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Topic: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

I've always considered the score for FYEO to be something of an underrated gem, maintaining the quality of the other Bill Conti soundtracks I'm familiar with (Rocky and The Right Stuff.) Yes it is dated in places but I find it a welcome breath of fresh air amongst Barry's Roger Moore soundtracks. The disco action is fun (A Drive In the Country, Melina's Revenge, Runaway) but Conti also provides a decent pastiche of the usual Barry style with suspenseful tracks (St. Cyril's Monastery) as well as effectively generating a mysterious underwater environment (Submarine.)

Granted there are a few weak tracks (the colourless Cortina and the meandering Unfinished Business) but for the most part I think Conti's FYEO soundtrack is a supremely enjoyable addition to the Bond discography. It is one of the better aspects of an otherwise mid-tier Bond film for me.

What do others think? I suspect this may well be a controversial opinion, is there anyone who despises the dated stylings of this soundtrack? Or is it a unique breath of fresh air amid the contemporary Barry offerings?


(Mods, I can't find a specific FYEO soundtrack thread on here. If there is already and I missed it feel free to send this post over there to that section.)

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Bill Conti coming fresh off of Rocky(?) was actually an interesting addition to the series, he managed to give a different sound to every location visited and sounded quite modern for its time and FYEO certainly needed that.

I love Hamlisch and Conti's contributions because it breathed new life and made it more unique as a movie.
Part of the reason Spy is so rewatchable to me.

Barry had a few good tunes in Moonraker, "Bond meets Goodhead" and of course "Flight into Space" but it was pretty rare to see much more afterwards. That is, until A View To A Kill or The Living Daylights.

a reasonable rate of return

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Good to see I'm not the lone heretic on this...I thought the FYEO soundtrack had its critics, several of them.

I get what you mean re Conti giving a different sound to every location; Spain, Italy, Greece etc.

I think part of the appeal of FYEO is that its disco stylings are a huge change coming after Barry's grandiose and classical Moonraker.

I do think Moonraker's soundtrack is let down somewhat by the turgid, soporific title song melody- same goes for OP.

FYEO by contrast has an energetic and catchy theme song woven well into the score.

Fortunately, I agree, Barry rediscovered his mojo to a degree with AVTAK and TLD. Tracks such as Golden Gate Fight and Murder at the Fair are among Barry's top-notch work, on a par with OHMSS two decades earlier. Any other takes on the FYEO soundtrack?

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

My favourite stretch of Bond scores is from MR through TLD. I think Barry knocked it out of the park with both MR and TLD and are up there with OHMSS. I love OP, which seems to be one of the most criticised Bond scores these days. MR's biggest problem is that so much of the film's great music isn't on the score. Barry gave MR everything he had.

FYEO is so different from MR. The film brought Bond down to earth from MR, but I find that the music went in the opposite direction. Moonraker had the introspective music while FYEO has one of the most bombastic scores of the series. I think FYEO would have done well with MR's style of music, but Conti still wrote a brilliant score. It may sound quite dated, but it's so well written.

I tend to judge music on its own merits. After all, good music is good music no matter the context and era. Conti wrote one of the most colourful soundtracks of the series. The use of percussion is genius! The music may not be Bondian, but it's still great music and I think it fits the film very well. Conti's use of leitmotifs and the way he uses certain instruments really helps guide us through the film. I think it's the best score he ever wrote. It's obvious how much care he put into it.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

" I love OP, which seems to be one of the most criticised Bond scores these days."


Don't get me wrong OP's soundtrack has a few decent tracks, such as the suspense-filled Bond Look Alike, but it is dragged down by All Time High, a slightly insipid and directionless ballad tune that features prominently as the main romantic theme. I don't find it to be as effective in this capacity as other romantic themes Barry made use of, such as YOLT and AVTAK in their respective films.


OP also suffers a little from overusing the Bond theme in virtually all of its action sequences. In comparison I find FYEO's score to have more memorable action cues that manage to stand apart from references to the Bond theme, for example the opening racing synthesizer passages of A Drive In the Country and Runaway, and the distinctive suspense pacing of Ski/Shoot/Jump. What do others think of FYEO's music when viewed alongside the more numerous Barry scores of the era?

