1. Review: 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' Remastered

    By daniel on 2003-02-19

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Bonus / Remastered) – 1969 / 2003
    Composer: John Barry

    The On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Remastered Soundtrack is available from Amazon US.

    I have always truly enjoyed this score despite the limited amount of music previously available. After hearing this incredible reissue, the listener can truly see what it was exactly that Barry was going for. OHMSS has got to be one of Barry’s best outings with a bond film, it has such depth, and such character and one of the best main themes written for a Bond film. I remember really wanting certain cues like “Gumbolds Safe” and “Blofelds Plot” as a kid and always wondered (like I did with DAF) why the rest of the wonderful music didn’t end up on the original EMI cd release. Well folks, now we have a wonderful release that has every piece of music that you ever wanted from OHMSS. You might as well use the other issue of this score (and the others as well) for stylish coasters in your living room, the remastered discs are that good! It’s good to hear OHMSS with the amount of bass it deserves, it’s also nice to finally be able to hear each and every instrument of the orchestra working as one. OHMSS shows how creative John Barry can be, he uses quite a bit of electronics (considering the year is 1969) in a period where only one composer that I know of, Jerry Goldsmith, successfully incorporated electronics into a film score. So many cues on this disc incorporate electronics very well (which is partly b/c of the wonderful remixing job done). Trust me though, the electronics are not distracting and really add to the score.

    How Does The Disc Sound?

    Just like DAF, OHMSS sounds absolutely incredible! All the cues that you know and love from the previous release all sound as if they were recorded yesterday. Even the dreaded “Do you know how Christmas trees are grown?” sounds astonishing, I actually listened all the way through it for the first time after buying this new release. Trust me, if you have yet to hear the outstanding job of remastering on any of these new Bond discs, take my word for it and buy them! Especially the expanded releases!

    How Does The Disc Look?

    Outstanding! It looks just like the DAF (see that review for details). Except there are some hidden extras not at all mentioned in the track list on the back of the jewel case. You’re all in for a pleasant surprise! Once again, some of the tracks are mislabeled in a way that you don’t know exactly what you’ll be hearing with each cue, but once again I’ll do a track-by-track analysis.

    Track-by-Track Analysis:

    * – contains previously unreleased material

    Track 1 – “We Have All The Time In The World” – Louis Armstrong (3:15)

    Ah yes, one of the most beautiful love songs written in the last half century if you ask me. This is a good way to open the score, and a wonderful song that represents the love between Bond and Tracy.

    Track 2 – “This Never Happened to the Other Fella” (5:06)*

    This track starts out with the gunbarrel! What a wonderful gunbarrel it is too, I love the brass stingers at the beginning and how they go up an octave rather than the usual down to begin the gunbarrel music. Barry decided on using a synthesizer to perform the Bond theme rather than a guitar, it’s an interesting choice and works well for the film. A new type of James Bond theme for a new bond. Then the music segues into the original cue, except there’s a pause at 1:47 that gives us two sets of the chorus of the Bond theme as heard in the film as Bond looks through his rifle scope at Tracy. This was previously unreleased, and I’m glad they added into the track. From there on, the track is the same as it was (except sounds much better of course and has a better mix of the orchestra).

    Track 3 – “Try” (3:26)

    This is a wonderful piano piece that can be heard in the background as Bond and Tracy talk at the casino. It is the same as the older EMI release.

    Track 4 – “Ski Chase” (3:39)*

    This track starts out with a foreboding brass section, then subtle strings move in to accompany the shot of Bond and Teresa skiing, it’s a very romantic theme. The main title comes in as Blofeld and his henchmen ski after them. This track differs from the previous release at exactly 2:30 as we hear a fluttering flute as the shot dissolves back to London where Bond thinks about Tracey being dragged off. Then Barry brings in some mournful strings backed with timpani drums as Bond reflects. With the added music, this cue is truly an emotional masterpiece that allows the listener to hear 007’s anguish.

