Soundtrack Review: Moonraker

Composed and conducted by: John Barry

One of the last James Bond novels to be made into a film was Moonraker. The timing was perfect since Star Wars had sparked a science-fiction craze a couple of years earlier. Its more realistic plot of a madman planning to fire a single earth-to-earth rocket was of course adjusted to feature an actual space station and laser battles in the climax. The villain of the Moonraker film plots to kill off earth’s human population and replace it with his own perfect race. As usual, James Bond and his love interests are there to stop him. Famed henchman Jaws also makes a comeback.

Despite continuing tax issues, John Barry was able to score Moonraker and here he provides one of his most out-of-the-box Bond scores, featuring choir and a heavier than normal dosage of romance. Unfortunately, the album was not able to be expanded in its re-release and only a half-hour of music is available on the main soundtrack. This is frustrating because I think there was almost enough room on an LP to fit the entire score. There’s also a lot of random pairings of cues in the tracks, so it would take some editing software to rearrange the music chronologically if that’s a big deal for you.

Shirley Bassey of Goldfinger fame is brought back to voice the romantic title song “Moonraker”. The song is fittingly romantic to match the score, but doesn’t quite have the replay value of the other Bond title pieces. Aside from its orchestral title version, Barry also provides a more disco-influenced version for the end title with a different opening that utilizes the fanfare from “Flight into Space”. The tune of the title song is used in “Miss Goodhead Meets Bond” and “Bond Arrives in Rio”, the latter appearance being backed by choir.

The music is mostly slow, and on a longer album this could get tedious, but it actually manages to be very entertaining regardless. One of the loveliest cues is “Bond Lured to Pyramid”, a choral piece with woodwinds that evokes an ethereal feeling. “Flight into Space” is the most powerful track, a six-minute travel cue with a villainous fanfare, choral passages, and romantic bridging. “Space Lazer Battle” is a slow march, and I wish it wasn’t put right at the beginning of the album since it’s one of the last cues in the film. Another highlight is “Corrine Put Down”, a tragic piece from one of the film’s more haunting scenes.

The James Bond theme itself is very scarce, only appearing twice in fragments in “Space Lazer Battle” and “Cable Car”. Moonraker does, however, feature the last appearance of Barry’s 007 theme in “Boat Chase”, a fairly calmer version that still remains exciting.

Moonraker is a great Bond score, but could have done with a slightly better track arrangement, and its length is a bit short even compared to other original LP releases in the series. It’s my favorite score from the Roger Moore films. It’s the most unique soundtrack Barry provided for 007 and most of the music is gorgeous.

Rating: (score) 8/10 (album) 7/10


  1. Moonraker (vocals by Shirley Bassey) (3:11)
  2. Space Lazer Battle (2:49)
  3. Bond Meets Miss Goodhead (2:49)
  4. Cable Car and Snake Fight (3:09)
  5. Bond Lured to Pyramid (2:07)
  6. Flight Into Space (6:31)
  7. Bond Arrives in Rio and Boat Chase (2:39)
  8. Centrifuge and Corrine Put Down (2:37)
  9. Bond Smells a Rat (2:25)
  10. End Title-Moonraker (vocals bys Shirley Bassey) (2:30)

Soundtrack Review: The Spy Who Loved Me


Composed by: Marvin Hamlisch

With the Bond series losing its touch, Eon Productions spent a little extra time and much more money on making the next film, producing a larger Bond spectacle. The Spy Who Loved Me remains a large favorite of the series, introducing large lavish set pieces, some neat action, and the iconic sharp-toothed henchman Jaws. The plot concerns Bond and a Soviet agent named Anya trying to stop an undersea madman from stealing nuclear submarines and using their cargo to destroy the surface. John Barry could not score the film thanks to tax problems. Instead song-writer Marvin Hamlisch was signed on.

