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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 12 December 2014
I should have expected to see more detail concerning the music itself. If, as the author maintains, the James Bond scores are significant as music, not only in terms of their place in popular cultural history, we should have been granted information as to key, harmonies, chord and tone, detailed orchestration and recording techniques. The accounts of each score read more like music reviews than music analysis. The author generally describes what is apparent to most enthusiasts of the music (the principal market for the book, presumably). One might have expected to see the odd snippet of music manuscript. Compare with Wilfrid Mellors's account of Beatles music where technical musical analysis was presented in such a way as to be accessible and interesting to non-composers/musicians. There is much entertaining information into issues surrounding the production of the Bond films and the book is well written - a mercy given the repetitive nature of series production. But with a book published by OUP devoted to the music, I think a more mature assessment of the creative originality of John Barry in particular was vital, but in my view largely absent. Too much showbiz, not enough music. A little disappointing.
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on 22 November 2012
If anyone is interested in film music, and in particular the music associated with James Bond, this is the book for you. Its interesting, informative and entertaining. Jon Burlingame has done an amazing job of going through the music of not only the official Bond films, but also the original casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. I've been a John Barry fan for over 40 years, and there were things in the book that I wasn't aware of! A must for film music fans everywhere!
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on 28 December 2012
This is, so far as I am aware, the only book to survey the music for each of the James Bond films, with the exception of Skyfall. Other books that touch on this topic tend to be biographies of the individual composers, or books about the James Bond phenomenon, or the liner notes to releases of the James Bond music. For someone wanting to understand the music of a particular film, such books can often be frustrating, as they tend to concentrate on the way the Bond sound was initially realised in the 1960s, or how it is realised in the contemporary world. Burlingame avoids this by taking each film in turn, and providing (along the bottom of the pages) a minute by minute account of the score as it appears in the film, while (in the main text) giving the story behind the writing of the music for the film. This could have resulted in a rather dull book. Instead, while the familiar stories of Tom Jones going a bit wobbly at the end of the vocal recording of Thunderball, or Shirley Bassey ditching her bra to hit the high notes in Goldfinger make their predictable appearance, the lesser known stories of the later films are also told in full for the first time. So, for example, the section on Moonraker discusses the original version of the song written for Frank Sinatra and ultimately recorded by Johnny Mathis before that version was rejected in favour of the version as performed by Shirley Bassey. It also gives an illuminating account of John Barry's original vision of the Moonraker soundtrack as an eight movement symphony, together with the practical trials of recording a Bond score in France for the first and, to date, only time. The book also makes the (to me) surprising revelation that even if John Barry had not fallen ill before the release of Licence to Kill, he very likely would not have returned to score the film. This makes his willingness to consider scoring Tomorrow Never Dies before failing to agree terms all the more surprising.

The only negative aspect of the book is that the production quality is rather poor. It is always disappointing to have photographs printed in poor quality among the text, rather than on proper glossy paper, but I suppose it is inevitable to keep the price of a fairly niche product like this down.
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on 17 December 2012
It's a well overdue history of the classic music from the series. However, it felt somewhat superficial in covering each film, particularly the Barry period. Burlingame has written excellent liner notes for many great CD's but he can't extend this to an entire book. Perhaps many of the stories have been told by other authors previously. To a Bond fan knowing little of the history of the music, this is an excellent start.
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on 8 July 2014
I can't fault the author for his attention to detail, but the book does somehow manage to take what should be a fascinating story and make it very dull and factual. There is a also a surprising amount of flattery, bordering on hagiography, of David Arnold, whose work comes later in Bond history. Arnold has been responsible for some of the most overblown and unlistenable James Bond music of recent years, so one can only conclude that the author had to be nice or else lose his access.

Ended up reading the thing to the end just so I could say I had finished it. Charity shopped it on our last turf-out.
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on 6 March 2014
The music to a Bond film is such an important element of the franchise - even if you are not always aware of it at the time of viewing - and this book gives a clear and interesting guide to how this is produced. Fans of John Barry will love it as the great late composer features so prominently in the book, showing how his contribution helped the films enormously in the early days and later with the introduction of new actors to the role.
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on 14 June 2015
Excellent and insightful commentary on the behind the scenes politics of writing the Bond songs and scores. Many nuggets of previously unknown (to me, at least) information.
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on 5 July 2015
I loved this book - well-researched, interesting, and loads of new facts and stories that I'd never come across before.
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on 2 December 2012
A fantastic read.......highly recommend it...this is a very light read with some great insight into the struggles and triumphs of Bond music
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on 26 January 2013
A must for every film music buff, covers all aspects and more of James Bonds soundtracks with lots of information,and if you are a John Barry fan this is not to be missed
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