Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Rome, Italian Style" Track of the Day: Parodi/Fair, "James Bond Theme (GoldenEye Trailer Version)"

Here are composers Starr Parodi and Jeff Eden Fair. The name 'Starr Parodi' sounds like the title of some BBC sketch comedy show where British comedians attempt to do impressions of American celebrities and can barely hide their British accents.
Song: "James Bond Theme (GoldenEye Trailer Version)" by Parodi/Fair
Released: 2002 (it was recorded in 1995)
Why's it part of the "Rome, Italian Style" playlist?: The "Rome, Italian Style" block focuses on how musicians outside the film and TV music world interpret '60s and '70s film and TV music. Former Arsenio Hall Show band keyboardist Starr Parodi and her husband Jeff Eden Fair, whose film and TV scoring work as a duo has included the mid-'90s United Artists logo music and the Lifetime cop show The Division, are hardly outsiders, but their arrangement of "The James Bond Theme" from 1962's Dr. No is my favorite cover of that theme that never appeared in a Bond film.

On this date in 1963, "The James Bond Theme" (composed by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry) entered the American pop charts. It captured the danger and allure of Bond's universe so well that every Eon Productions Bond film since Dr. No has featured it, and every non-Eon Bond film that doesn't feature it is, musically, kind of dickless without it--like Never Say Never Again or The Rock, which I like to think of as a sequel to the Sean Connery 007 installments because Connery was clearly playing Bond again, despite being named "John Mason,"(*) a safe-enough name choice to keep the Ian Fleming estate's lawyers away.

'Bond... James Bond. And I'm not just the President of the Hair Club for Men. I'm also a client.'
(*) If one likes to think of the name Bond as a mantle that's assumed by many different male MI6 agents instead of Bond being the same orphaned bachelor (and later, widower) from 1962 to 2002 despite five different faces, heights and accents(**), then that was a great way to explain why MI6 replaced the anonymous Scotsman who assumed the Bond identity from 1962 to 1967 and then briefly again in 1971: the U.S. government imprisoned his arse.

(**) Maybe Bond is really a Time Lord. All those STDs he picked up must have caused him to regenerate four times.

Sean Bean is wondering how he's gonna die in this, the 5,003rd Sean Bean project in which he plays someone who buys the farm.
In 1995, United Artists recruited Parodi and Fair to do an updated version of "The James Bond Theme" for the GoldenEye teaser trailer, months before filming was completed on Pierce Brosnan's first movie as 007, which was also the first movie in which Eon enlisted Martin Campbell, the New Zealand-born director of the classic British miniseries Edge of Darkness, to rescue the hit-or-miss 007 film series from one of many periods of creative (and this time, also legally related) doldrums.

"We were in a unique and exciting situation because we had been given the assignment of bringing the Bond theme into the 90's," recalled Parodi and Fair on their official site. "Fortunately we were given lots of artistic freedom because the picture of the GoldenEye Teaser was to be edited to our music arrangement. We wanted to give the theme a sense of mystery and tension that would break out with tons of energy that suits the action that Bond films deliver."

The duo succeeded. Their nifty, trip-hop-influenced take on "The James Bond Theme," which constantly changes tempos, announced so effectively to the world during the GoldenEye teaser trailer that Bond was back in action again. It recaptures the danger and allure of Bond's universe in a way that Marvin Hamlisch's fun(***) but not-as-alluring "Bond '77" cover from The Spy Who Loved Me doesn't. Maybe it's due to the trip-hop sound, which is better suited for 007 than the disco sound of "Bond '77" because trip-hop is so influenced by Barry's spy movie scores, and artists from that genre are so fond of sampling those scores too, which is what Parodi and Fair did with the original 1962 recording of "The James Bond Theme" in their teaser trailer music.

(***) It's mostly because of the cowbells.

In 2002, it was nice to finally be able to have on disc the teaser trailer music, which became a staple of MGM/UA's trailers and ads for the Brosnan films. The trailer music made its CD debut on the Best of Bond... James Bond compilation, which Capitol released to mark the film series' 40th anniversary. At that time, the series was stuck in yet another creative rut (Brosnan's films did well at the box office but were becoming increasingly slipshod, script-wise). It wasn't able to come out of this rut until Eon enlisted Campbell again to helm what ended up being the best--and least juvenile--Bond film in decades. Mr. Bond, you have a nasty habit of surviving.

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