My band played a James Bond theme party last night, and in preparing for it I assembled some appropriate background theme music. In the process, I determined that:
- The original John Barry arrangement of the James Bond theme by Monty Norman is a perfect blend of Duane Eddy/surf twang guitar (courtesy of guitarist Vic Flick -- what a great name), Martin Denny exotica lounge music, and big band swing. I don't know why the producers of the Bond movies have bothered having it re-recorded. They should have stuck with what they had in 1962.
- Tom Jones's 1965 rendition of the theme for Thunderball is possibly the most bombastic song ever recorded. It's fantastic.
- Shirley Bassey's singing of the Goldfinger theme a year earlier set the standard against which all other Bond tunes must be measured. Tom came close, but didn't quite better it.
- As pure songcraft, the theme for You Only Live Twice is by far the best of the bunch, and probably the most worthy thing Nancy Sinatra ever recorded.
- Paul McCartney and Wings' Live and Let Die theme sounds rather too much like Genesis at its art-rock peak, as Sebastien, our guitarist, pointed out.
- None of the Bond themes since the '60s really hits the suave/cheesy sweet spot, though Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me is at least decent.
- Austin Powers is now way cooler than James Bond.