Parts 021 -030, of my 007 film franchise soundtrack celebration.
This third set of ten choice theme tunes, interludes and musical suites are from the following films: Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.
021: ‘Baron Samedi’s Dance Of Death’ George Martin (United Artists) Recorded April 1973.
Though the film uses the fictional island of San Monique, it’s hypnotic Voodoo drumming comes courtesy of Haiti. The Baron’s faux-occult theme stirs up the locals to a sweaty climax. A supernatural villain, Samedi was based on one of the loa (spirits) found in the Voodoo tradition. Bond fatally pushes him into a coffin full of snakes, but he re-appears in the closing titles, grinning on the front of a train; spooky shit!
022:‘Scaramanga’s Fun House’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded 1974.
Creeping tentatively around Scaramanga’s Thailand lair, the hired gun tiptoes along the varying threatening musical collages that slip in and out of the frame. From tense stirrings to a perverse burst of barrel-organ jazz – which would make even the coolest cat jump out of their skin. Playing on the famously ominous and forbidding presence of Christopher Lee, who plays Bonds nemesis, the signature prowling menace, permeates through this introductory score.
023:‘Man With The Golden Gun (Jazz Instrumental)’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded in 1974.
This sassy Dixie jazz version of Lulu‘s original theme tune is as brassy as a 1960s east end stripper; taking it’s better known and better behaved predecessor down the back alleys. John Barry considered it among his weakest theme tunes, and many believe it to have been a tad too overtly sexy. If rumours are true than Alice Cooper, of all people, was lined-up to originally do the honours (his version is evidently on Muscle Of Love), but Lulu through fate replaced the miscreant rocker. Rather unfortunately, ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, was the only Bond theme to not chart in the UK or US.
024:‘Let’s Go Get’Em’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded in 1974.
Brass heralds in the travelling Thailand soundtrack, as the familiar Bond theme returns like a much-missed old comrade. The distinctive guitar twang is now, and for all other 007 soundtracks after this one, missing, replaced by trumpets and strings, except for when the returning southern drawling Sheriff JW Pepper makes a return – the signature twang is then used as a sort of joke.
025:‘End Titles’ Written by John Barry/Lyrics by Don Black, Performed by LuLu (EMI) Recorded in 1974.
The last orchestral scenic waltz lushly marks the bookend title sequence, as the latest world-dominating plot is foiled in time for 007 to get his leg over. The, now more swaying and jazzy disco, theme tune makes a reprised appearance as the titles roll by featuring for the first time, a different set of lyrics from the opening credits: a practice followed up on subsequent Bond movies, though some used entirely different songs as well.
026:‘Nobody Does It Better’ Composed by Marvin Hamlisch, words by Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Carley Simon (EMI) Recorded in April 1977.
Plenty before me have waxed lyrical superlatives about this, the best ever 007-theme tune, bar none. Almost effortless, this power-balled is the most convincing yet, summing up the feel, mood, look and stylistics of the Bond brand. Replacing John Barry, whose absence was due to the fact he wasn’t allowed to work in the UK because of tax problems (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), the American composer, Marvin Hamlisch was given the task of scoring The Spy Who Loved Me. His Demis Roussos meets whiter than white disco soundtrack had its garish moments, yet was led by the relaxed silky tones of Carley Simon on the lamented, take-a-chance, ‘Nobody Does It Better’; a beatific song that finds a common thread with the work of Barry, who could have written something similar himself. Up until then the only Bond theme tune not to mention the title, except as a lyric later on, this synonymous signature’s lyrics were written by Burt Bacharach‘s former wife, Carole Bayer Sager. What more can you say.
027:‘Bond 77’ Marvin Hamlisch (EMI) Recorded April 1977.
Though coming off the back of composing masterful orchestrated and deft soundtracks for a string of award-winning and critically valued movies (The Way We Were, The Sting and The Prisoner Of Second Avenue), Marvin Hamlisch felt compelled to tap into the times and spruce-up the Bond signature motif with some dazzling disco sheen. ‘Bond 77’, often referred to as the Ski Chase (used for various sequences in the movie itself, albeit carried slightly from the original), is a squelching, pumping glitter-ball ride, complete with the bombastic heralded threats and punctuation, and with an accompanying smooth saxophone and trumpet section. There’s no mistaking the era; unashamed contemporary MOR sound of 77, but I’m love it all the same.
028:‘Moonraker End Title’ John Barry; Moonraker theme sung by Shirley Bassey, lyrics by Hal David (EMI) recorded April 1979.
If rumours and hearsay are to be believed, than both Kate Bush and Frank Sinatra were both touted as possible choices to sing the Hal David written ‘Moonraker’ theme. The easy-listening crooner, Johnny Mathis was the third candidate offered the song, and closest to recording it. For reasons unknown, Mathis wasn’t happy withe way things were going and he pulled-out leaving the producers little room to maneuver at the last hour. Synonymous to the core with the 007 soundtracks, the Tiger Bay brassy sultress, Shirley Bassy, stepped in to fill the gap – the unease and unfamiliarity didn’t stop it from becoming one of Bassy’s most notably famous performed songs, even though at the time she was neither able to promote or sing it live.
Two versions of the song were recorded, acting as bookends for the movie. The opening credits unfurls a humbler, indolent and romantic version, whilst this take is a slightly more upbeat and faux disco space groover for midnight lovers.
029:‘Flight Into Space’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded April 1979.
With more than just a little help from the classics, John Barry‘s gliding, choral orchestration floats into the stratosphere. Resembling the poetic ballet-esque choreography of Strauss on the 2001: A Space Odyssey film soundtrack (which also features alongside tounge-in-cheek-in-cheek pastiches and in wry gestures, from other notable greats, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Bernstein throughout the movie) this majestic suite perfectly coveys both a sense of imposing dread and ethereal wonder.
030:‘The Boat Chase’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded April 1979.
Usually coupled together with the Brazilian themed, ‘Bond Arrives In Rio’, this track has been separated on later releases and re-issues. That familiar alternative 007 theme, first used on From Russia With Love, is given a more subtle and lushly extravagant 79 makeover by Barry; marking as it does the method by which the next three Bond movies would be scored.