Soundtrack Review: A View to a Kill

Composed and Conducted by: John Barry

A View to a Kill marks the last appearance of Roger Moore as James Bond and is considered his worst film by many. Personally, I think it’s an alright movie. Roger Moore was definitely a bit too old, but it’s no worse or sillier than Moonraker or Man with the Golden Gun. Christopher Walken and Grace Jones play weird, entertaining villains Max Zorin and May Day and the plot and many of the action scenes are enjoyable.

After being forced to use more of the James Bond theme and play to general expectations in Octopussy, John Barry was able to do more of what he wanted, creating another unique musical entry. The title song this time around is “View to a Kill” an energetic 80s pop number by Duran Duran. After a string of love ballads it’s a nice, refreshing change of pace. Despite its high energy and electronic blasts, Barry prefers to use it in a softer, romantic manner when using its tune in the score. Despite numerous references, only two of them make it onto album, the tracks “Bond Meets Stacy” and “Wine with Stacy”. These tracks virtually play out the same, with the latter being a little deeper in sound. One of the most frustrating aspects of the album, which never got an extended release thanks to unavailable tapes, is that many interesting variations of the themes are missing. The most egregious example is a dramatic version often known as “Fanfare”. Also missing is a variation where a saxophone comes in to play a few notes.

The most notable of the other new motifs is an action theme that has often been compared to the main theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Indeed, it was deemed similar enough that the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra mixed the themes together on one of their Bond compilations. It’s an action rhythm with a snippet of the James Bond theme, as well as a wailing guitar that comes in at points. It appears three times on album. Its appearance is “Snow Job” is punctuated by a brassy motif, while “He’s Dangerous” plays it in its most straightforward form. There’s an ascending motif that appears at the outset of “May Day Jumps” to represent the villains’ scheme, nothing too special. The James Bond theme itself doesn’t appear too much, even in the complete score. On album its sole large appearance is “May Day Jumps”. There’s a small piece of it in “Bond Escapes Roller” as well.

Despite its strong action theme and energetic title song, the album for A View to a Kill is really quite low-key. “Tibbett Gets Washed Out”, “Bond Underwater”, and “Destroy Silicon Valley” all veer into very dark territory. Even the action track “May Day Bombs Out” doesn’t really get too fast-paced. The last notable cue to mention is “Airship to Silicon Valley”, which features a villainous fanfare bridged by more dark suspense.

A View to a Kill is a great score, but the actual soundtrack album is woefully missing much of the best material. A lot of this material can actually be found in good quality on the internet, so it’s not entirely missing. This is a solid score, though it may come off as unexpectedly dark despite Duran Duran’s awesome title song.

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

Tracklisting

  1. Main Title – A View to a Kill (sung by Duran Duran) (3:35)
  2. Snow Job (2:28)
  3. May Day Jumps (2:51)
  4. Bond Meets Stacy (2:30)
  5. Pegasus’ Stable (3:23)
  6. Tibbett Gets Washed Out (1:42)
  7. Airship to Silicon Valley (2:32)
  8. He’s Dangerous (2:16)
  9. Bond Underwater (2:35)
  10. Wine with Stacy (1:54)
  11. Bond Escapes Roller (1:24)
  12. Destroy Silicon Valley (2:23)
  13. May Day Bombs Out (3:01)
  14. Golden Gate Fight (3:31)
  15. End Title – A View to a Kill (2:04)
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