With Skyfall landing in theaters Nov. 9, this season is no different … except that Capitol Records’ Best of Bond … James Bond has something else to celebrate: five full decades of the screen franchise. Therefore, this set throws in another disc’s worth of music that make it worth replacing the last disc you bought.
As expected, the first CD begins with the iconic “James Bond Theme,” as performed by the John Barry Orchestra — a tune known even to people who’ve never seen a single 007 movie. The disc then runs through each main theme, chronologically. There are some certifiable classics — Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” and, my favorite, Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better.”
To be fair, there also are some real crushing duds — say, roughly the last eight films, with not a memorable tune among the Chris Cornells, Madonnas or k.d. Langs. I think Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” may be the last great one. (Sorry, Rita Coolidge, but you’re an all-time low.)
Already, Best of Bond is dated, as Adele’s Skyfall theme is absent, but the 27-track bonus disc more than makes up for it, culling other themes and songs from the superspy's films. Among the highlights are:
• Moby’s dance-ready take on the original theme, which livened up Tomorrow Never Dies;
• a Christmas song from Nina, featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and whose chorus begins, “Do you know how Santa gets around?”;
• John Barry’s “Capsule in Space” instrumental, from Moonraker;
• Scott Walker’s velvety ballad “Only Myself to Blame,” also from Tomorrow; and
• “Vesper” and “Time to Get Out,” a pair of tracks by composer David Arnold representing the current Daniel Craig era, coming from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
On the down side, Eric Serra’s far-from-synthsational “The Experience of Love” (from GoldenEye) aims for a New Age flavor and fails, while Bill Conti and Rage attempt to get funky with For Your Eyes Only’s “Make It Last All Night.” I leave that one for your ears only; The George Martin Orchestra makes a more convincing case with a three-piece “Fillet of Soul” medley from Live and Let Die. —Rod Lott