By Jon Burlingame

Oxford University Press (2012). 265 pages. $35.00

Reviewed by Larry Charet

When ye editor Craig Henderson asked me to review this book, I immediately thought back to many years ago (anybody remember 1969?) when I provided a young high schooler with John Barry LPs that he couldn't get in the upstate New York area where he lived. Little did I dream that one day he would be recognized as a leading expert on film and TV music. His name, of course, is Jon Burlingame and this is his ultimate volume: The Music of James Bond. Saying all that, I'd still write a negative review if I had to, but fortunately that will not be the case!

A book like this is long overdue, and with the 50th anniversary of the Bond films being celebrated everywhere, this was the perfect time for it to appear. Jon's extensive knowledge of film music, composition, arrangements and instruments makes him the perfect man to write it.

Covering every Bond film (including the non-Eon-produced “Casino Royale” and “Never Say Never Again”) chapter by chapter, Jon includes detailed analysis of each soundtrack, interviews with the principals (composers, lyricists, singers), critics' comments, U.S. and U.K. chart rankings, studio trade ads for Oscar consideration, rare photos of John Barry, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Vic Flick, David Arnold and many others, and lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

The anecdotal highlights for me are: The full details at last on the credit war between John Barry and Monty Norman over the “James Bond Theme”; Michael Caine sharing John Barry’s apartment while he wrote “Goldfinger”; Harry Saltzman’s negative opinions of “Goldfinger” (“Worst song I've ever heard in my Goddamn life”) and “Diamonds Are Forever” (“the lyric — it’s dirty”), and his not realizing that Paul McCartney would want to sing “Live and Let Die” after writing the song and producing an elaborate demo; Marvin Hamlisch”s disappointment at not being asked to score another Bond after “The Spy Who Loved Me”; Barry’s unhappiness with Lewis Gilbert’s handling of his “Moonraker” score; artists whose work was considered and not used — names that included Frank Sinatra, Johnny Rivers, The Fifth Dimension, Paul Williams, Johnny Mathis, Eric Clapton and Amy Winehouse.

In-depth film music books like this one are much needed and The Music of James Bond delivers on all counts. We can only hope that with the phenomenal success of “Skyfall,” the book will be updated when the next Bond film is released.

Jon Burlingame and James Bond will return.

Larry Charet was the owner of Larry’s Book and Comic Shop in Chicago, and its legendary catalogue service, for more than 30 years. He now operates the scifispy store on eBay.