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Various Artists – Best of Bond…James Bond – 50 Years, 50 Tracks Review

October 15, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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Various Artists – Best of Bond…James Bond – 50 Years, 50 Tracks Review  

Disc One
1. “James Bond Theme” – The John Barry Orchestra [from Dr. No]
2. “From Russia With Love” – Matt Monro [from From Russia With Love]
3. “Goldfinger” – Shirley Bassey [from Goldfinger]
4. “Thunderball” – Tom Jones [from Thunderball]
5. “You Only Live Twice” – Nancy Sinatra [from You Only Live Twice]
6. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” – The John Barry Orchestra [from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service]
7. “We Have All The Time In The World” – Louis Armstrong [from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service]
8. “Diamonds Are Forever” – Shirley Bassey [from Diamonds Are Forever]
9. “Live And Let Die” – Paul McCartney & Wings [from Live And Let Die]
10. “The Man With The Golden Gun” – Lulu [from The Man With The Golden Gun]
11. “Nobody Does It Better” – Carly Simon [from The Spy Who Loved Me]
12. “Moonraker” – Shirley Bassey [from Moonraker]
13. “For Your Eyes Only” – Sheena Easton [from For Your Eyes Only]
14. “All Time High” – Rita Coolidge [from Octopussy]
15. “A View To A Kill” – Duran Duran [from A View To A Kill]
16. “The Living Daylights” – A-Ha [from The Living Daylights]
17. “Licence To Kill” – Gladys Knight [from Licence To Kill]
18. “GoldenEye (Single Edit)” – Tina Turner [from GoldenEye]
19. “Tomorrow Never Dies” – Sheryl Crow [from Tomorrow Never Dies]
20. “The World Is Not Enough” – Garbage [from The World Is Not Enough]
21. “Die Another Day” – Madonna [from Die Another Day]
22. “You Know My Name” – Chris Cornell [from Casino Royale]
23. “Another Way To Die” – Jack White & Alicia Keys [from Quantum Of Solace]

Disc Two
1. “Dr. No’s Fantasy” [from Dr. No]
2. “Under The Mango Tree” [from Dr. No]
3. “007” [from From Russia With Love]
4. “Opening Titles (Medley): James Bond Is Back/From Russia With Love/James Bond Theme” [from From Russia With Love]
5. “Into Miami” [from Goldfinger]
6. “The Laser Beam” [from Goldfinger]
7. “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” [submitted for Thunderball but not included in film]
8. “Switching The Body” [from Thunderball]
9. “Capsule in Space” [from You Only Live Twice]
10. “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown” [from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service]
11. “Bond Smells a Rat” [from Diamonds Are Forever]
12. “Fillet Of Soul-New Orleans/Live And Let Die/Fillet Of Soul-Harlem (Medley)” [from Live And Let Die]
13. “Underground Lair” [from Live And Let Die]
14. “Hip’s Trip” [from The Man With The Golden Gun]
15. “The Pyramids” [from The Spy Who Loved Me]
16. “Cable Car And Snake Fight” [from Moonraker]
17. “Make It Last All Night” [from For Your Eyes Only]
18. “The Chase Bomb Theme” [from Octopussy]
19. “Snow Job” [from A View To A Kill]
20. “Where Has Everybody Gone” [from The Living Daylights]
21. “If There Was a Man” [from The Living Daylights]
22. “The Experience Of Love” [from GoldenEye]
23. “James Bond Theme” [inspired by Tomorrow Never Dies]
24. “Surrender” [from Tomorrow Never Dies]
25. “Only Myself To Blame” [from The World Is Not Enough]
26. “Vesper” [from Casino Royale]
27. “Time To Get Out” [from Quantum Of Solace]

Over the past fifty years there has been an enduring legacy in filmmaking; the James Bond franchise. Under the guidance of EON Productions, the cinematic adaptations of Ian Fleming’s iconic British spy has endured and prospered throughout the constantly changing tastes and trends in Hollywood to reach its fiftieth anniversary in 2012. Of course, along with that very legacy comes an integral part of the Bond franchise; the Bond theme is as much an indelible part of music as the Bond film is to moviemaking. The fifty years and twenty-two Bond films have given us a wide variety of songs from artists of all genres. With the latest Bond film Skyfall on the verge of release and Adele’s identically-titled theme song running the airwaves, EMI has compiled the entirety of the Bond theme catalogue along with some special bonuses in a two-disc omnibus, The Best of Bond…James Bond.

The LP is nothing less than a complete recounting of James Bond music throughout the decades. The first disc covers all the theme songs for the twenty-two films up to 2008’s Quantum of Solace while adding Louis Armstrong’s last recorded song “We Have All the Time in the World” from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Barry also starts the disc off, with the quintessential “James Bond Theme” from Dr. No. It almost goes without saying that it’s a timeless classic, and as the disc runs through the songs in chronological you have no shortage of other such great works. Of course, with a complete collection of fifty years of theme songs you’re not going to have unassailable excellence from start to finish and with this disc you get the bad along with the good such as Lulu’s “The Man With the Golden Gun,” Rita Coolidge’s “All-Time High” and Madonna’s “Die Another Day.” But even with the missteps, you find an amazing fact running through these, which is that EON and the music supervisors of the various films generally did a great job with their song commissions. Film soundtracks can often be half-hearted compilations or outsourced second-rate songs “inspired by” the film; listening through the length of the Bond franchise themes, you get a real sense of the care with which those who have guided the series afford the music.

Something else interesting happens when you listen through, which is that the Bond themes act as a fascinating soundtrack not just for the movies, but for the eras in which they belong. As the years have passed the music industry has changed, genres have been redefined and audiences have found new sounds that they prefer. Whether you’re listening to the brassy jazz and instrumental tones of the 1960s songs, the 1970s and soft rock, the synth-driven pop of the 1980s and so on up to the alt-rock stylings of the current era, the franchise’s ability to adapt itself to new musical trends means that Best of Bond provides a look into the ebb and flow of popular music. That alone makes it a worthwhile experience, even before you get into the fact that you’re getting an aural journey through the history of the world’s greatest spy. And along the way you get to encounter hits that not only stand their own as Bond songs but have broken through to become hallmarks of popular music like Paul McCartney’s “Live & Let Die” and Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.”

If that’s not enough for you, EMI isn’t done yet as they venture into a second disc for extra cuts. The second disc is for lovers of film scores, as it includes several of the best instrumental tracks from the franchise like “Dr. No’s Fantasy,” “007” from From Russia With Love, “Underground Lair” from Live And Let Die and so on. The disc isn’t just instrumentals though; for those who prefer lyrics with their songs there are a handful of secondary songs recorded for the films. The calypso sound of Diana Coupland’s “Under The Mango Tree” and Shirley Bassey’s “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” are great representations of their era and the Pretenders show up for their two songs from The Living Daylights as well, providing better-quality songs than A-Ha’s theme song. It’s easy to say that the second disc is as much a treat as the first, albeit of a different nature, and make getting the double LP set well worth it over the single-disc.

The 411: It is an understatement to say that, unless you already own all the individual songs, Best of Bond...James Bond - 50 Years, 50 Tracks is a must-have for the Bond enthusiast. The opportunity to get every Bond theme collected in one set is too much to let pass by, and the inclusion of the second disc of more obscure but also-great songs is clearly an added bonus. But even for non-Bond fans, the compilation set provides a great opportunity to grab a collection of songs that have helped define their generations for film and music alike. Not every song is great and listened to individually it has its ups and downs, but this set is much greater than the sum of its parts.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend

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Jeremy Thomas
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