October 10, 2012

CD Review: 'BEST OF BOND...JAMES BOND: 50 Years, 50 Tracks'

For me, the sign of a good CD is based on how long it stays in my stereo whenever I'm in my car. A good CD plays non-stop for about a week; a great one serves as a soundtrack for my drive and almost never gets old. And really, doesn't having James Bond music cranking from the speakers of your SUV make perfect sense?

Besides, anyone who loves movies has gotta give some love to the music of James Bond films, particularly the traditional title tracks. In a way, these songs have marked the time in the ongoing Bond saga, as well as reflecting popular musical tastes of their time. For many of us, the older tunes bring back a flood of nostalgia, and the second disc in this collection, consisting of a lot of incidental music and lesser-known songs, will have those same folks going, "Hey, I remember that scene!" This latest updated collection in the Best of Bond CD series is arguably one of the coolest pop culture time capsules you can own.

Disc one contains every title song from Dr. No (the original Bond theme) through Quantum of Solace. Sure, some have aged better than others, though it's almost impossible to hear Shirley Bassey belt out "Goldfingaaah!" without a shit-eating grin on your face. Of the other 60's era tunes, "You Only Live Twice" is arguably Nancy Sinatra's second-finest moment as a recording artist.

What's really surprising about this collection, considering the typical Bond purist's tendency to only show affection for the old stuff, is how good some of the latter-day title tunes really are. Sure, there's some clunkers, like Madonna's techno, autotuned crap (ironic, since she can actually sing), but the songs by Sheryl Crow, Duran Duran, Garbage and Chris Cornell are terrific modern tunes, yet they still retain that classic, exotic 'Bondness.'

Most of disc two consists of selections from the film scores themselves. You won't know them by their titles, but will be able to instantly identify them within seconds after they begin. It's a virtual treasure trove of music for anyone obsessed with the Bond series. It's kinda cool seeing how the scores evolved over the years, depending on the composer, yet still seem part of a cohesive whole. This disc also features an amusing techno-adaptation by Moby of the original James Bond theme, complete with well-placed audio samples.

On the other hand, this second disc is somewhat marred by the inclusion of songs by lesser-known artists which don't equal the quality of the title tracks on disc one (including two by The Pretenders, neither of which will be remembered as their finest moments). I would think most Bond fans would prefer more tracks culled from the various scores.

All-in-all though, this two-disc set is definitely worth picking up by any Bond fan. As for me, whenever I get into the car, I like to have just the right music to serve as the soundtrack for my drive, whether it's to the grocery store or our monthly trek to my mother-in-law's house. This one serves both purposes quite nicely, and won't leave my car for a long time.

No comments: