Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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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.

1.The James Bond Theme 1:57
Dr. No

007 Takes the Lektor 2:45
From Russia With Love

Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd 2:24
Diamonds Are Forever

Largo's Secrets 5:01

Oddjob's Pressing Engagement 2:19

Gumbold's Safe 4:03
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Fight At Kobe Dock 1:53
You Only Live Twice

Bond and Fiona 6:12

James Bond Is Back 2:14
From Russia With Love

Sir Hillary's Night Out 4:07
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Capsule In Space 2:27
You Only Live Twice

The Laser Beam 2:48

Escape From Piz Gloria 5:59
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Girl Trouble 2:01
From Russia With Love

Pussy Galore's Flying Circus 1:26

Bond Meets Bambi and Thumper 2:02
Diamonds Are Forever

James Bond With Bongos 2:17
From Russia With Love

Battle At Piz Gloria 3:35
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Operation Grand Slam 7:41

SPECTRE Stronghold 5:27
You Only Live Twice

The Death of Grant 1:50
From Russia With Love

Bond Smells A Rat 1:46
Diamonds Are Forever

Disco Volante 8:02

The James Bond Theme 0:54
On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Music Composed, Arranged and Conducted by

"From Russia With Love" Written by Lionel Bart
Recorded at C.T.S. Studios, Bayswater, London by Eric Tomlinson and John Richards

The James Bond Theme (Dr. No)
Okay, this is the one cheat on the whole album. This is not the original soundtrack recording, but rather two of John Barry's own covers; the Gunbarrel sequence comes from a Columbia recording he made a few years later and the bulk of the track is the stereo single version Barry recorded of the original arrangement culled from the 30th Anniversary set. The iconic fanfare that opens most of the bond films open this album, but I maintain the original form of the theme and keep the sound quality relatively uniform.

007 Takes the Lektor (From Russia With Love)
In his first full Bond score, Barry created a secondary theme called "007" for the character, this one a ticking, propulsive "mission in progress" theme that would reappear in Thunderball (tracks 8 and 23), You Only Live Twice (track 20), Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.

Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
Decades before Gustavo Santaolalla would win an Oscar for perfectly capturing the passion of two cowboys in love, Barry perfectly captured the passion of two complete sociopathic hit men in love. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd's killing spree is one of the highlights of Diamonds Are Forever, and Barry's twisted, sedate-but-menacing theme for them is one of his most memorable.

Largo's Secrets (Thunderball)
This is a suite of music revolving around Bond and Felix's investigation of Largo and the Disco Volante. Snippets of the "Thunderball" title theme can be heard interwoven throughout representing Largo himself, along with a tense, minimalist "underwater" motif which develops towards a slam-bang conclusion.

Oddjob's Pressing Engagement (Goldfinger)
As "Thunderball" represents Largo's ambition, so does "Goldfinger" represent its namesake's jovial menace. The theme was built to blend into the James Bond theme as it is showcased here. "Goldfinger" is often considered one of the series' best themes both musically as well as how the lyrics relate to the film... although one can also mention that everything that Miss Bassey warns us about Auric Goldfinger could be applied to James Bond as well.

Gumbold's Safe (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
When it comes to ratcheting up tension, few composers can do so as well as Barry, and this cue is a perfect example of his talent in this area. It is a minimalist piece built around a forbidding figure first heard in the basses and picked up gradually by other sections of the orchestra while a squeamish synthesizer ticks away.

Fight At Kobe Dock (You Only Live Twice)
Electronics that presage the title theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service accompany a sprightly version of the title song from "You Only Live Twice" that concludes with a brief statement on pizzicato strings. This moment in the film was one where even at a young age I was particularly conscious of the music because it wasn't doing what I was expecting it to do, but it sounded cool anyway.

