Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hold your breath and count to 10 as Skyfall covers "AFOS Prime"

Again with the Javier Bardem hair issues. Why's it so fucking hard for this dude to find a decent barber?
Beginning today, A Fistful of Soundtracks is streaming selections from Thomas Newman's score to the new Bond movie Skyfall--as well as the Skyfall theme song performed by Adele and produced by her "Rolling in the Deep" collaborator Paul Epworth--during the "AFOS Prime" and "New Cue Revue" blocks. The score album doesn't drop until November 6. The film doesn't come out until November 9 here in America (England, of course, gets dibs on the film this Friday before we do--those limey bastards).

I'm more of a fan of the 007 music than the movies themselves, although I love the more grounded and gritty direction the series has taken ever since Daniel Craig's Bond had that messy, nearly Dan-vs.-the-Captain-like fight with his first kill in the men's room. As someone who digs that John Barry/David Arnold Bond sound, I knew Adele's "Skyfall" would be a good Bond song right when I started hearing a guitarist strum the first four notes of the Monty Norman-penned (and Barry-arranged) "James Bond Theme" at exactly one minute into Adele's single. That's something that's hugely lacking from Madonna's "Die Another Day" (or a much worse track, Rita Coolidge's yacht-rock-y "All Time High" from Octopussy, not exactly one of Barry's finest musical moments) but is present in Adele's tune: an appreciation for the Bond series' storied musical past.

As for the score by Newman, who has regularly worked with Skyfall director Sam Mendes since American Beauty (except for Away We Go) and isn't the first person who comes to mind when I think "action movie composer," it's exactly how I imagined a 007 score by Newman to be: not as flashy-sounding as Arnold's 007 scores and more heavy on percussion than brass, which Arnold's scores were awash in. Newman came up with clever ways to work in bits and pieces of Norman's "James Bond Theme" throughout his score. "She's Mine," one of the Skyfall tracks I've added to rotation, expands upon the old Norman melody with stunning results.

Meanwhile, I'm hard at work on upgrading AFOS from mono to stereo after 10 years of the station being in mono, a format I chose over stereo in order to be able to carry more than 50 hours of music. Since October 1, I've been going through the AFOS music library and re-converting five station playlist tracks per day, this time into stereo mp3s instead of into mono mp3s. The slightly bigger file sizes will mean less music in the library, but far better sound quality. It's time for an upgrade. I've penciled in January 1 as the date of the station's conversion from mono to stereo because by then, I'll have enough tracks to fill several hours, but I wish the upgrade would begin tomorrow, so that tunes like "Skyfall" don't have to sound kind of tinny anymore.

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