As the James Bond series lurches from one embarrassment to another, still hugely popular but continually and desperately playing catch-up with passing fads and misguided ideas of political correctness (surely, is any film series should be defiantly un-PC, it is the Bonds), the time feels right to remember a time when the films were at their peak, and their soundtracks were immediately, continually iconic.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Bond films were as known for their music as anything else (another aspect of the series that has gone painfully wrong since) – the iconic James Bond Theme, the title songs to the movies, the instantly recognisable John Barry scores conjure up a sense of familiarity that few other movie series can match. Each film, of course, had its own soundtrack LP and theme song 7 inch. But beyond the official releases were a plethora of alternative recordings by orchestras and big bands, which either sought to recreate the classic recordings as slavishly as possible for listeners on restricted budgets, or else took the familiar music into new and often accidental flights of fancy. Some were more ‘official’ than others – actual stills from Bond films appear on some, while the Geoff Love Big Bond Movie Themes had to redesign the Tom Cantrell cover because the pastiche art on the first release was a little too close to the real thing.
As Bond spawned a whole 1960s spy movie and TV show boom, so these albums often also included the theme tunes for the likes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Danger Man – though the Bond films were the most emphasised and the covers always featured a 007-a-like character, draped with sexy girls.
Inevitably, many of these albums are actually far more interesting than the actual soundtrack albums, if only because the music is either slightly off or completely weird – and of course, those famous theme songs are invariably performed as instrumentals. We urge you to seek out all the LPs featured here.