Over the years I’ve collected many LPs from the ‘60s and ‘70s that cashed in on the James Bond craze; sometimes they’re referred to on the collector’s circuit as Bondsploitation albums. Most of these records were released in the Bondmania heyday of 1964 to 1966, back when you could chose between the stereo release or the mono release. The majority of the records featured cover versions of John Barry’s music from the official soundtracks, with a few of the releases getting more adventurous and attempting original songs based on the Bond novels that hadn’t yet been filmed.
Recently I started thinking about putting together a compilation centered around this “original song” theme, with the idea that this could be the third Music To Read James Bond By compilation we never got. In 1965 United Artists released Music To Read James Bond By, and a year later they released Music To Read James Bond By Volume Two. The records featured loungy, easy listening covers of tunes from the Bond movies up to Thunderball (the most recent film) as well as original songs in the same vein, all of it in a “spy” mold to go along with your next reading of Fleming. But when Sean Connery announced he was done being Bond while filming You Only Live Twice, it was as if Bondmania was gutted overnight – heck, even Eurospy movies abruptly came to an end. Same goes for the majority of the Bondsploitation records.
So since there was never a third Music To Read James Bond By, I decided to make my own – and in our imaginary world we could pretend it was released in 1967, right as You Only Live Twice came out, and also we could pretend it was a triple album. Why not? It’s our dream and we can make it as big as we want. Further, the tracks on the compilation would be arranged in the order of Fleming’s novels, focusing on original theme songs for as-yet unfilmed books, original music, and cover versions of the actual John Barry/Monty Norman scores. My goal was to have at least three songs for each novel: one theme and two songs representing incidents that occur in the narrative. For novels that had been filmed by 1967 I of course had more to chose from, Goldfinger in particular. That movie came out during the height of Bondmania, and there are a wealth of Bondsploitation records that cash in on it.
The album Confidential: Sounds For A Secret Agent by David Lloyd And His London Orchestra was key – this 1965 LP features superb original theme songs for unfilmed Bond novels. As for covers of songs that were written by John Barry et al for the first four Bond films, there were plenty of choices. I went with the ones I like the best, in particular the ones by Ray Martin And His Orchestra; the two Bond-themed albums Martin released are the pick of the Bondsploitation litter, I think, though unfortunately the second one only features two Bond tracks.
In one instance I had to cheat: track 57 is from 1972, from an obscure LP only released in France, Italy, Belgium, and Japan. It was produced in Japan and features a few original themes for novels that hadn’t yet been filmed; while the songs are much more orchestral than the groovier stuff on Confidential, I just had to use the track “Octopussy And The Living Daylights.” How could I not use a song that was composed for “the last great adventures of James Bond 007,” as Signet Books hyped its 1967 collection of Bond short stories?
Many of these Bondsploitation LPs featured generic music that was, no doubt, just given arbitrary 007-esque titles, to cash in on the craze; in particular there’s Casino Royale by the George Mann Orchestra. This LP features a cover version of Burt Bacharach’s theme song for the ’67 film (which my compilation pretends doesn’t exist), followed by a bunch of smokin’ instrumentals. I tried to insert a few of these in the tracklist in places that I thought made sense. Anyone who has read You Only Live Twice will hopefully see how fitting it was to include a track titled “Who’s James Anyway” in that novel’s sequence. In a similar regard is Theme From Thunderball And Other Themes by The ”Sleepwalk” Guitars of Dan and Dale – which has a sticker on the cover stressing that this is not the original soundtrack. As if anyone could confuse Dan and Dale’s bland surf instrumentals with the real thing! This record in particular is filled with music that has nothing at all to do with Bond, other than the arbitrary titles, and some of the songs are borderline plagiaristic, as evidenced by the Bach-inspired “J.B. On The Rocks” which I included in the Man With The Golden Gun sequence. This is the sort of thing I went for throughout; if there was a song title that fit that particular novel’s theme, I used it – and James Bond is certainly on the “rocks” at the start of the final Fleming novel. Sometimes though it worked out very well, like Dan And Dale’s “Eve Of Explosion” and “The Shark Bite,” which neatly sum up the climax of Live And Let Die – Bond waiting for the limpet mine to explode and Mr. Big’s grisly fate in the gaping maw of a shark.
