What do music producer Andrew Curry and James Bond have in common?
Curry’s latest project, always the discussion among power pop music fans, is a compilation of interpretations of 26 songs from all the James Bond movies. (Review coming tomorrow) I was able to ask Curry a few questions about the compilation in the middle of his media blitz:
Why James Bond songs?
I really enjoyed putting my previous two compilations together. But both of them were pretty narrowly focused on a five or six year period of music history. So I started thinking about what I might be able to do that would hold together thematically while covering a much wider period of time. A tribute to a single musician who has been around for decades probably could have fit the bill. But I didn’t particularly want to go that route. Then James Bond just hit me. I was a fan of the films growing up, and so many of the songs were staples on the radio. And it fit perfectly with what I wanted – a single, unifying theme, but one that covered five or six decades rather than five or six years.
There are several James Bond songs which are iconic. Did you give any instructions to the artists who happened to get those?
I’m always steadfast in my insistence that the musicians have total control over how they approach a song. I’m not a musician, so it’s always felt like the height of presumptuousness for me to give a musician a list of demands for how to come at a song. Now I will admit to trying to pair songs with artists whose style I thought would best suit the track. But once I did that, it was entirely in their hands how they approached the songs.
What was different about producing Songs, Bond Songs than your other projects?
Well, there was much more flexibility with the other projects. On Here Comes The Reign Again, if someone decided that the Howard Jones song they selected wasn’t going to work out the way they wanted it to, then we could go find another song from the genre and move forward. But on Bond Songs, if someone decides, for example, that “Diamonds Are Forever” just isn’t going to work, I can’t just leave that song off the comp. The nature of billing this as “EVERY BOND SONG!” is that I actually have to have EVERY BOND SONG. But on more than a couple of occasions, I had to find new musicians to do tracks, which made keeping to deadlines much more difficult. (I should add here that The Corner Laughers were the only artists ever to sign on for “Diamonds Are Forever,” and they did an incredible job with it, never complaining once!)
What’s your favorite interpretation?
Come on, now. You can’t ask a parent which kid is his favorite, can you? But I will point out a track that made me re-evaluate a song that I previously wasn’t too crazy about. I’ve long found “Die Another Day” to be not only a lesser Bond song but also a minor entry on Madonna’s list of hits. But Joe Seiders (aka Big-Box Store) is a wizard at stripping down a song and building it back, using only its essential parts. So the dreadful AutoTune that Madonna overused is gone. As are the campy, out of place references to Sigmund Freud. Joe made it a song I genuinely enjoy rather than one I included because I was obligated.
Was there any common thread to all the Bond songs that you found while listening to them? Any that just didn’t fit the genre?
The Bond songs really have distinct eras. There are the big, lush orchestral songs from the earliest films: “Goldfinger”; “Thunderball”; “You Only Live Twice”. There are the soft rock hits of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s: “Nobody Does It Better”; “For Your Eyes Only”; “All Time High.” The brief nod to new wave with “A View To A Kill” and “The Living Daylights.” An indie rock phase that saw guys like Chris Cornell and Jack White writing Bond songs. With Adele and Sam Smith’s most recent entries, both of which won Oscars, we seem to be back to big and lush. As individual tracks, they wouldn’t seem to hold together particularly well, but because of their association with the film franchise, I think of songs as wildly different from each other as “From Russia With Love” and “You Know My Name” as peas in a pod.
Any ideas for your next project?
I’m in the very earliest stages of kicking around my latest idea. I’ve only told my wife and one other person about it. I think people might be surprised by it. I just hope it’s a good surprise!
Loaded question: Will the Astros win the pennant?
Dude…as a Houston sports fan, I’m well trained to expect the bottom to fall out at any moment. But, man, are they a lot of fun to watch right now. Baseball has been my favorite sport since I was old enough to care. I even have an Astros logo tattooed on my arm (much to my mother’s eternal dismay). I once joked to my wife that I’d sever a pinky if it meant the Astros would win the World Series. Talk to me again in October, but for now I feel…let’s say “cautiously optimistic.”
Coming tomorrow: Songs, Bond Songs: The Review