Soundtrack Reviews

Reviewing some Bond soundtracks from the last 60 years...


  • SpectreOfDefeatSpectreOfDefeat Posts: 333MI6 Agent
    James Bond Themes- London Symphony Orchestra (1990/91)

    The oldest Bond CD in my possession, this compilation CD represents something of a curiosity for fans. Not only is it rather dated by modern standards, only covering the theme songs up until Licence to Kill, there are also a few strange production choices that make it far from the best of the countless different compilations released at this stage. For starters, many of the ‘songs’ are actually re-recorded instrumentals relying heavily on synthesisers. These pieces would probably make for decent karaoke backing tracks at a 007-themed party, but don’t exactly resemble the songs as heard in their respective films- Lulu’s The Man With The Golden Gun, in particular, is almost unrecognisable. To be fair, most of the more recent Eighties songs, such as FYEO, AVTAK, and TLD, have been re-recorded by their original artists, lending a commendable degree of authenticity to the project. But this is let down by the general lack of ‘official’ gravitas surrounding the CD. For example, there’s a slightly slapdash air to the presentation, for while the cover bears photographs of Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, the proper 007 gun logo is nowhere to be seen. One suspects Eon’s quality control department were unaware of this CD’s appropriation of official publicity shots, for it certainly gives the impression to the casual buyer that what they are purchasing is fully endorsed by United Artists and company. In reality, this is little more than a badly dated covers album. Bond fans looking to collect all the songs on one disc would be better off seeking out the 2012 ‘Best of Bond…James Bond’ album.

  • SpectreOfDefeatSpectreOfDefeat Posts: 333MI6 Agent
    Moonraker (1979)

    After a few years away from the series owing to tax reasons, John Barry returned to the Bond franchise with 1979’s Moonraker. Following the slightly repetitive thematic effort Barry delivered for Golden Gun in 1974, and Marvin Hamlisch’s wacky disco contributions to 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the veteran composer makes a stellar (no pun intended) comeback here. Despite the ridiculous happenings on screen, Barry attempts to anchor the film with a relatively serious and moody score, and the result is the series’ best soundtrack since OHMSS ten years earlier. Barry’s fully orchestral variation of the Bond theme heard in the pre-title sequence is absent from the CD, which instead opens with the majestic “Space Lazer Battle”. A gradually building march with plenty of characteristic brass, it begins in heavily menacing mode before moving into wondrous choir at the 1:35 mark, reflecting the awesome visual power of outer space, with a very brief hint of the Bond theme at 2:11 and some ominous percussion closing the cue out. The next track is “Miss Goodhead Meets Bond”, which introduces the slow romantic theme Barry wrote for the title theme with Hal David. It works better within the score itself than during the title sequence, with a reappearance of the heavenly choir leading towards some perilous woodwinds to underscore the danger hidden at Drax Industries.

    “Cable Car and Snake Fight” is a little less standout, a little more functional, with typically heavy brass signalling the huge Jaws’ approach. The second half of the track is more memorable, however, with an increasingly frantic motif at 1:55, and lashings of intense percussion symbolising Bond’s implacable nemesis. “Bond Lured to Pyramid” gives the greatest role to the dreamy choir, here used to represent the allure of Drax’s femme fatales, to excellent effect. The finest musical sequence Barry offers comes with the superb “Flight Into Space”, alternating between balletic strings and pompous brass to convey the clashing beauty and threat of the mysterious space environment. Recalling classical influences such as Strauss, as well as his own work on YOLT in 1967, Barry’s “Flight Into Space” is something of a career highlight, as well as of this film as a whole. “Bond Arrives In Rio and Boat Chase” reprises the omnipresent rapturous choir from earlier, before changing step entirely at around the 1:05 mark and treating us to a welcome rendition of Barry’s classic “007” action theme, not heard since the climax of Diamonds Are Forever. “Centrifuge and Corinne Put Down” opens with a stately brass motif for the titular centrifuge, before transforming into a quietly tragic series of woodwind flourishes over building brass chords for Corinne’s dramatic demise, another exceptional moment of scoring. “Bond Smells A Rat”, meanwhile, rounds out the score material in understated style with a few minutes of slightly generic Barry suspense, which are nevertheless effective in context.

    Overall, Barry’s “Moonraker” is one of my favourites of his Bond scores, alongside contenders such as GF and OHMSS. Its an enjoyable return back to basics after the disco stylings of Hamlisch’s The Spy Who Loved Me, and Barry’s own somewhat insipid departures for The Man With The Golden Gun. In the end, John Barry’s Moonraker is a definite highlight of the Bond discography, and perhaps the finest of the Roger Moore era.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,301Chief of Staff
    James Bond Themes- London Symphony Orchestra (1990/91)


    I've got this one. It has many tracks which feature again and again on budget-price Bond covers albums (the giveaway is the mistake in the first bar of the guitar riff of the "James Bond Theme") and have done for many years. The then-newer tracks were added as the films emerged. Doesn't stop me buying them, though! ;% Collector's mania....
  • Matt SMatt S Oh Cult Voodoo ShopPosts: 6,529MI6 Agent
    Great review of the Moonraker soundtrack. The score has always been a favourite of mine, though the soundtrack is a let-down because of how much is missing.

    My appreciation of the music always grows stronger. I saw an opera a few years ago that surprised me with a passage I originally knew from the end of 'Snake Fight', and discovering the music that Barry liked helps me to appreciate his music more. Barry never spoke about a love of opera as far as I know, but he certainly took a lot from it. Even the three note 'Goldfinger' and accompanying chords came from an opera, though it may have been a coincidence.
    Visit my blog, Bond Suits
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