    Track 5 – “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” – NINA (3:21)

    This is an incidental cue that can be heard by all the people arriving in Switzerland by train. Think of it as a joyful Christmas soundtrack for the town. I never was to keen on this song, but it sure does sound great!

    Track 6 – “Main Theme – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (2:35)

    This cue sounds AMAZING on this new disc!! It is a wonderful theme, and a wonderful marriage of electronics with orchestra.

    Track 7 – “Journey to Blofeld’s Hideaway” (4:53)*

    This track has been significantly extended from that cut and paste job on the other album. It contains all the music we hear as Bond flys to Piz Gloria in the helicopter and arrives. This seems to be expanded from what we hear in the film.

    Track 8 – “We Have All The Time In The World” (2:59)

    This is wonderful jazzy rendition of the main theme.

    Track 9 – “Over and Out” (3:11)*

    I have always really enjoyed this cue. It follows Bond and Draco as they close in on Piz Gloria in their helicopters; the subtle rythmetic electronic “beep” is a wonderful tension builder. The only addition to this cue is the deep “wah wah” brass that comes in at 2:55 as they make their final approach. It’s a wonderful addition!

    Track 10 – “Battle at Piz Gloria” (4:03)

    In the film, the first half of this cue was replaced by the James Bond theme, personally I think they should have kept what Barry had done. This cue accompanies the “invasion” of Piz Gloria and is some of Barry’s best action music!

    Track 11 – “We Have All The Time In The World / James Bond Theme” (4:38)

    This is one of the most emotional renditions Barry has ever done for Bond; it fits the melancholy of the final scene so well. Then we get an extended version of the James Bond Theme as the credits roll.

    Track 12 – “Journey To Dracos Hideaway” (3:41)*

    Ah yes, the first of the unreleased cues for OHMSS. This track starts out with the music that is heard as Bond and Tracy chat in the room just after Bond’s fight with one of Draco’s henchmen. Overall, the cue encompasses the music heard from that scene, all the way to when Bond meets Draco which brings us into the next track. It’s all there.

    Track 13 – “Bond and Draco” (4:34)*

    Here we have another rendition of the main theme as Bond and Draco discuss Tracy and some business. The main theme fades out at 2:33 into a mysterious cue done with deep strings, flutes, and a bass guitar as Bond asks about Blofeld. After that, we get the James Bond theme as 007 gets permission for his 2 weeks of leave from M. This is once again, Barry doing top-notch Bond work!

    Track 14 -“Gumbold’s Safe” (4:59)*

    This has got to be the cue that everyone (including myself) has really been wanting on disc. It is a wonderful repetitive theme that follows Bond as he cracks Gumbolds safe, there are some strings at: 48 that weren’t even used in the film and most likely was to accompany 007 as he walks onto the balcony to get the “Photostat” machine from the crane. This is such a wonderful track to be able to have, the repetition works so well as it builds to a wonderful brassy climax as Gumbold returns from lunch. One of the tensest cues EVER written for a Bond film.

    Track 15 – “Bond Settles In” (2:16)*

    This cue begins right as the Fluorine Bunt is telling Bond that he must call to be let out of his room. Barry makes use of ominous Brass backed by electronics as well as a piano that seems to wonder off to its own melody. This track contains some music that does not even appear in the film and is a treat to have on the disc. Then, at exactly 1:30, the cue picks up where it does in the film with the first several bars of the Bond theme, and Barry’s march version of We Have All The Time In The World.

    Track 16 – “Bond Meets The Girls (3:27)*

    This track starts out with that wonderful saxophone line from Barry’s original piece “Who Will Buy My Yesterdays” as Bond is introduced to all the girls for the first time. It’s a wonderfully romantic piece and well played by the orchestra. This track was re-recorded on Silva’s Bond Back in Action disc, and let me tell you, it sounds terrible compared with Barry’s original that is presented here. At 2:10, the track shifts gears into a piece that I call “Beneath Piz Gloria”. This is the music that accompanies Bond as he is escorted to the Labs to meet Blofeld. It is a very beautiful piece of music and fits the action on screen very well. Once again, Barry makes subtle use of electronics a violin section, a xylophone as well as his token harmonized brass backing the rest of the elements up. This is a really well done cue, and a wonderful way to introduce the films villain.

