Soundtrack Review: The World is Not Enough

Composed by: David Arnold

Conducted by: Nicholas Dodd

The World is Not Enough was generally well-liked. It has a pretty good storyline, very unique, but for some reason a good number of fans don’t care much for it. Thanks to the smashing success of his music for Tomorrow Never Dies, David Arnold returned. After a great score for the aforementioned film, David Arnold was officially the new musician for James Bond, and was the first after John Barry to actually get to a second outing.

This time Arnold was able to provide the opening title song, which of course shares its title with the movie. It’s a good song, and weaves in a bit of the James Bond theme at the end. Usually only three notes, the “not enough” portion of the song, is used frequently, with the following melody distinguishing its use in certain scenes. There’s a romantic version that soars in Snow Business” which regrettably was only available via David Arnold’s website instead of the actual album. It is present on piano in “Christmas in Turkey”. There’s an action variation that is introduced in “Come in, 007, Your Time is Up” and more notably in “Ice Bandits”.

As with Tomorrow Never Dies, Arnold provides a liberal amount of themes and motifs. Sophia Marceau’s character Elektra King warrants her own theme (“Elektra’s Theme”). It’s an appropriately sad piece that debuts in “M’s Confession” and shows up often. The song on the album’s last track, slow lounge number “Only Myself to Blame” by Scott Walker, actually has the theme towards its beginning. Walker’s song was originally going to play over the end credits, but was replaced by rendition of the James Bond theme with references to the main movie theme. It’s not a bad song, but it lacks the energy and drama of other Bond songs. The instrumental track that most reflects “Only Myself to Blame” is “Casino”, a rather relaxing cue.

There are a couple notable suspense/villain motifs. One is the repeating descending four-note motif introduced in Tomorrow Never Dies. It’s much more prominent in this score, though it doesn’t make its first appearance until “Going Down/The Bunker”. Its most sustained playing is in “Pipeline”. The other motif appears bombastically in “Caviar Factory” and “Submarine”.

David Arnold still liberally applies James Bond’s theme, but not to the level of Tomorrow Never Dies. It’s heavily noticeable, but the only tracks where it really takes over are “Come in, 007, Your Time is Up” and “Caviar Factory”. In many of the other tracks it will often just appear for a few seconds, for example the heroic statement when the action starts in “Going Down/The Bunker”.

The first two score tracks actually segue right into each other in a rather unnecessary move. Nevertheless they feature an invigorating chase cue with new variations of James Bond’s theme and the main title theme. It quickly becomes apparent that David Arnold has bulked up on the electronics, usually running under the orchestra and interjecting in various ways. This move has annoyed many film music fans and some of those who prefer John Barry’s music. I don’t find them too distracting, though I have to admit that most of the action cues would play just fine without them.

The main theme returns in a nice short electronic cue labeled “Access Denied” and later amidst wailing vocals and the Bond theme in the wonderful “Welcome to Baku”. The main theme receives a full action treatment in “Ice Bandits” (this track may have inspired the main menu music on the N64 game). “Body Double” is a neat three-minute stealth cue and is actually quite light-hearted. A couple of the tracks around this point, “Remember Pleasure and Torture Queen” descend into dark underscore, but sadly are a bit underwhelming. “Caviar Factory” starts off slow, but about a minute in explodes into very raucous piece, with a heavily electronized James Bond theme.

“Submarine” is the ten-minute climax and features several suspense motifs. It starts with a propulsive rhythm and the James Bond theme. It slows down with another rhythm before burst of action. After a middle portion that really conveys the perilous situation Bond finds himself in, there is a last act with furious action, climaxing triumphantly with the James Bond theme. By not outright stating James Bond’s theme until the last minute, Arnold makes its appearance effective. This is actually a common method in Arnold’s scores, where the last action cue will go through various moods until the James Bond theme triumphantly emerges at the end. Some people regard this lengthy cues as a bunch of noise, but I just love them. “Christmas in Turkey” delivers the main theme for one last time and the album closes out with the jazzy “Only Myself to Blame” which sounds very subdued a relaxing listen after the loud orchestral/techno score.

