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Oldies But Goldies: In 2012 I reviewed And Graded Every James Bond Song

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(With Sam Smith releasing a teaser fifteen seconds from his James Bond  song, “Writing On The Wall”  here, it seemed like an opportune time to go through all the songs we’ve ever heard. In order of preference. My bet is Sam Smith will go quite  high: like #9. Adele would go pretty high as well #13 or #14 -IL)

We are only a month away from the new James Bond movie, which means it will have been five years since the terrible Jack White song helped us discover another way to die a death; through musical poisoning. Not that it is entirely White’s fault, I would say the decline in songs have been a landslide of crappaola. But it wasn’t always this way, over half a century of spy and sex thrillers, there have been the occasional masterpiece. PS the Chrissie Hynde song wasn’t the theme. So here is the Bond theme songs, the best first.

1. We Have All the Time In The World – Louis Armstrong from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) – This once a given. Armstrong had just recorded his worst album, the “And friends”. A terrible idea to give the great man relevance with stuff like the worst cover of “Give Peace A Chance” in history. This was his last recording and according to John Barry, who composed the music and who I interviewed in 1987, told me that Louis was very, very sick, it would be his last recording ever, and though frail, Armstrong was a complete delight. In one of those weird serendiptious occurences, the plot (Bond’s wife died at the end), Armstrong’s own real life and the song lyric, time is both everlasting and fleeting, dovetail in a masterpiece of tenderness and, though it occurs after the ong, loss – Grade: A+

2. Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey from “Goldfinger”(1963) – The movie is the template from which all Bond movies depart and the song is the template from which all Bond songs grow. John Barry again, with that accented blast of horns, and Bassey’s controlled fury and the rumbling drums building underneath to a feverish excitement. Without parallel – Grade: A+

3. The James Bond Theme – John Barry And His Orchestra from “Dr. No” (1962) – In retrospect, this is awful surf guitar-y. it sounds like horses galloping in the ocean. And as instrumentals, it is one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of music of all time. Barry said: “I didn’t write it, i arranged it. And it was the most thorough re-arranging job of all time” – Grade: A+

4. Live And Let Die – Paul McCartney from “Live And Let Die” (1973) – It is so apt that the person to enter the charts after Barry, is the co-writer of the best music of the 1960s. This adds the blast of rock and to the rattle of strings. It was so great GNR covered it, and so smart it became a staple of every stadium show Macca did since. Plus, introduced rock bands to the exploding cannons theory of excitement – Grade: A

5. Thunderball – Tom Jones from “Thunderball” (1965) – The male counterpoint to Bassey’s brassiness is Jones ballsiness. A pounding, pulmeting road of a song – Grade: A

6. Casino Royale – Herb Alpert from “Casino Royale” (1967) – The movie was a Woody Allen written satire and the song a snappy swinging England pastiche – Grade: A

7. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey from “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) – Connery is back, Bassey is back, everybody a step older and a step slower… except trying telling Kanye West that – Grade: A

8. Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) – Not the best, but Marvin Hamlisch does a mean John Barry and Carole Bayer Sager comes up with one of the great follow up lines, “Baby, you’re the best” – grade: A-

9. You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra from “You Only Live Twice” (1967) – And twice alone, they were still writing em like that back then – Grade: B+

10. Moonraker – Shirley Bassey from Moonraker (1979) – Third time and she finally can’t manage it. Killed by a terrible song – Grade: B

11. From Russia With Love – Matt Munro from “From Russia With Love” (1963) – This isn’t there yet. It has the hints of “Goldfinger” but it doesn’t have the finish. He is too delicate – Grade: B

12. The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu from “The Man With The Golden Gun” (1974) – Lulu – She has the voice for sure, what was missing was the song – Grade: B

13. For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton from ” For Your Eyes Only” (1981) – And here come the 1980s and things would only get worse – Grade: C+

14. Goldeneye – Tiina Turner from “Goldeneye” (1995) – Sure, Tina was a perfect match for Bond… just not this song – Grade: C+

15. Octopussy – Rita Coolidge from “Octopussy” (1983) – When bad women sing bad Bond songs, here is a deluge of em – Grade: C-

16. Never Say Never Again – Lani Hall from “Never Say Never Again” (1983) – Lani Hall? – Grade: D+

17. License To Kill – Gladys Knight from The Living Daylights (1989) – How did everybody forget how to write a Bond song? – Grade:

18. Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow from “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) – Poor Pierce Brosnan didn’t get a single decent song- Grade: B+

19. The Living Daylights – a-ha from “The Living Daylights”(1987) – Going pop didn’t help – Grade: D+

20. A View To A Kill – Duran Duran from “A View To Kill” (1985) – Who thought these wussies could help the cause. From Tom Jones to Simon le Bon? Are you kidding me? – Grade: D+

21. The World Is Not Enough – Garbage from “The World Is Not Enough” (1999) – OK, now they’re grasping at straws – Grade: D

22. Die Another Day – Madonna from “Die Another Die” (2002) – New milliniuem, same crap – Grade: D

23 Casino Royale – Chris Cornell from “Casino Royale” (2006) – You’re kidding me right? Not even Soundgarden? – Grade: D-

24. Another Way to DIe – Jack White And Alicia  Keyes from “Quantum of Solace” (2008) – Insufferable dross. the worst of the worst. What were they thinking of giving it to this egotistical plus most boring woman on earth – Grade: F

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