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

SpectreOfDefeat wrote:

" I love OP, which seems to be one of the most criticised Bond scores these days."


Don't get me wrong OP's soundtrack has a few decent tracks, such as the suspense-filled Bond Look Alike, but it is dragged down by All Time High, a slightly insipid and directionless ballad tune that features prominently as the main romantic theme. I don't find it to be as effective in this capacity as other romantic themes Barry made use of, such as YOLT and AVTAK in their respective films.


OP also suffers a little from overusing the Bond theme in virtually all of its action sequences. In comparison I find FYEO's score to have more memorable action cues that manage to stand apart from references to the Bond theme, for example the opening racing synthesizer passages of A Drive In the Country and Runaway, and the distinctive suspense pacing of Ski/Shoot/Jump. What do others think of FYEO's music when viewed alongside the more numerous Barry scores of the era?

I rank most Barry scores higher than FYEO, with only FRWL and TMWTGG beneath it.

All Time High is a poor theme, but I think it excels as a romantic theme within the score. The original incidental music is interesting and colourful. And as for the Bond Theme, it never gets old for me.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Interesting. I'd rank FYEO slightly above Barry's FRWL, TMWTGG, MR, and OP, and head and shoulders above Kamen's LTK and Newman's SP.


There's some intriguing instrumentation going on in a few of the original OP tracks- Bond Meets Octopussy and Arrival at the Island of Octopussy springing to mind. However, I find the Chase Bomb Theme a bit generic. This is still a decent score though and I would say that it definitely helps to elevate the atmosphere and style of a film with as much silly humour as OP...


The Bond theme gets a few cool variations in FYEO- Submarine being a highlight track for me. Both scores are very different but worthwhile additions to the musical variety of the series...

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

SpectreOfDefeat wrote:

OP also suffers a little from overusing the Bond theme in virtually all of its action sequences.

The "overuse" of the Bond Theme was quite deliberate. This was to underline the fact that OP was the real, the official Bond film while its contemporary NSNA, which could not use the Theme, was not. I believe this was on Broccoli's orders, but can't remember where I read/heard that.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Apologies for my lack of musical terminology but, to my ear, the two note intro to Conti's main title song for FYEO is over-used in both the song itself and in the score overall... it's annoying and annoyingly pervasive.

I prefer any of the songs in the surrounding Barry Bonds. As for the other non-Barry Moore songs, 'Live And Let Die' and 'Nobody Does It Better' are both iconic - more durable and impressive than the Sheena Easton number. It's not that Sheena Easton didn't have a great voice. It's just that the song feels much less of a hit. I think its success at the time must have been helped by the fact that Maurice Binder basically designed the FYEO credits sequence as a Sheena Easton music video.

There's a well known story about how Duran Duran got the gig for 'A View To A Kill'. At a party they cheekily asked Cubby Broccoli when he was going to invite someone 'good' to do a Bond song. It's easy to imagine that they had in mind Sheena Easton among those that they felt that they could out-do and, when their turn came, it must have helped that they were Barry fans, honoured to work on a collaboration with him!

That said, I have an overall liking for Bill Conti's well-written compositions for the incidental score of FYEO. He's one of the series' most agile composers of dramatic music. I'd rate him higher than Serra and Newman, and probably higher than Kamen. In '81, Conti's disco-based action themes felt contemporary and exciting, and his romantic and suspense pieces are broadly respectful of Barry's legacy, adding atmosphere to FYEO as an adventure story. The main problem is that the particular synth sound he used is so dated, and sometimes off-puttingly shrill: it dates less well than other Bond musical styles (including Martin's and Hamlisch's).

Imho Barry's scores for TMWTGG, MR, OP and AVTAK are all superior (as are any of Barry's non-Moore Bond scores) - despite their variable quality.

But my guilty pleasure is FYEO's 'Make It Last All Night'. Ideal for embarrassing disco dancing by Dads-in-safari-suits at the perennial wedding! (I imagine the late John Glen among them!) I'd sooner listen to this risque Rage number than to any other of the Bond B-side vocal tracks of the 80s, except 'Where Has Everybody Gone?'

