Thursday, November 13, 2008

Five Days of Bond Covers: Day 004

Today we work our way through the Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan Bond films. If my sources are correct, tonight there'll also be a Bond theme cover story on Coverville, so I'm excited to hear what Brian has dug up. By the way, my guest appearance on Breakthru Radio's Anatomy of a Blogger is now available as of today. I haven't listened to it yet (I'm a little embarrassed to do so), but if you go to the main page, you can select the show on the left-hand side to listen or even download it using the button above that. There's too much going on here with Bond week, but next week I want to go through my submitted playlist, which at quick glance substantially differs from what they played. Could be a rights thing (even though I selected from their approved lists), but I guess they're not big on cover songs at BTR!

The Living Daylights (1987)

Ten Masked Men - The Living Daylights [originally by A-Ha]
This cover is amusing, though I can't honestly recommend it. The Ten Masked Men are a death metal band that specialize in cover songs and their albums are all named after Star Wars movies in order (i.e. 2000's Return of The Ten Masked Men and 2003's The PhanTen Masked Menace). Each of their albums also contains at least one Bond cover! So I like the band in theory, but the Cookie Monster vocals give me such a headache it's hard to sit through a full song. Their new album is supposed to be due this year containing a cover of Thunderball.

Licence to Kill (1989)

Count Basic - Licence to Kill [originally by Gladys Knight]
The second and last Timothy Dalton film, this one featured Benicio Del Toro in an early role as a main henchman to the villain Sanchez played by Robert Davi. In an AV Club feature earlier this week, Davi compares Licence to Kill to Casino Royale in that both were attempts to make the franchise grittier, but it was a little ahead of its time. Although Dalton was supposed to do the next one, the series got tied up in a legal fight that led to the six year break between Bond films. The Licence to Kill theme is admittedly a guilty pleasure. It makes liberal use of the Goldfinger motif to great effect, though the back-up vocals nearly kill it. I was surprised to find this pretty awesome cover by Count Basic, who make it a little more groovy and modern sounding, though I guess the chorus is inherently cheesy. Got a licence to kill and you know I'm going straight for your heart!

Goldeneye (1995)

Wise Guys - Goldeneye [originally performed by Tina Turner]
It's always been one of my favourite bits of trivia (yes, I have faves) that Bono and the Edge wrote this Bond theme while the other half of U2, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. reworked the Mission: Impossible theme for the 1996 film. I've always enjoyed Tina Turner's performance, but can you imagine what a version sung by Bono would have sounded like? Poke around YouTube and you can hear the demo... which surprisingly isn't all that exciting, though hardcore U2 fans are quick to point out it's actually MacPhisto singing. This is a pretty good a cappella cover by German a cappella group Wise Guys from their album, Live.

Goldeneye 007 (1997)

Entertainment System - Goldeneye 007 - Frigate
This isn't from the film series, but I couldn't NOT include this. I can't believe it myself, but this a cover from the Nintendo 64 Bond game Goldeneye, which still might be one of the best movie-to-game adaptations ever. Very fond memories of 4-player multiplayer and very frustrating memories of replaying various levels over and over again on the hardest setting trying to beat time challenges, which unlocked various cheat modes such as invincibility. This particular track is from the level Frigate and I can still remember the original theme too. Most of the game's soundtrack was made up of variations on the main Bond theme including a muzak version as you wait in an elevator. Frigate incorporated a little bit of Goldfinger too as you snuck around a boat trying to plant a bug on a helicopter and possibly rescuing hostages (memories are a little vague here). I don't know the exact details about who did what, but the credited composers on Goldeneye 64 were Grant Kirkhope, Graeme Norgate, and Robin Beanland. Entertainment System is one of a surprising number of video game cover bands, though I think they may only do Nintendo tracks hence their name. They've got three albums to their name, which are all available on iTunes and one's on Amie Street.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Uwe Kröger - Tomorrow Never Dies [originally by Sheryl Crow]
Fans haven't been too kind to having Sheryl Crow sing the film's theme. I have no problem with the song, though I agree with the many who think k.d. Lang's Surrender (which played over the end credits) would have made a better main theme. We go back to Germany for another Bond cover, this one by German Broadway star Uwe Kröger, who's appeared in roles like Javert in Les Misérables and the lead role in The Phantom of the Opera. This comes from his album From Broadway to Hollywood, which features film and broadway covers including a pretty good rendition of From Russia With Love.

The World is Not Enough (1999)

Jackie Moore - The World is Not Enough [originally performed by Garbage]
I'm surprised that opinion isn't very high of this Bond theme, which I've noticed bears a strong similarity to The Carpenters' hit Superstar (itself a cover song... fodder for a future post). I know the world was clamoring for a dance remix of this theme, so here it is.

Die Another Day (2002)

Mister Bond - Die Another Day [originally performed by Madonna]
OK, so this is the Bond theme I just can't stomach in any way, except as a cover. From its inane repetitions of line Die Another Day to the wince-inducing whispers of "Sigmund Freud... analyze this, analyze this this this..." It just makes my eyes roll as much as the movie did: Korean guy turning into white British guy (eye roll), Madonna "acting" (eye roll), Halle Berry "acting" (eye roll), invisible car (eye roll), CGI para-surfing Bond (eye roll)... I mean the Bond series doesn't exactly have a history of plausibility, but that one was so over the top it ventured into Batman & Robin territory, thus necessitating a reboot. Roger Moore hilariously summed it up perfectly in a recent article:

"I thought it just went too far – and that’s from me, the first Bond in space! Invisible cars and dodgy CGI footage? Please! They gave the public what they wanted, though maybe they too realised there was only so far they could push it before Bond became a caricature of himself, and the funeral directors were called in."

When an 81-year old man complains about dodgy CGI, take heed. Definitely read the rest of that article written by Moore as he talks about each of the Bond actors (except Dalton's portrayal, which he purposely avoided!). He just penned an autobiography, My Word is My Bond, which I think I'll have to tack on to my reading queue. This cover is from an album called Mister Bond: A Jazzy Cocktail of Ice Cold Themes, which seems so generic it practically screams its awfulness, but this very well may be the best collection of Bond cover songs. I really could have just filled up today's post with tracks from this album, particularly since it's one of the few that focuses in mainly on the modern day Bond themes from the Dalton and Brosnan films, but I chose this one since it's pretty much the only Die Another Day cover I know, plus it's actually palatable to me unlike the original. As the album title suggests, most covers are of the lounge variety, but the Tomorrow Never Dies has a nice bossa nova vibe and there's a swinging cover of Goldeneye. Definitely seek this one out if you're a Bond fan. iTunes has got it.

Today's post on BreakThru Radio is covers of TV themes. I've included covers of the themes from Scrubs, Mash, Frasier, and Inspector Gadget.

James Bond Covers Will Return... tomorrow!


Gabriel said...

There's a CD called 'A Quantum of Covers' that Children in Need released last year, a lot of bands from Oxfordshire covering Bond themes.

There's a really good version of 'Living Daylights' on there by Sikorski, amongst others - far better than Ten Masked Men's. It's on iTunes, I just downloaded it today.

Fongolia said...

Thanks for the heads up! Too bad it's only available in the UK, but I was able to listen to some samples on BBC's site.

Gabriel said...

That's too bad... I'd be happy to send you a copy of the mp3 over e-mail, though it seems like the legal people are on your back.