May 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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For Your Eyes Only

RYKODISC RCD-10751 [58:59]
Purchase from: Crotchet  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

John Barry, complete with the right initials for the job, over again showed the world how to score a James Bond film. Now hear "For Your Eyes Only," for '80s ears only. James Bond does discotheque.

Bill Conti uses traditional instruments in absorbing ways; notably the brass with trills, frills, and thrills that blare the confidence of a composer who perhaps knows the score is an immodest product of the times and decided to just bite the bullet. Funk guitar and caterwauling synthesizers try to take over the material, appropriately possessing the subtly (or lack thereof) of a Bond villain. "For Your Eyes Only" is a rare case of bad music made good. Or above average, anyway.

Like most of the composer's output the themes and orchestrations are absurdly derivative (consider 'The P.M. Gets the Bird,' or is Sir Edward Elgar still around?), though in this scenario the distraction is negligable. The 'James Bond Theme' of course deserves specific credit. The leitmotif is coolness in musical form, and while Conti's arrangements suggest something more frigorific the tune always injects the score with a degree of mystery and chic. Without the aid of that famous theme the music would merely be an unusually elaborate "CHiPs" soundtrack. With it, the score wraps around the occasional bubble of fresh air and keeps itself afloat.

The title song is a memorable, award-worthy ditty sung by Sheena Easton, whose voice I am not too keen for, but accept; she can actually sing, unlike the many performers who screech and shake like rusted Yugos. The lyrics by Michael Leeson are serviceable, raised higher by what is arguably Conti's best theme for a movie. At this, the pop approach suits the song and its instrumental relatives perfectly.

I miss the enhanced CD bits Rykodisc used to offer on these 'deluxe editions,' and rather wish the disc were sequenced to the film's chronology. Thankfully, the notes include approximations for makeshift programming that for the most part works as suggested. The sound is surprisingly clear considering it is approaching twenty years old. The music has the release it deserves.


Jeffrey Wheeler

Jeffrey Wheeler

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