The best tune on the album is from the ridiculous yet striking “Nobody Does It Better”, sung by Carly Simon with perhaps the most suggestive lyrics of the franchise. Hamlisch doesn’t weave it into the score as well as Barry would, but it still receives a piano instrumental version and a reprise in the end titles. “Nobody Does It Better” remains one of the most popular Bond songs, but the score is not quite up to par. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: The Man with the Golden Gun

Composed and Conducted by: John Barry

The Man with the Golden Gun is considered a low-point of the James Bond franchise. Smaller in scale, and full of goofy humor, the 007 movies were veering into B-movie territory. It’s still a pretty fun film, with its most redeeming element being Christopher Lee’s performance as the man with the golden gun, hitman Francisco Scaramanga. Despite his tax problems, John Barry was still able to score The Man with the Golden Gun, albeit on an incredibly tight schedule of under a month. This results in a competent score that falls short of his previous efforts.

Not helping is the main title song, which like the movie is not up to par with its predecessors. It’s a fast, bouncy song with some ridiculous lyrics. Lulu sings a different song with the same tune in “End Title”, which instead of being about how dangerous Scaramanga is, declares James Bond’s victory over him. Since he did not have much time to think up a bunch of melodies and motifs, Barry ends up using both the song’s tune and the James Bond theme quite liberally.

The score proper opens with “Scaramanga’s Fun House”, a stealth track that is interrupted by both a jazzy speakeasy-style and honky-tonk style variation of the song theme. Much of this track is rehashed for “Return to Scaramanga’s Fun House”, but ends on a high note with one of the most suspenseful, nail-biting variations of the James Bond theme.

With the film set in Southeast Asia, Barry brings in Asian instruments for several cues, the first being “Chew Me In Grislyland”. The best of these is “Hip’s Trip”, which also has its own little suspense motif. “Kung Fu Fight” is the most stereotypically Asian, starting off with a bunch of gongs. There is a lot of jazz in this score as well. Track four is just a jazz version of the title theme, and “Goodnight, Goodnight” is a good romantic cue full of saxophone.

“Let’s Go Get ‘Em” is from the car chase scene, and features the most of the James Bond theme. Barry decided to make some changes to the theme to fit the replacement of Sean Connery with Roger Moore. The cool and menacing guitar is replaced by a full orchestra to underscore Moore’s more sophisticated and less gritty take on the character. This track is marred by the inclusion of the goofy sound effect from when Bond’s car spins through the air.

Overall, this is a solid, if underwhelming score. The time constraints can be felt by the heavy use of the James Bond and title song themes, both of which were already there for Barry to use. Otherwise there’s no memorable themes or melodies to speak of. Rumors say that the 2003 re-issue would have included the previously missing music, but this was not allowed due to budget constraints. I’m okay with that, especially since aside from being perhaps Barry’s worst offering for the franchise, the album already runs over forty minutes long.

Rating: 6/10


  1. The Man with the Golden Gun (sung by Lulu) (2:36)
  2. Scaramanga’s Fun House (4:40)
  3. Chew Me in Grisly Land (4:02)
  4. The Man with the Golden Gun (Jazz Version) (2:33)
  5. Getting the Bullet (2:46)
  6. Goodnight, Goodnight (5:25)
  7. Let’s Go Get ‘Em (3:45)
  8. Hip’s Trip (3:22)
  9. Kung Fu Fight (1:58)
  10. Search for Scaramanga’s Island (2:32)
  11. Return to Scaramanga’s Fun House (6:30)
  12. End Title – The Man with the Golden Gun (sung by Lulu) (3:06)

Soundtrack Review: Live and Let Die

Composed by: George Martin

The James Bond franchise experienced a radical change around the time of Connery’s departure. The films grew more light-hearted and goofy and the producers were having a hard time trying to find an actor who would stick to the series in the main role. Television star Roger Moore stepped up to the plate and would become the longest-running James Bond of the official series (Connery was in an equal number of films, but one of them was Never Say Never Again, which fell outside the main Eon Productions series).

