Review of the expanded You Only Live Twice

Saturday, 22 February 2003 14:54

Andy Dickenson  
22 February 2003

[John Barry and Lewis Gilbert - director] Not to be beaten this time, I was able to get hold of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice at Cinema Store before they sold out. Worth the extra to avoid the wait. Since I've always fancied a sort of review, I thought I'd share my reactions with you (as nobody else has beat me to it, yet!)

Another reason is that You Only Live Twice holds a special place in my heart. In many ways it's one of my favourite Bonds. I just like the bigness and the outrageousness and have a fondness for all things oriental. And in some ways it's my favourite Barry Bond. Add to that it would have been the first Bond that I remember seeing in the cinema at the tender age of 9.

I haven't listened to the original YOLT tracks yet, but checked to see if the gunbarrell was preceeding Capsule in Space. It isn't. Strange this, as it was done on OHMSS. Time or technical reasons, I wonder?

The bonus stuff (timings are approximate and are derived from me remembering to look at my walkman at the right moment!)

13 James Bond in Japan

At 10.50 a very long piece, which comprises the pre-credits stuff (minus Capsule), the funeral at sea and subsequent Japan walkabout. Also the stuff to do with Henderson and Osato's place. This is a very varied suite and covers a lot of screen time. But it holds together musically extremely well and seems shorter. This track alone proves why it's such an accomplished score. Hard for people to sequence thought, given the gunbarrel addition.

14 Aki, Tiger and Osato

5.42 Begins with an alternate, unused 'Kobe' type arrangement of the theme. Goes on to include Bond's 'capture' by Tanaka, the bath and massage and his return to Osato chemicals. The massage bit is very sensuous and mysterious. A real 'goose pimple' piece.

15 Little Nellie

3.44 speaks for itself. All of the Little Nellie music. A great version of 007. Together with snippets of the Bond theme earlier, reminds one of how little these were represented on the original album.

16 Soviet Capsule

2.04 Differs only slightly from Capsule in Space (shorter). Useful for completists!

17 Spectre and Village

3.44 Actually begins with the descent of the Soviet capsule. Then we have the exciting Piranha bit before going into the Ninja assassin sequence, Bond's transformation and the delicate and affecting 'nightfall' music when Tanaka announces the change of launch date. Very satisfying mix.

18 James Bond - Ninja

7.06 Bond's volcano incursion, knock-out of the astronauts and the crater guns. On into the 'smoking gun' and then..... a very peculiar and funny 'coda' which is difficult to imagine anywhere in the film! You have to hear it to judge. Just a few seconds.

19 Twice is the only Way to Live

2.49 This was on the UK vinyl version and is, for the most part, the same as the vocal end music but with a lush instrumental replacing Nancy! The ending is both peaceful and then triumphant! An achievement.

Altogether, like Diamonds, the pleasure of the score doubles with this expanded version, as does the realisation of the versatility of the music. Unlike Diamonds though, the original was a full and satisfying classic in it's own right. I remember getting the vinyl import (which I still have).

What listening to this made me think was ... how the editing of the music came/comes about. Someone has spoken of a 'musical advisor' brought in by Saltzman. Was it this person? Or Barry? Or Gilbert? But is striking how bits of the score are lifted and inserted into the film at odd moments. Sometimes clumsily. And there is the music not used in the film. If this is at all to do with Gilbert, then it makes one wonder if there are unheard gems in the Moonraker masters.

Altogether a lush, sensual, lyrical yet action-packed score. Wonderful to have. I know Barry doesn't waste much effort examining his approach to these films, but I for one would be fascinated to know what 'turns him on' about certain Bonds (and vice versa) given the terrific turns for such widely different films as Thunderball, OHMSS, YOLT, Diamonds and Moonraker.

That's what I would request Geoff to try and delve into.

All best, everyone. Get it as soon as you can and enjoy! The only sadness is that that's it..... for now!

Andy Dickenson

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