “Barry had thought he could not write a song about a vague “Thunderball” term or the film’s story, so his song was a description of the character James Bond.”, per Wikipedia.
You Only Live Twice (1967): Also as mentioned, “sung by Nancy Sinatra, music/lyrics by John Barry, Leslie Bricusse. Reasons for this are located here.”
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: This represented an interesting variation since it’s an instrumental, again by John Barry, and not a vocal theme song that lead off the film. The first non-Connery flick. Still, a fun, energetic romp that powered the opening titles sequence.
We Have All the Time in the World: Louis Armstrong singing his last recorded piece, composed by John Barry, using Hal David and Burt Bacharach lyrics, as the film’s love theme. What’s not to love?
We Have All the Time in the World (instrumental): Barry’s lovely instrumental stands up well even without a music legend singing it.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Diamonds Are Forever: As mentioned, “sung by Shirley Bassey, music and lyrics by John Barry and Don Black, respectively. My case for why all Dame Shirley Bassey-sung songs are on my list is located here.”
Mr. Vint an Mr. Kidd/Bond to Holland: Another moody score piece by John Barry that offered a secondary musical undercurrent to the storyline. I think it’s an under-appreciated part of the soundtrack.
Live and Let Die (1971): Written and sung by Macca — Paul McCartney, backed by Wings and produced by the great George Martin. The most Beatles-influenced song on the entire list. Of course, it had to be here!
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): A song not on either Rolling Stone’s or my top ten list for a Bond movie. Still, composed by John Barry, with Don Black lyrics, and probably because it was performed by Lulu, it’s won me over.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): #3 on Rolling Stone’s list (#5 on mine), and sung by the wonderful Carly Simon, with music/lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager. It’s the best Roger Moore film and associated theme song.
Moonraker: John Barry returned to Ms. Bassey to save the day (she did so only as a favor to the composer, even though it’s her least favorite). Hal David did the lyrics. Again, already covered, another song that was one of the best aspects to a poor film.
Moonraker (Disco): Hell, I’ll take Dame Bassey’s disco version of the tune (played during the end credits) over Madonna’s song any day of the week, thank you very much.
For Your Eyes Only (1981): Sung by Sheena Easton, music/lyrics by Bill Conti and Mick Leeson, it’s my #7 pick in my top ten. The second-best Roger Moore film, and Sheena’s turn was a real highlight.
Never Say Never Again (1983): I have to say the only song outside of the official canon is highly underrated, in my view. Composed by Michel Legrand, with lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, Lani Hall sung the hell out of this, and would be in my top 13 Bond theme songs, if you count this. I do.
A View to a Kill (1985): Written and sung by Duran Duran, with music by John Barry. It’s another no-brainer of a pick, and the single best thing in this, the worst Bond film.
The Living Daylights (1987)
The Living Daylights: Another song that grew on me over the years. Admittedly, it’s analogous to Timothy Dalton’s stint as OO7. Both Dalton and the pop group a-ha‘s song (John Barry’s mix, though) were highly underrated and under-appreciated before gaining admiration.
Assassin and Drugged: This track paralleled the main theme and invigorated a solid sequence in the film. This would be the eleventh and final James Bond soundtrack to be scored by the famed composer, the great John Barry.
Licence to Kill (1989): Gladys Knight’s song, composed by Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen and Walter Afanasieff, which used the “horn line” from Goldfinger, doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s more than solid.
Goldeneye (1995): Unexpectedly written by Bono and The Edge of the Irish rock band U2, but not performed by them. The legendary Tina Turner had the honors, and I can’t see anyone else singing this, now.
Casino Royale [You Know My Name] (2006): Bizarrely, the title song by Chris Cornell is not featured on the soundtrack album, but released separately as a single. Still a solid theme song for the spectacular opening titles sequence.
Skyfall (2012): Once again we had the title song, a really great one performed superbly by Adele, not on the soundtrack. Only released as a single, let’s just say I’m not a fan of this trend. Only a very few are better than Adele’s, though (I guess I need to update my top ten Bond songs, now).
How about you? Any OO7 theme songs or score tracks you’ve collected because of a Bond movie?
The entire series can be found here.
31 Responses to “Purely Because of a Movie – Songs on My iPod Part 6”
Great post. Goldeneye and Skyfall are mine.
