Music Composed & Conducted by John Barry

Original CD Release:
Year: 1990
Label: EMI-Manhattan
Catalog No: CDP-7-90628-2
CD running time: 39:03
Remastered CD Release:
Year: 2003
Label: Capitol-EMI
Catalog No: 72435-80589-2-5
CD running time: 79:03

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The thrills never let up as James Bond dives into this riveting adventure filled with explosive confrontations and amazing underwater action sequences. As Agent 007, Sean Connery brings his characteristic style, humor and magnetism to one of the most exciting films of the phenomenally popular series. In a bold and deadly scheme, the evil SPECTRE organization hijacks a NATO plane and seizes two atomic warheads, each capable of killing millions of innocent people. As the world is held hostage by the threat of a nuclear nightmare, Bond jumps into action, racing against the clock as the trail leads him to tropical Nassau. There he meets Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), a high-ranking agent of SPECTRE, and the stunning Domino (Claudine Auger), with whom Bond shares an irresistible attraction. The confrontation builds to an epic battle on the ocean floor, as Bond and his allies fight to avert a catastrophe of disastrous proportions. From 007's thrilling jet-pack flight to his heart-stopping clash with Largo's killer sharks, Thunderball is a stupendous mixture of action, romance and edge-of-your-seat suspense. (Synopsis from CD WOW.)

Damned Rodan's Album Review
Rating (out of 5):

When I first picked up the Thunderball soundtrack LP back in the mid 70s, I enjoyed it, but it didn't particularly strike a chord in me as had the scores to Goldfinger and On Her Majesty's Secret Service. For over 20 years, I had not given it a listen, but when I received a copy of the CD as a gift this past Christmas, I was pleasantly reminded just how good the album really is. It's easily the most atmospheric of all Barry's Bond scores, with lots of eerie, muted tones to capture the murky sense of being underwater, and potent but restrained (rather unlike Goldfinger) brass and woodwinds to convey the import of the nuclear threat of SPECTRE.

The title song, sung by Tom Jones, is reminiscent of Goldfinger, and Jones has a powerful voice that is not far from the male equivalent of Shirley Bassey. It certainly rates as one of my favorite Bond title themes, along with Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Diamonds Are Forever. Next comes "Chateau Flight," which can't be beat for dark suspense transitioning to sheer excitement (although in the film itself, it precedes the title sequence). This piece perfectly accompanies the scene of Bond making his escape from his fatal fight with Colonel Jacques Bouvier, an assassin who murdered two of Bond's colleagues. Then we have "The Spa," "Switching the Body," and "The Bomb," which absolutely drip with atmosphere and easily rate among the best aural backdrops of the entire series. The muted, chiming arpeggios that accompany many of the underwater sequences capture the feeling of being "in deep" better than any conceivable sound effect.

At last, Barry treats us to some of his lush, romantic themes that are used only as background in the movies but are so utterly lovely that their inclusion on the albums is absolute necessity. "Café Martinique" (erroneously spelled "Cape" on the CD track listing) and the instrumental "Thunderball" (Tracks 6 and 7 respectively) are soft and superb counterpoints to the tension of the preceding cuts, and while they rightfully do not dominate the scenes in the film, they serve to accentuate Bond's softer side on a relatively subtle level. Compositions such as "Try" from On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "Tiffany Case" from Diamonds Are Forever have the same softening effect and make for very enjoyable stand-alone pieces on the albums themselves.

Tension returns with "Death of Fiona," "Bond Below the Disco Volante," and "The Search for the Vulcan." And the "007" theme is reprised here, with a somewhat grander orchestration than in From Russia With Love.

The album concludes with a track that is never played in the movie itself, except as a theme interpolated into other compositions: "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which is the essence of James Bond. Originally, this theme was written to be the title song, and two versions were recorded, one with Shirley Bassey and another with Dionne Warwick as vocalists (neither of which were very impressive). However, the producers wanted the opening theme to feature the film's title in the lyrics, so "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was relegated to an instrumental piece. As an album cut, it's an absolute winner; one of John Barry's most distinctive pieces and a James Bond audiophile's dream.

As a film, Thunderball is closer to the book than many, mainly because Fleming wrote the novel based on ideas that he, Jack Whittingham, and Kevin McClory came up with for a possible screenplay. The movie is another step toward gadget-filled campiness, which became a trend after Goldfinger, but fortunately, Bond's serious side remains mostly intact. Bond and Q (Desmond Llewelyn) swap some of their sharpest barbs in Thunderball, and Bond's tryst with the murderous Fiona (Luciana Paluzzi) is one of the most memorable of the entire series. Our villain, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), to a degree resembles Goldfinger in character and stature, and while he is hardly as imposing as his predecessor (partially due to the fact that he's subservient to the mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, whom we almost view this time around), he makes an impressive and daunting foe for James Bond. An unnecessarily complex plot and a whiff of the silliness that will later come to dominate the films place Thunderball a notch or two behind 007's best, but it's still a highly respectable James Bond film and a wonderful showcase for John Barry's steadily maturing musical talent.

