This post is the fourth in a five part series.
At this point, my analysis starts to skew. I discovered the Bond of the 60s and 70s as an adult. But the Bond music of the 80s and beyond I listened to on the radio when the music was new. As such, there will always be a certain nostalgia for some of this
For Your Eyes Only
Sheena Easton’s title track was a mega hit. It was all over the airwaves. Sheena also had a face as beautiful as her voice. So much that Maurice Binder, the artist behind those sexy title sequences in all the films, featured the singer with “70 millimeter lips” blazened across the scene. At the dawn of the age of MTV the title sequence was taking on video sensibility. The song itself is deserving of its hit status. More than three decades later, it comes off as an early techno-free prototype of a Katy Perry ballad.
Gotta say that again: Octopussy. How that title ever got past the MPAA ratings board I will never know. How can you write a song called “Octopussy?” What would the lyrics even be for “Octopussy.” Were the film made today perhaps only the Pussycat Dolls or Ke$ha could write that one. So instead safer territory was charted and Rita Coolidge sung another Bond love ballad, “All Time High.” It’s a perfectly fine song, but doesn’t stand out among all the other entries in the franchise. Especially when some 80s hair band like Motley Crue or Quiet Riot could have written a song called “Octopussy.”
Never Say Never Again
Yes, we all know it’s not an “official” EON production, and is just a lazy remake of Thunderball. But the chance of seeing an aging, toupeed Sean Connery back as 007 (in a film directed by the same guy who did The Empire Strikes Back no doubt) was worth the ticket price for that reason alone. The title track, sung by Lana Hall, is an equally lackluster ballad as “All Time High.” Not terrible, just nothing special.
For those familiar with Fan Editing, a remix of this movie was done by an editor who goes by the moniker “Blofeld’s Cat” to make it fitting with the EON series. Filling the dead air with cues from classic Bond soundtracks, the most inspired decision was to develop an opening credits sequence based the visuals from Thunderball, and the song: “History Repeating” by the Propellerheads with none other than Shirley Bassey wailing old-school behind the mike. Serendipity calling. Seriously, this is THE way to watch the movie, and the Propellerheads’ track is in my permanent Bond playlist.
A View To A Kill
It was Moore’s last turn in the tux. Goodness met Greatness as Barry’s score was topped only by Duran Duran’s megahit title track. The first solid rock song since Live and Let Die, the bookends of Moore’s Bond career are two of the best title tracks in the entire history. The last song recorded by the “original” Duran Duran before members started splintering, “A View To A Kill” remains a staple hit decades later despite the forgettable film it was recorded for.
The Living Daylights
It should have worked. New Bond (played with humanity by Timothy Dalton) deserved new, modern sound. Norweigan new wave band a ha burned up the charts a year earlier with the Brat Packer fave “Take on Me.” Instead, this film started an unfortunate trend where about every other title song was utter dreck. “The Living Daylights,” riddled with cheesy synth riffs, unintelligible, mumbled verses and bad male falsettos for the chorus, this song just doesn’t work at all.
Some other songs from the soundtrack fare better. Tried and true rockers The Pretenders incorporate the score’s throbbing synth drone into a dark rocker “Where Has Everybody Gone?” And a new trend with a second hit single for the closing credits gets introduced. Another entry by The Pretenders, “If There Was a Man” sounds like it might have been a candidate for another ballad-style opening credits tune. Both of these songs belong in your playlist, but feel free to skip the a ha song altogether.
Licence to Kill
More of a classic Bond sound, the producers and composer Michael Kamen invoked strains of Goldfinger while enlisting the throaty, soul-filled pipes of Gladys Knight to belt out a truly classic-sounding title track. Capping the film is another love ballad in the form of Patti Labelle’s “If You Asked Me To.”
Thus wraps another decade in the life of 007. The credits promised “James Bond will return.” But due to financial problems at MGM/UA, that wouldn’t be for another six years. And in that time the world would change. Bond had survived near-castration by laser, burial at sea, Blofeld’s bullets, a pond full of alligators, the 70s, and four actors. But could he survive the end of The Cold War?
Next article: The 90s and beyond