A Theme to a Kill
This year the Oscars celebrate 50 years of Bond, and in particular 50 years of Bond songs, something the Academy has shamefully neglected for most of this last half-century. So, belatedly, Shirley Bassey will be on hand to perform "Goldfinger", and will be joined by Adele performing "Skyfall". But for a real panoramic sweep of 007's musical moods here's an encore presentation of Mark's salute to James Bond's music man, John Barry.
When John died two years ago, Mark rounded up three members of 007's musical family - a brace of Oscar-winning lyricists and a composer - to pay tribute to the man who did more than anyone to create the sound of big-screen spy music. Tim Rice and Don Black were guests on The Mark Steyn Christmas Show a while back, when they touched briefly on their Bond songs. Tim is best-known as the lyricist of Evita, Aladdin and The Lion King, but he also collaborated with John Barry on the theme song for Octopussy. And Don has written more James Bond lyrics than anybody else, from Thunderball to The Man With The Golden Gun, Diamonds Are Forever to The World Is Not Enough.
Joining Tim and Don is David Arnold, the composer of Independence Day, Godzilla, the remake of Shaft, Hot Fuzz, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader and the TV series Little Britain. But, if Barry was the sound of Bond for the first half of his half-century, David is the man who picked up the baton for the second half. He's scored every Bond picture from Tomorrow Never Dies to A Quantum Of Solace, and was just about the only person other than Judi Dench's M to survive the transition from the Pierce Brosnan era to the Daniel Craig regime. David has also made his own album of Bond songs, Shaken And Stirred.
Our two-part special provides over two great hours of music and conversation. We'll track Bond themes from You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, A View To A Kill and many more performed by Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Lulu, Rita Coolidge, Duran Duran, A-Ha and, of course, the peerless Shirley Bassey. We'll also hear Barry songs performed by Frank Sinatra, Tom Petty, Anthony Newley, Kanye West, Iggy Pop, Pulp, Coldplay, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, plus TV themes like "The Persuaders", other Barry film scores from The Ipcress File to Out Of Africa, and the world's greatest shampoo commercial.
In Part One of the show, Tim Rice delves into the John Barry Seven's raucous pop career, Don Black distinguishes the anatomical origins of "Diamonds Are Forever" from the non-anatomical origins of "Thunderball", David Arnold takes us behind a unique moment in On Her Majesty's Secret Service â€“ and Mark explores the evolution of the James Bond theme from Dr No to The Living Daylights. To listen to Part One, click the button at left above.
In Part Two, Tim explains why the Octopussy song isn't called "Octopussy", Don recalls his and John Barry's Oscar-winning song "Born Free", David picks some favorite moments from Barry's later orchestral scores â€“ and Steyn sings "Goldfinger". To listen to Part Two, click the button at right above.
Don't forget, Part One is the left-hand button, Part Two the right. Each part is a little over an hour - so that's two hours of great music and conversation in the 007 style.
The picture above shows John Barry and his then wife Jane Birkin back in the Swingin' Sixties and looking not un-Bondlike.
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