I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when this double CD featuring orchestral versions of the Bond themes played by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra arrived on my desk.
However, any initial concerns were allayed when I saw that the James Bond Theme at least featured Vic Flick, who played on the original.
Playing the discs revealed excellent quality playing and production, although they are sometimes perhaps played a shade too fast and in addition to the James Bond themes the recording also includes some incidental music. The music works particularly well for the first few films, the sound benefiting from modern recording equipment compared with the original recordings. From Russia With Love, 007 Takes the Lektor, Goldfinger and Thunderball and the sweeping strings of You Only Live Twice all fair extremely well, and tracks like Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun are also enjoyable, although straying quite a long way from from their original versions.
Less strong is the second CD, although it should be said that any weaknesses of the package have nothing to do with the recording, but all to do with the standard of the more recent Bond themes. Particularly poor is Die Another Day, which was originally performed by Madonna, although there is a noticeable improvement with You Know My Name from Casino Royale and a particular highlight is Tomorrow Never Dies, despite never being particular fond of the original song.
The discs come with a glossy booklet entitled James Bond – A Musical History by Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker, who collaborated on the book John Barry – The Man With The Midas Touch with Gareth Bramley and covers the history of the Bond music, with – as you might expect from their pedigree – an emphasis on John Barry.
All in all this is a great CD for any James Bond fan and would make an ideal Christmas present. James Bond – The Gold Edition will be released in the United States on 14 October 2008 and a week later in the UK.
Where to buy
Review copy of ‘James Bond – The Gold Edition’ provided courtesy of Silva Screen Records.