Skyfall’s score and title song pick up Grammys

Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman

Skyfall’s score and title song won Grammys on Jan. 26.

Thomas Newman picked up the Grammy for Best Score for Visual Media. Newman had been nominated for an Oscar for his Skyfall score last year but didn’t get the award, losing out to Mychael Danna’s work on Life of Pi.

For the Grammy, Newman won over Danna, Alexandre Desplat (Argo and Zero Dark Thirty), John Williams (Lincoln) and Craig Armstrong (The Great Gatsby).

The Skyfall title song by Adele and Paul Epworth won the Oscar a year ago. For the Grammy, the song won over five other songs. You can view a full list of Grammy nominees and winners BY CLICKING HERE. The Grammys have different eligibility dates than the Oscars.

Update of The Music of James Bond in the works

Image of the cover of The Music of James Bond from the book's Amazon.com page

Image of the cover of The Music of James Bond from the book’s Amazon.com page

Author Jon Burlingame is working on an updated paperback edition of The Music of James Bond to be published sometime next fall.

Burlingame said in an email he’s working on a new chapter about Skyfall, the 2012 film that broke the 007 film losing streak in Oscar Best Song nominations. The original hardback edition, published in the fall of 2012, covered the first 22 Bond films made by Eon Productions as well as 1967′s Casino Royale and 1983′s Never Say Never Again.

Prior to Skyfall, Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better and For Your Eyes Only had been nominated for Best Song without winning. Thomas Newman’s score for the film was also nominated for an Oscar but didn’t win.

Previous posts:

September 2012: HMSS TALKS TO JON BURLINGAM ABOUT HIS 007 MUSIC BOOK

June 2013: REVIEW: THE MUSIC OF JAMES BOND (2012)

Skyfall gets two Grammy nominations

Adele

Adele

Skyfall received two nominations for the 2014 Grammy Awards.

The title song written by Adele and Paul Epworth, was nominated in the category of best song written for visual media. The Skyfall score by Thomas Newman is one of six nominees for best score soundtrack for visual media.

The Skyfall title song won an Academy Award while Newman’s score lost out to Mychael Danna’s work on Life of Pi. Danna’s Pi score also received a Grammy nomination. Other Grammy score nominees include John Williams for Lincoln and Alexandre Desplat for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.

Skyfall broke a long Oscar drought for the Bond movies, getting two awards. Besides the title song, Skyfall shared a sound editing Oscar with Zero Dark Thirty.

To view all the Grammy nominations, CLICK HERE for a list compiled by the Los Angeles Times. The nominations were disclosed Dec. 6 and the awards program will be Jan. 26.

From Russia With Love’s 50th anniversary Part II: John Barry

John Barry

John Barry

John Barry wasn’t a happy man after Dr. No came out in 1962.

Barry had arranged and revamped Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme. He thought the piece would only be in Dr. No’s main titles. Instead, it was inserted by editor Peter Hunt throughout much of the movie.

With the second 007 film, From Russia With Love, “John Barry’s irritation at seeing his work all over the film of Dr. No would soon turn to elation,” author Jon Burlingame wrote in his 2012 book, The Music of James Bond. Barry got the job of scoring the new 007 film and, in the process, established the Bond movie music template.

Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hired Lionel Bart to write the title song. But Barry would score provided all the dramatic music.

Barry’s impact was evident immediately. Dr. No’s gunbarrel logo utilized electronic noises. Barry instead used an arrangement of Bond theme. The pre-credits sequence, where where assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) kills a Bond double during a training exercise, was heightened by Barry’s music. In 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me, composer Marvin Hamlisch did an homage to Barry’s work where Bond (Roger Moore) and Soviet agent Triple-X (Barbara Bach) are searching for Jaws amid Egyptian ruins. (CLICK HERE to see a Stuart Basinger-produced video comparing the two scenes.)

Barry’s work on From Russia With Love was the beginning of the James Bond sound.

“The 007 films demanded music that could be variously romantic, suspenseful, drive the action, even punctuate the humor,” Burlingame said in a 2012 E-MAIL INTERVIEW WITH THE HMSS WEBLOG about his book. “It was a tall order, and John Barry, especially, delivered what was necessary and helped define James Bond in a way that wasn’t possible with the visuals alone.”

