Artist: John Barry
Genre: Film Soundtrack
Year: 1990
Record Label: EMI-Manhattan

CDP-7-90620-2 (1990). Original soundtrack recording from the 1979 James Bond film MOONRAKER. Music composed and conducted by John Barry. Stereo. CD running time: 30:46

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When a U.S. space shuttle is stolen in a midair abduction, only James Bond (Agent 007) can find the evil genius responsible. The clues point to billionaire Hugo Drax, who has devised a scheme to destroy all human life on earth. As Bond races against time to stop Drax's evil plot, he joins forces with Dr. Holly Goodhead, a NASA scientist who is as beautiful as she is brilliant. And 007 needs all the help he can get, for Drax's henchman is none other than Bond's old nemesis Jaws, the indestructible steel-toothed giant. Their adventure leads them all the way to a colossal, orbiting space station, where the stage is set for an epic battle which will determine the fate of all mankind. (Synopsis from

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

The Moonraker soundtrack album is notable for several reasons: one, it features a bigger and more lush orchestration than any of the previous Bond scores; two, we have another track titled "Bond Smells a Rat," the second such instance after Diamonds Are Forever; and three, the James Bond theme is nowhere to be found—although Barry's 007 theme makes its final curtain call in the latter half of track seven ("Bond Arrives in Rio and Boat Chase"). There is obviously a lot of music from the score missing on this relatively short album (under 31 minutes).

Moonraker is arguably the worst of the Bond films, having an even more ludicrous script than The Man With the Golden Gun and being even more derivative of the preceding 007 films than overt parodies such as Our Man Flint and the Matt Helm series. My personal dislike for director Lewis Gilbert's hand in the Bond films comes to its head here. Going as far back as You Only Live Twice, he seems to have the idea that "It's only a Bond film. No one's going to give a flip if it doesn't make sense." I beg to differ. Even an over-the-top movie can be made palatable if it adheres to its own brand of internal logic, as do most of the efforts of Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, and Peter Hunt. Alas, logic—internal or otherwise—has little place in the Lewis Gilbert canon. Christopher Wood's screenplay is at least partially to blame; his novelization of the film—unlike his decent treatment of The Spy Who Loved Me—is almost irredeemably bad, yet it's still several rungs higher on the quality ladder than the movie itself.

As for the characters, Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) is a pale imitation of Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens) from The Spy Who Loved Me (who is himself derivative, although agreeably so, of the biggest and baddest villains in the 007 canon). Roger Moore as Bond is at his most fatuous, and his first scene with Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), where he attempts to one-up her with his apparent knowledge of the Moonraker shuttle, depicts him as little more than an obnoxious schoolboy. The return of Jaws (Richard Kiel) is utterly embarrassing; with the exception of one scene, he is played solely for laughs. The scene in question takes place during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro: A huge figure in a macabre-looking costume materializes from a shadowed alley and approaches the camera—the point of view of Manuela (Emily Bolton), Bond's assistant. The figure removes his tall, grotesque mask, revealing Jaws's deadly serious features. It's an ominous, eerie scene, and is, in fact, one of the better appearances of an evil-doer in any of the Bond films.

Barry's score is majestic and built on full-bodied, melodic motifs. The title song, again sung by Shirley Bassey, is a beautiful, emotionally charged piece, and her ascending voice on the lines, "It always seems you love me" resonates with incredible power. Hal David's lyrics are nothing to write home about, but Bassey's performance virtually negates criticism of its shortcomings—quite unlike Lulu's vocalization of Don Black's lyrics to The Man With the Golden Gun.

In an annoying production move, one of the later tracks in the movie, "Space Lazer (sic) Battle," is placed right after the main title. That said, it's an excellent composition, with a slow, dramatic, martial cadence, heavy on horns and augmented by flowing, madrigal vocals. On film, however, the laser battle ranks among the silliest of all large-scale fights, reminiscent of the underwater fights in Thunderball but with only a fraction of the suspense.

"Miss Goodhead Meets Bond" weaves in a slow, elegant rendition the main title theme, its strains somewhat reminiscent of Barry's Somewhere in Time theme, although nowhere near as poignant. "Cable Car and Snake Fight," comprising two separate cuts from different scenes in the film, opens with a series of staccato notes similar to the concluding moments of "Moon Buggy Chase" from Diamonds Are Forever, then diverges into a heavy, rhythmically pulsing march.

