Archive for Nancy Sinatra

Shaken, Not Stirred – James Bond Theme Songs

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2012 by 30daysout

Last week, producers of the new James Bond movie Skyfall dropped the epic theme song from the movie, by British singer Adele. When it comes out in the United States Nov. 9  (Oct. 16 in the U.K.), Skyfall will be the 23rd James Bond movie since 1962, and each has had its own theme song.

Some of the world’s biggest artists performed these songs, including Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Alicia Keys. Which one is your favorite? “Skyfall” certainly measures up to some of the better songs from years past – so let’s take a listen to that one first.

Aside from Adele, which theme songs from James Bond flicks are the best? Let’s pick a handful of our favorites:

The best known song from all the Bond films may also be one of the best: Shirley Bassey sang the theme from 1964’s Goldfinger. This was the Welsh singer’s only U.S. Top 40 hit.

Flip the coin and you get Matt Monro, a British singer who was a huge international star in the 1960s. He cut the title song for 1963’s From Russia With Love, but it didn’t run over the opening credits, as has become the tradition. Instead, an instrumental version ran at the beginning and Monro’s vocal version was heard on a radio in the film and over the closing credits.

OK, so you may have noticed something else up there in the From Russia With Love clip – it starts out with a shot of Bond through a gun barrel, or an eyeball. That iconic opening actually comes from the first James Bond film, Dr. No, from 1962. That little ditty you hear over it was composed by Monty Norman and arranged by the great John Barry – it was the first true James Bond theme song. It’s followed by a highly stylized main title sequence, usually both created by Maurice Binder, but in this case Binder only designed the gunbarrel sequence. Robert Brownjohn is responsible for the title sequence in From Russia With Love.

MP3: “James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman Orchestra

MP3: “From Russia With Love” by Matt Monro

One of my favorite James Bond movies when I was a kid was Thunderball, from 1965. Bond took it to a new level in this one, with some of the coolest gadgets in and out of the water. Shirley Bassey actually cut the first song for this movie, something called “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” but the movie’s producers yanked it at the last minute because the song doesn’t have the movie’s title. So they wrote up a new one and got newcomer Tom Jones to cut it. Here’s Jones doing the song on some TV show back in the day.
By the time they got to You Only Live Twice, the producers of the Bond series were chucking out most of Ian Fleming’s novels and coming up with plots of their own. This fifth Bond movie, from 1967, is Sean Connery’s last Bond film from that decade (he would later return in 1971 with Diamonds Are Forever and the off-brand Never Say Never Again, from 1983). Anyway, here’s Nancy Sinatra doing “You Only Live Twice.”
We get out of the 1960s and into the 1970s with certainly the most acclaimed Bond theme song, “Live And Let Die,” by Paul McCartney & Wings from 1973. What can you say about this one – it’s tuneful, it’s exciting, and it was a HUGE hit on the radio. To this day, it’s a showstopper for Sir Paul whenever he plays live – he whips out the coolest pyro this side of KISS every time he plays this song. If you haven’t yet caught McCartney live, you have a chance in November when he plays a handful of U.S. and Canadian dates.
McCartney’s success inspired the Bond film producers to use more rock and pop stars to do their theme songs, with varying success. We like Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” (1985), Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” the first Bond song to be titled differently than the film it’s in (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977), and Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye” (1995), written by the Edge and Bono.
MP3: “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran
MP3: “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon
MP3: “GoldenEye” by Tina Turner
One more – probably the best of the bunch; let’s go with Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” from 1971. This was Connery’s return to the Bond role after his one-movie retirement (do you remember who played in only one Bond movie after Connery? George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969) and Bassey’s second Bond theme after “Goldfinger.” Shirley would do one more Bond theme song, “Moonraker” in 1979; she is the only artist to perform three theme songs from James Bond pictures.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Nancy Sinatra

Posted in Your Sister's Record Rack with tags , , on April 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Saturday was Record Store Day – I hope you got what you were looking for. Part of the fun, of course, to get what you aren’t looking for … in my case, along with all the new and exclusive vinyl I snapped up a gently used copy of Sugar, the 1967 LP by Nancy Sinatra.

Nancy is, of course, the daughter of you-know-who and she exploded onto the music scene in 1966 with the smash hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” That tune was written and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who would be Nancy’s svengali throughout her peak period. In those days pop (or, more accurately, non-rock) singers put out records as though they came off an assembly line; often an album from a singer like this would consist of one or two hits and a bucketload of filler with little or nothing to tie the songs together.

Hazlewood, to his credit, produced not only hit singles but albums for Nancy Sinatra, so she had a little in common with the popular rock artists of the era. Of course, the “concept” behind Sugar was lame – the liner notes say the album contains “sweet, soulful serenades from the old timey years” and that meant a lot of old Depression-era tunes with Hollywood orchestration. Lame, right? Well, consider “When I’m 64” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and “Honey Pie” from the Beatles’ White Album are cut from the same cloth – so there may have been a bit of a mini-nostalgia craze for that era during the mid-1960s.

“Hard Hearted Hannah,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Let’s Fall In Love” are so familiar they’re corny. “My Buddy” slows it down with a cornet straight out of Little Rascals feature, and “Limehouse Blues” offers a bit of phony Orientalism. Things pick up considerably, though, with the two originals Hazlewood penned for this album: “Coastin'” is a lazy lope with a bit of a summer vibe, but the big payoff comes with “Sugar Town,” a song in same vein that was a big hit. Actually, “Sugar Town” pre-existed before the Sugar album – it was a Top Five smash in late 1966 (with the B-side “Summer Wine,” a duet with Hazlewood that was re-released to also become a hit).

True to the one-or-two-hits-and-the-rest-filler standard, Sugar had no other big hits. Not to say that Nancy didn’t reach the top of the charts again in 1967 – her second No. 1 hit came that year, in the form of “Somethin’ Stupid,” a duet with her father and the only father-daughter song to ever top the U.S. pop charts. Sugar was a hit album but Sinatra’s followup, an album of country songs, wouldn’t do as well.

Sugar was also notable for its risque (at the time) cover photo of Nancy Sinatra in a bikini, which caused the LP to be banned in some cities. Wow – the very next year John Lennon and Yoko Ono would show the world how to do a truly controversial album cover, with their fully nude photo on Two Virgins.

Nancy Sinatra continues to perform today, occasionally recording a new song. She currently appears on “To Ardent,” from Black Devil Disco Club (free download here). Her recordings continue to appear in movie soundtracks and TV commercials, all recalling that glittery late-1960s era.

MP3: “Sweet Georgia Brown”

MP3: “Let’s Fall In Love”

MP3: “Sugar Town”

MP3: “My Buddy”

Bonus MP3: “Summer Wine” w/Lee Hazlewood