Monday, 28 December 2015


those nice chaps at Radiohead done gave us a Christmas present, and some clever fellow down a Q division put it together with the SPECTRE opening credits

Friday, 13 November 2015


the A Girl And A Gun album can only be complete when there are no more James Bond themes to cover (god forbid!)

so please keep popping back to check for updates, keep supporting the amazing acts that have recorded their own versions of these themes, and keep telling your chums about this album


Sunday, 8 November 2015


we had a very special album launch at the Union Chapel on Saturday 007th November, here are some excellent photos (by Paul Hudson) of the cast of thousands, including Ed Dowie who recorded his version of the Bond theme on the chapel organ

Daylight Music 7 November 2015

Friday, 6 November 2015


The eagle eyed among you will have noticed that the last theme to be covered it the Matt Monro classic, From Russia With Love... so here we go, Ladies and Gentlemen - THE LEAF LIBRARY!

I’d like to be able to say that we’ve recorded this version because of my name-based kinship with Matt Monro, or that I personally identify with trying to bump off a British agent with a deadly shoe whilst dressed as a maid. But no, someone else got to The Living Daylights before we did. Dalton’s always been my man – melancholy, minimal and with really good hair. Plus, copping off with a la-di-da cellist always heavily appealed to me. (As it is I ended up with a violinist so can’t complain too much). Anyhoo, ‘From Russia With Love’ was the track we were allocated and there was no way I was going to let ‘M’ Jervis down.

I vaguely remembered the film from sleepy afternoons at gran’s house (mainly the ridiculous shoe/chair fight and JB’s subsequent smug smirk as they chug off into the Venice lagoon) but I didn’t know the song at all. Not the most memorable at the best of times, it has a weirdly vaporous quality that sees it drift away and instantly forgotten as the last note fades. I was so bored by it I couldn’t even be bothered to look up the chords online so we dispensed with trying to recreate it altogether. Instead I found a random Russian folk tune, played in the modern, highly polished style so beloved of our friends behind the curtain, and stretched it to a truly evil 750%, before setting my henchman Lewis loose with all his Russian-themed Ableton synth plugins. Add to that Kate’s gloriously deadpan and detached vocals (literally phoned in) and that’s about the whole of it. I’ve actually really grown to love the lyrics, as wishy-washy as they are, and Matt’s Wikipedia entry makes for some entertaining reading (including being billed on Peter Sellers album as Fred Flange). I like to think our version invokes the sounds of dying nuclear reactors and humming Siberian shortwave radio masts, so let’s just say that it does.

I have never been to Russia although I have read the Master and Margherita. That’s alright, isn’t it?

Friday, 30 October 2015


just a week to go til the A Girl and a Gun launch at the Union Chapel in London - 007th November, from midday

there's a timely radio doc, narrated by Samantha Bond called Somebody Did It Better available in the UK on iPlayer about the songs that didn't make it as Bond themes.

and here's a piece on a new book called The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism

Monday, 26 October 2015

SPECTRE release day

yep... it's out today, and i've got tickets to see it tomorrow (some friends went to the cast and crew screening on Saturday and have been very tight lipped, which is a good thing)

to celebrate we have a special SPECTRE(S) single release, featuring covers of Writing's On The Wall by ROC and Rory McVicar, as well as a special Left Outsides cover of the Spectres song that was mistakenly reviewed as the Sam Smith tune by the Evening Standard (among others)

Friday, 23 October 2015


(thanks to Jeff Mellin in Q division who has worked his magic with Daniel Craig)
yep, it's finally here - TODAY IS A GIRL AND A GUN RELEASE DATE, and to celebrate, here's the Vatican Cellars take on Thunderball:

thanks to everyone who has kindly given their time and hard work to this album; the writers, illustrators, designers and musicians who made these amazing covers of the fantastic Bond themes - just as a reminder (and in order of release):

