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.
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.
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.