Thunderball

1965
LP: United Artists UAL-4132
CD: EMI Manhattan CDP 7 90628 2
Lyric by Don Black

  1. Thunderball (Main Title - vocal) (2:59)
  2. Chateau Flight (2:26)
  3. The Spa (2:40)
  4. Switching the Body (2:45)
  5. The Bomb (5:42)
  6. Cafe Martinique (3:42)
  7. Thunderball (4:16)
  8. Death of Fiona (2:39)
  9. Bond Below Disco Volante (4:12)
  10. Search for Vulcan (2:32)
  11. 007 (2:30)
  12. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Stereo] (2:48)

cover art for Thunderball

 


The following tracks are new to the Capitol remastered edition CD:

  1. Gunbarrel/Traction Table/Gassing the Plane/Car Chase (4:43)
  2. Bond Meets Domino/Shark Tank/Lights Out for Paula/For King and Country (8:18)
  3. Street Chase (3:23)
  4. Finding the Plane/Underwater Ballet/Bond With Spectre Frogmen/Leiter to the Rescue/Bond Joins Underwater Battle (10:15)
  5. Underwater Mayhem/Death of Largo/End Titles (10:21)
  6. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Monoaural] (2:41)

The Movie

This is a so-so film. You can see where things start to derail. Once you stick Bond in that jetpack so that he can fly about 100 yards to his car--and that's the end of it--you know you've turned a corner and it wasn't good.

The plot is actually one of the best--terrorists steal a bomber with two nukes on board and hide it. They then threaten to detonate them in a target of their choosing if their demands are not met. Bond gets sent to Bahamas (of course) as his part of the world to search--and of course he finds them. In the middle of all this he meets Claudine Auger, who wears the best swimsuit I've ever seen, Luciana Paluzzi as the chief henchwoman/assassin, Adolfo Celi as the very uninteresting Emlio Largo, and Rik Van Nutter as a typically worthless Felix Leiter. Paluzzi steals the movie as the zealot/killer, except that the role was subsequently done to death in the endless sequels. The movie runs nicely until it unravels in the 3rd act with an underwater sequence that's fun but runs way the hell too long, followed by another climactic, underwhelming battle on a speeding yacht--thanks mostly to bad back-projection and obviously undercranked cameras.

But the music was fantastic.


The Music

Thunderball is an interesting case. At the time, the italians had taken to calling Bond "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and the phrase was being picked up elsewhere. Barry and lyricist Leslie Bricusse wrote what they thought would be the title song, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"--twice, first with Shirley Bassey and then again with Dionne Warwick. When Barry began scoring the film, he continued with his habit of weaving the title theme into the music, and "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" can be heard throughout.

But the producers got cold feet. They wanted a title song that used the movie title. So Barry and lyricist Don Black wrote another title, "Thunderball," which they recorded with Tom Jones. This theme also got woven into the fabric of the music.

There are three pieces to this soundtrack that I think are exceptional. One was the underwater theme--I thought he nailed it. The music for the underwater sequences works on a level I can't explain. Second was the jazzy instrumental of "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Barry usually manages to throw in a cool jazz arrangement on a lot of his albums--even the unlikely ones like Petulia and The Beyondness of Things and I always appreciate it. And then there's the carnival chase--the counterpoint that comes in after the "007" song. I was always disappointed that this never made it onto the album yet "007" was on there again (it debuted on From Russia With Love, and it subsequently showed up on Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. Barry must have loved it). I was ecstatic when it showed up on the Bond 30th Anniversary--and I'm very pleased to have it again here and on Nic Raine's Bond Back in Action.


Release Notes

This is a tale. As noted above, Thunderball had two main themes, "Thunderball" and "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." Barry is not one to throw away perfectly good music, and so "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" made it onto the soundtrack album as an instrumental. Now what I believe they did was simply remove the vocal track and substitute a saxophone, for reasons I'll explain in a moment.

During the 1960s it was still common for record companies to release two versions of an LP: one in stereo and one in monoaural, and this was the case with Thunderball. Normally the tracks are identical, but not in this case--there were two different versions of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"--one on the stereo release and a different one on the monoaural release. They're both instrumentals, but they have different arrangements. In particular, the stereo version has a much longer introduction. The stereo version with the long introduction conforms to the one Shirley Bassey sang to, and the monoaural version conforms to the Dionne Warwick version.

When the CD was originally released in the 90s, it conformed to the stereo version of the album.

There was a lot of music that never made it onto the original soundtrack album. The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary set included both Bassey and Warwick's vocal versions and a suite of additional music from film--which included the carnival chase.

Capitol's recent remastered version adds the rest of the music from the movie, though you still have to go to the 30th Anniversary CD if you want to hear the vocals.