The World is Not Enough is nice change of pace from Tomorrow Never Dies. Ironically, despite thickening many of the action pieces with electronics, it’s a comparatively more subdued score (it still has plenty of noisy moments), with softer romantic themes, less lengthy versions of the James Bond theme, and more I the way of dark underscore. I think this is a tremendous work by David Arnold, but it doesn’t match the consistently entertaining Tomorrow Never Dies.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. The World is Not Enough (performed by Garbage) (3:55)
  2. Show Me the Money (1:28)
  3. Come in, 007, Your Time is Up (5:19)
  4. Access Denied (1:33)
  5. M’s Confession (1:32)
  6. Welcome to Baku (1:41)
  7. Casino (2:55)
  8. Ice Bandits (3:52)
  9. Elektra’s Theme – The Bedroom (2:06)
  10. Body Double (3:00)
  11. Going Down/The Bunker (6:27)
  12. Pipeline (4:15)
  13. Remember Pleasure (2:45)
  14. Caviar Factory (6:01)
  15. Torture Queen (2:22)
  16. I Never Miss (3:32)
  17. Submarine (10:19)
  18. Christmas in Turkey (1:27)
  19. Only Myself to Blame (sung by Scott Walker) (3:37)
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Soundtrack Review: The Living Daylights

Composed and Conducted by: John Barry

When Roger Moore finally left the 007 series, a confusing search ensued for the new James Bond. Timothy Dalton was first chosen, but a television series he was working on prevented him from accepting the role. Pierce Brosnan was then hired, but the TV show he was on decided that he could attract viewers now that he had been announced as James Bond. By the time Brosnan was forced from the film, Timothy Dalton was easily available. The Living Daylights presented a more realistic and less comedic Bond, with less one-liners and no super-weapons. However, the villains are still out to cause global chaos, their plot being to start a world war through the Russian-Mujahidin War in Afghanistan.

This would end up being John Barry’s last 007 film, and it’s a fitting exit for him. This time there are no less than three songs that provide themes for the film. “The Living Daylights”, sung by the Swedish band a-ha, is a very exciting opener, trying to emulate the success of Duran Duran’s “View to a Kill”. I think I like Duran Duran’s song better, but this is still a cool piece. Although the main tune was provided by John Barry, he only uses it three times throughout the entire score, its most well known appearance being “Hercules Takes Off”.

The other two songs get much more play in the score. Barry ends up using the tunes from the other two songs, created in conjunction with the Pretenders and sung by Chrissie Hynde. “Where Has Everybody Gone?” is heard on the headphones of the assassin Necros during the film. This villainous song’s tune primarily serves both as a theme for henchman Necros, but in effect is just an awesome action theme. “In-Flight Fight” is its longest appearance. The tragic and longing “If There Was a Man” houses a pretty good love theme for the film’s Bond girl Kara, and plays over the end credits. It gets a pop version in “Into Vienna”.

James Bond’s theme appears much more than it did in A View to a Kill. In order to underscore Timothy Dalton’s somewhat darker and more realistic portrayal, Barry creates a hard-edged version of the theme using electronics in “Ice Chase” and “Exercise at Gibraltar”. This is one of my personal favorite versions of the James Bond theme, and it’s too bad Barry never returned to use it a little more.

Aside from its fantastic set of strong themes, Living Daylights has plenty of good tracks. “The Sniper Was a Woman” mixes romance and suspense well. “Mujahidin and Opium” is in the vein of Barry’s usual romantic fare, with a bit of desert percussion in the background towards the end. “Airbase and Jailbreak” starts off downbeat, but breaks into an awesomely heroic melody. “Afghanistan Plan” features Necros’ theme in a more subdued form while “Air Bond” is a soaring fanfare. The only underwhelming track is “Final Confrontation”, which starts off well with the James Bond theme, but dives into dull suspense.

The Living Daylights is simply one of the easiest and most exciting James Bond scores to listen to and competes for the spot of my number one favorite. It has a great collection of themes, plenty of exciting action, nice fanfares, and a kick-ass version of the James Bond theme. It’s nice to know that John Barry concluded his tenure on the series with such a great performance.