Some of the Bondsploitation LPs tried to pass themselves off as pseudo-soundtracks, likely in the hopes of fooling potential customers who didn’t bother to check the album credits. The Dan & Dale LP falls into this category, though as mentioned it at least has a cover sticker announcing that it isn’t the real thing. But two Bondsploitation records in particular are guilty of misinformation: Casino Royale by the Hollywood Studio Orchestra, and Thunderball And Other James Bond Favorites by the The Cheltenham Chorus And Orchestra (which exists in a stereo version, which I have and have used for the compilation; for some reason discogs.com only lists a mono release). Both albums were released by budget label Wyncote, and both pass themselves off as soundtracks of their respective films, yet neither Burt Bacharach nor John Barry are credited. In fact, no one is credited for anything on either album. In the case of Casino Royale though this appears to be intentional, as the song titles are named after the chapter titles in Fleming’s novel: ie, “The White Tent Song” is named after chapter 19, in which Bond convalescences on the French coast, “Black Patch,” is named after the title of chapter 25, and so on. So in other words, this particular record is a soundtrack to Casino Royale the novel, not the goofy 1967 film. Sounds great, doesn’t it, until you discover that the tracks on it are exactly the same as those on Thunderball And Other James Bond Favorites by the Cheltenham Chorus and Orchestra, just given new titles! Only the cover version of “Casino Royale” is new. Bondsploitation buyer beware!!
Fellow Bondsploitation enthusiasts will note two records in particular are missing from this compilation: James Bond Songbook, by James Bond & His Sextet (Mirwood, 1966), and The Bedside Bond, by Des Champ and James Economides, Jr (Decca, 1966). Both albums are filled with Bond originals; the former, like David Lloyd And His London Orchestra’s Confidential, attempts theme songs for novels that hadn’t yet been filmed. The latter features groovy easy listening originals based around characters in the franchise. I didn’t use anything from James Bond Songbook because it’s officially available on remastered CD, and I didn’t want to piss any lawyers off – but more importantly, I didn’t use any of it because I’m not very fond of the album, even though like a true obsessive I have the LP (and scored it for two bucks!). It’s all swinging jazz courtesy bassist Jimmy “James” Bond and his sextet, done on organic instruments, without any of the electric embellisments I prefer in music. Given that, the music would sound at odds with the other material compiled here.
As for The Bedside Bond, it’s not here for a few reasons, even though I love the album. For one, it was only released in the UK (by Penthouse Magazine!), and it was only released in mono. My goal was to use stereo mixes for my compilation. Also, The Bedside Bond LP is very scarce, and I personally don’t own a copy. However, the Vocalion label released it on CD in 2010 with a first-time-ever stereo mix, and it’s highly recommended. A brief sidenote on this one, and the work of James Economides, Jr; his name graces many Bondsploitation releases. He produced Elliott Fisher’s Bang! Bang! Bang!, and he wrote the three originals on Ray Martin’s Goldfinger. But here’s where it gets confusing. That Goldfinger LP suffers from some weird mistakes; the titles of two of those originals are different on the cover than on the LP label, at least on my copy. For example, the cover states “Doublecross” as the title of one of them, but the LP label states “Glarore’s Theme.” And for that matter, this exact same song – only with a different arrangement – appears on The Bedside Bond under the title “Prissy Miss Galore.” Another mistake on the Goldfinger cover is that “Honey’s Theme” is listed as one of the tracks “from the film Goldfinger,” whereas in reality it’s an original song dedicated to Honey Rider of Dr. No. (It also shows up with a different arrangement on The Bedside Bond). I’ve reflected the differing song names in my tracklist below, and “Honey’s Theme” is placed with the other songs inspired by Dr. No.
Without a doubt I spent more time on this post than any other I’ve done for the blog. I converted all my Bondsploitation LPs to MP3, determined the songs I wanted to include, and worked hard on the sequencing. Hell, I even spent a late night designing the cover on my phone. It was an obsession, I tell you! I actually did the brunt of the work two years ago, ironically right before I upgraded my turntable. Then I let the files sit around for a few years, too lazy to put everything together. I finally decided to finish the project, just in time to sort of be the Glorious Trash version of a Christmas present.
Anyway, enough interminable preample. Follow the link directly below, where you can download a zip file with the MP3s, the cover, and the tracklist, which I’ve also included below. Then get out your favorite Bond novel, pour yourself a dry martini (and unlike Daniel Craig’s so-called version of the character, you do give a damn whether it’s shaken or stirred), and enjoy Music To Read James Bond By – in stereo!
