Bond, James Bond…

“Bond, James Bond…” These words fascinated me from the very first 007 picture I saw when I was a kid growing up in Germany. I can’t remember how old I was but believe it was Goldfinger. On television. Sean Connery as the British super-spy, the silver Aston Martin DB5 with all the cool features, German actor Gert Fröbe as the ultimate bad guy Mr. Goldfinger – and, since this blog isn’t about movies – the killer title track performed by Shirley Bassey, an amazing vocalist!

Between TV and the movie theater, I pretty much have seen all of the 24 pictures released in the series to date. Of course, the difference between then and now is that I have so much matured that I would never want to be James Bond, driving down a winding road in a DB5 with an attractive woman sitting next to him. But taking a look at the 007 soundtracks sounds legitimate for a music blogger, doesn’t it?

Sean Connery 007 with Aston Martin
Sean Connery with the classic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger

Okay, when it comes to Bond music, we’re not exactly talking Hendrix, Clapton or The Beatles here, though in one case we come close. Plus, 007 title tracks have been performed by an impressive array of artists, such as Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Duran Duran and Sheryl Crow, to name a few. Let’s get to some of them – of course, shaken, not stirred! Hence in chronological order.

What could possibly be a better way to kick things off than with the classic James Bond Theme, which first appeared in the film that started it all: Dr. No. from 1962, introducing the movie world to “my 007”, Sean Connery. The piece was written by Monty Norman. John Barry, who composed the soundtracks for 11 Bond movies, arranged it for Dr. No. I’ve always dug the combination of the cool guitar theme that reminds me a bit of Hank Marvin and the jazz orchestra. It’s a timeless movie classic, in my opinion, right up there with Casablanca.

If I could only select one 007 title song, I think it would be the above noted Goldfinger, composed by John Barry with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. This also happens to be my favorite Bond picture. Bassey’s killer vocal performance still gives me goosebumps to this day. Goldfinger peaked at no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the vocalist born in Wales, England her only top 40 hit in the U.S., and a no. 21 on the UK Singles Chart.

On to Sir Paul and Live and Let Die. The 1973 picture was the first in the series to star Roger Moore as 007, my second favorite Bond actor and very close to Sean Connery. Co-written by Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda McCartney, and recorded by McCartney’s band Wings, the tune became the most successful Bond title track up to that point, peaking at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching no. 9 on the UK Singles Chart. The song also reunited McCartney with Fab Four producer George Martin

In 1977, the 10th Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me came out. The title track Nobody Does It Better, composed by Marvin Hamlish with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, was performed by Carly Simon. It became Simon’s second most successful single in the U.S. and the UK, reaching no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 7 on the UK Singles Chart, respectively.

Jumping to the ’80s, here’s the only Bond track to date that ever topped the Billboard Hot 100A View to a Kill from the 1985 picture, the last to feature Roger Moore. Co-written by Duran Duran and John Barry and performed by the English new wave band, the song also climbed to no. 2 in the UK, giving Duran Duran one of their biggest hits

The last Bond movie of the ’80s was License to Kill starring Timothy Dalton as 007, not my favorite choice; but I guess following Sean Connery and Roger Moore almost was mission impossible. The title track was co-written by Narada Michael Walden, Jeffrey Cohen and Walter Afanasieff. Gladys Knight performed the tune, marking her last charting solo single in the UK with a no. 6 top position.

This brings us to the ’90s. Who would have ever thought that Bono and U2 would get into the 007 action? Well, they did, writing the title track for the 95 picture GoldenEye, the first to star Pierce Brosnan in the lead role. He’s my favorite “late” 007. The title track, which incorporates a clever dose of nostalgia into a contemporary pop song, was performed by Tina Turner, who may not quite match Bassey’s Goldfinger but undoubtedly was a compelling vocalist.

Let’s pick another one from the same decade: Tomorrow Never Dies from 1997, Brosnan’s second lead role as 007. The title track was co-written by Shery Crow and the song’s producer Mitchell Froom. While the song peaked at no. 12 in the UK, it didn’t chart in the U.S.

This brings us to the current century. I’m not gonna beat around the bush here. The 007 movies and their title tracks haven’t gotten better over the decades. I still wanted to capture two examples from the 21st Century. Here’s You Know My Name from the 2006 picture Casino Royale, the first installment with Daniel Craig. Co-written by Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and soundtrack composer David Arnold, the tune was performed by Cornell. If I see this correctly, it was Cornell’s most successful single as a solo artist in the UK, where it hit no. 7. It also reached the top 10 in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Switzerland; it was less successful in the U.S., where it climbed to no. 79.

