Friday, 1 January 2016

Art of the Cover - John Barry's "Goldfinger OST" (1966)

Ah, the delectable Margaret Nolan, after a gold spraypaint job!

It's John Barry's classic soundtrack to "Goldfinger" - the quintessential `spy jazz' album that it changed action film music forever.

This remastered expanded version of Barry's "Goldfinger OST" includes four tracks that had heretofore only appeared on the British LP version, plus Shirley Bassey's all-time great rendition of the theme song!

This CD release of "Goldfinger," the most famous of all James Bond scores and without a doubt one of the most influential soundtracks ever produced, expands the album for the first time for U.S. buyers to the original length of the U.K. album. The U.K. album had four extra tracks ("Pussy Galore's Flying Circus," "Golden Girl," "Laser Beam," and "Death of Tilley") that were mysteriously cut from the original Stateside release. These four tracks later appeared on a compilation CD, but this is the first time all the tracks have been released on one CD for American consumption.

The CD is also wonderfully re-mastered, far superior to the old CD release that was muffled and even had misaligned track markers! (The sound difference is most notable on the brassy, hard swingin' instrumental cover of the theme song, which on the original CD sounded scratchy, as if it were lifted directly from an old vinyl record!) This album, however, is missing a track that would have been a nice extra: Anthony Newley's original demo recording of the theme song, smooth and low-key, which makes for an interesting contrast to Shirley Bassey's hard jazz-pop rendition heard in the film.

What is there to say about this music that hasn't been said a million times in books, documentaries, reviews, and Internet forums? It's the quintessential `spy jazz' album, and it changed action film music forever. John Barry had worked (mostly un-credited) on "Dr. No," did the full score for the remarkable "From Russia, With Love," but here he absolutely explodes with an original vibrant style for the series and charted the way for every score to follow. Barry took his experience as a jazz/rock trumpeter and bandleader (he headed the popular British group "The John Barry Seven") and expanded it into a tremendous orchestral juggernaut. The melody "Goldfinger" (with lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse) becomes a screaming, sexy jazz anthem, with Shirley Bassey's sassy and snarling reading of the lyrics making the piece into an instant, unforgettable classic chart-topper. It's the most famous title song from the Bond films, and deservedly so.

Throughout the rest of the score, Barry uses the theme song in interesting ways. "Alpine Drive" presents the lyrical, laid back John Barry. The instrumental version of the theme song (which isn't in the film) is gritty and guitar-driven, and also includes music from "Dawn Raid on Fort Knox." "Oddjob's Pressing Engagement" makes great up-tempo use of the Goldfinger theme as well. The famous James Bond theme appears in "Bond Back in Action" (the music for the pre-credits sequence). Barry uses very mysterious, sexy music for "Teasing the Korean" (lots of musical jokes and stings on this one), "Golden Girl," "Auric's Factory," "Gassing the Gangsters," and the extremely tense "Laser Beam."

The score highlight, however, is the lengthy, pounding "Dawn Raid on Fort Knox," which starts with a slow building military march on snare-drums and gradually grows into an explosive version of the Goldfinger Theme and concludes with dramatic, tense vibraphone and brass punctuations as Goldfinger's private army lasers its way through the doors of Fort Knox. This is followed up with "Arrival of Bomb and Countdown," where a thundering hypnotic brass piece builds up the `seconds-to-doom' finale. ("A few more ticks and Mr. Goldfinger would have hit the jackpot.")

This really is a quintessential film music album. It's jazz. It's lounge. It's swing. It's rock. It's lyrical. It's JAMES BOND in a single CD, and it will transport you back to the mid-sixties when Bond, martinis, divas, and loud sexy trumpets seemed to rule the world.

Tip your razor-bladed bowler hats to John Barry, the Bond musical master -- and buy this album!

--by Claude Avary 


 1. Main Title - Goldfinger (2003 - Remaster) Shirley Bassey 2:48  
  2. Into Miami (2003 - Remaster) The John Barry Orchestra 0:56  
  3. Alpine Drive - Auric's Factory (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 4:27  
  4. Oddjob's Pressing Engagement (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 3:08  
  5. Bond Back In Action Again (2003 Digital Remaster) John Barry 2:31  
  6. Teasing the Korean (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 2:16  
  7. Gassing the Gangsters (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 1:05  
  8. Goldfinger (Instrumental) John Barry 2:09  
  9. Dawn Raid On Fort Knox (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 5:48  
10. The Arrival of the Bomb and Count Down (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 3:28  
11. The Death of Goldfinger - End Titles (2003 - Remaster) John Barry 2:34  
12. Golden Girl (2003 Digital Remaster) John Barry 2:10  
13. Death Of Tilley (2003 Digital Remaster) John Barry 2:04  
14. The Laser Beam (2003 - Remaster) The John Barry Orchestra 2:54  
15. Pussy Galore's Flying Circus (Instrumental) (2003 Digital Remaster) John Barry 2:48

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