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  1. Review: 'Diamonds Are Forever' Remastered

    Diamonds Are Forever (REMASTERED/BONUS)- 1971

    Composer: John Barry

    Released: February 11, 2003

    The Diamonds Are Forever Remastered Soundtrack is available from Amazon US.

    When I first saw this film as a kid, the first thing I did after viewing it was go to the store and buy a cassette tape of the soundtrack. I immediately noticed how much music was sadly missing from the original EMI release, and the only way to hear all the wonderful unreleased cues was to watch the film and try to weed through dialogue and effects. Rest assured that with this release what you heard in the film is what you get on the disc, every single piece of music from Diamonds are Forever is wonderfully represented. I have always loved this score and it is much much better with the additional tracks and “extended” tracks.

    What About The Discs Packaging? (Scoring is on a 000 to 010 scale)

    The front cover is identical to the other EMI release; the back of the jewel case has a wonderful updated design that lists 21 tracks. The track titles however can be a bit deceiving, not in a bad way though! There are usually more cues in a track then the name lets on, I’ll do a track by track analysis a bit later on in the review. The booklet is a fold out job with wonderful liner notes about the film and score written by Jeff Bond. Overall I give the packaging 010 out of 010, it is a wonderfully designed package and easy to read.

    How Does This Release Sound?

    That’s easy, one can describe this with a string of simple words…. ASTOUNDING, INCREDIBLE, UNBELIEVABLE. I always noticed on my cassette tape (and in the film itself) the score sounded a bit “tinny” with hardly any bass and at times way to much reverb. My hat goes off to Doug Shwartz, the man behind the remastering. This score sounds like it was recorded yesterday and could easily fit a new bond film in the shape it’s in! I easily give the sound a 010 out of 010!! I cannot emphasize enough how incredible these remastered discs sound!

    Track By Track:

    * – contains previously unreleased material

    Track 1 – “Diamonds Are Forever” (2:52)

    This is the FILM VERSION of the song, it starts out with a wonderful stinger of brass (which is how this album deserves to start.. with a bang). Because of the wonderful remastering job, you will notice alot of new orchestration that you may not have noticed before. For example, the song has a bit more bass, which i think makes it a bit more lively. There are also some electronics at the very beginning underneath the ice bells that I have never noticed until now. The song sounds really good, better than it has on ANY bond compilation release in the past.

    Track 2 – “Bond Meets Bambi And Thumper” (3:09)*

    This is the listeners’ first taste of an “extended” track. It starts out with sweeping strings as bond and Felix discuss their plans. There is quite a bit of bass in the beginning of this track, not too much mind you, it definitely adds to the listening experience. As Bond begins to find his way into the house, we get the Bond Theme with electronics representing the theme song. The kicker comes in at exactly 2:04. Where the original track ends, is where the new release shines, we finally get that wonderful fight music Barry concocted for the film. It is an onslaught of brass, staccato strings, timpani drums, a xylophone, and brass stingers. This is the first of three times this action music is on the disc.

    Track 3 – “Moon Buggy Ride” (4:16)*

    Where as the original release started right into the actual chase, this track starts out with the music that follows the spacemen on the moon set where the moonbuggy is located. It is a very mysterious start and fits the on screen action very well. It continues on to series of stingers and a frantic xylophone as Bond jumps inside the moonbuggy and takes off. From there on, we get the original “Moon Buggy Ride”, except it sounds a tad different (and much better of course) with the remastering job done. At exactly 3:37, we are treated with the previously unreleased orchestration of the main theme that follows some “pillow talk” between Tiffany and Bond.

    Track 4 – “Circus, Circus” (2:50)

    This track is identical to it’s previous release, except there is a distinct snare drum roll that I hadn’t noticed before because of the poor sound quality of the mix heard in the film and on the original EMI release. This cue is a very playful waltz that fits the Circus, Circus casino environment very well. It is also the first of 6 pieces of “incidental” music that is heard on this album. For those of you who may not know what incidental music is, it is simply the music in the film that not only we as the audience can hear, but the characters can hear in the film as well. In this case, it is the music that would be played to accompany the act going on for the casino goers.