27-Mar Jack Hayter - Die Another Day
03-Apr Robert Rotifer - GoldenEye
10-Apr the Weisstronauts - James Bond Theme
17-Apr Simon Fox - All Time High
24-Apr Michaelmas - We Have All The Time In The World
01-May the Sly and Unseen - A View to a Kill
08-May Darren Hayman - Goldfinger
15-May Citizen Helene - For Your Eyes Only
22-May Deerful - Three Blind Mice
29-May the Great Electric - James Bond Theme
05-Jun Spaceship Mark - The Man with the Golden Gun
12-Jun Papernut Cambridge - The Man with the Golden Gun
19-Jun Elderly - Live and Let Die
26-Jun Seks Bomba - Casino Royale
03-Jul Jeff Mellin - You Only Live Twice
10-Jul picturebox - Surrender (from Tomorrow Never Dies)
17-Jul Ralegh Long - Tomorrow Never Dies
24-Jul Ani Glass - Tomorrow Never Dies
31-Jul DJ Downfall feat. Theoretical Girl - Moonraker
07-Aug the Left Outsides - Diamonds Are Forever
14-Aug Pam Berry - Underneath The Mango Tree
21-Aug Charm Bracelet - For Your Eyes Only
28-Aug Maija Sofia - Never Say Never Again
04-Sep Snow Leopard Brotherhood - The Living Daylights
11-Sep Tim the Mute - Licence to Kill
18-Sep Keiron Phelan - Another Way To Die
25-Sep Rory McVicar - Writing's On The Wall
02-Oct Ms Goodnight - Skyfall
09-Oct Rebecca Jade - You Know My Name
16-Oct the Fenestration - The World Is Not Enough
23-Oct the Vatican Cellars - Thunderball
30-Oct Cee Bee Beaumont - Death of Fiona
06-Nov the Leaf Library - From Russia With Love
07-Nov Ed Dowie - James Bond Theme (Union Chapel Organ version)

please tell your chums to drop by and download the complete album (and to pay-what-they-want), and to come along to the launch party at the Union Chapel on the 007th November

Friday, 16 October 2015


the 30th free download Bond theme comes from the Fenestration, and is their take on the theme for the World Is Not Enough, originally by Garbage:

we've had a bit of press coverage too; the splendid Say It With Garage Flowers blog have interviewed Ian Button from Papernut Cambridge, Robert Rotifer and me about the album, Bond themes and Bond films

in other news, SPECTRE is out in ten days and tickets have been bought for the 27th... excitement is mounting, so here are some trailers to whet the appetite:

and finally (just because) here's the tune Scott Walker recorded for the love theme (and potential closing credits) of the World Is Not Enough - there's no greater fool in the fool's hall of fame:

Friday, 9 October 2015


and as we all know, Casino Royale was the first Bond film without a classic gunbarrel sequence - here's the lot of them:

Friday, 2 October 2015


yep, we're sticking with Daniel Craig - here's Ms Goodnight's take on Adele's Oscar winner, Skyfall

it's especially for YOU if you've ever wondered what Fleetwood Mac would have done with a Bond theme

Benjamin Lind of the Bond Bulletin reviewed the A Girl And A Gun LP:

There isn´t just Adele or Sheena Easton, Paul McCartney or Tina Turner – there are also Papernut Cambridge, Michael Wood or Ralegh Long who equally embrace and challenge the originals as well as their own talent.

here's the latest SPECTRE featurette

and here's a quick reminder of Adele's Oscar performance:

Friday, 25 September 2015


yep, the rather wonderful Rory McVicar has turned round his cover of the Sam Smith Bond theme in just over thirteen hours

and in case you've not seen, the Evening Standard (and who knows who else) have reviewed the Spectres theme by mistake (apparently not noticing the lack of Sam Smith)


we're going to be a little late with today's cover, but in the mean time:

Friday, 18 September 2015


Bang, bang, bang…

I adore James Bond films. I adore the gadgets, the guns, the sexism, the violence, the villains and I entirely embrace the emotional Fascism. Consider; cats (by nature) are sleek, self-satisfied, vicious, promiscuous, immoral death machines. Yet they are greatly loved. So; why not Bond?