Last but not least, perhaps you wonder how a 007 title track sounds these days. Ask and you shall receive. Here’s No Time to Die from the upcoming picture, the 25th in the series. Scheduled to hit U.S. movie theaters on April 10, it once again stars Daniel Craig as 007. Co-written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, the tune is performed by Eilish. It was released as a single on February 13th and debuted on top of the UK Singles Chart and the Irish Singles Chart. At age 18, the American singer is the youngest artist to write and perform a Bond title track. Apparently, the song is also the first 007 theme track to top the British charts – the times they are a changin!

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube

15 thoughts on “Bond, James Bond…”

  1. When I was a child watching the 007 movies, it was always getting on my nerves to see the long long opening credits.
    Until the day I sat in the cinema to watch my first Bond in a theater and I loved listening to the song… “GoldenEye”.

    Nowadays I am very patiently listening to the songs 😉 when I pick up a DVD from my limited box set of 007 movies (it is an older one, it ends with the last one featuring Pierce Brosnan, I don’t remember the name of the movie because it is very weak).

    My favourite is “A View To A Kill”, although I’m not a fan of Duran Duran.

    Greetinx,

    Team “Roger Moore”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sori,

      I really had to think about who my favorite 007 actor is. I think Sean Connery is the best in terms of the coolness factor. Roger Moore, one the other hand, had the better jokes!

      Ultimately, I guess I went with Connery since he started the series and starred in my favorite 007 picture: “Goldfinger”

      I also think Pierce Brosnan was a pretty good 007. I’m still struggling getting used to Daniel Craig. He’s a little bit too rough for my taste!😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also an unapologetic 007 fan; and the ‘theme songs’ are among my favorite features of the films. Your count threw me for a second, but it’s because I (in my own mind) include the ‘asterisk’ films, too. David Niven’s “Casino Royale,” and Sean Connery’s odd quasi-comeback in “Never Say Never Again.” A bit surprised you did not post Adele’s “Skyfall”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. In general, I try to keep song lists to no more than 10. Among the more recent title tracks, I was considering Adele, who definitely is a strong vocalist, but went with Sheryl Crow who is more in my core wheelhouse. I also wanted to include the track from the upcoming picture.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Even though I really have kept up with the Bond pictures only intermittently, like you I was smitten with them in my youth. I believe the first one I ever saw was “From Russia With Love.” I loved those fake “nothing-t0-do-with-the-plot” openings, the theme song, the martinis, baccarat- everything. For me, there is Sean Connery and everybody else. Damn, he was so cool. The ladies just could not resist him. I fantasized about being him. Alas, that’s all it was – a fantasy. Did you know that the producers made Connery sleep in his suits so he’d get comfortable in them? And that JFK helped popularize the series by mentioning that he liked to read the books?

    Songwise, in no particular order, I like “For Your Eyes Only,” “Nobody Does it Better,” “Skyfall,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Goldfinger.” As to other Bonds, I guess I like Craig. I hadn’t seen one of the Bond pics in a while until some friends asked us to see “Skyfall” with them. I’ll probably check this new one out. 60 Minutes once did a whole piece on how the Broccoli family keeps tight quality control over the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you regarding Connery – you can’t beat the man’s coolness factor. I also liked Roger Moore for his jokes. Daniel Craig isn’t exactly “love at first sight,” though I’m still curious about the upcoming picture.

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      1. Craig has an edge about him minus that “suave” factor. They’ve been talking about having a black Bond, perhaps Idris Elba. I can just hear the Internet racists now, the ones who couldn’t even stand to have an Asian woman in Star Wars .

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Gert Frobe, Shirley Bassey (CB take coming up), Connery .. I like those early ones. The opening credits and song always set the tone. Mr Kidd and Mr Wint were my fave bad guys (along with Gert). Donald Pleasence also. I was a big fan of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I liked Lazenby. Good take Christian. I kinda drifted away but revisit from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! While I immediately knew who you meant by Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, I couldn’t remember in which of the Connery Bond films they appeared (“Diamonds Are Forever”) – agree they were great.

      I also liked Klaus Maria Brandauer as Largo in “Never Say Never Again.” I generally dig him as an actor!

      While the Bond pictures obviously have previously little to do with reality, I still find most of them pretty entertaining. I’m also more drawn to the old ones.

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      1. Klaus is also good without being over the top. Good actor. I just found out recently that Putter Smith who played Mr Kidd is or was a jazz musician. I have him on a couple albums. All those years and I thought he was just a killer. Shirley did the song on that also. I just remembered.

        Liked by 1 person

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