    Track 5 – “Death At The Whyte House” (4:53)*

    This track starts out with the previously unreleased music that accompanies Bond’s “mountaineering” at the top of the Whyte House. It is a cool theme played out on piano and flute as 007 makes his way into the penthouse. It is definitely where Barry got his ideas for a few of the cues that can be heard in Moonraker. Listen closely, that piano echoes Bond’s exploration of the lab in Moonraker. Immediately following, we get the orchestral stinger as Bond shoots and kills the wrong Bloefeld. From then on, it is a wonderfully remastered version of the original track as Bond chats with the real Blofeld and is gassed in the elevator.

    Track 6 -“Diamonds Are Forever (Source Music) (#:45)

    This is simply another orchestration of the main theme.

    Track 7 – “Diamonds Are Forever (Bond & Tiffany) (3:39)*

    This track gets the “Incredibly Mistitled” award in my book, it’s not what you think it is.. it’s better! It begins with the Wint and Kidd theme played out on flute as they are seen on the cruise ship at the end of the film. That’s right folks, this is the music we hear as Bond and Tiffany have a nice dinner, and Bond disposes of the ambiguously gay hitmen couple. There is a very lengthy version of the theme song played out beautifully on strings before we hit the action at 2:45.

    Track 8 – “Bond Smells a Rat” (1:52)

    This is exactly the same as it was on the older release (but of course sounds MUCH better). It accompanies 007 as he becomes “another link in the pipeline” and literally smells a rat. It is a wonderful brassy cue that follows the construction crew as they assemble the pipeline, then we get another wonderfully done orchestration of the Wint and Kidd theme.

    Track 9 – “Tiffany Case” (3:46)

    This is the second incidental piece of music on the disc. It is used to accompany the chat between Bond and Case when they first meet at her apartment in Holland.

    Track 10 – “007 and Counting” (3:31)*

    Here we have a wonderful variation of Barry’s space march first introduced in You Only Live Twice. The remastering job does add some new orchestration (like you will notice it has with many of the other tracks), it accentuates the bass guitar in the background and adds some real depth to the piece.

    Track 11 – “Q’s Trick” (2:26)

    This is the third piece of incidental music on the disc. It is a very jazzy piece that follows Q as he shows Tiffany his newest gadget in the Whyte House Casino. It’s a fun listen.

    Track 12 – “To Hell With Blofeld” (5:09)*

    Now this track is a real jewel. It starts out with a wonderful brass theme as Bond is flown over the oil rig and dropped into the water in the “inflatable ball” raft. Then Barry gives us a wonderful clarinet theme as bond paddles toward the rig which eventually segues into the bond theme chorus on deep strings that is backed with a single trumpet. I always loved this cue, it’s a joy being able to finally hear it. Then at around 2:55 we get a wonderful orchestration of the 007 theme (the best version in the series in my humble opinion). The remastering really makes this version shine, it has a world of depth to it now that none of us have been able to hear in the past.

    Track 13 – “Gunbarrel and Manhunt” (3:11)*

    This gunbarrel is wonderful! It’s good to finally have a version of it on disc. There is a slight difference to it though, it doesn’t have the amount of reverb (“echoy sound”) as it does in the film. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it just is a bit of a different listen on the disc and will take a few of you some time to get used to I’m sure. This track is ALL the music from the pretitle sequence. Immediately after the gunbarrel it starts out with an Asian motif, that is followed by a string of orchestral hits as 007 interrogates. Then it switches gear as we get an African type of motif as Bond ventures to Cairo. After that Barry segues into a full version of the Bond theme complete with the twangy guitar from the gunbarrel as Bond questions Marie by the pool, it fits the scene so well. Then it’s off to blofelds lab as we get a mysterious theme performed on a vibraphone and flutes, which is followed by Barry’s wonderful action cue (which we heard previously in track! 2).

