|Soundtrack album by John Barry|
|Producer||Frank Collura (Reissue)|
|John Barry chronology|
The album was released by United Artists Records in 1965. The music was composed and conducted by John Barry, and performed by the John Barry Orchestra. This was Barry's third soundtrack for the series. The soundtrack was not finished by the time the film was released in theatres and only featured twelve tracks, roughly only the film's first half; the last seven tracks were released for the first time when the soundtrack was issued on Compact Disc on 25 February 2003. Additionally, the music in the film was unfinished days before the film's release in theatres due to a late change by Eon Productions to use a title song with the same name as the film.
Title theme change
The original main title theme to Thunderball was titled Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse. The title was taken from an Italian journalist who in 1962 dubbed agent 007 as "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". Barry had thought he could not write a song about a vague "Thunderball" term or the film's story, so his song was a description of the character James Bond.
The song was originally recorded by Shirley Bassey. When there were problems with Bassey's singing it was later rerecorded by Dionne Warwick and featured a longer instrumental opening designed so the lyrics would not be heard until after the title "Thunderball" appeared in Maurice Binder's title design. Both versions were not released until the 1990s. The song was removed from the title credits after United Artists requested that the theme song contain the film's title in its lyrics. When it was planned to use the Warwick version in the end titles Shirley Bassey sued the producers with the result being that neither version was heard in the film and different instrumental versions of the theme appeared on the High Fidelity (Bassey's) and Stereo (Warwick's) soundtrack LPs.
Barry teamed up with lyricist Don Black and wrote "Thunderball" in a rush. Tom Jones, who sang the new theme song, fainted in the recording booth after singing the song's final, high note. Jones said of the final note, "I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning."
The producers' decision to change the film's theme song so close to the release date meant that only half the film's soundtrack had been recorded for release on LP. Adding to the delay issues, Barry had written large amounts of the score around the original theme and woven it throughout the score (along with the recurring underwater "Search For Vulcan" motif). After "Thunderball" was written, Barry wrote, orchestrated, and recorded several new pieces interpolating it. Barry's scores always included a track which gave the film's theme song a full statement in the form of a sensitive, slowed-down instrumental ballad, often played over a romantic moment or a scene set in a nightclub or casino; he re-arranged "Thunderball" as a lush, subtly jazzy orchestral piece in the easy listening style that was popular at the time.
Though "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was dropped as the theme song, some of the pieces which included its melody remained part of the score, and it receives full statements twice: by full orchestra and jazz rhythm quartet with bass, drums, guitar, and vibraphone in the track "Café Martinique" (immediately followed by the "Vulcan" cue), and as a wild, bongo-laden cha-cha-cha in "Death of Fiona." The scene which includes the latter, it should also be noted, takes place at Club Kiss Kiss. Because Thunderball's score had, essentially, two main themes to work from, as well as the "Search For Vulcan" cue and the "James Bond Theme," it is arguably the richest of the early Bond scores, thematically speaking.
- "Thunderball (Main Title)" – Tom Jones[A]
- "Chateau Flight"[A]
- "The Spa"
- "Switching the Body"
- "The Bomb"
- "Cafe Martinique"
- "Thunderball (Instrumental)"
- "Death of Fiona"
- "Bond Below Disco Volante"
- "Search for the Vulcan"
- "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"
- CD bonus tracks
- "Gunbarrel/Traction Table/Gassing the Plane/Car Chase"[A]
- "Bond Meets Domino /Shark Tank/Lights out for Paula/For King and Country"[A]
- "Street Chase"[B]
- "Finding the Plane/Underwater Ballet/Bond with SPECTRE Frogmen/Leiter to the Rescue/Bond Joins Underwater Battle"[B]
- "Underwater Mayhem/Death of Largo/End Titles"[A][B]
- "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Mono Version)"
Outside the Film
- In 1965, KYW-TV in Philadelphia adapted the "007" track, also used in the film From Russia With Love as its longtime theme for its Eyewitness News format. It went on to be used in other Group W stations in Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and San Francisco for their newscasts.
Parodies / tributes
- In 1996, "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied Tom Jones during the opening theme song of the comedy Spy Hard. Instead of passing out, as Jones allegedly did, Yankovic's head explodes at the opening song's end.
- Jones sang the theme during Sean Connery's AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony in 2006. He did not pass out on that occasion.
- Fiegel, Eddy. John Barry: A Sixties Theme. New York: MacMillian, 2001.
- Spencer, 2008, p. 63-64.
- p. 51 Burlingame, Jon The Music of James Bond Oxford University Press, 01/10/2012
- p.336 Williams, John Miss Shirley Bassey Quercus, 01/11/2010
- p. 56 Burlingame
- Kendall, Lukas Liner notes Thunderball CD
- Spencer, 2008, p. 64.
- "Tom Jones's comments on the Thunderball song". Interview with Singer Tom Jones. Retrieved 10 September 2005.
- Bitter Cinema piece on Johnny Cash's Thunderball
- YouTube – "Thunderball" Opening w/ theme song by Johnny Cash
- Burlingame, Jon The Music of James Bond Oxford University Press, 01/10/2012
- Spencer, Kristopher. Film and Television Scores, 1950–1979: A Critical Survey by Genre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2008