Live and Let Die takes a break from the epic world-ending plots of the previous films. This time James Bond is running around the Caribbean trying to end the machinations of petty dictator Kananga, meeting a virgin psychic, numerous swampland threats, and the unkillable Baron Samedi. Overall, it is considered a very fun film and doesn’t get the grilling of most of the Roger Moore offerings.

John Barry also started to disappear during the 1970s, with tax problems preventing him from coming to England to score many of the Moore films. This resulted in several composers having a one-film go at the series. In general, their scores seem to have not aged as well, even though Barry himself would sometimes utilize bits of popular music styles in his work. George Martin’s score certainly sounds straight out of the late sixties to early seventies, but it’s actually quite good.

The main title song is pretty much one of the best ones out there. “Live and Let Die” is done by former Beatles member Paul McCartney and his band the Wings. It actually features barely any lyrics, but makes up for it with an awesome upbeat tune. It starts off slowly with a piano until the film’s title is announced, accompanied by brass hits. What follows is the aforementioned upbeat tune. George Martin surprisingly underutilizes the tunes from this song. The tune from the opening lyrics would make a good love theme, but is only used in “Bond and Rosie”. The fast action theme from the song fares better, with prominent appearances towards the end of the film.

Martin liberally uses the James Bond theme, which appears in nearly every track and virtually every action cue. Martin does put his own twist on it, even adding an extension motif, so he’s not lazy about it. The amount of romance is considerably scaled down from the Barry works, with the only sizeable love cues being “The Lovers” and “Bond and Rosie”

Like Diamonds are Forever there is a large dose of source music, but here it’s actually entertaining and adds to the light-hearted flavor of the film, with notable examples being “Baron Samedi’s Dance of Death” and “San Monique”.

“Sacrifice” is a tense, dissonant tribal cue which builds in intensity through orchestral strikes and, despite its simplicity, is very thrilling. The action does get a little repetitious on album, as Martin’s variation of the Bond theme pops up continually. But some do stand out. “Boat Chase” is a short but great chase cue which actually features “Here Comes the Bride” as James Bond’s adventures crash a wedding, along with one of the best uses of the upbeat theme from the title song. “Underground Lair” is a very good closing cue for the extended 2003 album, featuring abundant references to Paul McCartney’s song.

George Martin’s style here probably wouldn’t work beyond this one film, but it makes for a very fun and pleasing listen. Live and Let Die features one of the greatest title songs in history, upbeat yet dramatic cues, and heavy usage of some very good themes, resulting in one entertaining package which thrills.

Rating: (score) 8/10 original album (6/10)


  1. Live and Let Die (sung by Paul McCartney & the Wings) (3:12)
  2. Just a Closer Walk with Thee/New Second Line (2:15)
  3. Bond Meets Solitaire (2:41)
  4. Whisper Who Dares (1:43)
  5. Snakes Alive (2:41)
  6. Baron Samedi’s Dance of Death (1:42)
  7. San Monique (1:57)
  8. Filet of Soul – New Orleans/Live and Let Die/Filet of Soul (3:20)
  9. Bond Drops In (3:34)
  10. If He Finds it, Kill Him (1:20)
  11. Trespassers Will be Eaten (2:45)
  12. Solitaire Gets Her Cards (1:50)
  13. Sacrifice (3:21)
  14. James Bond Theme (1:47)
  15. Gunbarrel/Snakebit (1:31)
  16. Bond to New York (2:47)
  17. San Monique (alternate) (2:46)
  18. Bond and Rosie (3:51)
  19. The Lovers (2:09)
  20. New Orleans (2:53)
  21. Boat Chase (2:01)
  22. Underground Lair (4:17)

Soundtrack Review: Diamonds are Forever

Composed and Conducted by: John Barry

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with Lazenby doing his only appearance as James Bond, was successful, but box office receipts were down from the previous two thanks to the casting of an unknown in Bond’s role. With Lazenby declining a return, the producers begged Sean Connery to come back. Wanting to raise money for a charity, the first film Bond accepted, knowing that a lot of said money would be earned.

