March 14th, 2006

Q - Major Boothroyd (James Bond)

He always runs while other men just walk...

A few years ago I made Bond Beauties, which was a compilation of some of the most attractive music composed for the James Bond films. It was a mix that worked well in my opinion because what wasn't written by John Barry was evoking John Barry. I like it a lot, even though nobody else seems to. Nevertheless, that mix only presented a specific facet of the James Bond sound... actually the one that remained the most consistent throughout the franchise. But Bond is about action and intrigue, and Barry's work on the films is legendary. Regardless of the debate as to whether John Barry or Monty Norman was more responsible for the James Bond theme*, the fact of the matter is that it is Barry who defined what a Bond pcture needed to sound like. The results when the series attempted to do something radically different - Eric Serra's Goldeneye - were disasterous.

Barry's music for the early Bond films is interesting both because of how much fun it is to listen to, but also for how practical it is. The orchestration was designed to work around the other elements in the sound mix, and so there are characteristic sounds for each type of sequence. Bond Beauties only concentrated on one of these modes; interestingly because it tended towards either the more travelogue or sexual elements of the franchise it is the one where the music had the most traditional sound. The Bondmania of the 60s meant that these films to be major events when these they were released (despite its tepid initial reception, it is interesting to contemplate how ahead of its time On Her Majesty's Secret Service really is); the music was a very important aspect, and is one of the most unifying elements throughout the sixties. And once Barry took a break, the films never sounded the same again, even when Barry was scoring them. So I decided that I would make a new mix that would examine the Connery era Bond films, including On Her Majesty's Secret Service, of course.

For the most part, I try to avoid using the same track in a mix that I've used on another mix. There are exceptions; if I make a mix of a specific composer's work or of a film series' scores, then I consider those tracks to be fair game on an unrelated mix. I decided that Bond Beauties was close enough in conception to this album that I didn't want to have overlap. There is thematic material that is common to both albums, but no tracks would be replicated on the new disc. I had put together another Bond mix at one point called Pure Bond, but it wasn't really a score mix, it had some of the songs and dialogue on it, so I don't consider that to have a bearing on this one. A long time ago I did put together a disc of highlights from the same period. It was chronological and was made from the old crappy sounding EMI CDs instead of the sleek, fantastic sounding and often expanded new Capitol CDs with a few tracks from the 30th Anniversary edition thrown in - and I have no idea where any copies of that one might be, so it's a moot point anyway. So this disc is meant to complement Bond Beauties, the prospective follow-up album consisting of music from the subsequent Barry-scored entries... and any collection of the Bond songs, many of which are readily available. The choice to do that freed me from having to cover some essential thematic material.

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* My opinion is that, from a purely musical point of view, Norman just couldn't have written something that good; the rest of his Dr. No score pretty much sucks and the piece sounds so very much like Barry's "Bea's Knees." Furthermore, too many people have corroborated in too many sources that John Barry was called in to write the theme. Monty Norman gets credit for it and significant royalties and has jack else going on (that new album was a joke). And from a strictly practical point of view... John Barry all of the subsequent Bond films until Diamonds Are Forever, then pretty much alternated through the seventies and then covered the eighties again. Although he left the series after The Living Daylights. If you were the producers, wouldn't you want the guy who wrote the James Bond theme to score your James Bond films?
Dude (The Big Lebowski)

Taking a break...

Today a lot of potential energy turned kinetic. I have gradually been reorganizing my apartment to make more efficient use of the space that I have, a process which has included buying new shelf units (which are a bitch to put together by oneself, I must say), a new office chair and some carpeting, as well as trashing the old busted chairs, some aging furniture, old printers and a microwave. With all of the old crap being replaced by new, more space-efficient crap, not to mention all of the stuff I'm going through and getting rid of... I was wondering for a while if maybe I may have been making a mistake to buy all this stuff, but it's working out great. The couch slid perfectly into the space I intended for it, and the two shelf units fit right where I want them. The bathroom is sporting a nice new shower curtain as well; I'm considering getting one of those frame shelf units that go around the toilet tank, but there is a towel bar in the way. Perhaps something supported by tension rods...

The problem that I am having right now is that the more I get done, the more ideas I get to do. Then I end up doing more shit. This shocking display of ambition will not stand, man! This aggression will not stand!!!