Thanks very much, Alex. Very fine picks, too.
This is a spectacular consideration of the stupendous musical tradition of this endlessly popular franchise. A real labor of love, passionate, authoritative and discerning, Robert and a real pleasure to negotiate as a reader and fellow film music fan. It is clear enough that John Barry, above all others is the one to cite when assessing the composers who penned the most memorable scores and numbers, and there are a good number in your line-up that I would likewise designate as particularly unforgettable. I do by the way agree with you that the recent trend you noticed in SKYFALL (with the single separate from the film) is rather disappointing. Ironically, Adele’s song will no doubt be seen years down the road as one of the most memorable numbers in the ongoing series. As a baby boomer GOLDFINGER’s theme song will always hold a very special place in my heart, but it was musically auspicious for its time. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was quite good in the popular vein as was LIVE AND LET DIE. I could go on, but your great work here speaks for itself!
Well, gosh, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Nice! Live and Let Die is my favorite.
I was hoping you’d chime in, Sam. We seem to have similar interests. Yes, John Barry is the authoritative source for so many of the great tracks associated with the Bond franchise. No question Adele’s Skyfall song with only gain in stature among all of these theme songs in the coming years. We can only hope, like Dame Shirley, she’ll return for others down the line. Many thanks, Sam, for your splendid comment! 🙂
The Goldfinger LP is my favorite Bond film score. Played the hell out of it years ago. Title songs would include Live and Let Die, Nobody Does it Better, Thundetball , Theme From Goldeneye, Diamonds Ar Forever and Skyfall.
We’re in agreement concerning Goldfinger’s wonderful soundtrack, and your other picks, John. Many thanks, my friend. 🙂
I can’t even describe how much adore this post- what a magnificent compilation!! I’m a HUGE Bond fan myself and the songs and musical scores are a vital part of the whole 007 film series experience. Excellent choices, details and summaries. Fantastic post!!
So glad to hear your a big fan of Bond and its music, Kellee. When I began to put this together, it became clear I had to single out this as its own category. Seems to resonate with others, too. Warms my OO7 heart 😉
Thank you very much, Kellee 🙂
Great post. On my iPod I’ve got “You Know My Name” (I believe Chris Cornell’s voice is one of the finest sounds my ears have ever perceived) and Adele’s “Skyfall”. Love that song and I’m so glad that she won the Oscar. Can’t wait for her new album!
Good point, Fernando. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that female voices have a majority in the theme song arena, but the male singers do their part quite well. Put me on the list waiting impatiently for Adele’s next. Thanks, my friend 🙂
Oh, Hell, I’ll be coming back to this post all week. What are you trying to do, kill all of my time?
Just a few notes while I am here on my first run through. You gave props to “From Russia with Love” but you did not mention the vocal used at the end of the movie by Matt Monroe. He was one of my favorite crooners with a Sinatra style and a great smooth voice. I think his vocal is sometime ignored because it was in the credit sequence rather than the title but he sang the heck out of that tune.
Anyone who claims any Bond song other than Goldfinger is the best, is clearly smoking something. This is the Defining moment in James Bond Tittle songs. It is evocative and brassy as all get out. Shirley Bassey could never have sung another tune and her legacy would be complete with this.
I appreciated that you did not limit your selections to just the title tunes. The Goldfinger into Miami piece swings like a sixties hipster and makes me wish i was back in that time as an adult.
The Lyrics are hamfisted but they work, “Thunderball” is a terrific theme song, it has the power of Goldfinger without the same level of Seduction despite a smashing Tom Jones Vocal. I had a link in a post I did two years ago that I dug up for you which did a nice examination of the whole soundtrack. Here it is if you did not see it before:
I think you are being kind to Michel Legrand because of his legacy rather than the music for Never Say Never Again. In my view it is the weakest score and the lamest title song (except for the Madonna monstrosity).
I may be back and I may be on some of the other links. Thanks for choosing a great topic and including a fantastic catalog of music to fill it up with.
Good point about Matt Monroe’s theme song (and wasn’t it played on the radio somewhere in the movie?). Solid song and smooth delivery. I like it, just love the others more. Agreed about Dame Shirley’s entry into the series with her brassy rendition of Goldfinger. Pivotal moment.