Last edited by Shady Tree (28th Jun 2020 15:06)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

"... to my ear, the two note intro to Conti's main title song for FYEO is over-used in both the song itself and in the score overall... it's annoying and annoyingly pervasive. "


I would respectfully disagree- I think those opening bars are applied well, not just as romantic scoring but as a suspense theme- similar in style and functionality to the simple tension leitmotifs in Jaws or Halloween. I can see though how someone might find it overly repetitive in the context of the soundtrack. Anyone else differ on this?


"The main problem is that the particular synth sound he used is so dated, and sometimes off-puttingly shrill: it dates less well than other Bond musical styles (including Martin's and Hamlisch's)."


I tend to notice that Conti's particular synth vibe is considered more dated nowadays, comparatively, than (for example) Martin's equally of-its-time Seventies funk interpolations of the Bond theme in LALD. Although that score is interesting in its own way too...


"But my guilty pleasure is FYEO's 'Make It Last All Night'."


To each his own I say...


My controversial opinion here is that with the exception of the sleepy All Time High, the Eighties Bond films have the best run of songs in the series discography: the superbly produced and sung For Your Eyes Only, then the coolly tough A View to a Kill, the fun catchy The Living Daylights, and finally the brassily impactful Licence to Kill, a nostalgic throwback to the glory days of Bassey's Goldfinger. What do others think?

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

I'd say that YOLT/OHMSS/DAF/LALD were a much stronger run.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

A song I really love is Blondie's rejected 'For Your Eyes Only'. It comes across as like a whimsical, post-punk take on Roger Moore's lighter Bond persona, and as such it might have stood up better against a third film in the TSWLM/MR groove - rather than the FYEO as we have it, which returned the series to a more serious tone. Debbie Harry seems to find the lyrics and voice of a Moore-era supporting Bond girl/bimbo, singing along to the band's cool guitar riffs. Not a song from the perspective of a Melina Havelock; more a Miss Caruso or a Bianca or a Pola Ivanova. Perhaps even a Mary Goodnight or a Stacey Sutton!

This exists only in demo form, but it would have been amazing to hear it as a full production. It's quirkily less 'middle of the road' than the Conti/Sheena Easton number and a real 'grower'!

I never thought I'd use the terms 'post-punk' and 'Roger Moore' in the same sentence, but there you go. Blondie's was a song in search of the right Bond movie...

Last edited by Shady Tree (21st Jun 2020 19:26)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

I agree- the rejected Blondie theme would have injected a welcome dose of fashionable musical style into the Moore song discography. I still like the Sheena Easton song we ended up with though...


While this one may be less popular, I take a similar view regarding Alice Cooper's rejected Man With The Golden Gun, a hard thrashing glam track that would have continued the enjoyable diversion into rock-based tunes begun by Paul McCartney's Live And Let Die. The grittier more abrasive sound of Cooper's attempt suits the harsher, darker tone of the cinematic Golden Gun, but also retains some semblance of bombastic excesses characteristic of the 'Bond sound' at that point. Its better than Lulu's clattering dirge at least...



The subject of rejected Bond themes is an intriguing topic to delve into. What do others think of the Blondie theme placed alongside the collection of actual Bond themes? Would it have actively improved the soundtrack?

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Yes, Bond missed out on thrashing glam and on post-punk - but I guess it eventually caught up with New Romanticism, courtesy of Duran Duran!


It always seemed to me that post-punk diva Siouxsie Sioux, like Debbie Harry, could have offered an edgily dramatic 'alternative' Bond song for the 80s. (The Banshees did write a song for the goth-friendly 'Batman Returns' in '89 - 'Face To Face' - but would Siouxsie have deigned to perform for Bond?)

I still see Siouxsie and the Banshees' official video for 'Cities In Dust' as an out-and-out Maurice Binder homage...


Back to FYEO, and I especially like the musical stretch of the film covered by 'Gonzales Takes A Drive' [sic. Shouldn't that be 'dive'?] and  'A Drive In The Country' (as well as the aforementioned Rage). 'Gonzales Takes A Drive' moves through Spanish-infused partying to funk-disco suspense and action - punctuated by Melina's revenge motif. 'A Drive In The Country' is fun, jaunty, exciting and well structured, bringing in the Bond theme too; the later 'Runaway' is even better, in a similar style.