Barry also composed what amounted to a second Bond theme, simply titled 007. It was used during two action sequences: A big fight between Bulgarians and gypsies working for MI6 and when Bond snatches a Russian decoding machine out of the Soviet consulate in Istanbul. Barry would end up bringing the 007 theme back in four more movies, the last being 1979′s Moonraker.

For the composer, this was just the beginning. He scored 10 more Bond movies and become one of the most sought-after composers in the movies. Remarkably, his Bond work never got an Oscar nomination. But he won five Oscars for non-007 films starting with 1967′s Born Free and ending with 1990′s Dances With Wolves.

Meanwhile, Barry’s template was something other composers had to keep in mind when they worked on 007 films. In the 1990s, David Arnold, a Barry admirer, produced new takes on classic Barry 007 songs. That helped him to secure work on five Bond films, making him the only composer so far besides Barry to work on more than one 007 film.

NEXT: Desmond Llewelyn’s debut as Q

January 2011 post: JOHN BARRY, AN APPRECIATION

September 2012 post: HMSS TALKS TO JON BURLINGAME ABOUT HIS 007 MUSIC BOOK

Flavia & The Red cover Adele’s Skyfall theme

The Los Angeles-based band Flavia & The Red has been gaining more attention and more popularity since its 2012 appearance at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, where they won second place honors in the “Land the Big Gig” competition. Since then, they’ve been holding court twice a month at two of LA’s hottest clubs: Pour Vous in Hollywood and Nic’s Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills. They’re currently on tour through much of the US, having just wrapped up successful gigs in Sedona, Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona. You can find out more about them at their website, and sample more of their music.

Of particular interest to us here at HMSS is that the bass player for the band is none other than Max Benson, son of 007 author (and our good pal) Raymond Benson. Benson the younger is making quite a name for himself in the LA music scene, and we’re almost as proud of him as his dad is.

Here they are performing, in high style, the already-classic James Bond song Skyfall:

We think it’s pretty damn cool. We also think you will too.

REVIEW: The Music of James Bond (2012)

Image of the cover of The Music of James Bond from the book's Amazon.com page

Image of the cover of The Music of James Bond from the book’s Amazon.com page

Music journalist Jon Burlingame is nothing if not persistent. To write The Music of James Bond, he had to reconcile differing accounts and memories of various participants to create a narrative of how 007 film scores were created. This included new interviews as well as drawing upon interviews he had done previously while writing about film and television music for variety.

Perhaps the most daunting task was explaining the creation of The James Bond Theme, composed by Monty Norman but revamped by aggressive orchestrations by John Barry. Short of traveling back in time to watch it first hand, Burlingame’s account is likely to be the most definitive we’re likely to get. Along the way, he provides additional anecdotes, including quoting a 1990 interview about Barry’s shock (and anger) after editor Peter Hunt had put it throughout the finished Dr. No film. Barry had been told it would just be in the main titles.

Along the way, Burlingame provides many other details about 007 scores, including Barry’s own disenchantment with Bond starting in the early 1970s. “It’s a trap, and I don’t know how to get out it, really,” Barry says in a 1971 interview published in the RTS Music Gazette in 1976. Burlingame also interviewed Cary Bates, a one-time scribe for DC Comics who among those who submitted story ideas for The Spy Who Loved Me. Barry had told Bates in 1972. “You know, I’m not doing them anymore.”

John Barry

John Barry

That would prove not to be the case. Barry kept returning, not ending his association with 007 until 1987′s The Living Daylights. Partly, it was out of loyalty to the series that helped launch his career as a movie composer. Partly it was because producer Albert R. Broccoli knew Barry could produce the inevitable tight deadlines that Bond movies made by Eon Productions continually faced. Barry had one last chance to return, for 1997′s Tomorrow Never Dies, but passed.

Some of the tales Burlingame tells are known but he adds nice flourishes. A 2006 U.K. television special detailed how producer Harry Saltzman despised the Barry-Don Black title song for Diamonds Are Forever. Burlingame notes how Broccoli was present after Saltzman stormed out of a meeting with Barry and Black at Barry’s apartment. “Do you have any Jack Daniels?” the veteran producer asked after a few moments of silence.

