Friday, 27 March 2015


Oh BONDage! Up Yours - Jack Hayter March 2015

Of the twenty four Bond films to date, I have finished just three; Doctor No, Die Another Day and Skyfall. Nevertheless, James Bond has punctuated my life for as long as I can remember with his unattainable cars, undesirable guns, some admirable villains and women who never seemed quite as attractive to me as they did to the other boys...  apart from Rosa Klebb  (хлеб и розы - translated as Bread and Roses) who I pledged my heart to irredeemably a long, long time ago.

I am not a fan of the Bond films and so find it odd that I am opening this series. I start watching them and then lose patience really quickly. Perhaps it’s because I come from a family with strong ties to the Royal Marine Commandos (that pool of men from which Special Reconnaissance “operatives” are recruited in the real world) that I struggle to suspend my disbelief.

I am a peaceful bloke... a militant pacifist I suppose unless pushed, but ironically it's the business of Bond's weaponry that always drives me to distraction first. What on earth would a real man have to do with "a lady’s gun, (and not a really nice lady at that)" like a  Beretta 6.5? (They had to change it for a Walther PPK for the films because it looked so ridiculously small), and why would a supposedly secret agent be issued with a pistol that requires his unique biometric palm print identification to fire? ... and then Skyfall’s wrinkled retainer Albert Finney says “Your  father’s old hunting rifle” as he wields a big game hunters express gun which probably has a useful range and accuracy less than that of a blimmin’ Beretta.

of course, it shouldn't matter, but if you’re making a very expensive movie about real men with guns you probably ought to get that stuff broadly right.

I also happen to know the family of a real life loner undercover Bond type ‘hero’ who spent years in deep cover in various parts of the world. By all accounts this man was a wreck, a psychotic  junkie who woke screaming every night and who was so damaged, creepy and needy that no woman in the world would go near him.

So, Bond scripts are patriotic claptrap and pretty average fantasy compare to, say, the Bourne series, but you know that, so we can put it aside and ignore all of the above BECAUSE...

...the soundtracks are another matter entirely. Monty Norman’s 007 theme itself is brilliant...dark urgent relentless and repetitive. It sounds just like it was meant to be the theme for the BBC Six O’Clock News; minimal too despite the big-bandness of it with just three simple chords and no conventional tune - completely wasted on the films of course.

 Most of the songs are pretty strong too (though Lani Hall’s "Never Say Never" has never done it for me) and they encapsulate the production styles and fashions of their time and I’m really looking forward to the reworkings that will make up this series.

I came late to the game and was allocated Madonna and Mirwais’ “Die Another Day” to be reworked as a pedal steel version. With the exception of one guitar part and a kick drum sound created by kicking a filing cabinet that’s what I did... although I cheated a little by making the snare and cymbal sounds with a Quality Street tin balancing on the strings as I plucked them.

I came to like the song after a slow start and recorded it in the weeks just after I had come home from hospital after a rather close call with the grim it all came together quite unnaturally.

Aaah, Rosa Klebb... There was a woman you could do business with.

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