Diamonds Are Forever marks the official beginning of the more goofy and implausible era of Roger Moore’s James Bond, although Connery as said before is in this picture. Despite many ludicrous antics such as a moon buggy chase and Blofeld disguising himself as a woman, Barry delivered a strong musical score once again, and he would continue to do so even as the Bond films fell deeper into campy territory.

The main title song is sung by Shirley Bassey of Goldfinger fame and has a pretty nice tune, with a sparkling rhythm underscoring it. This sparkling rhythm always pleases when it backs up one of the themes in the soundtrack. It adds a haunting, mysterious atmosphere, which is odd because the movie isn’t like that at all. The main theme isn’t too bad itself, and has a neat lounge-style instrumental appearance in track 6.

This is the most eclectic Bond score. There’s peaceful lounge music, big band source music, traditional orchestral material, and even an epic choir in “Slumber Inc.” I’m going to say right now that especially with the expanded release there is way too much source-style music, at least for my taste. I’m just not into a lot of the styles here as story-telling music, and so “Q’s Trick”, “Airport Source’, “Whyte House”, and “Tiffany Case” seem to interrupt an otherwise very fine score. Otherwise, the music is pretty good.

Oddly enough, Barry decided that gay assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd garnered their own theme. There’s actually very few themes for the bad guys in Barry’s scores and when they appear they tend to represent their evil plots rather than the characters themselves (think “Capsule in Space”). But these two bumbling cronies get their own woodwind piece that features fairly often. It’s a good tune, not dramatic, romantic, or exciting, but entertaining and more representative of the movie’s actual tone.

“Bond Meets Bambi and Thumper” is an example of a beautiful piece of music underscoring a silly scene. It features the sparkling rhythm underneath bits of the title theme and an electronic rendition of the James Bond theme. “Moon Buggy Ride” doesn’t exactly have a melody and is quite on the wacky side, but is an exciting action cue nonetheless. “Circus, Circus” is another source-style cue with slow merry-go-round music, but delivers on atmosphere. “Gunbarrel and Manhunt” is a highly engaging montage of small cues as James Bond tracks Blofeld across various locations, with the Bond theme adding to the proceedings. “Peter Franks” is the most violent cue, featuring a recurring action motif in its longest form.

The best track is “007 and Counting”, a new space march that mixes the style of You Only Live Twice’s “Capsule in Space” with the electronics and romance of OHMSS. The tingling electronics make for half the power of this cue. “To Hell with Blofeld” sounds like it should be a loud, exciting piece, but is rather slow until the last couple minutes, where it breaks out into an exciting reprise of the 007 theme.

The 2003 re-release has “Additional and Alternate Cues”. This track is somewhat a bother (but thankfully placed at the end). The additional cues are either very short without impact or yet more source music. The alternate cues are basically tracks 2 and 3 with a few differences.

This soundtrack is definitely worth buying. If you’re like me and don’t appreciate the liberal smattering of source music that much, there’s still plenty of other styles and some great renditions of the James Bond theme.

Rating: (score) 8/10 (original album) 6/10


  1. Diamonds are Forever (Sung by Shirley Bassey) (2:52)
  2. Bond Meet Bambi and Thumper (3:09)
  3. Moon Buggy Ride (4:16)
  4. Circus, Circus (2:50)
  5. Death at the Whyte House (4:53)
  6. Diamonds are Forever (Source Instrumental) (3:45)
  7. Diamonds are Forever (Bond and Tiffany) (3:39)
  8. Bond Smells a Rat (1:52)
  9. Tiffany Case (3:46)
  10. 007 and Counting (3:31)
  11. Q’s Trick (2:26)
  12. To Hell with Blofeld (5:09)
  13. Gunbarrel and Manhunt (3:11)
  14. Wint and Mr. Kidd/Bond to Holland (4:03)
  15. Peter Franks (2:55)
  16. Airport Source/On the Road (3:00)
  17. Slumber Inc. (2:22)
  18. The Whyte House (2:21)
  19. Plenty, Then Tiffany (2:26)
  20. Following the Diamonds (4:03)
  21. Additional and Alternate Cues (9:11)

Soundtrack Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Composed and COonducted by: John Barry

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is unique among James Bond movies for being the first one to try to give the character actual emotional depth. It also features the only appearance of George Lazenby (not very good as Bond) in the starring role and many awesome chase sequences in a winter resort. With a new Bond, John Barry tried some new things with this score, mainly in adding electronics. The James Bond theme itself gets an electronic do-over in “This Never Happened to the Other Feller”.

