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Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,593MI6 Agent
I know that John Barry found his collaboration with a-ha on 'The Living Daylights' a frustrating experience, but the end result is pretty good. Barry pulled rank on a final arrangement for the title track. I have to say, though, that a-ha's own preferred arrangement at the time, which they included on their 1988 album 'Stay On These Roads', grows on me more and more: it's highly Bondian but, to my ear, synthesises that Bondian quality with 80s clubland appeal more smoothly/danceably: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bqITfmVdUI
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Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,070Chief of Staff
    I've always preferred the version with Barry's orchestra, but the a-ha arrangement has its own appeal.
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,595MI6 Agent
    edited July 2020
    I too prefer the A-ha version of the song much more, but what do I know? :D

    For all A-ha fans out there, I have been waiting for the slow unplugged version of „Take on me“ ( heard it from a private radio gig ) for 30 years and I‘ve had tears in my eyes when I‘ve seen this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xKM3mGt2pE

    And that one is even better

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Vrp2YujOQ
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,593MI6 Agent
    edited July 2020
    Great slow versions of the big hits. Enough to bring tears to the misty eyes of fans, for sure! :007)


    On the alternative versions of TLD, Barry's arrangement with orchestra and strings was certainly stronger and better for the film and the official Bond album - but a-ha's version worked more smoothly as contemporary pop and the boys seemed somehow to relish their vocal performance on that one a tad more.
    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 19,646MI6 Agent

    I'm watching a new TV documentary series about a-ha and in this episode The Living Daylights was one of the topics. This is a.ha's version: The band wasn't aware John Barry had to be a co-writer of the title song and they were very self-confident. Barry changed a part of the string section the band was particularely pleased with and in turn they "tricked" the orchestra into playing it their way. This "pissed off" Barry. a-ha's impression was that Barry was used to being "dictatorial" The band started trying to ignore everything Barry said and pretty much disagreed on all of Barry's opinions.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,687MI6 Agent

    Somehow I've missed this version; I've heard about it but never got around to listening. I do like the driving percussion of it, but it feels even thinner when it hits the chorus without the orchestral production.


     Barry changed a part of the string section the band was particularely pleased with and in turn they "tricked" the orchestra into playing it their way. This "pissed off" Barry. 

    That's interesting, it makes sense of a little of what made such bad blood between them. I saw Barry play in London in the 90s and even when introducing the various tracks he was playing he took time to curse a-Ha! 😁

  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,560MI6 Agent

    Did Barry contribute anything to the composition, or was his credit purely contractual? I've read that Pål Waaktaar said Barry didn't write any of the song, and his only contributions were arranging and producing (which shouldn't get someone a songwriting credit).

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  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,593MI6 Agent
    edited May 18

    Either Barry is in that composition or a-ha did a very good job of emulating him sympathetically. I have no expert musical terminology, but its soaring treble chords, following "the way we die" and punctuated by the rat-a-tat stabs, remind me (although not exactly the same) of the 'jeopardy' action cue used excitingly in DAF at the climax of DAF's PTS; again, over the fight with Peter Franks and, again, over the tussle with Bambi and Thumper. It has the same DNA, at least.

    There's one respect in which a-ha are certainly imitative in this song; it's in the simulation of David Bowie's vocal style. At the time, many bands' vocalists copied Bowie's distinctively bohemian, somewhat pained vocal strains - from post-punk singers through to the New Romantics and mainstream pop (as here).

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,560MI6 Agent

    Those elements are arrangement more than composition, and I've always assumed that was a contribution from Barry. But it shouldn't justify a composer's credit.

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  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,593MI6 Agent
    edited May 22

    It's interesting that the Bondian feature of the music that I identify in #8 is in aha's preferred version of the track for their album (#1), integral to its effect as much as in the OST version. I guess we'd need to go to the unplugged rendition by the band - sung alongside the 'Take On Me' performance linked by Higgins (#3) - to get a sense of how well the song stands up with Bondian layers reined in.

    I've searched 'John Barry: The Man With The Midas Touch' (Leonard, Walker and Bramley, 2008) for any insight on the weighting of respective contributions, but there's nothing specific there; only confirmation of bad blood. Barry is quoted as likening the experience of collaborating with a-ha to "playing ping-pong with four balls" while a-ha are quoted as shrugging this off as "the old meeting the new".

    According to the book, Barry had recommended a-ha to Barbara Broccoli after attending one of their concerts; Pal Waaktaar had known much of Barry's reputation and liked the idea of working with him. Relations became strained during the collaboration.

    The TV documentary which N24 mentions, with its new details (#5), is presumably a much more recent source than the book, though of course Barry is no longer around to comment further.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
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