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Topic: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Hello ajb'ers, was listening to a bunch of Bond tunes from different eras the other day and it struck me that some of the guests from rock and pop music contributed fantastic tunes to the 007 music soundtrack empire and others just didn't get it. Thought I'd make a few picks for those who understood the magic of Bond and those who were clueless....

As I understand it, early on, John Barry, the dean of 007 composers, wrote songs, got some lyrics help, and he and producers got the vocal talent to perform the song. I would not include Matt Munro, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra and others in this discussion since they didn't write-compose the material, they performed it as solo vocalists are wont to do.

Sending him to the top of my Mt. Everest of rock/pop players doing Bond, I bow to Sir Paul McCartney with "Live and Let Die" - it was unlike any previous 007 soundtrack and harkened back to Paul's Beatles days for great sound, singing, and complexity. It's really an amazing work that unfolds in sections that sound really different from each other--effect not unlike the "Golden Slumbers" connecting songs/medleys off the "Abbey Road."  From gentle piano to a big band symphony, hard rocking finale, it's really great stuff.

I did not enjoy "View to a Kill" as a movie compared to other Bonds, but Duran Duran really brought it home with their title track. It's got that big boom 80s power drumming, and the melody is actually quite Bond like. As I understand it, the established rockers teamed up with Barry the maestro who would re-work their existing ideas with his Bond house style. "View" is a punchy, foot stomper number that sounds great on the radio or in a dance club on 80s night.

May tick off anti Tim Dalton critics, but I will put "The Living Daylights" by aha into the great songs by bands category. It's got a real snappy 80s beat, strong synth bass, with some very melancholy and foreboding strings or synth, also eerie vocals that match the mood. Supposedly aha fought with Barry and they really wrestled over this song, but they got great results. 

I thought Shirley Manson and Garbage really got it with "The World Is Not Enough" -- got that sweeping strings and a great build to the grand finale, sad yet powerful sounding.

Bono and the Edge get superprops for "Goldeneye", writing for Tina Turner!! maybe the most star studded collaboration in the Bond music universe? It's got the beat and those classic bond orchestrations, arrangements.

Now for some that really blew it in my opinion:

Madonna and "Die Another Day" - this is a decent Madonna song that has nothing in particular to do with James Bond. It's too dance club obvious, I can see the fog lights and strobes at modern studio 54's all over the world. Did not like the way she used ProTools all over her vocals. Rhythm seems all wrong for a Bond film.

Chris Cornell really missed with "Casino Royale" -- really don't hear much Bond house style and it's not even that good a tune, not exactly dance pop, not hard enough for rock, weird tempo changes.

Ditto for Jack White and Alicia Keys for "Quantum of Solace" -- another surprise dud from a pair I really like in general--it has some nice riffs and beats at the outset but it never seems to go anywhere, while the great Sir Paul and others take you places, send you on a roller coaster to a big music climax.

Not as familiar with Adele as some others in ajb nation--does she mostly write her own stuff, play, compose, produce??? If so, she is the heiress apparent. "Skyfall" was fantastic, totally on board with the sweep, the sadness, the subtle beats of a great melancholy Bond song. Maybe we will hear from her again, 007 producers give her a Shirley Bassey trifecta??? I hear she is composing with Phil Collins and he will produce her ?! Great pairing of stars like the U2 guys and Tina T. Cmon Phil and Adele give us a great Bond soundtrack. Phil has scored some movie music and tv too i think. Can't hardly wait!

Just a cluster of music thoughts, feel free to critique, state the case for your faves, bummers.

Felix the Leitercat, thanks, regards.  ajb007/martini  ajb007/cool

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Some good thoughts there, Felix. Garbage didn't write the song for TWINE, though, it was written by David Arnold and Don Black so Shirley & co fall into the same category as Bassey and Jones. Adele wrote SF with the producer Paul Epworth.
Very true that Barry didn't enjoy working with a-ha. And thanks for joining the ever-growing band of Another Way To Die detractors!

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Jack White's rock-rap take on the Bond theme was greeted to a lot of criticism, but it's a generational thing.  Abrasive rap/spoken-wordish music is the new rock and roll.  And every generation's music "isn't real music" to older folk.

QoS wanted that hard-edge, frustrated rebellious indie feel.  I'd say Jack White did get it.

The song has little harmony, but that's what makes it experimental and curious from a sonic perspective.  Every generation sets rules for its future generations.

Music has to be slow and soothing.  Then, Bill Haley came along and rocked around the clock.
Music is supposed to be bright and upbeat.  Then, electric guitars came along.
Music is supposed to have harmony.  Then, Bob Dylan and rap music came along.

