Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Music of James Bond.....Is Back

James Bond. The iconic character created by Ian Fleming has thrilled us with his big screen adventures since 1962’s Dr. No. But what’s the most memorable aspect of the films. The gadgets? The beautiful women? The action sequences set in exotic locales? Or is it the music, more specifically, the title songs? Andrew Curry, the mastermind behind the excellent albums Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rock (saluting the rock and pop of the 70s) and Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion (paying tribute to British bands of the MTV-era 80s), now turns his attention to Agent 007’s musical legacy. Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007, features a talented group of indie artists providing their versions of the theme songs to every 007 film, including the two “unofficial” Bonds: “The Look of Love” from 1967’s Casino Royale and the title track from 1983’s Never Say Never Again. This Kickstarter funded release is another fantastic "don't miss it" album from the Curry Cuts label.

The disc features some faithful covers, including Lisa Mychol’s energetic version of “The Man With The Golden Gun” and Popdudes’ appropriately rocking take on “Live & Let Die.” But there are also some stunning re-interpretations, including Freedy Johnston’s lovely acoustic rendering of “For Your Eyes Only,” Jay Gonzalez’ nifty bossa nova reading of “A View To a Kill” and Big-Box Store’s pared down version of “Die Another Day,” which I actually prefer to the original. The great thing about these songs is that while they often reflect the era in which they were first released, these well-crafted tunes definitely lend themselves to clever re-imaginings. So we get to enjoy the George Harrison-esque guitar (and Roy Orbison style vocal) on Gary Frenay’s version of “Moonraker” and dig Jaret Reddick’s pop/punk ride through “Thunderball,” which toughens up the Tom Jones original.

I have to admit I was really excited for this project, as I’m a longtime Bond fan who remembers sitting down in front of the TV and watching the movies on ABC, and as I got older, heading out to see them in theaters. One thing that surprised me about this album is that it enriched my appreciation of songs which really didn’t make that strong of an impression on me when I first heard them. For example, “All Time High” from 1983’s Octopussy, was never one of my favorites, but the excellent version by Zach Jones on this album had me re-evaluating the song. Minky Starshine's groovy remake of "Never Say Never Again" definitely surpasses the so-so Lani Hall version used for the film in which Sean Connery returned to the role of 007. Identical Suns amps up the guitars on their excellent rendition of "Goldenye," originally performed by Tina Turner. And I really enjoyed Cliff Hillis’ interpretation of “Writing’s on the Wall,” from 2015’s Spectre, originally recorded by Sam Smith. Hillis offers a compelling alternate take on that Oscar winning composition.

I haven’t even touched on the excellent contributions from Brandon Schott, Ryan Hamilton, Look Park (featuring Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne) and Lannie Flowers, who gets the honor of providing his version of the classic “James Bond Theme.” All of the performers who worked on this album are clearly passionate about the music of 007, and it shows. As with the previous releases from Curry Cuts, I think you’ll be spinning this superb collection of music over and over, and discovering new favorites each time you listen. Whether you're a dyed in the wool Bond fan or a hip indie music aficionado, you'll really enjoy this record. It's one of the best releases of the year. Kudos to Andrew Curry, his team, and the artists who once again hit it out of the park with Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007. Here are links to the page where you can order the album: https://currycuts.bandcamp.com/album/songs-bond-songs-the-music-of-007, the video for Lisa Mychols’ awesome version of “The Man With The Golden Gun” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8j62GPN1_M, and a very cool promotional video for the release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xydKx6EqUsc.

Author's Note: To read my coverage of the previous releases from Curry Cuts, you can go follow these links for my thoughts on Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rockhttp://jveclectic.blogspot.com/2013/07/all-hits-all-songs.html, and Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasionhttp://jveclectic.blogspot.com/2014/09/here-comes-reign-again-second-british.html. Thanks for reading!

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