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A fan's tribute to the James Bond scores of John Barry

30-Nov-2010 • Bond Style

A phenomenally successful composer with dozens of credits to his name; John Barry is best known for his contributions to the James Bond franchise. Throughout his work for the franchise, Barry helped create iconic scores that would set the foundation for those who would follow him, and whilst he didn't receive any recognition from the Academy for his work, the scores he created are held in high regard.

Glen Chapman of Den of Geek has published a short tribute to and mini-reviews of the music master's Bond contribution.

From Russia With Love

Barry's first full score for the Bond franchise really set the formula for what followed, and what is now deemed as being iconic and fairly typical as far as action scores go, was, at the time, seen as being quite dynamic.

All in all, it's a near perfect action score and on the strength of this alone it's easy to see why Barry would go on to score so many of the Bond films over the years. Every piece compliments the action on screen, and even though some of the pieces go for a tone of suspense, and as such are not as all out action as others, there's relentlessness to the piece as a whole that makes this an incredibly thrilling piece of work.


Following the quality of the previous score can't have been an easy task, but in many ways Barry surpassed his previous work with his efforts here and earned himself a number one record in the process.

Whereas the previous score provided a musical blueprint that many Bond scores would follow, Goldfinger saw the introduction of another Bond staple in the Bond theme song, this time sung by Shirley Bassey.

Highlights here include the incredibly suspenseful Dawn Raid On Fort Knox, which outshines the more overt action pieces. There are specific leitmotifs for characters in the film, making this a more complete and interesting score than what preceded it.


Whilst this is a reasonably strong effort, it doesn't have the same impact as the previous two scores in my opinion. This could partly be explained in that the score was only finished shortly before the film was released. Part of the reason for the delay in finishing the score can be attributed to the uncertainty around the title song for the film, which was originally going to be Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was recorded by both Shirley Bassey and Dionne Warwick.

Eventually, it was decided the film's theme should carry the film's title, and Tom Jones was called in to sing the piece after a submission by Johnny Cash was dismissed.

Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was reworked into the score and stands as one of the highlights.

Read about the rest of the soundtracks over at Den Of Geek

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