The only thing I dislike about the films is that they are rarely as good as the books. To this day I can recite, verbatim, the entire meal (food, type of wine, cocktails, etc.) consumed by Bond and M in Moonraker Chapter 5, ‘Dinner At Blades’. Time was I could remember the exact four hands of cards held by Bond, M, Sir Hugo Drax and Meyer in the final Bridge rubber played in Chapter 7, ‘The Quickness Of The Hand’.

Tragic, isn’t it?

Listening to the Bond theme songs, as a totality, the remarkable thing is how consistently good they are. There are, of course, some weak spots. ‘Another Way To Die’ (from the excellent, in my opinion, ‘Quantum Of Solace’) is sometimes considered to be one of those. However, I would contend that Jack White generated an exciting and appropriately Bondesque atmosphere in this song. It’s that atmosphere, therefore, that we’ve tried to junk and replace with something entirely different. Because, James Bond never really follows the orders, does he? So, we’re playing his rules…

Keiron Phelan: Vocal, guitar, piano, organ, flute, fuzz-tone electric flute.
Drita Kotaji: Vocal
Simon Trought: Bass, drum machine.
Q Branch: by Simon Trought.

Friday, 11 September 2015


A shy, bookish ten year old with no toys, I threw myself headlong into the exciting world of books. I would read anything at the library whose titles I vaguely recognized from pop culture. James Bond was an obvious contender, his action-man status recognized through several generations of ten year olds as an untouchable ideal of cool. When my favourite teacher took away my James Bond books and told my mum I was reading filth, I was confused. Never had I thought to feel ashamed of my own titillation at the hands of sex and violence. Suddenly, I knew myself.

some new SPECTRE artwork and a tv spot have also been released today:

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Friday, 4 September 2015


this week i learned that Miffy creator Dick Bruna also designed James Bond Book covers (if you are in Holland you could always go to this)

can we get the Snow Leopard Brotherhood to cover the whole a-ha back catalogue?

Friday, 28 August 2015


this week we have the theme to the second non-EON Bond, Never Say Never Again by Maija Sofia, which came out in 1983, just six months after Octopussy

the battle of the bonds:

in other news, we also have POSTERS and BOOKMARKS on the way:

Friday, 21 August 2015


as Sheena Easton is the only singer of a Bond theme tune to appear in the opening credits we have a few videos for you today, starting off with those credits (and what title designer Maurice Binder referred to as her "70mm lips")

then a demo version of the Sheena Easton theme with the early lyrics

and here's a beautifully restored 35mm trailer from the 007 Dossier

and finally, the royal premiere:

Friday, 14 August 2015


thrilled to announce an album launch party for the A Girl And A Gun album

it's a FREE Daylight Music show at the Union Chapel, in London, from midday on November 7th

say you're coming at the facebook event here

and here's what they have to say:

A lazy afternoon with music, tea and cake. An event for all ages. Produced by Arctic Circle. Free entry* midday - till 2.00pm (*suggested donation £5.00) 

Everyone knows the iconic music of James Bond, and WIAIWYA love it so much that they’ve created “A Girl and A Gun”, an excellent online album of covers of Bond themes. This week, Daylight Music is hosting a special 007 show celebrating the album, featuring many of the bands on the compilation. Grab your black tie for the occasion and expect some rather special surprises. 

Friday, 7 August 2015



erm... sorry...

Diamonds Are Forever was the 7th Bond film (and the last EON one to star a tired Sean Connery, returning after Lazenby's OHMSS)... i'm not sure if you had already suspected, but this album (and blog) started life as a quick side project for the wiaiwya-7777777 singles club - a number seven obsessed seven inch vinyl club.

subscribers to wiaiwya-7777777 were to get seven 007 songs as a mid-year bonus... thankfully it all took on a life of its own, and more incredibly talented people than i could have imagined said yes to recording cover versions - among them the remarkable Left Outsides (fresh from releasing their latest long player)

anyway, it co-starred Jimmy Dean (as Willard Whyte) perhaps most famous for "Big Bad John"

i'm currently reading Diamonds Are Forever too - an ex-library copy of those lovely anniversary editions with Michael Gillette covers (one day i'll treat myself to a Live And Let Die print)

Friday, 31 July 2015


it's been a fun week for Bond music, with William Hill suspending bets on who will be recording the SPECTRE theme after someone whacked fifteen grand on Radiohead - before they took it offline the odds were:

Radiohead (6/4)
Sam Smith (2/1)
Ellie Goulding (4/1)
Adele (5/1)
Lana Del Rey (14/1)
Lorde (14/1)
Coldplay (33/1)

and now I think about it, if it's not Lana Del Rey, I kind of like the idea of Ellie Goulding singing with Radiohead.

