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 5 (in now 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)