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

Tracklisting

  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)
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