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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 May 2017
Very good soundtrack by Thomas Newman, stands on its own without the film. This is what soundtracks are all about, variations in style and pace. There’s the occasional note from the Bond theme to indicate it’s from a Bond film. Bit annoyed that the theme song is not included but I put that down to greedy film/music producers, I will not be buying it separately, maybe in the future they’ll release a CD with it included and bonus tracks, but I won’t hold my breath. If you like Bond soundtracks you should enjoy this.
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on 24 June 2015
Was hoping the Skyfall tune mentioned on the back sleeve was the one by Adelle but no, still good price, shame it did not mention the Bond theme tune was not actually on the cd.
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on 4 March 2017
I also fell into the trap believing that Adele's song Skyfall was on the soundtrack. The music is very good, but as many others have commented on, I have never heard of a soundtrack, which does not feature the main song. What a con
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on 15 February 2016
Very disappointed that the Adele version of skyfall was not on this album I wasted my money !!
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on 18 March 2017
1st class
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on 29 October 2012
Bringing in a new composer to score a Bond film is invariably risky. Such was John Barry's indelible mark on the series that each new composer, from George Martin to David Arnold, has pretty much been in a 'no win' situation. Make it sound too much like Barry and you're not doing anything original, stray too far from Barry's style and you're not staying true to the musical heritage. My view - one I know won't be shared with everybody - is that the music should sound as close to John Barry as possible; the sound of Bond is as much part of the Bond formula as the pre-title sequence, the exotic locations and the fabulous sets.

So now we have Thomas Newman's score to 'Skyfall'. Firstly, the score DOES work in the context of the movie, in the sense that having seen the film, the score doesn't sound intrusive or out-of-place in the way Eric Serra's music from 'GoldenEye' was. Listening to this album, there are some tracks, invariably those from the Shanghai section of the movie, that are moody and atmospheric. Newman's theme for Severine is also really very Barryesque.

Unfortunately, Newman doesn't bring anything new to the table as regards his approach to the action music, which is pretty similar to David Arnold's method in my view. This is where John Barry tended to excel; just a quick look back at the soundtracks of his Bond scores and one can see track after track where Barry would write melodic and memorable action music: 'A Drop In The Ocean' from 'You Only Live Twice' and 'He's Dangerous' from 'A View To A Kill' are just two (of many) examples. Barry's approach was, in my opinion, much more thematic: one would hear themes repeated and built up over the course of the movie, so that they became memorable.

What we have in 'Skyfall' - and the track 'The Bloody Shot' is a prime example - is just incidental music which one would find in everything from Bourne to The Dark Knight. Although the Bond theme is interpolated into the score well, the rest of the action music (and there's a lot of it) just doesn't do anything. It doesn't go anywhere. And this is a criticism I'd level at Arnold as much as Newman. Perhaps my complaint is as much levelled at most of cinema music today, which tends to be over-produced and generic. Perhaps the era of artists like John Barry has gone forever?

One further thing: the song, performed by Adele, is very good indeed - the strongest opener for years - so why isn't it on this album? Full marks to Newman for incorporating part of it into the score but I wish he had been able to do this more often. Remember, the way the title song used to be woven into the score was a further feature of the early Bond soundtracks in which Barry excelled.

So, to close, this is not a disaster. Some of the tracks - the slower pieces in particular - work very well. And, crucially, it works for the film (by the way, the movie itself is a belter and the best since `OHMSS'). But perhaps a different composer could have a go next time though? For my money, I'd give the gig to Alexandre Desplat. Time will tell....
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on 7 March 2017
Features thirty pieces of background music, the Bond theme appears one time.
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on 12 October 2013
It doesn't have the theme song on it, it doesn't really flow like a John Barry theme, it doesn't seem to tie together and sounds like a lot of different pieces put together with nothing in common, I do like some of Thomas Newman themes but this is not one of them.
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on 3 November 2012
I really enjoyed this score. It reflects shades of classic bond, but with a muscular modern quality. It embraces electronic elements while remaining organic, and draws deeply on classical music, more perhaps than I think previous Bond scores did.