'Cortina' is another highlight for me, conveying exoticism and mystery - blending synth with Barryesque touches including a 'Bond chord' at the end.

Last edited by Shady Tree (23rd Jun 2020 16:49)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

I'm a fan of the FYEO soundtrack. It's not in the John Barry league but is still very good, and made for a change.

It fits the era perfectly with its mix of synths and pop as well as the traditional (albeit a bit kitsch) pieces per location. The scores to the action sequences are memorable and instantly recognisable.

FYEO may not be one of the most highly rated Bond films but I love it and appreciate all its retro charm.

"Any of the opposition around..?"

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I too love the FYEO score!  ajb007/heart  ajb007/heart

Conti (Italian) makes such a wonderful, colourful and dynamic music and it appears that he was like a kid in a candystore.
I can agree that some disco and synthesizer parts sound a bit dated but he‘s much more brave and creative than Barry when he repeats his main themes.

And the Fluegelhorn solo on the main theme brings tears to my eyes, seriously!

If Conti would have not done the FYEO score, the 007 world would have missed out on something amazing!

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Higgins wrote:

If Conti would have not done the FYEO score, the 007 world would have missed out on something amazing!

ajb007/cheers

"Any of the opposition around..?"

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Higgins wrote:

I too love the FYEO score!  ajb007/heart  ajb007/heart

Conti (Italian) makes such a wonderful, colourful and dynamic music and it appears that he was like a kid in a candystore.
I can agree that some disco and synthesizer parts sound a bit dated but he‘s much more brave and creative than Barry when he repeats his main themes.

And the Fluegelhorn solo on the main theme brings tears to my eyes, seriously!

If Conti would have not done the FYEO score, the 007 world would have missed out on something amazing!

Well said!

Conti is Italian-American, so ultimately he's American and not Italian.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Well, his music sounds more italian than american, don‘t you agree?  ajb007/shifty

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Higgins wrote:

Well, his music sounds more italian than american, don‘t you agree?  ajb007/shifty

I think of the disco and funk of the FYEO score as American.

John Barry, on the other hand, quoted or took inspiration from Italian opera composers in his scores. To me, Barry's music has the most Italian sound of any Bond composer.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Conti is very underrated.  FYIO is fantastic.   The Arnold soundtracks are absolute garbage.

This is where we leave you Mr. Bond. (Pilot, Apollo Airlines)

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

Polar Bear 0007 wrote:

Conti is very underrated.  FYIO is fantastic.   The Arnold soundtracks are absolute garbage.

Each to their own Polar Bear, but 'garbage'..? ajb007/frown

Have you listened to TND's White Knight or Surrender? TWINE's Come in 007, Your Time is Up or Only Myself to Blame? CR's Vesper or City of Lovers? QoS' Time to Get Out? To name just a few.

"Any of the opposition around..?"

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

"Each to their own Polar Bear, but 'garbage'..? "


Arnold has some fantastic tracks...
TND- Hamburg Break In
TWINE- Come In Number 007, Ice Bandits, Submarine
DAD- Hovercraft Chase, Bond To Iceland


The soundtracks FYEO does comfortably beat out, comparatively, are Kamen's LTK, Newman's SP and Serra's GE, not to mention Legrand's NSNA...both FYEO and all of Arnold's soundtracks are worthy contributions to the series.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

SpectreOfDefeat wrote:

not to mention Legrand's NSNA

In comparison with Conti...


Legrand

It seems to me that a track like Conti's 'Take Me Home' - the romantic cue for Bond and Lisl in FYEO - would have worked equally well in NSNA for Bond and Domino or for Bond and Nicole: 'Take Me Home' would match the casually louche romantic style and tone attempted in NSNA, but it's a much better written piece than Legrand's half-baked parallel efforts.

Having said that, the NSNA tango is glorious; and Legrand's 'Jealousy' is in similar territory to Conti's disco-beats-as-drama: both of these relatively effective pieces are, interestingly, examples of diegetic music in NSNA, hardwired to dramatic situations.