"that's a wrap"

Moonraker was the third Lewis Gilbert Bond film (after You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me), and was filmed primarily in France (there were a lot of tax exiles about), which meant John Barry could return to do the soundtrack (his previous one had been the Man With The Golden Gun in 1974)

we all of course know that James Bond should have returned in For Your Eyes Only, but the world went space crazy in 1977 (oh, i just noticed Boba Fett was in The Spy Who Loved Me), and Moonraker was made instead... and there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the theme:

Moonraker was originally written by John Barry and Paul Williams for Frank Sinatra, and when (for whatever reason) that didn't happen it went to Johnny Mathis. Apparently Barry asked Williams to rewrite some of the lyrics, but Williams refused saying "when Sinatra likes a lyric, it's finished". Then the Mathis' recording wasn't quite right, and Kate Bush was considered. Finally, after calling Hal David in to write new words in a weekend (having not seen any footage or read the book) the Shirley Bassey theme was recorded.

Speaking of Dame Shirley - we're going DOUBLE BASSEY, with Diamonds Are Forever next Friday 7th August... see you then

Friday, 24 July 2015


Aug Stone on Bond

Atlantic City, 1984. I’m eight years old and we’re on a family holiday. It’s now evening and the adults are off at the casinos whilst my older cousins are doing their version of babysitting. I’m playing with some penguin-on-wheels toy my grandmother has bought me earlier that day on the boardwalk when I hear my cousin Mark exclaim, “Yes! James Bond is on!” The excitement in his voice is that usually reserved for Van Halen coming on the radio and I wander into the other room to investigate what could possibly be so thrilling. On the television screen there are men in all black on skis intently pursuing a figure slightly ahead. I sit down captivated. There was just something about it all.

The film being shown is of course On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And so I was introduced to the world of James Bond via George Lazenby. Who – although the question is a difficult one to answer – in the days before Daniel Craig, I would still rate as my favourite Bond. And OHMSS as my favourite film, and of course, I think most people are in agreement on this, the best book. A few years later in the sixth grade, I brought in OHMSS for our quiet reading time and the teacher called my mother saying this was ‘wildly inappropriate’. The OHMSS theme is also one of the coolest pieces of music ever written.

Let’s jump around a bit, shall we? The year before this, I fondly remember my father telling me one day, with an unusual excitement in his manner, that we are going to the movies this afternoon. This was no casual trip to the cinema. There was a new James Bond film out. Importance hung in the air. As the room darkened and The Living Daylights began I was once again enthralled. That opening scene, again a pursuit down a snowy mountainside, this time Bond and Maryam d’Abo escaping via a cello-case-cum-sled. Timothy Dalton was a damn good Bond. The Welsh one, after Lazenby’s Australian. Before the reboot with Daniel Craig, effectively a year zero, there was each a Scottish (Connory), Australian (Lazenby), English (Moore), Welsh (Dalton), and Irish (Brosnan) Bond. In my wildest imaginings, should they ever crazily opt for an American, I’m still game. Strange about Roger Moore. Much as I love his work, he was much more Bond as The Saint than he was actually portraying James Bond. It somehow became all one-liners then. But of course the films and the books should be treated as separate entities. I was very lucky. Before I saw any of the more outlandish films, my grandmother gave me her rad 1960s Pan editions of the books.