I will definitely check out your link, Richard.
I know ‘Never Say Never Again’ splits the OO7 fan base, story- and music-wise. But Lani Hall’s song has grown on me over the years. At least we’re in tune re: the Madonna monstrosity 😉
Yes, bring on the links. I’m definitely interested in your thoughts on the subject that keeps us intrigue, my friend. Many thanks 🙂
We are not quite poles apart, but near enough. Aside from ‘Live and Let Die,”Goldfinger,’ and ‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ I find nearly all of the title songs from the Bond movies forgettable. If I could hum more than four bars of any of the others, I’d be surprised. But here’s a qualifier: I haven’t seen Quantum of Solace or Skyfall.
Well, those mentioned are among the very best in this venerable series. Please check out QoS and Skyfall and come back and let me know your thoughts. Adele’s song certainly has garnered high praise, along with an Oscar 😉
Many thanks, Naomi 😀
Excellent job, Michael!
It’s heartening to see that the original ballsy John Barry brass, guitar and deep drum work that kicked off after ‘Dr. No’ has hung around and been expounded upon through the decades and augmented for each leading man (Bond).
Being a child of the original Connery as Bond. I still have soft spots for ‘From Russia With Love’, ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’. It’s refreshingly pleasant to have the themes afterwards reach and often attain those heights.
Glad to hear it, Kevin! I remain a longtime Connery man. And each of those songs hold a special memory. Distinctive, for sure. Thank so much, my friend.
This series of yours continues to be so much fun!
Thank you, Rachel. It ended up bigger than I envisioned once I got started. Then it took on a life of its own. 🙂
What a great post. I can’t wait till you get to the boybands and justin bieber parts of your ipod 😉
Ha! Good one, Tyson. The next few weeks, though, will bring a variety. Many thanks, my friend. 🙂
Another great list mate.
Thank you so much! 🙂
Oooooh!!! You are a man after my own heart Michael! I don’t know how many Bond collection CDs I own, I kept buying them over the years. Well I think my brother owned a couple as well so growing up, the Bond soundtrack was always around. I love pretty much everything, the only one I’m not really fond of is The Man with the Golden Gun, I always skip that song, oh and I also didn’t care for the latest ones by Jack White and also Madonna, but glad Casino Royale & Adele’s Skyfall are both awesome! I even LOVE Tomorrow Never Dies tho generally I’m not a fan of Sheryl Crowe’s music. Great stuff here Michael!
I knew you’d have a collection of Bond music, Ruth. I think TMWTGG is among, if not the weakest on my list. I’ve always enjoyed Lulu’s voice, though. Sheryl Crowe’s is just on the outside looking in. Maybe her’s will, too, grow on me. You never know — of the course, the caveat in that is Madonna’s. That’ll NEVER grow on me 😉
Many thanks for the comment and share, Ruth 😀
Yeah, for some reason I just never enjoy the melody of ‘Golden Gun’ but I mostly enjoy all the Bond songs, with a few exceptions. Ahah yeah, Die Another Day is just an abominable, with the only bright thing being Toby Stephens, he’s always ‘a diamond in the rough’ type of actor to me 😉 I still watch the fencing scene and marvel at erm, his physicality.
Btw, I also enjoy Octopussy, there’s something so romantic about Rita Coolidge’s All Time High and the edgy-ness of The World is Not Enough, which grew on me more and more as time passes. I’ve never listened to ‘Garbage’ before but I really love Shirley Manson’s voice in this one 🙂
Y’know, I’d forgotten Toby Stephens was in DIE ANOTHER DAY! He did have distinct physical presence, especially in that scene. Yeah, Rita Coolidge is a talented singer, and I should give those another listen.
Oh no, don’t forget Toby 🙂 He practically out-shined Pierce in every scene. Pierce was so out of breath by the time the fencing scene is done but Toby still looks like he could go on for hours! 😉
As for All Time High, I don’t know why but I love that melody so much. I even sing it in the shower at times as it’s not an overly difficult song (unlike some of Shirley Bassey stuff). It’s not as stellar as others but for some reason it’s become my favorite.
I love how your post now makes me want to listen to Bond again, luckily they’re on MY iPod too 😀
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