Favourite James Bond soundtracks


#21

I think the tracks with Barry’s “From Russia with Love” go under the radar as well. Especially the sequences where Red Grant is involved. The “Meeting in St. Sophia”, albeit brief, is chilling and fits the character superbly.

I just watched “Dr No” again and while it looks great on Blu-Ray, the “music” really gives it an air of cheapness. Between the cinematography and wardrobe and Ken Adam’s amazing sets, they stretch a limited budget a long way, but the music keeps it all in “high end B-Movie” territory, IMHO.

With FRWL, that all changes. Barry comes out of nowhere and first time at bat makes everything feel more epic, classy, lush and…well…“finished” is the word that comes to mind. I don’t think it’s his best score for the series but it’s 1000 times better than its predecessor and a key factor in elevating the whole series to something grander and more accomplished.

In particular, I always love the sequence where the Orient Express is making its journey and the music starts up, chugs along and slows down again at the next station. I suppose some could see that as a bit too “cutesy,” but compared to the BUM!..BUM!..BUM! BUM! BUM! when Bond despatches the spider in DN, it’s the height of subtlety. That damned tarantula bit forces a laugh out of me every time.

Anyway, sometimes I often think the early Bonds were a Beatle-like, “lightning in a bottle” combination of the right actors, the right directors, the right set designer, the right effects men and with Barry, the right composer. It’s a beautiful thing to see things fall into place so perfectly. It just took an extra picture for Barry to complete the team.


#22

I always play the tarantula scene on a loop every time I watch it. It is that hilarious. The other bit in Dr. No solidifies its B-movie qualities is the scene in Crab Key where Bond kills the guard with a knife. Barry’s overwhelming music alongside Ursula Andress’ terrified reaction is uproarious.

I always get pumped with Barry’s FRWL’s theme song in the title credits, and it also helped that Maurice Binder simply using models in those early Bond flicks made it so pure to watch.


#23

Monty Norman’s music on Dr. No, Barry did the orchestration (think Nicholas Dodd to Norman’s David Arnold)

But yes, much of that film is a b-movie, but given Fleming’s novels were, to use Fleming’s own description, “the sort of pulp fiction you buy at an airport” it’s a style that mostly fits.


#24

Monty Norman’s music on Dr. No, Barry did the orchestration (think Nicholas Dodd to Norman’s David Arnold)

But yes, much of that film is a b-movie, but given Fleming’s novels were, to use Fleming’s own description, “the sort of pulp fiction you buy at an airport” it’s a style that mostly fits.

Oh, I’d agree with that. DN is endearing to me for lots of reasons, including the fact that its Bond is still the closest we’ve ever seen to Fleming’s (with all apologies to the Dalton and Craig fans out there), the “what if” factor (at this early stage, things still could have gone in all sorts of directions) and, as you say, the charming “B” movie feel you get when filmmakers with a small budget but big aspirations are improvising, inventing and throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Once money gets more plentiful and the team starts getting a better feel for what works, yes it all gets more polished and “classy,” but it also starts getting codified, even calcified into a set formula.

And as a fan of old-school pulps (like The Spider, G-8 and Operator 5) I love even the “tacky” parts. It’s just too bad they couldn’t fit in the giant squid. I was disappointed with the decidedly lackluster “dragon”…this movie almost calls for a mutated giant grasshopper.


#25

Hmmm, been pondering this one. My top 5 in no particular order: Thunderball, Living Daylights, Casino Royale, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Skyfall.


#26

I think it’s remarkable how well John Barry adapted his sound to Timothy Dalton. It’s perfect to his characterisation. Serious (The Sniper Was A Woman), introspective and romantic (Into Vienna), dangerous (Inflight Fight) and still with rousing action cues (Hercules Takes Off). One of my favourite tracks though has to be ‘Mujahadin and Opium’. The way it’s used during Dalton’s Everything or Nothing documentary segment is nothing short of spine tingling.


#27

Indeed.

I think TLD is not only the last Barry score but also the last truly magnificent Bond film score in the series.

While Arnold picked up the mantle very well and composed one theme (“Vesper”) that really stands along the great Barry themes, neither he, Kamen, Serra or Newman could or chose to embrace the proud melancholy as the backbone of a Bond score.

Granted, action films these days are much more action oriented and composers are always urged to go shrill and overly hectic for those scenes. But still, with Barry an important ingredient for Bond films was lost.


#28

He went out with a bang. A strength for me is how strongly Barry used the melodies of A-ha and The Pretenders. If There Was A Man, Where Has Everybody Gone? and The Living Daylights are used liberally throughout the score. These days we’re lucky to get 30 seconds of a title song as an instrumental.


#29

I would agree that the TLD was one of the best scores Barry had ever conducted. Necros’ theme always gets stuck in head in ways David Arnold’s themes do not.