Lyrical and light-toned, "Bond Lured to the Pyramid" again makes use of a madrigal-sounding choir, a touch that nicely enhances the piece's exotic atmosphere. However, it is perhaps too reminiscent of the main title of Diamonds Are Forever, without its grandeur. Not one of the album's highlights.

The best track on the album, "Flight Into Space," runs six minutes and 32 seconds and is used to accompany the Moonraker shuttles' flight to Drax's space station. With dark, baritone brass, the now-familiar martial cadence, and choral accompaniment, this music adds a note of much-needed seriousness to an otherwise foolish film and, as a stand-alone piece on the album, showcases Barry's mastery of musical structure and instrumentation. This cut and the title song make the entire soundtrack worthwhile.

"Bond Arrives in Rio and Boat Chase," again representing two completely separate tracks in the film, gives us a light, Latin version of the main title and a slower-than-usual rendition of Barry's "007" theme. "Centrifuge and Corrine Put Down"—yet another combination of two separate pieces—is slow and suspenseful, with a fuller sound than most comparable Barry compositions. The centrifuge scene is one of the few decent moments in the film: after Bond has just about been crushed by the force of ten-plus Gs, he staggers convincingly away from the machine, unable to so much as crack wise as a horrified Dr. Goodhead comes rushing up to see what has happened. The latter part of the track, which plays during the killing of Drax's most disloyal employee, has a melancholy air, effectively conveying the tragedy of her needless death.

"Bond Smells a Rat" amounts to little this time around; just a few rolling baritone verses and some standard clanking percussion to insinuate suspense; hardly as memorable as the Diamonds Are Forever track of the same title, which incorporates the Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd theme (one of Barry's best little motifs).

The end version of the theme song is a pumped-up, disco-like arrangement that actually works fairly well as an album cut; thankfully, though, it closes the film rather than opens it.

In all, the Moonraker soundtrack, while grand in scale, lacks the diversity of most Barry soundtracks, and with so many tracks having similar arrangements, it's sometimes hard to tell when one ends and another begins, especially if one has not been paying close attention. And it's somewhat disconcerting that the Bond theme is altogether absent from the album. As is often the case, however, Barry's soundtrack adds a considerable degree of class to the movie, which in so many other ways is a waste of perfectly good celluloid.

12/27/12 16:44:53

Film Credits
Producer: Albert R. Broccoli
Associate Producer: William P. Cartlidge
Executive Producer: Michael G. Wilson
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Screenplay: Christopher Wood (based on the novel by Ian Fleming)
Cinematography: Jean Tournier
Film Editor: John Glen
Production Design: Ken Adam, Anton Furst  
Art Direction: Charles Bishop, Max Douy
Title Designer: Maurice Binder
Music: John Barry; Monty Norman (James Bond Theme); Hal David (Title Song Lyrics)
Title Song Sung by Shirley Bassey
Film Running Time: 126 minutes
James Bond: Roger Moore
Dr. Holly Goodhead: Lois Chiles
Hugo Drax: Michael Lonsdale
Jaws: Richard Kiel
Corinne Dufour: Corinne Clery
M: Bernard Lee
Sir Frederick Gray, Minister of Defense: Geoffrey Keen
Q: Desmond Llewelyn
Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell
Chang: Toshirô Suga
Manuela: Emily Bolton
Dolly: Blanche Ravalec
Blonde Beauty: Irka Bochenko
Colonel Scott: Michael Marshall
General Anatol Gogol: Walter Gotell
Mission Control Director: Douglas Lambert

CD Tracks

1.  Main Title: Moonraker (3:11)
2.  Space Laser Battle (2:50)
3.  Miss Goodhead Meets Bond (2:49)
4.  Cable Car and Snake Fight (3:10)
5.  Bond Lured to the Pyramid (2:06)

6.  Flight Into Space (6:33)
7.  Bond Arrives in Rio and Boat Chase (2:38)
8.  Centrifuge and Corrine Put Down (2:38)
9.  Bond Smells a Rat (2:26)
10.  End Title: Moonraker (2:30)

Lyrics by Hal David
Sung by Shirley Bassey

Where are you? Why do you hide?
Where is that moonlight trail that leads to your side?
Just like the Moonraker goes in search of his dream of gold,
I search for love, for someone to have and hold.
I've seen your smile in a thousand dreams,
Felt your touch and it always seems
You love me.
You love me.

Where are you? When will we meet?
Take my unfinished life and make it complete.
Just like the Moonraker knows his dream will come true someday,
I know that you are only a kiss away.

I've seen your smile in a thousand dreams,
Felt your touch and it always seems
You love me.
You love me.