Notes on the Remastered Album
Barry was still scoring Thunderball when the producers demanded that the soundtrack album be released in time for Christmas, 1965. Therefore, the original album does not include music from the last half of the film; only now, some 38 years after its release are we able to get the complete score. The remastered edition features an additional 40 minutes of music—six additional tracks, each divided into numerous cues, in their original sequence from the movie—including the opening "Gunbarrel" theme. The emphasis is on action themes, with a liberal sprinkling of suspense and atmosphere.

It would have been nicer if the various cues in the six tracks had simply been numbered and titled separately, as on the rest of the remastered editions; it would make identifying specific portions of music somewhat easier. Regardless, the extra tracks add a new dimension to the Thunderball soundtrack: a bigger, grander sound that accentuates that mounting spectacle as the film builds to its climax. "Shark Tank," "Lights Out for Paula," and "For King and Country" are particularly effective pieces, with excellent blends of atmosphere and action.

"Street Chase" is a suspense-edged version of the "007" theme, dominated by clattering, Caribbean-styled percussion, which accompanies Bond's attempt to escape Fiona and the SPECTRE thugs. "007" comes up again in "Bond Joins the Underwater Battle" and "Underwater Mayhem," with slow, powerful orchestrations capped by shrill woodwinds and staccato percussion. The pace picks up in "Death of Largo," as the Disco Volante careers out of control, a scene somewhat spoiled by terrible, overcranked rear-projection.

As on the original album, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is the concluding track, this time a mono recording with a somewhat sparser and jazzier sound. It's a very nice rendition, although I prefer the one on original album. The CD does not feature either of the vocal versions, a fact that bothers me little, as the vocals and exceptionally silly lyrics detract from the music itself. In the end, we came out a lot better with Mr. Jones singing the title song.  

12/27/12 16:48:05

Film Credits
Producers: Kevin McClory, Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman
Director: Terence Young
Story: Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ian Fleming
Original Screenplay: Jack Whittingham
Screenplay: Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins
Cinematography: Ted Moore  
Film Editor: Ernest Hosler   
Production Design: Ken Adam  
Art Direction: Peter Murton
Title Designer: Maurice Binder
Music: John Barry; Monty Norman (James Bond Theme); Don Black (Title Song Lyrics)
Title Song Sung by Tom Jones
Film Running Time: 129 minutes
James Bond: Sean Connery
Domino: Claudine Auger
Emilio Largo: Adolfo Celi
Fiona Volpe: Luciana Paluzzi
Felix Leiter: Rik Van Nutter
Count Lippe: Guy Doleman
Patricia Fearing: Molly Peters
Paula Caplan: Martine Beswick
M: Bernard Lee
Major Boothroyd (Q): Desmond Llewelyn
Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell
Foreign Secretary: Roland Culver
Pinder Romania: Earl Cameron
Maj. Francois Derval/Angelo Palazzi: Paul Stassino
Madame Bouvoir: Rose Alba
Vargas: Philip Locke
Kutze: George Pravda
Janni: Michael Brennan
Group Captain: Leonard Sachs
Air Vice Marshal: Edward Underdown
Kenniston: Reginald Beckwith
Hydrofoil Captain: Harold Sanderson
Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Anthony Dawson
Voice of Largo: Robert Rietty
Voice of Domino: Monica van der Syl
Voice of Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Joseph Wiseman

*Some sources—including the From Russia With Love DVD documentary—credit Eric Pohlmann as Blofeld's voice for both From Russia With Love and Thunderball; however, the most reliable information (as well as my own personal perception) is that Joseph Wiseman is, in fact, the voice actor in Thunderball.

CD Tracks

1.  Main Title: Thunderball (3:03)
2.  Chateau Flight (2:31)
3.  The Spa (2:41)
4.  Switching the Body (2:46)
5.  The Bomb (5:42)
6.  Café Martinique (3:48)

7.  Thunderball (3:57)
8.  Death of Fiona (2:28)
9.  Bond Below the Disco Volante (3:55)
10.  Search for the Vulcan (2:24)
11.  007 (2:26)
12.  Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (3:15)

Bonus Tracks (Remastered Edition)

13.  Gunbarrel/Traction Table/Gassing the Plane/
       Car Chase (4:43)
14.  Bond Meets Domino/Shark Tank/Lights Out
       for Paula/For King and Country (8:18)
15.  Street Chase (3:23)

16.  Finding the Plane/Underwater Ballet/
       Bond With SPECTRE Frogmen/
       Leiter to the Rescue/Bond Joins Underwater Battle (10:15)
17.  Underwater Mayhem/Death of Largo/End Titles (10:21)
18.  Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Mono] (2:41)



Lyrics by Don Black
Sung by Tom Jones

He always runs while others walk.
He acts while other men just talk.
He looks at this world and wants it all,
So he strikes like Thunderball.

He knows the meaning of success.
His needs are more so he gives less.
They call him the winner who takes all,
And he strikes like Thunderball.

Any woman he wants he'll get.
He will break any heart without regret.

His days of asking are all gone.
His fight goes on and on and on.
But he thinks that the fight is worth it all,
So he strikes like Thunderball.