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Image source: 007

itcher’s Guide to James Bond Songs – Part 2

Andy Harmon itcherSean Connery may be the most recognisable face of the James Bond franchise, and in some people’s eyes, the one-and-only Bond.
~ Andy Harmon

Sean Connery, itcher’s Guide to James Bonds’ Songs – Part 2

His legendary status is beyond comparison. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Connery. Before playing 007, he struggled as an actor, with mostly bit-parts and part-time roles on TV, film and the stage. It took some convincing by Bond producer Cubby Broccoli’s wife Dana to secure Connery the part.

Even author Ian Fleming wasn’t convinced, labelling Connery an “overgrown stuntman” and believing he wasn’t refined enough to play the suave secret agent he had created.

However, Connery’s charisma and raw sexual presence was there for all to see in 1962’s Dr No (1962). He stamped his authority on the character and impressed Fleming so much he created a Scottish backstory for the character in later novels.

Under Connery, Bond wasn’t so much camp and wise-cracking like Roger Moore, but more cold and calculated – as evidenced in the “you’ve had your six” scene in Dr No.

During Sean Connery’s tenure as James Bond, we were treated to some excellent films, and with those some classic themes.

Let’s look at some of the best ever Bond songs as we delve into itcher’s Guide to James Bond Songs – Part 2!

***
`Dr No´(Terence Young, 1962)

The first James Bond theme is of course the most recognisable of all.

We look down the barrel of a gun at 007, he turns and fires. The screen fills with blood. The brassy, jazzy theme with that classic guitar riff begins; it’s instantly recognisable.

Unlike future credit sequences, Dr No doesn’t feature silhouettes of naked women parading around doing gymnastics on giant pistols. Instead it’s a colourful but simplistic title sequence that’s unmistakably 60s.

“That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six”

The theme is fraught with controversy though as to who should be credited with its creation.

Producer Albert Broccoli brought in Monty Norman to write the soundtrack and he composed the original theme. John Barry then arranged and performed the theme with his orchestra on the final edit, but would only be credited for his performance and not for having any involvement in the arrangement of the piece.

It would be Barry who went on to write future Bond music though and not Norman.

***
`From Russia with Love ´ Matt Monro

They called him The Man with the Golden Voice; Matt Monro provided the vocals for the theme of the second James Bond instalment, From Russia with Love.

John Barry was brought back into the fold sans Monty Norman to compose the soundtrack and the title song was written by Lionel Bart.

“I think it’s a very lovely mouth. It’s just the right size, for me anyway”

The version with Monro’s vocals isn’t featured on the opening credits, instead appearing on the closing credits (and during the film, played on the radio).

The title sequence features only an instrumental version of the track accompanied by the now familiar dancing ladies.

***
`Goldfinger´ Shirley Bassey

With a name like Goldfinger, porn producers were stumped as to what to name the parody (Cold Sphincter, if you’re wondering).

All jokes aside, Goldfinger is probably the most famous Bond film of all time and as such, the theme tune is the most iconic song of the series.

“You’re a woman of many parts, pussy!”

Composed by John Barry, Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse provided the lyrics before Bassey laid down the unmistakable vocals.

Brassy and bold – and that’s just Shirley – this song is a true classic, encompassing the drama of the film whilst standing on its own as one of the greatest and most well-known songs of all time.

Think of Bond theme songs and artists and the first that should spring to mind is Shirley Bassey.

This is easily one of the best ever Bond songs, if not the best.

***
`Thunderball´ Tom Jones

Sadly these days the name Thunderball is more likely remind us of Dale Winton releasing his balls than Tom Jones’ song or Sean Connery’s acting, but the story of the song is an interesting one.

The song would be originally called “Mr Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”; written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse with vocals supplied by… you guessed it, Shirley Bassey.

It was even rerecorded by Dionne Warwick. Then producers Salzman and Broccoli were worried that a theme without the name of the film in the title wouldn’t work and scrapped the whole thing.

“See you later, irrigator”

So John Barry teamed up with lyricist Don Black and came up with the song Thunderball, and would be sung by Welsh legend Tom Jones.

The famous last note of the song supposedly caused Tom Jones to faint in the recording booth, but that’s not unusual.

Johnny Cash also submitted a song but it wasn’t used in favour of Jones’ version.

***
`You Only Live Twice´ Nancy Sinatra

John Barry once again composed the tune and Nancy Sinatra provided the vocals, but it wasn’t easy, as Sinatra was so unconvinced by her own vocals that 25 different takes were used in the final version.

Julie Rogers was intended to sing the original title song but was replaced by Sinatra, and the orchestral part of it had to be rearranged to fit Sinatra’s limited vocal range.

The lesson learned here is; if you can’t afford Frank, don’t hire Nancy.

“Oh the things I do for England”

You may remember this tune more for the strings used in Robbie Williams’ gibberish classic pop hit Millenium, where in the video he wears a tuxedo, dons a jetpack and drives an Aston Martin around as convincingly as James Bond as I would as Louis Armstrong.

He looks like The Priory had a fancy dress party and Robbie slipped out the back door.

***
`Diamonds Are Forever´ Shirley Bassey

Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe. It’s hard to believe that six years before Kanye West was born he wrote and performed the theme to the seventh Bond film, Diamonds are Forever.

No of course he didn’t, silly. John Barry was once again brought in to compose the song featuring lyrics from Don Black, and the vocals were provided by the wonderful Shirley Bassey, back for her second official Bond theme.

Now I ain’t sayin she a Goldfinger, be she aint messin with no… well you get the idea.

“That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”

Bond producer Harry Salzman is said to have hated the song due to the innuendos in the lyrics. Due to this John Barry wasn’t brought back for the next Bond instalment Live and Let Die.

But if they thought this song had innuendos, can someone explain to me how The Man with the Golden Gun was greenlit?

Sean Connery returned to the role of Bond after George Lazenby decided one was enough (it was enough for us too, George).

***
`Never Say Never Again´ Lani Hall

Should be titled “never listen to this song again” because it’s awful.

Watching this movie and hearing this theme come on; you may be forgiven for checking the DVD to make sure it’s not the porn parody.

Of all the music used in Bond films, this is the cheesiest, tackiest garbage and should have been left on the cutting room floor.

The film itself was Kevin McClory’s big F-U to Eon Productions as he was originally left off the credits for Thunderball, a screenplay he co-wrote with Ian Fleming.

In a settlement, he agreed he would not use his version of the screenplay for ten years. So, in 1983, his film was released.

Originally to be called Longitude 78 West, the name was changed as a reference to Sean Connery who was brought back (with hairpiece) after he had previously stated he would never appear as Bond again.

***

You’ve Had Your Seven

We all have our opinions on who was the best Bond.There’s a strong Roger Moore fan base out there, for sure, but the most popular opinion has to be that of the Sean Connery contingent. He is the original Bond, after all.

Connery wasn’t keen on tying himself down to a film series but since his career wasn’t exactly hitting the roof at that point he cut his losses and went for it.

He went on to do five films before deciding he’d had enough. He was persuaded back when Lazenby quit and then again for Never Say Never Again, before finally deciding he was just too old (and too bald) to play Bond any more.

But what is the most recognisable Bond theme of all time?

What do you reckon?

Is it Goldfinger? Diamonds are Forever? Or maybe you don’t rate Bassey at all.

Let us know in the comments below!

Liked this article? Missed the first part? Check out itchers Guide to James Bond Songs – Part 1!
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