Thomas Newman brings a mix of ambient, classical and eastern influences to the Skyfall soundtrack. Some of his string and horn arrangement are as lush as Barry's but his have a distinctive melancholy. His electronica is spare and ambient and he builds his tracks around guitar, filtered synths, delays and a low rapidly pulsing synthesised bass. At some points he is purely classical such as the lush melancholy string and harp arrangement on Severine. On tracks like Adrenaline and Grand Bazaar, Instanbul, an eastern sound makes itself heard. But all the way through the score there is a sense of tension and menace, with overtones that alternate between triumphant and melancholy.

The traditional leitmotif that usually accompanies a bond film has been truncated here. Newman cleverly references the original theme with stabs of trumpet, or snatches of flute and strings, usually only for a phrase before returning to his original composition. These references occur when Bond is doing something particularly resourceful, such as using a JCB to hold a speeding train together or when Bond's Aston Martin makes it's appearance. They build in intensity throughout the piece, at first just a few phrases or a gentle rendition on a flute or synth, building finally to a full orchestral blast on She's Mine. But even then the cue never leans to heavily on what has gone before. Newman chooses to use tonality and instrument choice to recall previous bond scores rather than simply reworking the themes. Rich horn sections, vibes, clean guitars, and lush string arrangements evoke Bond's heritage even as the new elements build on it.

Scores are designed to work together as a suite of music, but nevertheless there are some standout tracks on this one. The slow melancholy horn theme on Mother and Voluntary Retirement, grabbed my attention from the moment I heard it in the film. After a listen to the score, a cue called Skyfall (not the Adele song) stood out to me. An oboe theme matched with choir and an echoing ambient delay, evoking a sense of space but also a sense of enclosure. A Close Shave is a gentle romantic cue (woodwinds, plucked violin and vibes) very much in Newman's signature style, bright, sweet and playful. In Komodo Dragon, the Skyfall song is reworked as an ambient piece.

The Chimera is big lush orchestral cue where a stabbing string section hovers over rolling cymbals, backed by a haunting brass section. Shanghai Drive brings in filtered synth and guitar over a pulsing groove. The Quartermaster builds orchestral and eastern sounds around a repeating phrase, before breaking into a run with a pulsing string section. The Moors is one of the most menacing cuts I've heard on a bond film, a growling guitar and bass sets up a riff first against a wash of guitar delay, then the howl of a brass section, which is then outstripped by percussion, and closed with a haunting flute.

This is a very different sort of bond score, and many will be disappointed by the move away from the straightforward use of leitmotif. It's worth remembering that the reboot of the Bond series was attempt to make the series into something fresh and different, and the music has changed as a part of that. There was a markedly less use of this device on David Arnold's Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace scores. In Casino Royale most of the leitmotif is actually drawn from the title song, and the Bond Theme is saved almost exclusively for the last scene with Mr White, to brilliant effect. Secondly, it is worth remembering that reworking a good theme is not a guarantee of an effective score. An early scene in From Russia With Love has the full orchestral James Bond theme blasting out full tilt while Bond calmly checks into a hotel room and opens his suitcases! John Barry had a number of themes he would use, including the 007 theme (as distinct from the James Bond theme), and Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which gives his scores a sense of cohesiveness. However, he left himself plenty of room to make creative pieces to suit the film. It would be a shame to fall into the trap of giving world class composers a list of themes that they must work into a score, instead of opening our minds to see what they can create.

Thomas Newman's decision to use the concept of leitmotif in a subtler way was a brave creative choice that seems to have received rather harsh criticism from other reviewers. Some only commented to complain that Adele's Skyfall was not included on this CD. Your protest vote has been noted, but what did you think of Thomas Newman's score?

John Barry remains the king of classic bond, but I don't think anyone doubted he would. There is no space for someone to make better score of that type. What remains is to make a different one.
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on 20 March 2013
Strangely this music was not nearly so effective when played apart from the film itself. It was all much of a muchness.
As a backing for the film however, it was very effective.
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