Bond Back In Action 2
Silva Screen Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/01/2000
In my review of Bond Back In Action, I suggested that possibly the reason composer John Barry's material for some of the films didn't have the emotional pull other scores did was that he wasn't finding himself challenged by the material. If this was indeed the case, then the films featured on Bond Back In Action 2, the latest disc in this series, proves that the excitement was back for Barry and the other composers.
You want to talk about excitement? Just listen to the three selections pulled from "The Man With The Golden Gun," the second film of the Roger Moore era. (Why "Live And Let Die," the first film to feature Moore, is not included I don't know.) Simply put, these selections bring a level of excitement back to the music that wasn't there at this intense of a level since "Goldfinger". The liner notes brutally savage the film itself - but speaks high praises for the score. After listening to these selections, there's no doubt they're right about the music. (As I admitted, I have yet to see an entire James Bond film... though this may change soon.)
Maybe one reason that Barry rediscovered the excitement was that other composers were chomping at the bit to work on a James Bond score. The liner notes don't speak too kindly of Marvin Hamlisch's one attempt to score a Bond film - 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me" - but if the rest of the score is like the two selections included here ("Ride To Atlantis" and "The Tanker"), I'd dare to say their criticisms are incorrect.
The only non-Barry score that didn't really float my boat came from Bill Conti, and the main theme from "For Your Eyes Only". Conti is capable of much better work, and this just doesn't feel like it was the pinnacle of what he can do. The other film not composed by Barry, "Goldeneye," does manage to capture and captivate the listener. The Eric Serra and John Altman adaptation of Monty Norman's theme in the track "Tank Drive Around St. Petersburg" seems to breathe new life into the concept of Bond film music.
This isn't to say that the remaining four film scores composed by Barry are poor. The suite of tracks from "Moonraker" all have a spacy feel to them - appropriate for the film, of course - but it seems to throw Barry a curve which he's able to hit out of the park. Likewise, the one portion pulled from "A View To A Kill" shows that Barry is able to adapt with the times, and the music he creates is able to follow those patterns as well.
The remaining two films - "Octopussy" and "The Living Daylights" - aren't quite as exciting musically, but they hardly represent the Bond films poorly.
If I had to choose between the two discs of this set, I'd quickly pick Bond Back In Action 2, just for the sheer energy level of the music in general. Just like filmgoers demand more action for their dollar, they want more excitement in the music for their time. On this disc, most of the composers are able to deliver the goods well.