George Martin was the first composer and music producer to suggest that the Bond movie sound could re-cast, that it could survive without John Barry and that the 007 sound had a lot more to offer younger audiences and their changing tastes throughouit the 1970s than torch song anthems and trapped bird laments.
George Martin was a natural fit for Bond, despite not having the longest movie CV at the time (he orchestrated the scores for A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, YELLOW SUBMARINE, PULP… and CROOKS ANONYMOUS). His score for the eighth Bond movie is a striking, funk-ridden melange of New York street and Caribbean color and was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award. In 2011 George Martin appeared on stage at John Barry’s memorial concert. He suggested it was Barry who touted him for the Bond gig. Barry was of course most right. Martin is also alleged to have been the one to suggest Barry and 1963’s FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE use the vocal skills of Matt Monro.
Of course LIVE AND LET DIE’s title song by Paul & Linda McCartney and Wings is the musical stuff of Bond – and movie – legend. But a lesser remembered version from the same movie is BJ Arnau’s recording. It echoes the uber, ageless funk of Martin’s score. Of course George Martin sadly never got to try another Bond gig. But the legacy of his 1973 spin of the 007 dice is the stuff of movie perfection with its Blaxploitation influences and lounge-funk cues. It is also one of the few Bond songs to get used as tracks in other films (most recently AMERICAN HUSTLE).
Martin’s sound for LIVE AND LET DIE is a strikingly contemporary one that – maybe – Bond has rarely emulated since amidst its understandable efforts to hunker alongside that John Barry template. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to George Martin’s Bond work was that very few people ever said “he’s no John Barry”.
RIP George Martin.
BJ Arnau’s LIVE AND LET DIE :