Aside from Dr. No and From Russia with Love, OHMSS is the only Bond movie to not have a song during the opening credits. Instead there is the exciting and famous “Main Theme-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. This theme leads most of the action cues and receives a slower treatment in “Over and Out”. On a list of greatest Bond themes, this is definitely up there.

“We Have All the Time in the World” is the main love theme, and has its music written by John Barry. This is the film’s song, a peaceful love ballad sung by Louis Armstrong. In the film itself it plays over a montage that features such sappy moments as James Bond and main Bond girl Tracy going out for ice cream. Apparently, it was meant to play over the opening credits, which featured clocks and hourglasses because of “time”, but was moved possibly because it wasn’t energetic or loud enough. Its main instrumental performance is a lounge version in track 8. Part of it is reworked into a travel motif featured most prominently in “Journey to Blofeld’s Hideaway”.

A secondary song is included this time around, a cheerful holiday number called “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown”. It’s a bit odd hearing children sing a goofy Christmas song on a James Bond album, but John Barry does use its main tune to eerie effect in “Blofeld’s Plot”.

Overall, between the eerie electronics and the peaceful romance, this is a very atmospheric soundtrack, especially when it comes to the cues from the movie’s middle section at the Piz Gloria. My personal favorite is “Bond Meets the Girls”, which starts with a saxophone motif and then after some relaxing string music brings in the electronics. On the suspense and action side is “Gumbold’s Safe”, a five-minute piece that utilizes an escalating motif and electronics that increase in speed. Then of course there are all the action cues that use the title theme. I can’t say which one I like the best.

Starting with OHMSS, Barry scaled back on using the James Bond theme, which featured quite heavily in the last several scores. It appears directly in just five of the tracks, along with little snippets in “Ski Chase” and “Battle at Piz Gloria”. Since Lazenby never returned, it’s not known if Barry would have used the more electronically charged version of the theme in more movies, though there is one similar cue in Diamonds are Forever.

This is one of John Barry’s most popular scores, and at the time of writing this my favorite (I’ve changed my mind on which Bond score is my favorite several times). It might seem a little slow on the first listen for action score aficionados, but further listens will show it to be a truly great masterpiece. It’s brimming with good romance, yet at the same time has one of the greatest action themes ever put to film. Unlike the underscore for the previous films, there’s little repetition. Almost every track has something different to offer. This really makes the original album, which could only fit less than forty minutes of material, underwhelming, because so much must-listen material is missing. So even though the movie itself is considered a bit of an oddity because of its one-time Bond actor, the score should definitely be checked out.

Rating: (score) 10/10 (original album) 7/10


  1. We Have All the Time in the World (3:16)
  2. This Never Happened to the Other Fellow (5:06)
  3. Try (3:28)
  4. Ski Chase (2:55)
  5. Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown (3:21)
  6. Main Theme: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (2:35)
  7. Journey to Blofeld’s Hideaway (4:53)
  8. We Have all the Time in the World (3:00)
  9. Over and Out (3:12)
  10. Battle at Piz Gloria (4:03)
  11. We Have All the Time in the World/James Bond Theme (4:38)
  12. Journey to Draco’s Hideaway (3:41)
  13. Bond and Draco (4:34)
  14. Gumbold’s Safe (4:59)
  15. Bond Settles In (2:16)
  16. Bond Meets the Girls (3:27)
  17. Dusk at Piz Gloria (2:32)
  18. Sir Hilary’s Night Out (Who Will Buy My Yesterdays?) (4:49)
  19. Blofeld’s Plot (5:19)
  20. Escape from Piz Gloria (4:53)
  21. Bobsled Chase (2:03)

