Tomorrow Never Dies


Polygram Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez


There's something about Bond (James Bond) that makes every grown man turn into a fifteen-year old boy. It even happens with my father -- who was around to watch Sean Connery strut his stuff! -- and it amazes me. The gadgets, the girls, the henchmen, all of it have added up to perhaps the greatest franchise in movie history ( Star Wars or Star Trek notwithstanding).

Unfortunately, there have been a few missteps along the way (Roger Moore's almost 60ish-James Bond in A View To A Kill foremost, I think) and one of them was Eric Serra's score to Goldeneye. While it gave it that unique edge most Bond films require, at the end, there wasn't much music for it to be liked.

In an attempt to fix that, the producers went out and hired up-and-coming composer David Arnold. He had scored Stargate (great fun) and Independence Day (great themes, but I didn't like it that much). In any case, Arnold was tagged to bring back the old feel and sound of Bond. To put it mildly, he succeeded.

The album starts with the necessary title theme, this time done by Sheryl Crow. There is a bit of a controversy to go with it, but I'll get to it later. Just know that this song isn't up to par. It feels like what it is -- a cheap attempt by movie producers to score a hit song with a wider crowd by bringing in a popular artist. Ah, such a waste.

The score begins with the opening music theme, "White Knight." This greatly mixes the classic Bond theme (by John Barry -- or is it Monty Norman?) with the Tomorrow Never Dies theme and good action music. Lots of fun and it immediately lets you know that the old James Bond feel is back.

However, there's two big surprises to this score. One, there's a lower, meaner edge to the villains and their actions. You get that right away with the third track, "The Sinking Of The Devonshire." It is dark and moody and that only changes to allow a choir to come in for the abandoning of the ship. It swells up again for the final masacre.

The other big surprise is the softer and melancholic side to the love theme, "Paris and Bond." It is perhaps the most tragic the love theme has been since...well, I can't remember. Of course, this is due to the relationship Pierce Brosnan and Teri Hatcher have -- a jilted lover who sees Bond return into her life. Both motifs reappear on "The Last Goodbye," as the bad guys learn of Paris' relationship with Bond while he tries to convince her of leaving her husband, the bad guy. It also momentarily appears on "Dr. Kaufman," where Bond meets Paris' killer.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That said, there's also that fun edge to the music. "Company Car" playfully mixes the James Bond theme to signal Bond's briefing from Q on his new BMW. (By the way, am I the only one who wants the Aston Martin to return? Nothing against BMW, but there's only one car for Bond and that's the AM). Here, Arnold uses a jazzy turn rather than full orchestral backing to mold the music. Meanwhile, "Hamburg Break-Out" mixes the Bond theme with the Tomorrow theme and some electronic drums to create a fun mix for an action scene.

Of course, the most fun theme in here is "Backseat Driver." Is this from the orchestra?? Whether it is or not is irrelevant, it is great. Only problem is that it ends a few moments before it really ends in the movie. Oh well. This track can be viewed as a things to come sign from Arnold for his score for the new movie, The World Is Not Enough.

On the mean and low side, you have "Hamburg Break-In," which I guess is more thematic for a spy breaking into an office. Also, there's "*-3 Send," which does pick up after a moment before returning to the love theme. In any case, it ends too quickly for my taste. (Course, it could be argued that it's short because James Bond spends little time mourning for anyone). Finally, there's "Underwater Discovery," which also starts quiet and haunting - as Bond searches the wrecked battleship - before the drums and violins give it the urgency of an action piece.

Gripes? Just a few. One, "Station Break" is moody, but not memorable. Two, Moby's remake of the "James Bond Theme" is up-for-grabs. If you like it, there's nothing wrong with it. If you're a purist, it is terrible -- an attempt to immitate the success of Mullen and Clayton's remake of the "Mission: Impossible Theme." (I personally enjoy it.) Three, there's the nonsense surrounding k.d. lang's "Surrender."

OK, let's take it from the top. David Arnold goes and scores the movie. Along with that he writes a theme song for the movie. This theme song is repeated throughout the score -- and is referred to as the "Tomorrow Never Dies" (or "Tomorrow") Theme. When it comes time to lay it down, lang is chosen to do it. She does an incredible job with it -- easily recalling the best themes and the shadow of Shirley Bassey. But the producers want a theme song that will be a hit with the kids. And so, they go and ask Crow to write a new theme song. But they can't -- or won't -- get rid of the other theme song. So they re-title it and use it as the closing credits theme song. If you're like me, you know which one is the true theme song and why it is way better than Ms. Crow's attempt at a Bond theme.

The biggest gripe however goes to this incomplete album. As you may or may not know, this CD only has half of the movie's score - from the opening sequence right to Bond and Wai Lin's escape from the underwater wreckage. What happened to the rest? Well, either they didn't have enough time to put out a whole CD or they wanted to get more money out of fans. (By the way, the fans clamored enough to where a complete score -- on two CDs, mind you -- will be released later this year). Imagine if Lucas and company had only released half of the music to The Phantom Menace -- oh wait, they did. Rats!

I can't give this score an A, as much as I may want, because it's not complete. In any case, what's here is very good. Arnold has become the permanent replacement to Barry that fans and producers wanted - he's gone on to score The World Is Not Enough. By giving the fans exactly what they wanted and expected, Arnold scores big. But, take it from me, wait a few weeks and buy the two-disc release. (If I get it on time, I'll provide a review of that before the year is out).

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Alfredo Narvaez and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polygram Records, and is used for informational purposes only.