December 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Compilation:
The Best of James Bond  
Ingrid Peters (vocalist)
  SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern. Conductor and arrangements: Dieter Reith
  Hänssler CD 93.083   [49:28]

best of james bond

The first question this album brings to mind is how one can have the Best of James Bond music in 49 minutes when a CD can hold 80? Then one notices that rather than featuring some of the stirring action music from the series the disc seems to promise new orchestral arrangements of title songs. Ingrid Peters is listed as "soloist", but if one didn't know she is a singer one would anticipate purely orchestral tracks performed by the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern. Even this proves not to be the case as the cues usually come with some additional electronic instrumentation, though without any composer credits anywhere on the album packaging. So what do we get? 16 tracks in no particular order: details taken directly from the hänssler website . (correct composer names added in brackets).

  • # 01 The James Bond Theme, from "Dr. No" - Composer: Monty Norman
  • # 02 All Time High, from "Octopussy" Ingrid Peters, vocals, Composer: John Barry
  • # 03 Goldfinger - Composer: John Barry
  • # 04 Golden Eye, Composer: Paul Hawson (Eric Serra)
  • # 05 Live and Let Die, Composer: Paul McCartney
  • # 06 The Living Daylights, Composer: John Barry
  • # 07 Thunderball, Composer: John Barry
  • # 08 For Your Eyes Only, Composer: Bill Conti
  • # 09 From Russia With Love, Composer: Lionel Bart (John Barry)
  • # 10 Tomorrow Never Dies, Composer: David Arnold
  • # 11 Moonraker, Composer: John Barry
  • # 12 Diamonds Are Forever, Composer: John Barry
  • # 13 Nobody Does It Better, from "The Spy Who Loved Me" Ingrid Peters, vocals, Composer: Marvin Hamlisch
  • # 14 We Have All the Time in the World, from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", Composer: John Barry
  • # 16 License To Kill, Composer N.M. Walden (Michael Kamen)

    Given the range of Bond music compilations, original and re-recordings already on the market, this line-up doesn't inspire enthusiasm. Surprisingly the results are not only half-bad, but actually really rather polished and enjoyable. The orchestra, which will be little known to most in the UK is a radio orchestra established in 1951 to specialise in light music, and which has a repertoire spanning the baroque to operetta, musicals and film themes. In his arrangements Dieter Reith makes no attempt to be strictly authentic to the original orchestrations, but does capture a suitably Bondian sound; a mix of orchestral melodrama, catchy pop beats, silly strings, jazzy brass and atmospheric electronics. The uncredited electric guitar on the James Bond Theme will never replace Vic Flick but the tune is still rousing. Throughout the tunes are so strong as to shine, even lesser themes such as Bill Conti's For Your Eyes Only, the melodies exhilarating in their melodramatic way. Ingrid Peters' takes on "All Time High" from Octopussy and Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me are good if not exceptional, but why no vocal versions of Goldfinger or Diamonds Are Forever?

    This is certainly far from the best Bond anthology around, but still pleasurable in its own way. Even so, with so much choice it may still be one for Bond completists.

    Gary S. Dalkin

    **(*)

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