It’s been interesting delving into the work of John Barry for #Johnuary. I only really knew about his Bond work and hadn’t knowingly listened to other movies that he had scored. But even the Bond work was revealing. I didn’t know the story behind Monty Norman’s original James Bond theme and John Barry’s varying degrees of involvement in some other Bond soundtracks. The Bond universe would certainly be lacking a big part of it if Barry hadn’t been involved.
Doing a John Barry Top Ten is quite hard given the different extent to which he worked on various films. So instead I’ve chosen to do a Top Ten of all James Bond songs that he was involved in. Not that he wrote 100% himself. It’s still debated how much he contributed to the James Bond Theme. He still claims he had the bigger role in the theme, so I had to include it. It also meant I could include the Duran Duran and A-Ha ones. I don’t think I can include From Russia To Love though as he didn’t do that theme song.
As I wrote in the Moonraker post I just find this one a bit nothing, so it misses out being on this list.
A View To A Kill
This is one of the most highly rated and successful Bond themes. I just don’t particularly love it as a Bond theme. I’m not a huge Duran Duran fan anyway but I do like the song. I just don’t think it’s a great Bond song.
TOP TEN10. Octopussy
A very pleasant tune. Nothing amazing about it, but it’s graceful, stylish and fits in well with the title sequence. Full post. 9. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
This does feel very Bondy and it’s great as a piece of score but it’s instrumental and is lacking the punch of some of the lyrical Bond themes I feel. Full post. 8. You Only Live Twice
This is in the same class as Octopussy. Pleasant, nice strings and this one feels even more Bondy. I love the Japanese elements to it. Full post. 7. The Living Daylights
I personally really like this one. I love how Morten Harket sings the lyrics. It feels edgy and feels very suitable to being a Bond theme. Full post. 6. Diamonds are Forever
This one was nearly lower than A-ha but it’s a great catchy tune that has an excellent Shirley Bassey vocal. That alone pushes it up the list. Full post. 5. We Have All The Time In The World
Such a great track. Beautiful, poignant and great to hear Louis Armstrong singing on a Bond soundtrack. If anything it maybe doesn’t feel hugely Bondy but the Barry strings are there and it’s just such a beautiful track that it needs to be high up. Full post. 4. Thunderball
We’re getting into the big guns of the Bond world now. Such a powerful song, with Tom Jones’s vocals and some nice elements of the James Bond Theme in it. Full post. 3. The Man With the Golden Gun
Love this one. So jazzy, lively and punchy. Hard to go wrong when Lulu’s singing. This isn’t as highly rated by Barry aficionados, or by Barry himself, but what do they know. ;-) Full post. 2. Goldfinger
Of the 100% John Barry themes this is easily my no.1. It just screams Bond (as well screaming Goldfinger). Like so many people, I think Goldfinger is the quintessential Bond film, and I think this is the quintessential Bond title song. Full post. 1. James Bond Theme
For overall Bondness, however, you just cannot beat the James Bond Theme. It’s just such an incredible and iconic piece of music. There’s obviously debate about just how much Barry added to it when he rearranged and rerecorded the piece from Monty Norman’s original version. But he certainly made it his own over the years with different versions so there’s no debate that Barry had a big hand in making it into the iconic Bond theme we know today. Full post.