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James Bond and music

The latest James Bond, Skyfall, has just been released in this part of the world, and I expect to see it very soon.

Considering this, and given that it’s Friday (for various reasons the most boring/stressful day of the week for me, hence the day when I like to discover new music to help “ease the pain”), I thought I’d share a few Bond-related recent musical discoveries with you here.


Goldfinger — John Barry / Shirley Bassey, remix by the Propellerheads

OK, this one isn’t a recent discovery. It’s one of the tracks of an excellent CD of Shirley Bassey remixes, Diamonds are forever, which was released in 2000. With Tina Turner & U2’s Golden Eye (1995), it linked espionage and electronic music together in my mind — and Moby’s Strange Ways (for the Bourne series) only sealed the connection.


All Mine — Portishead… but in a Tom Jones / Divine Comedy cover

Tom Jones — possibly better known today for “Sex Bomb”… — was the voice behind the Thunderball theme (no, I won’t make a joke here). His voice — while already potent — was more youthful at the time, less over-the-top. It now works great with Sex Bomb, less so with some other covers (as I discovered while listening to his duet album, Reloaded), but I thought I should share the thrill I experienced when discovering his version of Portishead’s All Mine, with Divine Comedy. It was like… I don’t know, hearing my grandparents do a cover of Rammstein, maybe. Wrong, wrong, wrong… Yet here I am, several days later, still hearing it in my mind. Maybe it’s post-traumatic shock. Or maybe it just works, in a different way. Make up your own mind:


No Good About Goodbye — David Arnold / Don Black / Shirley Bassey

To finish, here’s Shirley Bassey again. For the story, when Quantum of Solace was made, its producers considered whether to commission a recent artist or to return to the classics — i.e. David Arnold for the music, Don Black for the lyrics, and Dame Shirley for the voice. I think the result is really good (especially with good woofers), a superb blend of 1960s Bond class with a modern sensitivity and rhythm (note that this version goes faster than the one on the Bassey album on which it was finally released, The Performance).

In the end, the producers went for Alicia Keys and Jack White’s Another Way to Die. I like it too, but it’s interesting to note that it relates more to the music played in the “action” parts of James Bond (the actual James Bond theme), rather than the more lascivious tunes of the classic title screens and their “ambiance / seduction” parts. I think that reflects quite well the recent choices made with the franchise — making Bond all work and no play…

…”makes Jack a very dull boy”, they say. Well, we’ll soon see if that applies to James too.

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