By Jon Burlingame
OUP, out now
A history of the music of the big screen 007 from Dr No to Quantum of Solace…
Every so often you read a book that makes you think, “I wish I’d written that” and that quite definitely applies to Burlingame’s pretty much definitive account of over forty years of Bond music. Combining a history of the Bond franchise with a detailed investigation of the stories behind the scores and the main title tracks would be a major task in itself, but he also adds a close examination of the music in the films in chronological order – if you’ve ever wondered which pieces of a Bond soundtrack fit where, then this is the book for you.
Even for a dedicated Bond fan, there is plenty of new information and insight into the process that goes into the creation of the music. Because this isn’t official, some of the many arguments behind the scenes are detailed – including Barry’s dealings with a-Ha on The Living Daylights, the songs that didn’t make the final cut, and the sad saga of Amy Winehouse’s involvement with Quantum of Solace (and the eventual appearance of part of that song).
The score analyses aren’t dry descriptions: they relate the story of the film, with appropriate explanations. If a CD track only uses 1:18 of the music, then that’s listed, as well as the differences between film and album tracks (From Russia With Love’s title music, for example.) In the accounts of twenty-four films, I can only find one point he missed – the Bond theme sounding from the bullets hitting the tanker in Licence to Kill’s final sequence – which is an incredibly high success rate.
Verdict: If you’re interested in the Bond franchise or film music, then this is an absolute must buy. 10/10