With a new James Bond film set to shake (not stir) audiences in November, a longtime compilation of the super-spy’s famed film themes is getting a new iteration on November 20.
The Best of Bond…James Bond offers a stellar 25-track overview of the pop themes that scored nearly all of the films based on Ian Fleming’s famed British secret agent. There are 14 U.K. Top 10 hits and two Academy Award winners herein – altogether, a formidable, half-century-plus musical portrait of one of cinema’s most popular characters. First released under this title by Capitol/EMI in 1999, The Best of Bond…James Bond was reissued in 2002, 2008 and 2012 with additional title themes and various bonus tracks (or, in the case of the latest edition, for the film series’ 50th anniversary, a bonus disc of score material).
There’s a few firsts for this Bond collection: this will be the set’s first LP edition, spread across three discs and pressed on either standard black or limited edition gold vinyl. (The gold set will be available exclusively at uDiscoverMusic.) For the first time, this edition of the collection will actually include the most current theme: Billie Eilish’s theme to Daniel Craig’s fifth and final Bond film, No Time To Die (due to release in November, having been delayed from this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
From the earliest moments of the first Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No, the first in the 25-film series had a musical style all its own. Monty Norman’s bold, eminently hummable theme featured a killer riff from guitarist Vic Flick and blasts of melodic brass that have been used in every one of Bond’s onscreen adventures. (Composer John Barry, who scored the first Bond sequel From Russia With Love (1962) and many of the films through 1987, arranged the theme.)
It was From Russia with Love that started to infuse classic pop sensibilities through the series’ musical DNA, when crooner Matt Monro sang the Lionel Bart-penned title track over the film’s end credits. A year later, 1964’s Goldfinger put Shirley Bassey’s thunderous title theme (written by Barry with legendary songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse) over the stylized opening credits, and nearly every one of 007’s pop themes have occupied that prized spot. (A new instrumental theme by Barry was used in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which saw George Lazenby take over the starring role from Sean Connery. A more traditional tune, “We Have All The Time In The World,” became a stunning late-career performance for jazz legend Louis Armstrong. Both are included here.)
After making only mild flirtations with rock music in the ’60s and early ’70s (which featured Bond themes by the likes of Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra and the second of three Bassey-sung themes for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, Connery’s brief return to the role), Bond producer Eon Productions hired a former Beatle to accompany Roger Moore’s first outing as Bond: Paul McCartney and Wings’ larger-than-life tune (produced by The Fab Four’s longtime producer George Martin, who also composed the film’s score) soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. There would be no Bond chart-topper until more than a decade later, when Duran Duran’s “A View To a Kill” reached the summit in America in 1985 for Moore’s final outing as Bond. Along the way, several Bond themes were nominated for Academy Awards, including “LIve and Let Die,” Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (penned by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)) and Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only” (co-written by Rocky composer Bill Conti in 1981).
Though styles and stars changed – Moore was replaced by Timothy Dalton for two films in 1987 and 1989, followed by four films featuring Pierce Brosnan from 1995 to 2002 – Bond themes continued to be big business. Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye,” accompanying Brosnan’s first turn, was written by Bono and The Edge of U2, while Madonna had a Top 10 hit with 2002’s theme to Die Another Day. More than 50 years in, with Craig’s gritty performance as Bond revitalizing the series’ style, the songs may command more prestige than ever: the themes to Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015), respectively written and performed by Adele and Sam Smith, both won Oscars for Best Original Song, while Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” became the first Bond song to top the charts in 007’s native England.
The Best of Bond…James Bond is ready to pre-order for its November 20 release. Check it out below.
The Best of Bond…James Bond (UMe B0031736-01/B0031737-02, 2020)
- James Bond Theme – Monty Norman and His Orchestra
- From Russia With Love – Matt Monro
- Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
- Thunderball – Tom Jones
- You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – John Barry and His Orchestra
- We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
- Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
- Live and Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings
- The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu
- Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
- Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
- For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton
- All Time High – Rita Coolidge
- A View To a Kill – Duran Duran
- The Living Daylights – a-ha
- Licence To Kill – Gladys Knight
- GoldenEye – Tina Turner
- Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow
- The World Is Not Enough – Garbage
- Die Another Day – Madonna
- You Know My Name – Chris Cornell
- Another Way To Die – Jack White & Alicia Keys
- Skyfall – Adele
- Writing’s On The Wall – Sam Smith
- No Time To Die – Billie Eilish