Continuing my anniversary celebration of Ian Flemings creation on celluloid, here is part 2 of my trawl through the film franchises best soundtracks, interludes, instrumentals and scores.
011 – 020 – Covering You only Live Twice to Live And Let Die
011: ‘You Only Live Twice/End Titles’ John Barry co-written with Leslie Bricusse, sung by Nancy Sinatra (Recorded in April 1967) United Artists.
Possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of music John Barry ever produced for the Bond franchise, this sumptuous, gliding, scenic suite features many nuances from the soundtrack to this oriental set movie; finishing on the greatest theme song ever written for 007 legacy: the self-tilted, Nancy Sinatra pining, signature paean. A couple of other versions of the titled theme song exist – released on anniversary edition CDs, years later, after being rescued from the vaults – including the English pop singer, Julie Rogers, uncredited take (which used a different set of lyrics), and an alternative version sung by Lorraine Chandler. But it is the unmistakable, coquettish and soothing, vocals of Nancy that stuck – Barry did have to re-arrange the key and orchestration to fit.
012: ‘Main Theme’ John Barry (Recorded in October 1969) EMI.
It wouldn’t be quite the new era for James Bond that producer/visionaries, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had hoped. The ill-at-ease, skeptical Connery (still in most fans eyes the archetypal Bond) replaced by the suave, chiseled Aussie, George Lazenby, who as it turned out, also had the same reservations of type-casting as his Scottish predecessor. In the end Connery returned (the money just too good to turn down, and he later appeared in the rival Bond franchise, Never Say Never Again) for Diamonds Are Forever, as Lazenby rather harshly and rashly quit. Constantly argued as among the best Bond pictures, if not by some delusional individuals as the best, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service became a nightmare for John Barry. Too much of a mouthful to build an appropriate song around, he ended up scoring this chiming, seething and majestic Bond theme tune instrumental that includes an effective, atmospheric use of the Moog; said to be the first use in a soundtrack, though I wouldn’t stake my life on that.
013: ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ John Barry, Hal David, sung by Louis Armstrong (Recorded October 1969) EMI.
The unofficial signature theme from OHMMSS, ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ is a poignant, cherished song of courtship; Bond settling down to a life of marital bliss with the Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo, or Tracy for short, until Blofeld and his hench-woman, Irma Blunt, off the bride in a drive-by shooting. It would also sadly be the last recorded song by the legendary, Louis Armstrong (he died a couple of years later from an heart attack); acting as a testament to the rightly revered jazz innovators, lived-in yet mellifluous vocals. Burt Bacharach’s regular lyricist, Hal David wrote the lyrics whilst John Barry conducted this tender lament.
014: ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ John Barry, sung by Shirley Bassey (EMI) Recorded October 1971
Perhaps one of the best and most creative Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever was a bombastic return to Ian Fleming‘s source material (the film sticks closer to Fleming’s original storyline and features less gadgets) . Put aside Connery’s star-turn toupee, and aging features, this glitzy driven, casino dazzling bright lights affair deserves only the best, and who better to seal the movies enduring appeal than the Tiger Bay-belter, Shirley Bassey. For me, edging it over Goldfinger, Bassey’s classy tones have a sultry smoldering of sophistication and seduction, yet stay with-strained and tampered. John Barry once again composes a majestic, grandiose score that manages to lift lounge-core, light entertainment and Vegas to the level of classicism. Different versions of the theme and motif appear throughout, including a more funky, verging on disco, version, and a high-wire suspense suite. Brought out on various occasions, Bassey performed an appropriate recital for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee only this week, which just goes to show it’s popularity, 40 years later.
015: ‘Moon Buggy Ride’ John Barry (EMI) Recorded October 1971
With it’s fake moon landing alluded in-jokes, Bond’s escape from the Willard Whyte Industries complex, aboard a rather naff-looking and balsa-wooden moon buggy, is lent some surprising gravitas. Barry’s score teases then ushers in the suspense with those skipping, cascading strings before the seething timpani and brooding cellos rain down. Moving from the sedate to the tense, then wrapping on the warm, salacious, cocktail allure of the Vegas strip and the thighs of one, Tiffany Case.
016: ‘Peter Franks’ John Barry (EMI) recorded October, 1971.
Wrongly entitled “You’ve Just Killed James Bond” on YouTube, this mounting, waiting for something to kick-off action sequence follows 007’s fatalistic lift fight with the diamond smuggler, Peter Franks. Suspenseful prowling from the orchestra thumps with a synthesis arched and striking suite of strings that attack with each blow, in this ferocious scarp to the death; Bond looks actually quite vulnerable, meeting his match with burly pugilist Franks.
017: ‘007 And Counting’ John Barry (EMI) recorded October 1971.
Keen observers will note a touch of ‘deja vu’, as this particular floating suite apes Capsule In Space from You Only Live Twice. Similar predicaments and themes aside, this drifting, enchantment twinkles and shines, languishing in the stratosphere. John Barry suspends disbelief and the plot with his slow, methodical and dreamy march, whose underlying theme was created five years before. Call it a revision or remix.
018: ‘Just A Closer Walk With Thee’ Traditional arrangement, Milton Batiste/ New Second Line – performed by Harold A. “Duke” Dejan & The Olympia Brass Band (United Artists) Recorded April 1973.
The dixie funeral march turn Mardi Cras celebration, at the drop of a heralded trumpet, is one of the most fondly remembered pieces of music from the 007 movies. Introducing both the location and plot with a relevant sublime, the good old Orleans Olympia brass band play a traditional piece of morbid cheer. George Martin now took over duties from John Barry (who wished to take a break for new projects but had also fallen out with producer Harry Saltzman over Diamonds Are Forever) after arranging and producing Paul McCartney’s theme tune for Live And Let Die. Impressed with the orchestration, the producers asked Martin to score the entire film. This would also be the debonair, safari-jacket-equipped-Oxford-graduate-abroad, Roger Moore’s first spin in the James Bond role.
019: ‘James Bond Theme’ Monty Norman (United Artists) Recorded in April 1973.
Adding a dash of sultry, funky, pep to the original Monty Norman theme, the signature tune now apes the ‘blaxploitation’ agenda (a sort of attempt to cash-in on the growing black cinema audience, though the brothers were the bad guys). The strings are accompanied by some swanky wah-wah licks, slinky swinging brass and a rush of danger.
020: ‘Live And Let Die (From Fillet Of Soul Sequence)’ Paul & Linda McCartney; performed by B.J Arnau (United Artists) Recorded April 1973.
Not the original Paul McCartney/Wings version, but from the Fillet Of Soul sequence, B.J Arnau‘s cabaret soul rendition. Poducer, Harry Saltzman intended for the opening song to be sung by a black artist, but Martin insisted McCartney would only allow his song to be used if he and his current band could perform it. A compromise of sorts was agreed for Arnau to appear in the film and to sing this edited, funk-fried, shortened version. Relatively unknown until than, Arnau’s appearance garnered a three-year record deal and further TV and film work, before she once again faded into obscurity.