    Track 17 – “Dusk At Piz Gloria” (2:32)*

    As far as I can tell, this piece was not used at all in the film (which is truly a shame). It sounds like an early inspiration for what we all would hear from Barry in the later Bond films like Octopussy as well as non-Bond films like Mercury Rising and Enigma. This is a very beautiful melodic piece which a hint of desperation and romance.

    Track 18 – “Sir Hillary’s Night Out” (4:46)*

    This track starts out with brooding strings as Bond figures out to open his door. After that we get the lovely full version of “Who Will Buy My Yesterdays” which is a nice underscore for Bond’s numerous love exploits. At 1:17, Barry introduces an electronic “sonar” type beep (which I actually always thought was part of the films sound effects for some reason). This of course doesn’t detract from the listening experience, in fact, it adds quite a bit in my opinion. This track covers the music all the way to where Bond wakes up staring at the angel on top of Blofeld’s Christmas tree, which was a pleasant surprise. We not only get the orchestral stinger when Bond discovers Bunt, we also get the “hazy” repetitive music following it, which is a conglomeration of electronics, a harp, and a flute.

    Track 19 – “Blofeld’s Plot” (5:19)*

    Here is basically what this track contains (Blofeld Escorts Bond / Hallway Fight / The Girls Get Their Gifts / Bond Hangs On Cable / Blofelds Hypnosis on the Girls / Bond Sneaks to the Storage Room / 007 takes out the Guard). This cue is jammed with a whole bunch of different music, which was a pleasant surprise, I simply didn’t know what to expect from the title. Overall, this is a bunch of music that Bond fans have been wanting for years, and now, we’ve got it. Highlights include the “Bond Hangs on Cable” (I just love that Brass theme as 007 emerges from the machine room on the cable) and “Blofelds Hypnosis on the Girls” (which is Barry’s homage to his own villain cues in Thunderball) cues, they are outstanding and contain very nice lush themes that accompany the action very very well. I would say that this track would be worth the price of the album, but to be honest, there isn’t one bad piece of music on this disc.

    Track 20 – “Escape From Piz Gloria” (4:53)*

    You guessed it, this is the complete music from the climactic ski chase as Bond heads for town. My only complaint (which is very minor) is that I distinctly remember some very deep strings playing the chorus to OHMSS at the very beginning; they’re not there. They must not have been mixed in, oh well. This track starts right as Bond straps into his skis and goes all the way to the very end of the ski chase where we get another welcome addition, the music that accompanies Bond as he subdues the henchman after the chase (which IS NOT on the “Bond Back In Action” release). The original version is of course much better than the re-recording done on the album mentioned above.

    Track 21 – “Bobsled Chase” (2:03)*

    I LOVE the way this track starts out with the lone brass line that meshes into a wonderful piece of music. After that (at :23) it goes a bit downhill as Barry rehashes his “fight theme” from the pre credit sequence which wouldn’t be so bad except for the ringing electronics which do actually for
    once detract from the listening experience in my opinion. I usually skip over this track.

    Final Impression:

    Overall, I LOVED this disc. It is a dream to be able to finally hear most of the complete score. I say most of the complete score, but trust me, every cue that you have ever wanted on disc is there and sounds wonderful! Also, the Bonus tracks are mixed extremely well and flow very nicely without the listener even noticing the change from cue to cue. What the heck are you still doing reading this review? Go buy the album, in fact, buy all of the expanded scores! You will not regret it!

    Review By Rich Douglas

    © 2003 Rich Douglas, All Rights Reserved.