What’s more, some of the best passages discuss Bond songs that didn’t happen, including a planned Frank Sinatra rendition of a Moonraker title song (for which Paul Williams had written the lyrics). Also, throughout are quotes that go beyond the typical fare. One example was composer Marvin Hamlisch, who scored 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me on his own frustration he was never asked to do another 007 film. “You can deliver an Oscar nominated song. You can deliver a number-two record, and it still ain’t good enough.”

Personally, I would have liked a bit more commentary on how Barry could get passed over for Oscar nominations for Bond while getting five Oscars for other work. But that’s a quibble. The author tells readers that Broccoli didn’t believe in big Oscar campaigns for Bond films as well as how United Artists actually unsuccessfully promoted a nomination for Clifton James as J.W. Pepper in Live And Let Die.

Music has always been one of the distinctive aspects about the Bond films. It’s about time for a book on the subject, including 1967′s Casino Royale and 1983′s Never Say Never Again, the two non-Eon Bond films. Burlingame delivers. GRADE: A.

SEPTEMBER 2012 POST: HMSS TALKS TO JON BURLINGAME ABOUT HIS 007 MUSIC BOOK.

The Music of James Bond, 293 pages, Oxford University Press.

UPDATE: The September 2012 post referenced a lawsuit related to the song Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. The lawsuit was filed by Shirley Bassey. She recorded her version *after* Dionne Warwick’s rejected main title song for Thunderball. The idea was it might be suitable as the song for the end titles. Jon Burlingame details how this plan went awry.

Derek Watkins, 007 musician, dies

Derek Watkins

Derek Watkins

Derek Watkins, who frequently played trumpet on the scores of James Bond movies, has died, according to a series of Tweets by composer David Arnold.

DavidGArnold ‏@DavidGArnold
Very very sad news…the legend that was Derek Watkins,gentleman,musical genius and Trumpet on EVERY
Bond score has just passed away

DavidGArnold ‏@DavidGArnold
renowned as one of the finest Trumpet players in the world (LA session players often asked me about him) but he was mainly a lovely man

DavidGArnold ‏@DavidGArnold
He played on pretty much all of my scores and records….sublime playing,tasteful,supreme…and could hit notes others couldn’t get near

DavidGArnold ‏@DavidGArnold 4h
That will be a chair in the Trumpet section that will remain permanently empty….an irreplaceable musician and a down to earth,funny man

Arnold was composer on five James Bond movies, starting with Tomorrow Never Dies and running through Quantum of Solace. Watkins’s Web site has a long list of movie and TV credits.

UPDATE (March 23): Watkins, born in 1945, was just 17 when he played on Dr. No, beginning his long run performing on 007 scores. You can CLICK HERE to view his biography on his Web site.

UPDATE II (10:55 a.m., March 23): There is a Facebook page called DEREK WATKINS, THE TRUMPET LEGEND. It includes this post from his wife Wendy:

“A trumpet spreading a wondrous sound
Throughout the graves of all lands.
Will drive mankind before the Throne
Death and Nature shall be astonished”

It is with such sorrow that I have to tell you that my beloved husband died at 19.50 on 22 March. He was surrounded by his family telling him how much we loved him. His two year battle against cancer is over, he is at peace but we shall miss him so very much. His courage and strength over the past years have been an inspiration to everyone he met, and his music will live on for his future generations.

DEREK ROY WATKINS – 2 MARCH 1945 – 22 MARCH 2013

The HOME PAGE of Watkins’s official Web site now also has a tribute. Finally, some 007 Web sites have tried embedding one of the Skyfall videoblogs about the film’s music where Watkins is featured along with composer Thomas Newman. But those videos appear to have been blocked. But you can still see it by going to the VIDEOS PAGE of the official 007.com Web site.

UPDATE III (11:52 a.m.): The BBC’s Web page has an obituary you can view by CLICKING HERE. Meanwhile, other 007 bloggers inform us they’ve embedded versions of the 007.com video featuring Watkins works fine. So we’ll try to embed here:

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