Soundtrack Review: For Your Eyes Only

Composed by: Bill Conti

Barry’s on-and-off tenure with the James Bond films continued into the 1980s. His score for Moonraker was a definite cut above the last couple installments. But once again he was unable to tend to 007’s scoring duties and yet another composer was brought in to create a single score for the Bond franchise. This time it was Bill Conti, best known for creating the awesome “Gonna Fly Now” in Rocky.

For Your Eyes Only was a surprisingly serious down-to-earth outing for James Bond, made more remarkable because it was made in the comical Roger Moore era. The story has no superweapons, no space ships, and no over-the-top villains. It’s a darker, more realistic tale. The composer chosen was Bill Conti, a fairly well regarded composer known best for his work on the Rocky movies. While his work is much better than Hamlisch’s turn four years earlier, he joins the list of non-Barry composers with less than satisfying scores, with heavily outdated disco elements plaguing his music and making it cheesy.

The title song was nominated for an Academy Award, which in hindsight is very frustrating, as much more deserving Bond songs never got the nod. It’s decent, with a good theme tune, but I think it could have used a little more energy outside of the main chorus. The theme gets an instrumental in track 10 and a reprise at the end of track 12. The repeating two-note motif which opens the song actually makes for a good suspense motif, especially in accompaniment to the Bond theme in “Submarine”. There’s another song called “Make It Last All Night”, raunchy source music that the album could probably do without.

The disco-heavy action music can be entertaining, but often gets to be too much to be taken seriously. Tracks like “Runaway” make me imagine James Bond dancing to disco. “A Drive in the Country” actually isn’t too bad, but that’s because the James Bond theme makes an awesome entrance at the end. One favorite of mine is “Melina’s Revenge”, but that’s more for the Grecian motif that bookends it than the disco action. Some of the romantic cues aren’t too strong either. “Cortina” goes by without leaving an impression and the “P.M. Gets Bird” is a bit long and boring.

This isn’t to say that Conti is a weak composer. He does have a good sense for creating dramatic music. Many of the tracks from the later portion of the film lean more to the orchestral side, with “Submarine” and “St. Cyril’s Monastery” standing out as highlight cues. He occasionally drops in a reference to the Greek locale, such as the motif that appears at the onset of “Melina’s Revenge”. One odd suspense cue that I like is “Ski…Shoot…Jump”.

Like many of offerings by the one-time composers, For Your Eyes Only is yet another outdated entry in James Bond music. It’s better than the work of Marvin Hamlisch, Michael Kamen, and Eric Serra on their solo attempts at 007 scoring, but the disco element is too heavy and the non-action cues tend to not produce much interest. It’s worth getting for any fans of the music’s franchise, because there are some good tunes. Also, it’s the only Bond score from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties to get an extended release.

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

Tracklisting

  1. For You Eyes Only (sung by Shirley Easton) (3:06)
  2. A Drive in the Country (2:25)
  3. Take Me Home (2:32)
  4. Melina’s Revenge (2:17)
  5. Gonzales Takes a Dive (3:15)
  6. Cyril’s Monastery (4:40)
  7. Make It Last All Night (3:31)
  8. Runaway (3:54)
  9. Submarine (2:40)
  10. For Your Eyes Only (Instrumental Version) (1:35)
  11. Cortina (1:45)
  12. M. Gets the Bird/For Your Eyes Only (5:05)
  13. Gunbarrel/Flowers/Sinking of the St. George (2:54)
  14. Unfinished Business/Kristatos (1:52)
  15. Ski…Shoot…Jump (5:16)
  16. Countess/No Heights/Dining Alone (3:19)
  17. Recovering the A.T.A.C. (2:28)
  18. Sub vs. Sub (3:15)
  19. Run Them Down/The Climb (2:58)
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