“Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to dance!” That might be the dialogue between the secret agent and the megalomaniac if 007 had been sent to frustrate the fiendish plans of an indie-label mogul. The 26 Bond movies (24 official, 2 more non-Eon productions), their dialogue and music - from Monty Norman's seminal theme to the individual songs introducing each film - are so ingrained into popular culture that they're ripe for reinterpretation by anyone and in any style. It's a licence to thrill...
Between 27 March and 7 November 2015, WIAIWYA released 34 Bond songs, one each week, and have now released them as a set. The quality and production values of the originals don’t make it easy to cover these songs though and, in one or two cases, it’s impossible to polish a turd (‘All Time High’) while Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ is a particular dirge to have to recreate. So there are lots of straight covers which pass by without troubling your memory cells and then there are playful tunes like Slow Leopard Brotherhood’s Tubeway Army-meets-krautrock ‘The Living Daylights’, Seks Bomba’s modpop treatment of ‘Casino Royale’ (from the “original” 1967 movie) or The Elderly’s ‘Live And Let Die’, as if Paul McCartney had been interpreted by younger versions of himself: the Merseybeat Paul, the Sgt Pepper Paul, and the cod-reggae Paul of ‘Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da’ vintage.
Still, on a 40-track album, there are some gems and you’ll come up with your own mixture depending on taste. Highlights include the first release in this series, Jack Hayter’s deconstructed folkatronica ‘Die Another Day’; The Leaf Library’s ‘From Russia With Love’, its electronica haunted by Cold War paranoia; and the icy beauty of The Left Outsides’ ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. The Vatican Cellars offer a slinky bossa nova version of ‘Thunderball’ and Michaelmas don’t attempt to imitate Louis Armstrong or even My Bloody Valentine on ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ and make gentle, tinkling pop, with lots going on underneath, but softly!
‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ is minimal but beautiful folk-pop by Ralegh Long and Friends, while Citizen Helene’s ‘Nobody Does It Better’ is a stripped down piano ballad with just a few vocal touches reminding you of her psych-folk day job. Her other band Papernut Cambridge produce one of the highlights of the album, an ambitious, full sounding, adrenaline-pumping ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’. And there are bonus tracks, including 4 ambient pieces by Spaceship Mark Williamson (who also formally appears as his Cross Oss alter ego on the record) that meld drones and evocative samples.
WIAIWYA call it a “celebration of the music of 007” and celebration is what it is, testimony to the enduring power of Bond and the quality of the music that survives so many interpretations.