The Living Daylights

1987

LP: Warner Bros. 25616-9
CD: Warner Brothers 25616-2
CD: Rykodisc RCD 10725
CD: Capitol 41451

  1. Main Title [performed by a-ha]
  2. Necros Attacks
  3. The Sniper Was a Woman
  4. Ice Chase
  5. Kara Meets Bond
  6. Koskov Escapes
  7. Where Has Everybody Gone [performed by The Pretenders]
  8. Into Vienna
  9. Hercules Takes Off
  10. Mujahadin and Opium
  11. Inflight Fight
  12. If There Was a Man [performed by The Pretenders]
    [Tracks 13-21 are available only on the Ryko and Capitol releases]
  1. Exercise at Gibraltar (precredit sequence)
  2. Approaching Kara
  3. Murder at the Fair
  4. "Assassin" and Drugged
  5. Airbase Jailbreak
  6. Afghanistan Plan
  7. Air Bond
  8. Final Confrontation
  9. Alternate End Titles [If There Was a Man instrumental]

The Movie

I was not a big fan of Timothy Dalton. It's not him, it's just me. He didn't have that indefinable charisma that made me want to follow his adventures. And I didn't care much for Maryam d'Abo, or whomever played Felix Leiter, et al. I think the only one I liked was the new Miss Moneypenney--and she wasn't on much.

The story was something about a defector who got snatched back, and Bond had to get him back again--but maybe he wasn't snatched after all. I suppose. The movie had all the standard stuff--chase scenes and pretty women and Q's gadgets and so on. But I think it had the problem most of the Bond movies had--all the formula ingredients were there but it just didn't blend.


The Music

This was the last time John Barry would score a Bond movie. When he wrote the score for On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he tried to give it a different sound, and I believe he did the same here. His scores for the Moore films were orchestral. But this one relied a lot more electronics--synthesizers, the electric guitar--there's enough of the orchestra to bind it in the tradition of Bond movies, but it definitely is a different listening experience from the others.

A couple other things make this very different from the others. After the success of working with Duran Duran on A View to a Kill, Barry was partnered with flavor-of-the-month pop band a-ha, and the work was less harmonious. The title song is woven into the thread of the score, but so is another called "Where Has Everybody Gone?"--which makes me wonder if it hadn't been Barry's preference as a title song. The vocal version, performed by The Pretenders, is buried in movie. This is the first time since Thunderball that two pieces of music are substantially represented in the score but only one made the titles. And if that were not enough, there's a third. Another Pretenders song, "If There Was a Man" is the love theme throughout, and the vocal runs over the end titles. Barry almost always manages to re-arrange his title theme for both energy and impact and as a gentle theme (consider the unlikely "The Man with the Golden Gun"), but here he opted for a different theme altogether; the last time that happened was in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Regardless, I enjoyed the soundtrack music even if I find the movie lackluster. It may be the most recent Barry soundtrack that has the high-energy sound. After this score he went fully into the romantic, orchestral style that characterize his subsequent films.


Release Notes

Warner Brothers initially released this on LP and CD. The CD went out of print and became a collector's item until Ryko re-released it with additional music (pretty much the complete score). Capitol's recent remastered edition has the same music as the Ryko edition.

David N. Butterworth adds: "A different version of the title track appears on the a-Ha LP Stay on These Roads. Barry's experiences working with a-Ha weren't good, in contrast to Duran Duran, whom Barry referred to as "consumate professionals."