Hildebrandt Rarity?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Alternate Bond Themes--Blondie's For Your Eyes Only

Look, I know musical tastes are a personal thing. There's no right or wrong. One man's treasure is another man's trash. Etc.

But there are a lot of people who say that this song is better than Sheena Easton's song for For Your Eyes Only, and they are objectively wrong.

Blondie submitted this song for FYEO, and was told that sorry, Bill Conti (who was doing the score) had already co-written the theme song they were going to use. Blondie was offered to chance to sing that song, but the band said no.

They then put their song on Blondie's final album, The Hunter.

And I'm sorry, in no possible way is this anywhere near as good as the Conti/Leeson/Easton song.

Yeah, maybe I'm a soft touch for Ms. Easton...I do have it ranked as the #4 Bond theme of all time. And I'll concede that a song you hear when you're 17 sung by a gorgeous Scots lass just might have a wee bit of hormonal nostalgia in the rating.

But I'm sorry, as a movie theme, a 007 theme, Easton's version is superior musically, lyrically, and in performance.

Hey, I love Blondie. But for a theme song? Their song is mixed poorly--Debbie Harry's vocals are buried so deep in the wall of sound that they become too remote and unemotional, especially in the chorus. Yes, I know that was Blondie's style, but it was the wrong style for a movie theme--you shouldn't have to strain to hear the film's title buried under an oversampled chorus. (In fairness, some of that might have been gussied up for the movie had their song been chosen)

Easton's hit was, by contrast, lush and romantic, the slower pace more apropos of the many underwater sequences in the film, and as a contrast to the movies non-stop action. And Sheena belts the living hell out of the tune.

Blondie's version is a fair Bondie song--but seriously, would anyone even put it in their top 20 Blondie songs?--but not a great theme song.

If, however, you want a kick-ass Blondie-sung Bond song, you might try this:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alternate Bond Themes--Lorraine Chandler's You Only Live Twice

I've never been thrilled with the theme to You Only Live Twice.

It's not a bad song, not at all, and does a nice job of creating an Asian feel for a movie that's set entirely there.

But, in my uneducated opinion, John Barry's arrangement feels a little too syrupy, and Nancy Sinatra never seems comfortable, neither with the unusual rhythm of the song nor the slightly lower key.

Meanwhile, 20+ years later, RCA was cleaning out their vaults, and found this little ditty lying around, unreleased and forgotten:

Lorraine who, you're asking?

Fair question, as she's never been a household name. A Detroit singer, songwriter and producer, Lorraine Chandler had a fairly unknown singing career, but penned and/or produced a number minor hits for Motown artists as well as her own label, Pied Piper Records

She wrote this version of You Only Live Twice for the film, it was rejected, and buried in a basement somewhere until uncovered by RCA. They issued it as a vinyl single, and it became a hit in England's "Northern Soul" scene of the late 80s and early 90s, which in turn lead to a number of her songs being re-issued on CD. So, it didn't make her famous in the 60s, but it paid off in the 90s!!

As to the song, I can't say it's better than the Sinatra version. I don't know if the soul approach works for this particular movie, and the use of elements from the 007 theme feels a bit tacked on, maybe a bit too eager too sound Barry-ish, a little too on the nose. And the production is a little too "wall of noise," I feel, with Chandler's vocals getting a bit buried, as well as the backing vocals during the chorus.

I do like the lyrics, though..."One drink from the cup of love/And you might find/The love that you taste/Could be bitter wine/But take a second chance/You'll find love again/And because life is love/You'll be born again/You'll be born again/With a second chance/You will find love again/A new romance/(You only live twice) You only live twice..." Quite nice.

So, no major revelation here. But the discovery of a pretty good song that brought the artist some modicum of fame decades later is a nice story...

Meanwhile, here's a Nancy Sinatra song I like much better. WARNING: If you let your children watch this video, puberty might kick in early. Oh, 1960s, how I love you...