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

Tracklisting

  1. Living Daylights (sung by a-ha) (4:16)
  2. Necros Attacks (2:04)
  3. The Sniper Was a Woman (2:30)
  4. Ice Chase (4:05)
  5. Kara Meets Bond (2:47)
  6. Koskov Escapes (2:33)
  7. Where Has Everybody Gone? (by the Pretenders) (3:37)
  8. Into Vienna (2:50)
  9. Hercules Takes Off (2:17)
  10. Mujahidin and Opium (3:13)
  11. In-Flight Fight (3:12)
  12. If There Was a Man (by the Pretenders) (2:54)
  13. Exercise at Gibraltar (6:22)
  14. Approaching Kara (2:21)
  15. Murder at the Fair (2:22)
  16. Assassin and Drugged (2:43)
  17. Airbase and Jailbreak (4:37)
  18. Afghanistan Plan (3:34)
  19. Air Bond (1:46)
  20. Final Confrontation (1:58)
  21. Alternate End Titles (3:20)

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)

Soundtrack Review: From Russia with Love

Composed by: John Barry

The soundtrack for Dr. No by Monty Norman consisted of mainly Jamaican source music and didn’t feature much in the way of orchestral score, the one track for the James Bond theme being the only highlight on the whole album. John Barry, who had helped arrange the theme (and may have even created it himself), was chosen as the composer for From Russia with Love, based on what is considered to be the best James Bond novel and also considered as one of the best of the movies. Just as that movie further steered the franchise into its successful formula, John Barry moved the music into more familiar territory.

This is the first of the films to have a theme song that has its tune incorporated into the score. “From Russia with Love” is a love song that actually plays in the middle of the movie as opposed to over the opening credits. As a love song, its main tune is usually used as a love theme as heard in “Bond Meets Tania”. It does get usage in a couple other ways, playing mournfully in “Death of Kerim”.

The opening titles themselves are scored with an instrumental number, a fast-paced, percussion-backed cue that starts with a bombastic motif. David Arnold would later use this motif in his soundtracks for the Pierce Brosnan entries. An instrumental version of the song plays before segueing into the James Bond theme, and the opening motif returns to close it out.

The other highlight is the 007 theme, an alternate theme for James Bond devised by John Barry. It has hints of peril, but is otherwise more light-hearted than the more popular Bond theme. It would become a secondary theme for Sean Connery’s Bond, playing in all of his next entries except Goldfinger. I like this theme a lot, and would love to see another composer bring it back with a twist.

The rest of the music is not that great, but it’s a step above Dr. No’s score. There’s a little motif for evil organization Spectre that underscores their manipulative villainy and pops up fairly often (“Spectre Island”). There’s also a bit of source-style music as with Dr. No (“Guitar Lament”, “Leila Dances”), but they don’t drive out the orchestral cues. The James Bond theme itself starts to appear more in the underscore, but outside of “Opening Titles” it’s only major performance is “James Bond with Bongos”, which of course ends with some bongo beats.

This is a nice score, but pales in comparison to the most of John Barry’s  other Bond scores. Some of the underscore isn’t all too interesting either. But by no means skip it. It’s got some amazing highlights in “Opening Titles” and “007” and a solid main theme.

Rating: 7/10

  1. Opening Titles: James Bond is Back/From Russia with Love//James Bond Theme (2:24)
  2. Tania Meets Klebb (1:27)
  3. Meeting in St. Sophia (1:08)
  4. The Golden Horn (2:28)
  5. Girl Trouble (2:25)
  6. Bond Meets Tania (1:18)
  7. 007 (2:45)
  8. Gypsy Camp (1:15)
  9. Death of Grant (2:00)
  10. From Russia with Love (sung by Matt Munro) (2:35)
  11. Spectre Island (1:15)
  12. Guitar Lament (1:09)
  13. Man Overboard-Smersh in Action (2:18)
  14. James Bond with Bongos (2:29)
  15. Stalking (2:01)
  16. Leila Dances (1:57)
  17. Death of Kerim (2:29)
  18. 007 Takes the Lektor (3:00)