by Joe Carrel, Buffalo Exchange Tempe
As filmgoers were looking forward to the latest James Bond installment, I decided to look backward, to the music that helped create the franchise. And what I found surprised me.
I knew the ubiquitous James Bond theme, had heard Adele’s moody title track for “Skyfall,” and remembered that once upon a time Paul McCartney recorded “Live and Let Die.” What I didn’t know was that, right from the get-go, the music from the Bond movies spawned a whole fringe market of “spy” music.
There’s been 50 years of 007 on film, so let’s just stick to the first decade, the Sean Connery regime. To put the popularity of the series in context, the Bond flicks of ’62-’71 grossed a modern day equivalent of 5 billion dollars. Mmm hmm. While “Goldfinger” was still in theaters, its theme song just cracking the top 10 on the Billboard charts, cover albums were already being released. And this is where things get interesting – because some of these Bond “copycat” albums are actually better than the originals they cover.
007 devotees may bristle at that statement, but here’s the thinking. First off, not all of the songs on the original Bond soundtracks are enjoyable listens, which is understandable; they were created to serve a film, not the aftermarket listener. The knockoff albums, on the other hand, could cherry pick the best of the bunch.
Secondly, the copycat albums get to play with different styles. Some go jazz, some go Latin, and about all of them go for a looser vibe than a 007 film could get away with. Lastly, a decent chunk of these cover albums include songs that don’t appear elsewhere. These “spy-inspired” tracks were a chance for the musicians to get creative, and the results are usually quite fun.
Add it all up, and it’s the perfect complement to a dry martini. Shaken, of course.