Various Artists – Avid, Instrumental Bond: The Definitive Bond Collection

Nic Brown

By Nic Brown

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The reinterpretation of James Bond theme songs has a long tradition, from Count Basie to downtown jazz wiseguys Sex Mob, with varying degrees of success. In 2004, the British record label Avid decided the world needed another addition to this category — Instrumental Bond: The Definitive Bond Collection. These 20 selections represent every Bond film from Monty Norman's seminal 1962 Dr. No to 2002's Die Another Day, and almost all hew to a common formula: replace the vocal melody with either a tinkling piano or saxophone, then perch it atop a thin orchestration of fake drums and synthesizers. This approach brings to mind Miami Vice, and makes it seem (perhaps correctly) as if the Bond aesthetic is stuck in a perpetual mid-'80s. Still, several of these songs are so well written that they sound great, regardless of the arrangement, especially "From Russia with Love" (with a wonderful vibraphone melody), and "Live and Let Die," the schizophrenically arranged theme (originally by Paul McCartney) which jumps styles, in one verse, from power ballad to prog rock. Many are uninteresting, though, unless you have orders from headquarters to immediately find and rescue meandering saxophone versions of "For Your Eyes Only" or "Nobody Does it Better."