Soundtrack Review: You Only Live Twice

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Composed and Conducted by: John Barry

You Only Live Twice showed heavy signs of the future spectacle-over-story Bond films. However, it is pretty restrained compared to the Moore offerings and offers what is considered be the most chilling representation of arch-villain Blofeld. John Barry ignored the silly elements of the movie in his music, as he would do with many of his 007 scores. His fourth score for the franchise shows a shift towards the romantic, and he would use this style in nearly all of his James Bond work afterwards.

The well-regarded and lovely title song is sung by Nancy Sinatra. It’s tune provides one of those themes that stays romantic in almost every way it is used, even when loud and fast-paced. Some interesting variations include a somber take in “Death of Aki” and a villainous slant in “Countdown for Blofeld”, but the one to single out as the best is “Mountains and Sunsets”, a straightforward sweeping romantic cue.

You Only Live Twice introduces one of John Barry’s most famous themes for the franchise, named the Space March. It’s an ominous piece which builds on piano, bringing in a villainous motif that ends perilously. The most cited version of this theme is “Capsule in Space”, and it’s style, with ominous cadence and a fanfare, would be emulated by Barry himself in other space-related Bond films.

There are also quite a bit of secondary themes and motifs, mainly for the different facets of Japan. The first Japan theme, a peaceful tune, warranted two appearances on the original album in “Death of Aki” and “The Wedding”. The second Japan theme isn’t as prominent and debuts towards the end of “James Bond in Japan”. Barry introduces yet another action motif in “A Drop in the Ocean”. This motif joins a suspense motif, the James Bond theme, and the Space March for a rousing finale in “Bond Averts World War Three”, one of Barry’s best climaxes.

For all the wonderful themes, the music can get repetitious and drawn out on a seventy plus minutes album. Many fans love all the romance, and I have no trouble with it myself, but there is simply too much quiet material. If I had to recommend certain ones, I’d say “The Wedding” and “Mountains and Sunsets”.

The extended release is inferior to those of the other Bond movies. Most of the music is just retreads or lengthy passages of low-key romance. “James Bond – Ninja” is basically all the less interesting suspense and action surrounding tracks 9-11 on the original release. “James Bond in Japan” is a ten-minute long, but solid track which introduces all of the Japan themes. The best of the new additions is “Little Nellie”, with its variations of the 007 theme.

Reordering the tracks to be more chronologically correct won’t work as well here, since most of the originally missing music is piled together in lengthy suites (for example, “James Bond-Ninja” has music from before and after tracks 9 and 10).

In general, I would say that You Only Live Twice isn’t quite up with the best of the James Bond soundtracks if listened to in its entirety, but it has some of the most highly-regarded cues in “Capsule in Space”, “Mountains and Sunsets”, and “The Wedding”.

Rating:  (score) 8/10 (original album) 8/10


  1. You Only Live Twice (sung by Nancy Sinatra) (2:46)
  2. Capsule in Space (2:46)
  3. Fight at Kobe Dock/Helga (4:01)
  4. Tanaka’s World (2:05)
  5. A Drop in the Ocean (2:58)
  6. The Death of Aki (4:19)
  7. Mountains and Sunsets (3:09)
  8. The Wedding (2:45)
  9. James Bond – Astronaut (3:29)
  10. Countdown for Blofeld (2:37)
  11. Bond Averts World War Three (2:17)
  12. End Title: You Only Live Twice (3:33)
  13. James Bond in Japan (10:41)
  14. Aki, Tiger, and Osato (5:43)
  15. Little Nellie (3:45)
  16. Soviet Capsule (2:05)
  17. Spectre and Village (3:46)
  18. James Bond – Ninja (7:06)
  19. Twice is the Only Way to Live (2:49)