February 11, 2013

Fifty Years of James Bond: revisiting Jeff Tyzik's Nov. 2012 blog

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, the RPO presents Classic Bond on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16, 2013, at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, released in the U.S. in theatres on November 9, 2012 (and on DVD February 12, 2003), prompted us to ask RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik for his Top Five favorite James Bond themes…

1. The James Bond Theme (Monty Norman): This is from the very first Bond film in 1962, Nr. No, and remains the iconic, evocative, signature theme for the entire franchise. Frequent Bond composer John Barry arranged the piece, and claimed he wrote it as well. But Monty Norman won several law suits against publishers, and continues to receive royalties from the work.
Hear it here: youtube.com/James Bond Theme

2. Thunderball (John Barry & Don Black, sung by Tom Jones): After United Artists scrapped John Barry’s & Leslie Bricusse’s original theme entitled “Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” because they wanted the theme to have the same title as the film, Barry teamed up with Don Black to write “Thunderball” for the 1965 Bond film. Tom Jones fainted in the recording booth after singing the song’s final, high note, of which he said: “I closed my eyes and held the note for so long that when I opened my eyes, the room was spinning.”
Hear it here: youtube.com/Thunderball

3. Nobody Does It Better (Marvin Hamlisch & Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Carly Simon): Written and recorded for the 1977 Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, it was the first Bond theme to be titled differently than the name of the film since Dr. No, although the phrase “the spy who loved me” is included in the lyrics. The song was Carly Simon’s longest-running hit, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Song.

4. Live and Let Die (Paul & Linda McCartney): Written for the 1973 film of the same name, this was the best-selling Bond theme ever at the time. It reunited McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break. Originally, film producer Harry Saltzman wanted an African American female to record the song for the movie, but McCartney would only the allow the song to be used if Wings performed it. Saltzman, who had previously rejected the chance to produce A Hard Day’s Night, decided not to make the same mistake again and agreed. Both the original version and the Guns N’ Roses remake were nominated for Grammys.
Hear it here: youtube.com/Live and Let Die

5. Goldfinger (John Barry, Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse, sung by Shirley Bassey): Written for the third Bond film in 1964, “Goldfinger” is said to have started the tradition of Bond theme songs being from the pop genre or using popular artists. The piece is a favorite of frequent Bond composer John Barry, who said it was “the first time I had complete control, writing the score and the song.” The musical score, in keeping with the film's theme of gold and metal, makes heavy use of brass and metallic chimes, and is described as “brassy and raunchy” with "a sassy sexiness to it.” Hear it here: youtube.com/Goldfinger

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