Bond and Fiona (Thunderball)
Originally, the title song for Thunderball was to be a piece called "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," which had lyrics by Don Black, who had provided the lyrics for "Goldfinger." The title came from a nickname for Bond that was popular in Japan. At some point during the score's recording (but after two recordings of the song were recorded, one by Shirley Bassey, the other by Dionne Warwick; both are on the 30th Anniversary set), the decision was made that the title song ought to be the name of the film. Thus Black penned new lyrics and Tom Jones sung "Thunderball," which was then incorporated into the score. However, "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" still existed in the score as a theme. The song warns women about James Bond; and perhaps it is fitting that it would be used to score two of Bond's most blatant examples of mysogyny. Fiona is taunted by Bond after he uses her and the theme plays out in full as Fiona counters, concluding with a sly quote of the Bond theme as she jokes about his "failure." Bond escapes and runs out into the street during a raucous festival; the 007 theme is heard once again as Fiona and her men search for him, punctuated by brief outbursts of bongos; at one point Barry introduces a new variation on the theme that will become a major element of the climax of that film (track 23). The bongo solo then seques into a quasi-source arrangement of "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," as Bond is forced to dance with Fiona at the "Kiss Kiss" Club; this cue is very interesting because of how it plays with score versus source music. The bongos begin as only part of the accompaniment, but eventually transcend their source origins and become a reflection of the growing danger Bond finds himself targeted; while we see the drummer on screen performing what we hear, in all likelihood it is not what is actually going on in the club. Cutting brass is heard as Bond maneuvers Fiona to take the bullet meant for him; once she is shot the music suddenly returns to a more relaxed version of "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" that is no doubt what has actually been the actual music being played in the club the whole time.

James Bond Is Back (From Russia With Love)
The main title of From Russia With Love showcases Lionel Bart's theme song which was sung over the end credit by Matt Munro. This is the album version, thankfully devoid of the organ that plagues the film mix. This would be the last vocal-less Bond opening until On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which is the last to date.

Sir Hilary's Night Out (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
James Bond goes undercover (literally) to unravel a nefarious scheme of Blofeld's that involves a lot of nubile young women being programmed with post-hypnotic suggestion. A pretty but slightly off-kilter theme called "Who Will Buy My Yesterdays?" is heard as Bond does his thing. Stranger music is heard as Bond collects information by hearing their nightly programming. Bond is discovered prowling by Fräulein Bunt, a disturbing prospect on many different levels.

Capsule In Space (You Only Live Twice)
One of Barry's most popular themes from the Bond series was his "Space March," which this cue was the first appearance of as one spaceship swallows another. This was the first indication of the level of surrealism that would become a mainstay of the Moore era. A variation would be heard in Diamonds Are Forever and music built out of similar ideas would later be heard for analogous in Moonraker.

The Laser Beam (Goldfinger)
Another one of Barry's characteristic tension pieces, a five note motif repeating over and over again as the accompaniment flirts with Goldfinger's theme. This was one of the inspirations for my Jenga mp3 CD. This track was one of four that was on the U.K. LP of this release but inexplicably left off the American LP and subsequent CD release, although the tracks have since been restored, first by the Anniversary Collection, then by the superb Capitol reissue.

Escape from Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a unique Bond film, the most experimental and the one that, despite the fact that George Lazenby never managed to fit the James Bond persona very well is one that holds up the best (the only film in the series that would dare depart from the formula this drastically again would be The World Is Not Enough). Barry's score is also one of the series best, reflecting the more serious tone that Peter Hunt brought to his one and only outing. The ski chase in the film is an arresting piece of film shot by a cameraman suspended from a helicopter in order to get a full field of vision, itself as impressive a feat as any of the stunts on display. Barry accompanies this sequence, one of the most effective chases in the series (and, to be fair, Lazenby's finest moment in the film) with a full statement of his title theme for the film. This track actually consists of material from both "Escape from Piz Gloria," a track on the expanded Capitol reissue, and "Ski Chase," which was on the original album.

Girl Trouble (From Russia With Love)
Everybody likes this track. Once again, it is based on simple repeating figures gradually being doubled or counterpointed by new instruments, but this particular track features a relentless beat.

Pussy Galore's Flying Circus (Goldfinger)
This track is based around variations on the "Goldfinger" theme, and includes some nifty saxophone and trumpet vamps.

Bond Meets Bambi and Thumper (Diamonds Are Forever)
The Bond theme is counterpointed by the title theme "Diamonds Are Forever" as Bond comes face to face with two really attractive and scantily clad guards. Why? Because he's James Bond and shit like that happens to him.