Music To Read James Bond By (Click Here To Download):
1. James Bond Theme – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
2. Casino Royale – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
3. Baccarat – The Hollywood Studio Orchestra
4. The White Tent Song – The Hollywood Studio Orchestra
5. Oh! Oh! Seven – George Mann Orchestra
6. Live And Let Die – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
7. Solitaire – The Sounds Orchestral
8. Eve Of Explosion – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
9. The Shark Bite – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
10. Moonraker – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
11. “M” Joins The Hunt – The Zero Zero Seven Band
12. Moonshot – The Sounds Orchestral
13. Diamonds Are Forever – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
14. Warm And Deadly – The Zero Zero Seven Band
15. Theme For Brawling – George Mann Orchestra
16. The Chase – Studio Group
17. From Russia With Love – The Sounds Orchestral
18. The Golden Horn – Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra
19. Girl Trouble – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
20. 007 – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
21. Dr. No’s Fantasy – Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra
22. The Island Speaks – Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra
23. Honey’s Theme – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
24. Underneath The Mango Tree – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
25. Blues For Dr. No – The Zero Zero Seven Band
26. Twisting With James – The Roland Shaw Orchestra
27. Goldfinger – Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra
28. A Gilded Corpse – The Zero Zero Seven Band
29. Pussy Galore Meets Bond – The Zero Zero Seven Band
30. Undercover (aka Bond’s Lament) – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
31. Doublecross (aka Galore’s Theme) – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
32. Blues For Pussy – The Sounds Orchestral
33. Mr. Oddjob – The Sounds Orchestral
34. Music Galore – Studio Group
35. Fort Knox Swings – Studio Group
36. Theme For Pussy Galore – Billy Strange
37. For Your Eyes Only – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
38. Sporting Girls – George Mann Orchestra
39. Violence! – The Zero Zero Seven Band
40. Thunderball – Ray Martin And His Orchestra
41. Spectre Theme – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
42. The Bomb – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
43. Sea Chase – The Cheltenham Orchestra And Chorus
44. Mr. Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang – Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra
45. The Spy Who Loved Me – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
46. Shiny Chandelier And Silk Stockings – George Mann Orchestra
47. Golden Glow – Studio Group
48. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
49. Night Love – The Cheltenham Orchestra And Chorus
50. Spectre – The Sounds Orchestral
51. You Only Live Twice – Billy Strange
52. Kissy Suzuki – The Sounds Orchestral
53. Who’s James Anyway – George Mann Orchestra
54. The Man With The Golden Gun – David Lloyd And His London Orchestra
55. J.B. On The Rocks – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
56. O.K. You’re Faded – George Mann Orchestra
57. Octopussy And The Living Daylights – The London Original Sounds Orchestra
58. Caribbean Nights – The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale
59. Mr. Bond – The Roland Shaw Orchestra
Tracks 1,19,20,23,24,30, and 31 from the album Goldfinger And Other Music From James Bond Thrillers, by Ray Martin And His Orchestra (RCA Camden, 1965)
Tracks 2,6,10,13,36,44,47, and 53 from the album Confidential: Sounds For A Secret Agent, by David Lloyd And His London Orchestra (Epic, 1965)
Tracks 3 and 4 from the album Casino Royale, by The Hollywood Studio Orchestra (Wyncote, 1967) https://www.discogs.com/Hollywood-Studio-Orchestra-Casino-Royale/release/1612923
Tracks 5,15,37,45,52 and 55 from the album Theme From The Motion Picture Casino Royale and Others, by George Mann Orchestra Featuring The Golden Trumpet (Custom Records, 1967)
Tracks 7,12,17,32,33,49, and 51 from the album Impressions Of James Bond, by The Sounds Orchestral (Parkway, 1965)
Tracks 8,9,40,41,54, and 57 from the album Theme From Thunderball And Other Themes, by The “Sleepwalk” Guitars Of Dan and Dale (Diplomat Records, 1965)
Tracks 11,14,25,28,29, and 38 from the album James Bond Thrillers!!!, by The Zero Zero Seven Band (Somerset, 1965)
Tracks 16,34,35, and 47 from the album Theme From Goldfinger And Others, by “Studio Group” (artist is not credited on the album) (Crown, 1964)
Tracks 18,21,22,27, and 43 from the album Bang! Bang! Bang!, by Elliott Fisher And His Orchestra (Capitol Records, 1966)
Track 26 from the album Themes From The James Bond Thrillers, by The Roland Shaw Orchestra (London Records, 1964)
Track 35 from the album Goldfinger, by Billy Strange (GNP Crescendo, 1965)
Track 39 from the album Thunderball And Other Thriller Music, by Ray Martin And His Orchestra (RCA Camden, 1965)
Tracks 43 and 49 from the album Thunderball And Other James Bond Favorites, by The Cheltenham Orchestra And Chorus (Wyncote, 1965) (note: Discogs only lists a mono release, but there was also a stereo release – the tracks here are taken from it)
Track 51 from the album James Bond Double Feature, by Billy Strange (GNP Crescendo, 1967)
Track 57 from the album James Bond 007 by The London Original Sounds Orchestra (Music For Pleasure, 1972)
Track 59 from the 45rpm promo-only single Thunderball/Mr. Bond (London Records, 1965)
Artwork credit: Daniel Schwartz: illustration for “You Only Live Twice, Part II,” Playboy Magazine May, 1964; I designed the cover with the Canva app