Arnold was very good, sometimes great. TND might be my favorite of his. The opening gunbarrel music is fantastic; the “White Knight” and “Paris and Bond” stand out as well. I like "The “Hamburg Break-In” and “Backseat Driver” themes, but the electro qualities make it a bit dated.

I might have missed hearing it, but does anyone know where this particular note fits on the soundtrack? It might be in “The Hamburg Break-Out” track, but I could be wrong/ I’ve always enjoyed that bit in the film.


#30

Top 10 (in no particular order)

OHMSS
YOLT
TSWLM (Bond '77)
LTK
CR
SF (Newman did a masterful job with SF’s soundtrack, my favorite being Brave New World, then he laid an egg with Spectre’s)
TB
LALD
TLD
AVTAK (if you ignore California Girls, the soundtrack is actually very good)


#31

I just saw (and heard) 18 additional tracks from the MWTGG soundtrack that have been uploaded to Youtube by ‘Solofett’.
Are they original?
Are they a vanity project?
Are they available?!
It would be worth getting for ‘Island Escape’ alone, although ‘Goodnight Sir’ and ‘Action Cues’ are superfluous and sound like they were separated and lifted right off the film track by someone who knows how to do that.
What a pity you can’t download from Youtube.
Anyway, does anyone out there know any more about this work and it’s availability?


#33

OHMSS and TND are both delicious. TLD is also terrific. The 1960s Casino Royale is enormous fun too,.


#34

There is a youtube to mp3 converter that converts audio less than 10 minutes to a downloadable mp3 track. Just ‘google’ it.

As for the MWTGG tracks, ran across those a few years ago. But still no expanded CD (looking at you, LaLaLand.)


#35

Top 10:

10 Thunderball (Tom Jones’ excellent, faint-inducing song, and the 007 theme during the climax)
9. Live and Let Die (an iconic theme song, and a great caribbean, voodoo inspired soundtrack)
8. Tomorrow Never Dies (a great update of the Bond score, 2 excellent theme songs, even though the ending theme should’ve been the main theme)
7. The Living Daylights (a great score, that screams 80s, with one of the best main themes)
6. You Only Live Twice (a classic theme song, but the timeless Nancy Sinatra, and a soundtrack that fits perfectly with its setting)
5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (The series’ best theme song)
4. Casino Royale (Great use of the main theme as opposed to the Bond theme)
3. The Spy Who Loved Me (excellent 70s score, a theme song that may be an unofficial theme of James Bond himself, and Bond '77)
2. Skyfall (Newman’s score was a fresh take and has the best theme song with lyrics)

  1. Licence To Kill (a violent soundtrack for a violent film, great remix of the Bond theme for the series’ best gunbarrel, If You Asked Me To)

Bottom 5:

  1. For Your Eyes Only (despite having a great song)
  2. Moonraker (it pains me to say, Bassey should’ve moved on, and this is the blandest soundtrack of the Moore era)
  3. Die Another Day (Madonna’s song shudder)
  4. Spectre (a terrible follow-up to Newman’s sublime Skyfall soundtrack)
  5. Goldeneye (It’s sad, because Goldeneye 007’s soundtrack is excellent)

#36

:disappointed_relieved::face_with_raised_eyebrow::wink:


#37

Just my opinion. :wink:


#38

I can sort of sympathize. As I mentioned upthread, the MR soundtrack did its job in the film, but when my 14-year-old self bought the album in '79, I thought it was ponderously slow and deadly dull.

In retrospect, though, MR for me is one of the great examples of a score doing what it’s supposed to, which is complement a film, not compete with it. As I said before, it’s entirely counter-intuitive to score an action scene with a slow track (basically waltzes in some cases) but somehow it works for me in MR, which for me is the mark of a genius, and if nothing else at least a lot more interesting than the umpteen millionth serviceable but predictable “fast and furious” style action soundtrack. It’s also a canny approach: so much in MR is over the top that the last thing the music needs to do is “go bigger.” Instead Barry provides an auditory counter-weight, offering gravitas and grandeur, even solemnity in spots, in a movie full of laser battles, hover-gondolas and double-taking pigeons.

That said, I freely admit that I have to be cautious about playing this soundtrack in the car. If I’m tired at all, listening to this one could land me in the ditch.


#39

When my, um, 10-year old-self unwrapped the album and listened to it before watching the movie I was so full of delight that this sounded as majestic as my beloved Space Operas at that time…

… and I am still thrilled after all these years. Which keeps me from falling asleep while driving, thankfully.

Then again, “Kingston Calypso” does, too :wink:


#40

#1 Moonraker: for keeping a potentially ridiculous film from being utterly preposterous.
#2 Diamonds Are Forever: for having just the right level of playfulness for such a beautifully daft film.
#3 OHMSS: for the best action theme ever written.


#41

Exactly. Moonraker also features the last use of the 007 Theme as well, which is excellent, because I like how it connects to the earlier films such as FRWL, TB and YOLT. Having the 007 Theme playing for Moore helps give things a sense of authenticity.