Nov 19, 2012

Previously Unknown Thunderball Demo Surfaces On New Lionel Bart CD

007 music expert Jon Burlingame did a book signing and lecture at a Los Angeles Barnes & Noble on Friday, and teased some of the fascinating stories covered in his book, The Music of James Bond. What role did a bra (or the lack thereof) play in Shirley Bassey's classic rendition of "Goldfinger?" What famous non-Bond spy actor was the first person to hear that song? What lawsuit put Bassey out of contention for other Bond songs of the Sixties? What lyrics did Harry Saltzman strenuously object to? Why did John Barry pass on composing Live and Let Die? You can find the answers to all these and any other burning question on Bond movie music (including rogue productions Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again) in Burlingame's essential work on the subject. I'll be reviewing that in full soon (though, trust me; it's a book you definitely want on your Christmas list!), but in the meantime, Burlingame also offered an exciting tip too new to have made it into the book. He tipped me off that a hitherto unknown "Thunderball" demo penned by Lionel Bart ("From Russia With Love") had turned up out of the blue on a 2012 Sepia Records CD release of lost Bart treasures entitled The Genius of Lionel Bart: Stage & Pop Songs, Demos & Rarities. The 3-disc set is available on CD and, much more cheaply, as a digital download on Amazon, but Bond fans can also buy just the relevant tracks as individual MP3s. That's right, tracks—plural! In addition to the main vocal "Thunderball" demo (performed by an unidentified rock group and containing the lyric, "Don't come here to spy, Thunderball!"), there are also several instrumental variations no doubt intended for use throughout the film. (Which makes me very curious as to the circumstances under which this song was written, as wouldn't that have surely been stepping on John Barry's toes?) Those versions are: "Thunderball Love Theme," "Thunderball Bossa Nova" and "Thunderball Jazz."

Finally, speaking of rare Bond tracks available for download as MP3s, another Bond music expert, Neil, alerted me to the fact that the iTunes version of Thomas Newman's Skyfall soundtrack contains an exclusive extra track not available on the CD or through other digital vendors, entitled "Old Dog, New Tricks." Fortunately, it can be purchased independently of the album for $1.29.


JN said...

It's a great book and deserves a reading. My fun part was the theme song drama behind Tomorrow Never Dies..... Seems that the producers told a bunch of pop bands they were writing the song but instead it was more of a contest. It ruffled some feathers but the author lists some of the bands and you can find their attempts on youtube and itunes. My favorite being Saint Etienne's theme song. Not Bondian at all but a cute brit-pop tune.

Simes said...

It certainly is a very readable book.

I didn't actually learn all that much which was new, having followed Bond music for years.

The other thing is...the book leans heavily toward coverage of the songs. There is some coverage of the scores themselves, but not anywhere near as much as I would have liked. There are rundowns of each score too, crosslinked to the CD's, but they are very brief indeed.

I know that licensing considerations probably come into play here, but the cover of the book was - IMO - bloody awful.

Tanner said...

Really? I kind of like that cover. It took some time to grow on me, but I think it's a pretty cool design. The blood is a bit awkward, but I really like the idea of making a gun barrel out of musical notes!