Category Archives: John Barry
I’m a huge fan of all things Bond. James Bond. That includes the music—both the film scores and the theme songs. Although some are better than others. And some are just crap.
Digital Spy recently ranked 22 Bond theme songs—the list could use a bit of shuffling, but it’s not bad, overall.
So, what’s your favorite?
Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” will accompany the main titles sequence in the upcoming Bond adventure, “Spectre.” However, no amount of dazzling graphics or dancing naked ladies on-screen is gonna make that tune more tolerable.
UPDATE (16 Oct 2015) > I see someone was having a laugh by voting “All Time High” up to fourth place. And c’mon—should “Skyfall” really be second on the list? Because we all know that ‘popular’ and ‘good’ are not synonymous. Clearly, a disgruntled Sam Smith fan (or fans) did not take kindly to my comments, and attempted to elevate “Writing’s On The Wall” to an undeserving position in the rankings. However, I’m most surprised that “Thunderball” did not receive any votes—yeah, the lyrics are rubbish, but Tom Jones sings the hell out of it.
Being a big fan of both JB and DD, I was pleasantly surprised by the recent revelation on James Bond fan site MI6 that an official extended version of “A View To A Kill” exists.
The song was co-written by composer John Barry and Duran Duran as the title track for the 1985 James Bond film “A View To A Kill”, which marked Roger Moore’s last appearance as 007. It’s been nearly 30 years since the original release of the single, which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in July 1985. American producer Steve Thompson created a 12″ mix with input from the band; however, bassist John Taylor nixed the track’s release:
“I wanted to keep a certain purity to the 3 minutes plus of “AVTAK”… some of the recent remixes had been rubbing me the wrong way. I was adamant about it—that there should be no extended versions or remixes. It was short sighted of me, I have since regretted it.”
We all make mistakes, JT. Methinks this mix could spark a 30th anniversary reissue, possibly for Record Store Day 2015.
01 Soul Inside (12″ Remix)
02 Loving You Hating Me (Remix)
03 You Only Live Twice (12″ Version)
04 007 Theme
INFO > 1983’s “Soul Inside” was the first single released from Soft Cell’s fourth album, “This Last Night In Sodom.” Truth be told, I bought this for the B-sides: the duo’s inspired cover of “You Only Live Twice”, and a decidedly disappointing interpretation of John Barry’s “007” theme (featured in multiple James Bond films).
01 The James Bond Theme (Album Version)
02 The James Bond Theme (Extended Dialog Mix)
03 The James Bond Theme (Extended Mix)
INFO > Paul Oakenfold was commissioned to remix 007’s musical signature for inclusion on the soundtrack to “Die Another Day”, the franchise’s 20th installment. Madonna performed the film’s title theme, and Oakey had recently signed a deal with Madge’s Maverick label; so his selection for the job was less an inspired choice of producer and more a strategic marketing opportunity.
I never cared for Moby’s ‘re-version’ of the Bond theme (nor the umpteen remixes that accompanied it), produced in 1997 to promote “Tomorrow Never Dies”; Oakenfold’s take is not dissimilar in its approach and thus equally disappointing (at least Moby’s rendition has some balls).
And as a longtime James Bond fan, I condemn “Die Another Day” as the worst entry in the series: horrible script, unoriginal threat, bad acting, ridiculous action sequences, unmemorable score, blatant product placements, awful promotional art—a complete wreck.
Already a massive UK hit, the new James Bond adventure, “Skyfall”, is released in US theaters on 09 November 2012.
Natacha Atlas & David Arnold
“One Brief Moment”
1999 Mantra Recordings (UK)
01. One Brief Moment (Edit) 04:04
02. You Only Live Twice 04:36
03. One Brief Moment (Klute Mix) 06:04
INFO > Soaked in Arnold’s distinctive, lush sound, “One Brief Moment” is taken from Atlas’ third album, “Gedida.” Atlas and Arnold first worked together in 1997 to produce a new version of “From Russia With Love” for Arnold’s album of James Bond theme covers, “Shaken And Stirred.” Included as a bonus track is another Bond theme collaboration, “You Only Live Twice”—Arnold previously recorded the same arrangement with Björk; however that version was never commercially released (hear it here).
David McAlmont and David Arnold
“Diamonds Are Forever”
1997 EastWest Records (UK)
01. Diamonds Are Forever (Radio Mix)
02. Diamonds Are Forever (You Expect Me To Do What Mr Goldfinger? Mix)
03. The James Bond Theme (Orchestral)
04. Diamonds Are Forever (Orchapella)
INFO > “Diamonds Are Forever” is the second of two singles taken from David Arnold’s “Shaken And Stirred” concept album. Shape Navigator, formerly on the Guerilla Records roster, deliver a chilled out remix, while Arnold’s fully orchestrated recording of “The James Bond Theme” is arguably the best version since the 1962 original.
Diamonds Are Forever
Propellerheads and David Arnold
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
1997 EastWest Records (UK)
01. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Edit)
02. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
03. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Orchapella Version)
INFO > In 1997, the producers of the James Bond film series were seeking a new maestro to score the master spy’s on-screen adventures. By no coincidence, composer David Arnold had recently delivered the ultimate job application: “Shaken And Stirred,” a collection of Bond theme cover versions recorded in collaboration with various popular artists of the day. While ambitiously produced, the album yielded inconsistent results; however, this take on John Barry’s brilliant instrumental from the 1969 film is top notch. Incorporating the opening salvo of “James Bond Is Back” as well as “Space March” from “You Only Live Twice,” the full length version of “O.H.M.S.S.” is a big beat epic.
John Barry will be best remembered as the man who gave James Bond his musical mojo. Born John Barry Prendergast on 3 November 1933 in Kent, England, he trained as a classical pianist before discovering jazz and taking up the trumpet. His father managed multiple motion picture theaters in York; frequent attendance peaked Barry’s interest in cinematic music.
Upon completing a course conducted by American jazz musician Bill Russo, Barry found work as an arranger and then formed an ensemble, The John Barry Seven, in 1957. While working for the EMI label in the early 1960s, Barry came to the attention of film producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, who desperately needed a title track for their upcoming movie, “Dr. No.” With the opening three weeks away, Saltzman and Broccoli were unhappy with the theme provided by composer Monty Norman. Barry was able to rework Norman’s piece, creating a new arrangement that would become legendary as “The James Bond Theme.”
In addition to his scores for 11 installments in the James Bond series, Barry created memorable music for dozens more motion pictures, television series and movies, musicals, and other recording projects. Barry’s hugely influential and successful soundtracks earned him five Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and many other industry accolades during his nearly 50 year career.
John Barry passed away on 30 January 2011 in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, where he had resided for the better part of 30 years. He is survived by his fourth wife, Laurie, four children, and five grandchildren.