Saturday, June 27, 2015

For Your Eyes Only (1981) | Music

During the production of For Your Eyes Only, John Barry was still in tax exile from the UK. He'd been able to work on Moonraker, because it was made in Paris, but FYEO returned the production team to Britain, meaning that Barry was back out. To replace him, he recommended Bill Conti, the man behind the amazing Rocky theme, so that's who Broccoli and Wilson hired.

For the title song, Conti teamed up with lyricist Mick Leeson. I can't find much about Leeson's career before this, but he'd go on to work with Sheena Easton quite a bit after. He and Conti worked on a couple of variations on the song with input from Maurice Binder who always liked to have the title said early in the song so he could put it on screen at the same time. There was also a version that Blondie submitted, and it sounds like they were considered, but only if they played the Conti/Leeson song. They passed and ended up releasing their own song on their next album, The Hunter.

At United Artists' suggestion, Sheena Easton was hired to sing "For Your Eyes Only." She'd just had a big hit with "Morning Train" and she totally fit the easy-listening, soft-rock vibe that the Bond films were in love with at the time. The song isn't horrible, but it's too sentimental and earnest. I don't like it. I'm not a huge fan of the Blondie song either, but it's at least got blood pumping through it.

To go with the song, Binder basically made a music video. For Your Eyes Only predates the debut of MTV by about a month, but music videos were already becoming a big deal thanks to USA Network's Video Concert Hall. The FYEO credits are mostly interested in Sheena Easton's face as she sings the song with generic silhouettes running around doing the same stuff they always do in Bond credits. There's also a water theme to the imagery, teasing at and leading into the opening scene of the movie where the spy boat with the ATAC is sunk by a mine. It's mostly weaksauce.

Conti doesn't use the Bond Theme as much as I'd like, but he uses it more than Barry does. A lot of the action in FYEO is set to this weird, disco-y music that sounds like its from a '70s or '80s TV cop show. During the cold open, when Bond's hanging from the helicopter, Conti mixes that music with the Bond Theme, but it's not satisfying. There's also a short, wa-wa guitar version of the Bond Theme after Lisl's death when Bond is captured. That seems like a weird spot to put it since Bond isn't doing anything cool right then, but it works as an "oh crap, they don't know who they're messing with, they're going to get it" moment. Even though don't get what's coming to them right then, it makes it very clear that they're going to later.

The best uses of the Bond Theme though are during the mini-sub trip and when Bond finally gets up to the monastery after killing the last guard. The mini-sub is as close to a gadgety vehicle as we get in FYEO and the monastery scene is when Bond is finally going to make the bad guys pay. Great moments.

Top Ten Theme Songs

1. The Spy Who Loved Me ("Nobody Does It Better")
2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
3. Diamonds Are Forever
4. You Only Live Twice
5. From Russia With Love (John Barry instrumental version)
6. Live and Let Die
7. Dr No
8. Thunderball
9. Goldfinger
10. From Russia With Love (Matt Monro vocal version)

Top Ten Title Sequences

1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
2. Dr No
3. Thunderball
4. Goldfinger
5. From Russia with Love
6. The Spy Who Loved Me
7. Diamonds Are Forever
8. Live and Let Die
9. Moonraker
10. The Man with the Golden Gun

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