Last edited by Absolutely_Cart (23rd May 2015 00:10)

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Barbel wrote:

Some good thoughts there, Felix. Garbage didn't write the song for TWINE, though, it was written by David Arnold and Don Black so Shirley & co fall into the same category as Bassey and Jones. Adele wrote SF with the producer Paul Epworth.
Very true that Barry didn't enjoy working with a-ha. And thanks for joining the ever-growing band of Another Way To Die detractors!

Hello Barbel, thanks for the fact checking on Shirley M/Garbage vocalizing but not writing the tune. Kinda surprised, I like Garbage a lot, saw them once, great show. Would think they'd want to give it a shot.

Also let's not forget the Pretenders chipping in a couple of tunes for "Living Daylights" -- they were mixed subtly into the background, even playing on the villain's walkman, these days would be an Ipod.

Real test is when the main soundtrack instrumental composer takes the rocker's tune and makes really good non vocal music out of it to help scenes. "Live and Let Die" - Paul McC's tune got worked into various scenes, boat chases, seduction of Solitaire, final shark death trap of Kananga, other places.

Will say Daniel Craig got two not so hot soundtracks for his first 2 flicks, by contrast, other guys had better debut music:

Sean/Dr. No, the classic theme was born.
Roger/Live and Let Die/need I say more.
Tim/Living Daylights/fine tune by aha.
Pierce/Goldenye/yay to U2 and TinaT !!!
Then Daniel/had to wait till Adele to get great song.

Lazenby/On Her Majesty's Secret Service/weird one, great instrumental title track, fuzz guitar, early synth---this is more conceptual, take 007 fans through the Sean era and recap his adventures with film clips to transition to the new guy. But I still dug the titles and that four chord opening.....

Thanks,regards, Felix the Leitercat  ajb007/martini  ajb007/cool

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Absolutely_Cart wrote:

Jack White's rock-rap take on the Bond theme was greeted to a lot of criticism, but it's a generational thing.  Abrasive rap/spoken-wordish music is the new rock and roll.  And every generation's music "isn't real music" to older folk.

QoS wanted that hard-edge, frustrated rebellious indie feel.  I'd say Jack White did get it.

The song has little harmony, but that's what makes it experimental and curious from a sonic perspective.  Every generation sets rules for its future generations.

Music has to be slow and soothing.  Then, Bill Haley came along and rocked around the clock.
Music is supposed to be bright and upbeat.  Then, electric guitars came along.
Music is supposed to have harmony.  Then, Bob Dylan and rap music came along.

Hello A_C, valid pt. on generation next's changing musical frame of reference in all eras. With Bond music I will admit to being prejudiced towards certain 007 music conventions, you might call them. I think the best 007 tunes do follow a certain hook, rhythm structure, also use of certain major/minor chords, strings, brass, and most build to a big big ending, cause when song peaks and you see "Directed by" you know what's up.

I'd say Sheryl Crow kinda missed the boat, a fine ballad song, but not a great Bond song.

Jack white is an absolute human riff machine on the guitar and an exciting performer, but I wonder if piano, brass and strings are better suited to Bond as opposed to rock guitar--somehow paul mcc, duran were able to rock it but Jack W is a lot more raw and edgy than that. And I would have loved to hear Alicia Keys do a slower drawn out ballad style song, like Bassey, and torch it up at the end. But kudos to 007 producers for taking chances and working in an incredible array of artists to move Bond through the decades music-wise.

Thanks, regards, Felix the Leitercat  ajb007/martini  ajb007/cool

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Barbel wrote:

And thanks for joining the ever-growing band of Another Way To Die detractors!

And that's another name to add to my 'Little Black Book'  ajb007/wink

ajb007/biggrin

YNWA: Justice For The 96

The Joy Of 6

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Re: Which rock/pop bands+artists did Bond proud & which didn't "get it"?

Sir Miles wrote:
Barbel wrote:

And thanks for joining the ever-growing band of Another Way To Die detractors!

And that's another name to add to my 'Little Black Book'  ajb007/wink

ajb007/biggrin

Hello Sir Miles, and feel free to add me to the I don't like "the man with the golden gun" title track at all list, might as well, kick it to the curb again. and the shame of it is, Lulu was a great vocalist, who I understand had a pretty strong career in the UK, and her song "to sir with love" - the sidney poitier teacher movie - was superb, really helped make that film. so it's not like she lacked the vocal chops, just not a good melody and mediocre lyrics. oh well, spy who loved me came next, and carly simon made bond music history, and yay to marvin hamlisch, the great cinema composer for this truly memorable tune.

Thanks,regards,
Felix the Leitercat  ajb007/martini  ajb007/cool