In 1962, James Bond hit the silver screen in `Dr. No', and was an instant hit. This also introduced the James Bond theme, perhaps the most famous theme tune on the planet. Music was a large part of the film's success, and it is a real pleasure to be able to get this innovative soundtrack on CD.
I say innovative, because it really is. The music splits into three types, firstly Jamaican calypsos to let the viewer know that the film is set there. These are well written, and especially with Kingston Calypso, they have fun lyrics. Then there is the big orchestral music that lets the viewer know that this is an action film and big heroics are happening on the screen. Finally there is the mood setting music, the dark and intense themes that unsettle the listener. These are the innovative sections. Using electric guitars and distortion effects almost unheard of at the time, Monty Norman really explored the realms of what could be achieved with the instrument. In the wake of Hendrix and Page, these seem trivial today, but in the early sixties these sounds had never been heard before. But it is not experimentation for the sake of it, Norman really does manage to deliver moody tracks that add so much atmosphere to the film. Listen to `Jamacian Rock', `Audio Bongo' and `The Island Speaks' to hear what I mean. The tracks sound a lot like what fellow innovator Link Wray was producing at the time.
Like all great soundtracks this can be listened to without having seen the film first, and much pleasure can still be got from it. There is no dialogue from the film, which is a bit of a pity. The sound is crystal clear, and has been nicely remastered. There is a short essay which is a disappointment. It discusses the film and does not mention the music. There are no details of performers other than a mention of the guitar soloist. I feel this lets the set down a bit.
So, a classic and innovative score of interest to all lovers of guitar based jazz and early rock. Recommended.