Released today in 1987: The Living Daylights

Warner Bros W8305

Warner Bros W8305

There were five additions to the James Bond series of movies in the 1980s (‘Never Say Never Again’ doesn’t count) and as custom dictated, a well-known act from the pop music industry was commissioned to perform a theme song for each.

‘For Your Eyes Only’
✇ opened: 24 June 1981
♫ released: 15 June 1981

In 1980 Esther Rantzen produced a documentary film called ‘The Big Time’ which chronicled an unknown singer’s attempt to break into the British music industry. The subject was Sheena Easton and during the programme she met fellow Scot who had already ‘made it’, Lulu. Lulu’s manager Marion Massey told Easton that she was unlikely to make the “big time”, but was proved wrong as by the end of the year Easton was very much a star and was approached to sing the theme to the following year’s Bond film. The irony of Massey’s original assessment of Easton’s chances was highlighted when her single, For Your Eyes Only, made #8 – established artist Lulu’s The Man With The Golden Gun, from the 1974 Bond movie of the same name, flopped. All the Bond themes have been released as singles in the UK, with Lulu’s single one of only three that have failed to chart. (The others were Bond regular John Barry’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969, and, somewhat surprisingly, Moonraker by Shirley Bassey ten years later.)

✇ opened: 6 June 1983
♫ (All Time High) released: 3 June 1983

It wasn’t the first time that the theme song for a Bond movie didn’t match the title of the film. The most famous one is probably Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better, but that song did at least reference the film’s title, ‘The Spy Who Love Me’, in its lyrics. Tim Rice, the lyricist for this movie’s theme, must have wondered how on earth he was going to slip the word ‘Octopussy’ into a song. So he didn’t bother. To create some association with the film, the marketing team at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer used the titular phrase of Rita Coolidge’s single on movie posters and publicity material, describing it as James Bond’s “all time high”. It’s doubtful this did create a link between the song and the movie as the single only made #75.

‘A View To A Kill’
✇ opened: 13 June 1985
♫ released: 7 May 1985

Although the theme song singles were usually released before the film in the UK, there was a big gap between the release of Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill and the opening of ‘A View To A Kill’. This was because the world premiere for the movie was in San Francisco on 22 May1985, a full three weeks before its British general release. (In most cases, the British premiere had also been the world premiere.) To date, Duran’s song is the most successful Bond theme. It made #2 in the UK, the highest placing for Bond theme in the British singles chart (Adele matched this peak with Skyfall in 2012). It did even better in the US, topping the Billboard Hot 100 – still the only Bond theme to do so. Trivia: this year’s Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw performed a live version of the song at Melodifestivalen (Sweden’s version of ‘A Song For Europe’) in 2010.

‘The Living Daylights’
✇ opened: 30 June 1987
♫ released: 22 June 1987

The soundtrack for ‘The Living Daylights’ was the eleventh to be scored by John Barry. A-Ha were chosen to perform the title theme, but their collaboration (if it can be called that) with Barry was troubled. The band was reluctant to give him a songwriter’s credit, believing they had a finished song already that needed no further work. The limit of Barry’s contribution was apparently the string arrangements. At the film’s London premiere (which A-Ha did not attend) Barry mentioned to reporters that he had found them difficult to work with. Indeed, they hadn’t been able to agree which version of the song to release. A-Ha were happy with their first attempt, which appeared on their own album Stay On These Roads, but it was Barry’s preferred mix that was actually used on the soundtrack. The single made #5.

‘Licence To Kill’
✇ opened: 13 June 1989
♫ released: 30 May 1989

The longest-ever Bond theme at over five minutes, performed by veteran soul singer Gladys Knight (without The Pips); it reached #6. The soundtrack to ‘Licence To Kill’ was supervised by Michael Kamen as John Barry was unavailable due to recovery from throat surgery.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jun. 22
BAUHAUS Passion Of The Lovers (Beggars Banquet BEG59)
A-HA The Living Daylights (Warner Bros W8305)
BANANARAMA I Heard A Rumour (London NANA13)
The CURE (Robert Smith) Catch (Fiction FICS26)
THEN JERICO (Mark Shaw) The Motive (London LON145)
TOYAH Moonlight Dancing (EG EGO35)


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