This Friday marks the North American release of Quantum of Solace so we're celebrating here at Fong Songs with a solid work week of James Bond covers, from Dr. No through Casino Royale. It's also a special week at Fong Songs for another reason: I was chosen as "Blogger of the Week" for BreakThru Radio, a New York-based online radio station. So what exactly does this mean? It means all this week I'm double-shifting with posts over there too, starting with today's post on (you guessed it) covers of the James Bond theme. This gig will culminate with a Thursday appearance on the show Anatomy of a Blogger featuring some interview questions I've yet to record and a playlist hand-picked by yours truly, which as you might imagine will be heavy on the covers and CanCon. Very exciting, but I must be as loopy as that car stunt from Man With the Golden Gun (great stunt, unfortunate slide-whistle effect) to think I can post every day this week on two different sites.
In grade 7, a friend gave me a Best of James Bond CD for my birthday, which is how I became intimately familiar with all the Bond theme songs before I had even seen many of the films themselves. My earliest memory of any Bond film had to do with a sniper and a cello case... clearly The Living Daylights, though it would be several more years before I knew who James Bond was. One day my dad brought home a VHS boxset of the first three Bond films and that's basically where I got my start, eventually working my way through the entire series via the library and seeing the Brosnan era films in the theatres. TBS used to have a thing called 30 Days of Bond with a solid month showing Bond movies every night and that's something I've always wanted to replicate on a smaller scale... with cover songs, of course. So here we go!
Being the first in the series, the idea of the title theme song had yet to establish itself, but it introduced the world to Monty Norman's James Bond Theme forever more. There's somewhat of a controversy over who actually wrote the Bond theme, but here's where you should definitely head over to that BTR post to read more about that and find covers by Parodi & Fair, Bond, and Fanfare Ciocărlia.
Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen - From Russia With Love [originally performed by Matt Monro]
It's been a long while since I saw this one, but I remember it being one of my faves. Even Connery himself considers it the best of the series. The opening credits actually feature an instrumental version of From Russia With Love with Matt Monro's vocal version over the end credits. This sweet dixieland jazz cover is by British jazz band Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen.
Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger [Propellerheads mix]
Arguably the most recognizable of all Bond themes, this was the first of three Bond themes sung by Shirley Bassey, setting the gold standard of all Bond themes to come. Bassey actually recorded an album of Bond covers called Bassey Sings Bond, a brilliant idea that unfortunately was marred by god-awful arrangements by what sounds like a one-man synthesizer orchestra. In fact, it's virtually unlistenable and apparently Bassey took legal action withdrawing the recordings from store shelves. I'm already cheating here by including a remix rather than a cover, but I couldn't find a Goldfinger cover I really like, not to mention I absolutely love this Propellerheads remix from the Shirley Bassey remix album, Diamonds Are Forever. Propellerheads are also responsible for a monster 9+ minute remix of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and they later teamed up with Shirley Bassey on the single History Repeating (great track, by the way).
Kingpins - Thunderball [originally performed by Tom Jones]
This ska cover is one of my favourite Bond covers, yet sadly I know very little about it and have some doubts as to whether this has been labeled with the correct artist. Yes, there's a Montréal ska band called the Kingpins, though from what I can tell they don't sound like this and their official discography makes no mention of it. It's possible but highly unlikely there was a different ska band by the same name. iTunes and eMusic aren't any help. I hate posting covers of unknown origin, but this cover is just too good to go unheard. Let me know if you can shed any light on this cover mystery.
**UPDATE: No worries, folks. Thanks to my pal Nick Chuck, we have confirmation that it IS by The Kingpins, a hidden track from their 1999 album Let's Go to Work!
The Postmarks - You Only Live Twice [originally performed by Nancy Sinatra]
As previously mentioned on Fong Songs, Miami pop band The Postmarks have a cover album By the Numbers coming out tomorrow! The album features twelve covers of numbers-related songs including this Bond cover, which was previously released for free on eMusic. Can't wait for tomorrow because the final cover on the album is none other than the Pinball Number Count.
James Bond Covers Will Return... tomorrow!