James Bond With Bongos (From Russia With Love)
A brassy arrangement of the James Bond theme featuring Vic Flick's unforgettable bass guitar. I had planned to include this track from the beginning, but it wasn't on my original premix. I found when I put the mix together that while the Bond theme showed up from time to time, it didn't really establish itself much on the album, so I decided to reorganize it to enclude it.

Battle At Piz Gloria (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
A bolder version of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is played along with one of the film's action motif. So begins the last act of this album, which concentrates on more climactic material.

Operation Grand Slam (Goldfinger)
This consists of two tracks, one of the major musical set-pieces, the arresting "Dawn Raid On Fort Knox," and the dramatic "Count Down," which continues some of the thematic material heard in the other cue. I love the way Barry uses snare drums in his scores.

SPECTRE Stronghold (You Only Live Twice)
Bond penetrates into Blofeld's lair during the final stage of the supervillain's plot. The "Space March" is heard once again as Bond attempts to get aboard the launching spacecraft and is capured. A new motif based on the "Space March" is then developed, which is then integrated with a dark variation on the "007" theme. The "Space March" is then brought to a climax as "Bond Averts World War III."

The Death of Grant (From Russia With Love)
In a series full of menacing villains, Robert Shaw's cold and efficient SPECTRE assassin remains one of Bond's best nemeses. The final battle between the two of them is still shocking today for its raw brutality. The Bond films of today have become much more stylized, but this fight is a gritty, dirty thing. This cue again features Lionel Bart's "From Russia With Love" theme and then after some warning bells and strings, it explodes into brassy violence.

Bond Smells A Rat (Diamonds Are Forever)
Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd return. I spliced a brief quote of their theme that opened the suite of outtakes and alternates that is on the expanded Capitol release, while "Bond Smells A Rat" takes the kinky psycho manlove elements and build them into a gloirously off-kilter sounding action sequnce.

Disco Volante (Thunderball)
This is a suite of the climactic music from Thunderball, opening with Largo's fanfare. The eerie underwater music is then heard as the action moves underwater with Bond engaging SPECTRE SCUBA divers, bursting into a punchy statement of the "007" theme as a battle ensues. The variation on the theme introduced in track 8 is heard once again, this time gaining momentum towards a crescando; a muted Largo's fanfare follows, leading into a characteristic 'calm' arrangement of the James Bond theme for pizzicato strings. The brass then builds into the final end title statement of "Thunderball," although that wasn't used in the film in favor of the original Dr. No recording.

The James Bond Theme (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
After an instrumental version of "We Have All the Time in the World" (Bond Beauties, track 20) reflects Bond's grief at having his wife murdered on their wedding day, this version of the James Bond theme plays over the end credits. It is a fairly traditional arrangement but for the fact that the bass guitar part is played on synthesizer. This is, in many ways, Barry's "Bond '69."

In going over these scores in order to make the selections was a very enjoyable experience. I had seriously forgotten how damn good these scores really are, and with most of them being expanded and all of them being remastered, it was wonderful to go through the series through John Barry's contribution to it. I have to admit that I like the Bond films, although I am not blind to the fact that they are prone to some very disturbing politics. I have always found it interesting that now matter how you look at it, Bond likes his job, and a good part of that is because he does have a license to kill. He is a sociopath who has found the perfect job, one which allows him to indulge in his voracious appetites for danger, sex and alcohol while being patted on the back by his government. The lyrics of "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" sum it all up pretty well:
He's tall and he's dark,
And like the shark, he looks for trouble,
That's why the zeroes double,
Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

He's suave and he's smooth
And he can soothe you like vanilla.
The gentleman's a killer.
Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Damoiselles and danger
Have filled the stranger's past.
Like a knife he cuts thro' life
Like every day's the last.

He's fast and he's cool.
He's from the school that loves and leaves 'em...
A pity if it grieves 'em!
Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang's not a fool.

Oh, damoiselles and danger
Have filled the stranger's past.
Like the knife he cuts through life,
Like every day's the last.

He's fast and he's cool.
He's from the school that loves and leaves 'em...
A pity if it grieves 'em!
Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang's not a fool.
No, he's no fool.
He's no fool.
He is no fool.

Lyrics: Don Black - Music: John Barry


* 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?
Tags: film music, james bond, john barry, my mixes

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