Best of Bond….James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks
Record Label: Capitol/EMI
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
There aren't many movie characters quite like Albert Broccoli's interpretation of Ian Fleming's Brit hero James Bond. First gracing the screen in 1962's Dr. No, the character has seen six different actors play him over the course of 22 films. In the 50 years since his creation, there have been countless songs that have chronicled his journey. From the John Barry Orchestra's ubiquitous orchestral theme to Louis Armstrong's sweet valentine "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," to Madonna's dance cut "Die Another Day," great songs define great movies, and Best of Bond...James Bond has quite a plenty. Regardless of what they are, each song in its own unique way traces the trials and travails of 007. In celebration of those 50 years, this two-disc effort sets out to commemorate the cinematic legacy of Broccoli's now world-famous character.
The more commercial of the two discs is Disc One, which includes Shirley Bassey's siren song "Goldfinger," Tom Jones' rollicking "Thunderball," and Paul McCartney and Wings' criminally underrated "Live and Let Die," to name but a few. For those that like a first-rate ballad, Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only," is a serious head-turner, while Rita Coolidge's "All Time High," is ebullient and uplifting. Perhaps what's most indelible 12 about Disc One is the arc of the music itself. Duran Duran's punchy "A View to Kill," hints at the electro-pop undercurrent that invigorates A Ha's "The Living Daylights," Garbage's "The World is Not Enough," and Madonna's aforementioned pop smash. Chris Cornell's craggy "You Know My Name," and Jack White and Alicia Keys bristling "Another Way to Die," close tout the disc. Bassey appears more than anybody else on Disc 1, as she also croons in "Moonraker," and "Diamonds are Forever." Sheryl Crow's overlooked "Tomorrow Never Dies," and Gladys Knight's regrettable "Licence to Kill," are also included here. But of all the 23 songs on Disc One, few are as powerful as Lulu's "The Man With a Golden Gun."
On Disc Two, much of the music is classic orchestral fare and features 12 cuts from the John Barry Orchestra, an arresting medley from The George Martin Orchestra, Marvin Hamlisch's inspired "The Pyramids," and Monty Norman Orchestra's soaring "Dr. No's Fantasy." There's definitely some vocal tracks here though. Diana Coupland's "Under the Mango Tree," is a sun-splashed dash of Caribbean pop, while Nina invokes Yuletide on the inspiring "Do You Know How Christmas Trees are Grown." The Pretenders' urgent and brassy "Where Has Every Body Gone," is probably the most Bond-inspired of all the vocal songs on Disc 2, but that should not diminish Eric Serra's feathery "The Experience of Love," Moby's frenetic "James Bond Theme," K.D. Lang's towering ballad "Surrender." or Scott Walker's dramatic crooning on "Only Myself to Blame."
If these two discs accomplish anything though it is a testament to the evolution of popular music. Crossing a multitude of genres, both make for a fun foray into the annals of music and cinema history over the last 50 years. Like strutting down memory lane, Best of Bond...James Bond is laden with cinematic flair and has enough dramatic sweeps and turns to make one's head spin. Sure it's not nearly as exciting as watching Bond on the big screen, but it darn well might be second best.