Visit the Movie Wave Store | Movie Wave Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Contact me
Strict rules of golf, Mr Bond?
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
* * * * *
Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2003 Danjaq; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
The ultimate Bond film, how to top Goldfinger has been a problem encountered by the producers of each subsequent one. Of course, you can't. It's so over-the-top itself, so knowingly outlandish - but in such a charming, honest way - that in each subsequent film, the silliness grew and the humility lessened, and for all the fun to be had in virtually all the films in the series, it never reached these heights again. Sean Connery was on top form, Goldfinger himself is the most memorable villain Bond has faced in the films - and John Barry was at the very top of his game with the music.
Everyone knows the main title song. Shirley Bassey was born to sing it, and from the portentous opening bars it was always destined to be a classic. Lyrically it may be laughable, but much like parts of the film that never seems to particularly matter. Barry takes the tune from it and uses it throughout the score to bind it all together, sometimes in the most disguised fashion, sometimes in the counterpoint in a suspense track, sometimes for full brass for an action sequence ( the wonderful "Oddjob's Pressing Engagement").
Much like his other entries in the series, it may be those action pieces which everyone talks about but the bulk of the score is suspense. With the shrill trumpet trills, the xylophone, elongated harp passages, of course this is no ordinary suspense music - it's Barry / Bond suspense music, and it just doesn't come much better. So stylish, done with such panache - listening to the anonymous noodling which dominates similar passages in the modern Bond films makes you realise just how important Barry was to the series' early success.
When it does come, the action music is phenomenal. "Dawn Raid on Fort Knox" is one of those iconic pieces which somehow escapes from being non-thematic underscore and takes on a life of its own, generating recognition even from non-film score freaks. Exciting, intense - it's everything a piece of James Bond music should sound like. The highlight of the album.
As part of the release of remastered and occasionally expanded Bond discs in 2003, EMI put this out with the extra tracks (including the terrific action/suspense piece "The Laser Beam", from the film's most famous sequence, and the florid opening to "Pussy Galore's Flying Circus", both of which are highlights of the score as a whole so it's great to have them on CD) which had only ever been available on vinyl before, but sadly it suffers from the same indescribably stupid album production that ruins the other expanded versions, because the extra tracks are just stuck at the end of the disc after the end title, so you have to reprogram it into a more sensible order to enjoy the score. Still, that's a minor price to pay for such an indelible, unforgettable film score. The ultimate Bond movie got the ultimate Bond score.