Kamen

I like Kamen's mood music for LTK - Kamen really does convey a sense of Bond in crisis - but Conti did a better job in FYEO of writing distinct compositions that make sense as tracks in their own right as well as matching the film's sequences (following Barry's approach). Witness 'A Drive In The Country' and 'Runaway', each of which is tightly coherent in its own terms. By comparison, Kamen's cues for LTK are meandering.


Serra

The GE score is rather schizophrenic. On one hand, we get some impressive orchestral pieces, in traditional style, often overlooked by Serra bashers - e.g. 'We Share The Same Passions' and 'It Keeps You Alone' - but on the other hand we get all that 'radical' dark industrial scoring (which I actually don't mind at all). Conti's relative strength is that his FYEO score somehow feels more coherent and joined up, even though it ranges through different moods, pacing and styles.


Arnold

As for Arnold, he wrote many fine Bondian pieces across all of his OO7 work - but his manic 90s techno stylings in SOME of the scoring for TND, TWINE and DAD can distract from the orchestration during isolated listening, dating the music as much as Conti's early-80s synth dates the FYEO score. But even that isn't an issue in Arnold's fine scores for CR06 and QOS, where he delivers a traditional Barry/'spy' orchestral style significantly less encumbered by fashionable techno fx.


Newman

Apart from uses of the Bond theme, Newman doesn't seem to me to be interested in writing music which is distinctively Bondian. That sets him unfavourably apart from Conti and all of the above (except Legrand) as well as Martin and Hamlisch.

Two honourable exceptions which prove the rule are the piece for the Day of The Dead, and the arrangement of the 'Skyfall' theme for the approach to the Macau casino - but in these cases Newman was, respectively, engaging and arranging the musical contributions of others.

The fact that Newman's two Bond scores are mainly indistinguishable (unless you can be bothered to listen really closely) is rather damning imho.

It would have been fun to hear how Conti might have approached a second Bond score in the 80s, e.g. LTK - given the agile musical responsiveness to different locations, situations and moods which he demonstrated in FYEO.

Last edited by Shady Tree (25th Jun 2020 20:45)

Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 49 years.

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Re: For Your Eyes Only- an Underrated Soundtrack?

"'Take Me Home' would match the casually louche romantic style and tone attempted in NSNA, but it's a much better written piece than Legrand's half-baked parallel efforts."


Agree with this. There's also the fact that NSNA's score is less varied than FYEO,  mainly comprising lounge numbers that would be fine in a Smooth Jazz compilation but not so much in a Bond score. I once tried to rescore NSNA with Barry cues from OP and AVTAK, and the difference is considerable.



"The fact that Newman's two Bond scores are mainly indistinguishable (unless you can be bothered to listen really closely) is rather damning imho. "



Interestingly, both NSNA and SP's scores suffer from a lack of Bond theme. With NSNA its an excusable problem because of the working conditions of the unofficial production, but with Spectre the logic is less clear. Some scenes in Spectre, particularly the Rome car chase and the plane pursuit, could really have done with a propulsive blast of Bond theme.



Ironically, Newman's Spectre score, with its racing heavy action ostinatos, brings to mind a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Now Zimmer is actually scoring Bond and says he was inspired by Barry...I wonder how it will turn out?


"I like Kamen's mood music for LTK - Kamen really does convey a sense of Bond in crisis - but Conti did a better job in FYEO of writing distinct compositions that make sense as tracks in their own right as well as matching the film's sequences (following Barry's approach). Witness 'A Drive In The Country' and 'Runaway', each of which is tightly coherent in its own terms. By comparison, Kamen's cues for LTK are meandering."

Kamen's music can be highly dramatic, and I like the triumphant flute-melody version of the Bond theme that plays when Bond is driving the tanker truck, but overall I find the score a little generic, and certainly lacking the dashes of musical colour that Conti brought, or the classic iconic atmosphere of Barry.



Both Conti and Kamen are scoring supposedly more 'serious', moody Bond films, yet go about their musical tasks in completely different ways. Interesting...