Inspired by a couple of tunes somebody has added to the TV Cream Spotify playlist, plus watching The Spy Who Loved Me on DVD and chuckling at some of the music cues, plus the fact it’s a holiday weekend when thoughts invariably turn to Universal Exports, here’s a new playlist comprising the best bits from the Bond soundtracks.
Not all of the original albums are on Spotify. There’s a complete run up to and including Moonraker, then a gap until – erk – Licence To Kill, while only Goldeneye from the Brosnan years is represented, and naturally everything since then, i.e. the James Bourne era, doesn’t count.
But from those selections that are, by expediency and taste, available to hear, a fine brew can be prepared. By way of some sleeve notes:
Things kick off with the brilliantly-named Twisting With James and the liltingly exotic Jamaica Jazz, both from Dr No, a film which doesn’t so much have a soundtrack as a vague collection of Caribbean sounding noodles, implausibly penned by Eric “Carry On” Rodgers.
John Barry makes his entrance courtesy of The Golden Horn, one of those I-wonder-what-foreign-music-sounds efforts with a parping horn and fluttering tambourine, and the short but sweet Guitar Lament, off From Russia With Love.
From Goldfinger comes the spectacular Into Miami, which should have been the film’s theme tune, and the intriguingly-titled and fabulously eerie Teasing The Korean. Barry hits his stride here: low strings, unnerving rumblings from the harp, and that trademark fluttery flute.
After just one from Thunderball – Cafe Martinique, which sounds (correctly) as swish as its name – comes a dose of Paddy Kingsland-esque Orientals from You Only Live Twice, the epic Capsule In Space and the shamelessly lush Mountains And Sunsets, then about the only decent thing in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: an untrying piece of music called, unhappily, Try.
Diamonds Are Forever, being the best Bond film ever, naturally has the best John Barry soundtrack, which is why a grand total of four tracks make the playlist. The Whyte House is all sublime swagger; Tiffany Case has the most gorgeous vibraphone to ever star in a 007 flick; Diamonds Are Forever (Bond And Tiffany) has those fluttering flutes jousting with a sadly sauntering version of the theme; and Death At The Whyte House has fluttering flutes AND vibraphones AND swagger. “You appear to have caught me with more than my hands up.”
A quick passing of the baton and it’s over to George Martin for a salsa workout in Baron Samedi’s Dance Of Death, a groovy harpsichord boogie in the splendidly-named Bond Drops In, and some fat funk strutting in Trespasses Will Be Eaten, all from Live And Let Die and all great stuff.
Why Martin wasn’t kept on is a mystery; Barry came back for the next film, The Man With The Golden Gun, which was shit, especially the music, so nothing from that makes the list.
Instead things move on to The Spy Who Loved Me, and a one-off score from Marvin Hamlisch. Synthesiser alert! Brace yourself for the first bit of electronica to ever appear in a 007 film, and ace it is too. Bond 77 has the works: squeaky glissandos, farting bass lines, swooshy strings, plus a honking saxophone and wicky-wicky-wacky-wicky guitar riffs. Ride To Atlantis sounds like Bouquet Of Barbed Wire crossed with The Onedin Line, and End Titles is just that: the glorious bit from “Shall we get out of these wet things” onwards, although sadly lacking that brief burlesque Broadway rendition of the theme.
To end with, there’s Bond Arrives In Rio And Boat Chase: John Barry’s last hurrah, from Moonraker, replete with an aah-aah-aah-aah choir and a continent’s worth of percussion.
And that’s your lot. But maybe that’s no bad thing, as everything post-1979 (bar the soundtrack to Never Say Never Again) is, as Bond himself says, like listening to The Beatles without earmuffs.