Thunderball O.S.T.

chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

I couldn't find a thread on this specific soundtrack. The search facility didn't show anything, and I'm not searching twenty pages.

Wow. I listened to this again this morning. I think it is the soundtrack I've played more often than any other and it goes a long way to explaining the success of Thunderball as a Bond film. I know the movie isn't everyone's favourite - it isn't mine, but comfortably sits in the top ten.

John Barry's work here is so classy. Compared to the previous year's Goldfinger, which was a number one hit album in the U.S., Thunderball is eons ahead in terms of the composer understanding cinematically what is required in a score. Goldfinger, for all its jauntiness, was very one note-one song, with occasional hints to Barry's jazzy past.

Not so Thunderball. It kicks off with a fantastic opening salvo of a theme song which is like being pummelled by a spear gun. I love the overblown nonsense of Don Black's lyrics, the thumping rolling intro, Tom Jones' bravura delivery which attempts to out Bassey Shirley. The Chateau Flight retains all the excitement of the PTS scene, I can almost picture it happening as I listen. Barry uses a haunting melody for Bond's investigations at The Spa, which he then reuses for many of the latter underwater scenes, creating a sense of ongoing mystery. Cafe Martinique is a lovely interlude, the casino version of Thunderball slowed down to romantic ballad pace. Fiona's death scene gives us the first hints of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and ends on a spectacular cacophony of sound, maracas, bongos, guitars, drums, et all. Bond underwater, searching for the bomb and the Disco Volante's secrets feel tense. The revamped OO7 tune is far more brassy and bold than the From Russia With Love version. The non-vocal Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is enticing flavour of what we might have got from Dionne Warwick over the title credits.

The extras on the CD are very fine. A great gun barrel, the alarming traction table, the jokey Bond & Domino, the pinching violins as Bond infiltrates Palmyra, the low notes of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as Bond seduces Fiona Volpe [who is seducing who, those deep sounds tell us our man is in danger, but they are also sensual, sexy tones] the infectious and quite marvellous rejig of OO7 for Street Chase - has a piece of music ever so competently conjured Bond's desperate plight and the rising suspense among the chaos of a pursuit as much as this? The slow build to another interpretation of OO7 for the sea battle climax and the crashing finale feels as if the music is enacting the Death of Largo all on its own, no picture required. Barry neatly brings us back to the gun barrel, much slowed down, for the miniature epilogue, his only use of Monty Norman's James Bond Theme before the strains of Thunderball kick in once more.

It really is a superb piece of work. While I might always defer to the more emotionally charged On Her Majesty's Secret Service in terms of overall quality, IMO this soundtrack confirms Barry's status as composer of incredible skill. His ability to 'read' a film - particularly a Bond film - and interpret what is happening visually through the music is like audio magic, he's almost adding an extra layer of tension to some scenes, of romance to others. His history as an interpretive jazz musician certainly helps in this regard, developing a feeling for a movie and its characters and presenting them to an audience without overpowering the visual narrative. It's interesting he slowed down the music for the underwater scenes, which are the movie's biggest weakness, making them correspondingly appear faster and more taut because of it. He elevates that particular section impeccably. In fact his whole contribution elevates TB to a level of success it probably doesn't deserve; his music drives the action forward faster than Terence Young's sedate direction and Lamar Boren's sea-bound flights of fancy. It is more cohesive than the slap dash editing. It offers more character than much of the script. It propels our enjoyment.

The fact sheet on my 2003 CD tells me the OST reached number 10 on the US Billboard chart, which is astonishing achievement, I feel, given the sixties pop market. The CD doesn't need a second mono recording of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but Dionne Warwick's would have been nice. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I am certain I will enjoy it for many years and listens to come.


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,457Chief of Staff

    I completely agree. I love this soundtrack and have never tired of listening to it. Barry displays his skills superbly!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    does the CD's bonus tracks contain the same material as was included on disc 2 of the 30th Anniversary Bond Themes cd? the Thunderball suite and the two vocal versions of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?

    does anybody know why the original LP left so much music out? was it just the limitations of the playing time (~20 minutes per side) or was the soundtrack album released early while the film was still being completed?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,072MI6 Agent

    I don't have the 30th Anniversary Bond Themes CD, but I think not.

    Full track listing:

    1. Thunderball - Main Title
    2. Chateau Flight
    3. The Spa
    4. Switching the Body
    5. The Bomb
    6. Cafe Martinique
    7. Thunderball
    8. Death of Fiona
    9. Bond Below the Disco Volante
    10. Search for the Vulcan
    11. OO7
    12. Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

    Bonus tracks:

    1. Gun barrel / Traction table / Gassing the Plane / Car Chase
    2. Bond meets Domino / Shark Tank / Lights out for Paula / For King and Country
    3. Street Chase
    4. Finding the Plane / Underwater Ballet / Bond with the Spectre Frogmen / Leiter to the Rescue / Bond joins the Underwater Battle
    5. Underwater Mayhem / Death of Largo / End Titles
    6. Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mono recording)

    According to the notes inside: "Barry was under enormous pressure to Finish Thunderball's score, and he had only finished recording half of the music when the time came to put together the original soundtrack LP. As a result, only music form the first half of the film was heard on that album. Now for the first time Barry's score is presented in expanded form."

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,457Chief of Staff

    Caractacus, the bonus tracks were only partially included in the Anniversary 2CD as the suite. Lukas Kendall would have loved to include more but that would have required making TB a 2CD itself, which he wasn't allowed to do.

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