|Soundtrack album by John Barry|
|Producer||Frank Collura (Reissue)|
|John Barry chronology|
|Singles from Thunderball|
The album was first released by United Artists Records in 1965 in both monaural and stereo editions, with a CD release in 1988. The music was composed and conducted by John Barry, and performed by the John Barry Orchestra. This was Barry's third soundtrack for the series. The soundtrack was still being recorded when it came time for the album to be released, so the LP only featured twelve tracks from earlier in the film; an expanded edition with six bonus tracks was released for the first time when the album was reissued on Compact Disc on 25 February 2003 as part of the "James Bond Remastered" collection. Additionally, the music in the film was unfinished days before the film's release in theatres due to a late change by Eon Productions to use a title song with the same name as the film.
The original main title theme to Thunderball was titled Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which was written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse. The title was taken from an Italian journalist who in 1962 dubbed agent 007 as "Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang". Barry had thought he could not write a song about a vague "Thunderball" term or the film's story, so his song was a description of the character James Bond.
The song was originally recorded by Shirley Bassey. When there were problems with Bassey's singing it was later rerecorded by Dionne Warwick and featured a longer instrumental opening designed so the lyrics would not be heard until after the title "Thunderball" appeared in Maurice Binder's title design. Both versions were not released until the 1990s. The song was removed from the title credits after United Artists requested that the theme song contain the film's title in its lyrics. When it was planned to use the Warwick version in the end titles Shirley Bassey sued the producers with the result being that neither version was heard in the film and different instrumental versions of the theme appeared on the High Fidelity (Bassey's) and Stereo (Warwick's) soundtrack LPs.
Barry teamed up with lyricist Don Black and wrote "Thunderball" in a rush. Tom Jones, who sang the new theme song, fainted in the recording booth after singing the song's final, high note. Jones said of the final note, "I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning."
The producers' decision to change the film's theme song so close to the release date meant that only some of the film's soundtrack had been recorded for release on LP. Adding to the delay issues, Barry had written large amounts of the score around the original theme and woven it throughout the score (along with the recurring underwater "Search For Vulcan" motif). After "Thunderball" was written, Barry wrote, orchestrated, and recorded several new pieces interpolating it. Barry's scores always included a track which gave the film's theme song a full statement in the form of a sensitive, slowed-down instrumental ballad, often played over a romantic moment or a scene set in a nightclub or casino; he re-arranged "Thunderball" as a lush, subtly jazzy orchestral piece in the easy listening style that was popular at the time.
Though "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was dropped as the theme song, some of the pieces which included its melody remained part of the score, and it receives full statements twice: by full orchestra and jazz rhythm quartet with bass, drums, guitar, and vibraphone in the track "Café Martinique" (immediately followed by the "Vulcan" cue), and as a wild, bongo-laden cha-cha-cha in "Death of Fiona." The scene which includes the latter, it should also be noted, takes place at Club Kiss Kiss, and features the bongo drumming of bandleader King Errisson. Because Thunderball's score had, essentially, two main themes to work from, as well as the "Search For Vulcan" cue and the "James Bond Theme," it is arguably[weasel words] the richest of the early Bond scores, thematically speaking.