Book Review: The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame

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Arti­cle first pub­lished as Book Review: The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame on Blogcritics.

The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame is a non-fiction book about the sound­track of one of the most suc­cess­ful film fran­chises in the world. Coin­ci­den­tally, after fin­ish­ing the chap­ter about the music of From Russ­ian with Love, I flipped on the TV and the movie was on, I can give a first hand tes­ti­mony that this book gave me a whole dif­fer­ent view of the Bond movies (and I have seen each sev­eral times).

  • 304 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press
  • Lan­guage: English
  • ISBN-10: 019986330X

Book Review The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame

My rat­ing for The Music of James Bond4

By this book in paper or elec­tronic format*

More books by Jon Burlingame

The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame tells of the real-life dra­mas which accom­pa­nied the sound track to the 007 movies up to Quan­tum of Solace. Mr. Burlingame takes the reader behind the scenes to closed ses­sions, pri­vate nego­ti­a­tions and con­fi­den­tial conversations.

The author does an excel­lent job dis­cussing each movie and how the sound­track got cre­ated as well as changed with the times. As a fan of the movies (I’ve seen each sev­eral times), I knew exactly what he was talk­ing about and could hear the music in my head.

My favorite part of the book came at the begin­ning by learn­ing how the famous “James Bond Theme” came to be and, of course, learn more about the famous John Barry who scored many of the Bond movies whose dis­tinct sound is rec­og­niz­able almost everywhere.

Spe­cial atten­tion was given to the chang­ing tech­nol­ogy in music, where big bands were replaced, or com­ple­mented, by syn­the­siz­ers and the sound of the early movies was slowly replaced by disco and mod­ern sounds.

My only wish is that this book would have been an enhanced e-book, this is the exact type of book which would ben­e­fit from such for­mat. Imag­ine being able to watch a par­tic­u­lar scene, or lis­ten to a par­tic­u­lar track after hav­ing read about it and with an under­stand­ing of what your are watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to.

As always, the real magic of the book is the behind-the-scenes anec­dotes and con­tro­ver­sies regard­ing the sound­tracks, own­er­ship and rein­ven­tion of the Bond sound by David Arnold. Com­ple­mented with inter­views of com­posers and artists, untold sto­ries (Eric Clapton’s gui­tar work for “License to Kill” was shelved, Jimmy Page played on the “Goldfin­ger” track and more) this book is a must for Bond fans and music lovers.

The book cov­ers the topic of the James Bond movies from the per­spec­tive of the musi­cal score. Each movie gets a chap­ter with a nar­ra­tive of how the score came to be as well as an out­line of the movie (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen them) and where each part of the score plays a role.

Zohar — Man of La Book
Dis­claimer: I bor­rowed this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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