    Track 14 – “Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd/Bond to Holland” (4:03)*

    In my opinion, this has got to be the best villain theme Barry has every concoted for a Bond film. This is the cue that is heard as Wint and Kidd dispose of the dentist and grab the diamonds in Africa. A couple of years back a version of this cue was recorded for the “Bond Back In Action” disc on Silva records. To be honest, that version doesn’t hold a candle to Barry’s original, the film version has more life to it and seems to have more depth. At 2:30 is where I really got excited though. “Bond to Holland” is that wonderful version of the James bond theme heard as Bond boards the hovercraft to Holland. This is a really “bondish” cue complete with “wah wah” brass. It is most definitely the inspiration for David Arnolds “Ice Palace Arrival” cue heard in Die Another Day.

    Track 15 – “Peter Franks” (2:55)*

    This track begins with a sluethy flute accompanied by timpani drums as Bond tails Franks to Tiffany Cases’ apartment in Holland. Then at :55 we get “that” action music again for the third and final time on the disc. The version heard here is by far the best of the three and is not to be missed! After that, we get the bass guitar riff that is heard as bond arrives at the airport with Franks’ body, this cue can be heard again in “On the Road”.

    Track 16 – “Airport Source / On the Road” ( 3:00)*

    This is another jazzy track and is another piece of incidental music as passengers leave the plane and Bond and Lighter discuss where the diamonds are located in the body. This version however is in its entirety and is extended from the version that can be heard in the film. “On the Road” is for the most part the same cue heard at the tail end of Track 15 and follows Bond as he rides with the gangsters to Slumber Inc. I’ve always enjoyed this jazzy piece and it is a pleasure to hear it un interrupted.

    Track 17 – “Slumber Inc.” (2:22)*

    Another incidental track. This track truly does mark the first instance of a chorus used in a Bond film. It is the music that accompanies the burning of Franks’ coffin (it accompanies Bond’s close call in the coffin as well). To be honest, this is actually a very cool track and a good change of pace from the rest of the album. It has a full chorus accompanied with threatening brass and staccato strings.

    Track 18 – “The Whyte House” (2:21)*

    Another jazzy piece of incidental music in the pure style of Las Vegas. It is the music that plays at the Whyte House Casino as Bond enters. This version is extended from what we hear in the film.

    Track 19 – “Plenty, Then Tiffany” (2:26)*

    Here we have a very nice “love” theme played out with strings and a muted trumpet for Tiffany and Bond. Then it switches gears as Bond sees the gangsters from slumber in the room, played out with flutes and a xylophone. From there we have another beautifully done rendition of the main title as Bond and Tiffany discuss how they will go about getting the diamonds. The versions and reversions of the theme on this disc simply do not get old and are a pleasure to listen to.

    Track 20 – “Following the Diamonds” (4:03)*

    This track starts out with a blast of orchestration as Tiffany escapes from the CIA into the rear parking lot at Circus Circus. From there, it goes into a dark theme as Case finds Bond waiting for her and sees Plenty’s body floating in the pool. The rest of the track follows bond as he sneaks into Metz’s van and gets into the Whyte labs. It is a very mysterious cue, and fits the on screen action very well. I love the way it picks up at 2:11 as Bond descends into the lower levels of the lab in the rear of Metz’s van. This track is Barry at his best, and is represented wonderfully on the disc.

    Track 21 – “Additional and Alternate Cues” (9:11)

    This starts out with what sounds like an alternate take of the Wint and Kidd theme, then moves to various themes that were most likely meant for Vegas. Your guess is as good as mine, I simply couldn’t find any information in the liner notes about what this track contains, thus making the final track a real adventure! At 4:33 however the music is easily placeable, it is the incidental music from the Zambora Guerilla act at Circus Circus. So roughly three and a half minutes of the track is one long jazzy piece. The next cue is clearly an alternate take of the moon buggy ride cue and seems to “hesitate” a bit more than the film version. Personally i like the film version better. After that, at 7:00, we get what sounds like another version of “Bond Meets Bambi and Thumper”.

    Final Impressions:

    Overall I would give this disc an easy 010 out of 010, it sounds incredible for starters! On top of that, it has EVERY cue from the film in remastered bliss. Whether your a bond fan, or love film scores (or both!) pick this one up! You won’t be disappointed!

    Review By Rich Douglas

    © 2003 Rich Douglas, All Rights Reserved

    daniel @ 2003-02-11
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