When I first moved to London in September 2003, I brought OHMSS with me to re-read on the plane. And was gutted mid-way through the flight to find that pages 160-168 had at some point become loose from their binding and had parachuted out of the book, deep now on a mission I knew not where. One of the first things I did, after checking in to my hotel off the Moscow Road, was to hightail it to the Notting Hill Waterstones and read those missing sections. That first three-and-a-half month stay in London was one of the best times of my life, and of course a wildly drunken affair. So much so that when I returned to the U.S. in January 2004, something quite special popped into my head. The character of James Vagabond, star agent of Britain’s Drunken Secret Service. It was the most ridiculous idea I’d ever had, and therefore I knew it was worth pursuing. I sat down and in five weeks wrote the first draft of Off-License To Kill . It was marvelous fun to revisit all the old Bond books and watch the films again. What particularly struck me was how in Moonraker it’s actually the girl (Gala Brand) who saves the day. How different from Holly Goodhead in the film. An over-the-top affair overall but I’m still thankful for it. Shirley Bassey’s theme is such a gorgeous piece of music. Back to the books, there was a bit in Goldfinger that has always stuck with me for some reason. Fleming writes about a British agent who had attempted to asphyxiate himself in order not to crack under Nazi interrogation. But he couldn’t do it. Life always wins out.

Goldfinger for me has all sorts of cool and strange resonations. The titular character’s first name being Auric, that ‘Au’ reflected in my own name, and of course being the chemical symbol for gold. Another film having an Avengers presence with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore (both Diana Rigg and Joanna Lumley are in OHMSS and Patrick McNee – R.I.P. – in A View To A Kill. If only Linda Thorson had appeared in one…) Years later I learned of a rather amazing coincidence involving Goldfinger. There’s a minor character in the story named Mr. Solo who opts out of the gold heist and is then crushed to death in his car. One of my favourite songwriters, Mikey Georgeson from David Devant & His Spirit Wife, began a musical project in 2006 under the name ‘Mr. Solo’, taking the moniker from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In 2011, Mr. Georgeson was driving home one night and was hit by a vehicle carrying two tons of gold coins just stolen from Tower Mint. Crashing into Mikey thwarted the thieves. You can read the whole account here 

I wonder how many other such strange coincidences between two of my big loves – Pop Music and James Bond – lurk somewhere beneath the visible aspect of their connection, the James Bond theme tune. A song of cultural importance. This is a fact that needs to be recognised and gotten back on track. LET GOLDFRAPP DO IT. They’d make something worthy of the grandeur. The last time we had a really great theme was ‘View To A Kill’, 30 years ago.

It was exciting to learn in 1997 that various bands were asked to contribute songs for the Tomorrow Never Dies theme. Pulp did one, later surfacing as a b-side of ‘Help The Aged’. I’ve heard that Marc Almond and The Cardigans, as well as a few others, were also approached. And Saint Etienne contributed one.

Now, as obsessive as I am about Bond (more evidence here ), I may even be more so for Saint Et. When they’d play in Boston, Sean Drinkwater and I would go to that show then make the five hour drive to NYC for the two shows there, sleeping on floors and suffering miserable colds. But it was worth it. You can’t imagine the excitement when, after joining the fan club in 1999, I received my copy of the Built On Sand: Rarities 1994-1999 cd and finally got to hear their truly excellent Bond theme. And this only in demo form. When John Jervis asked me to contribute a cover to this

project, their ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ immediately sprung to mind, and the first thing Sean replied when I asked him was ‘Can we do St Et?’

Back then Sean and I always talked about having a St Et style band of our own, the two of us and a female singer. Who sadly we never found. The name of the project would’ve been the R.A.F. But we were busy anyway with Lifestyle. Sean at one point wrote a Bond theme of his own, ‘Never Go Uptown’ ( ). (I think we only ever played this once, at one of the first Lifestyle shows of the 2001 line-up. A good tune though, that should be revisited.)

But things always have a way of coming together. This year Sean and I have been producing Ani Glass’ solo songs (Ani from The Pipettes and The Lovely Wars. First single out July 20th. Have a listen here - ). We record trans-Atlantically with us in Massachusetts and Ani in Cardiff. And when the opportunity arose, the three of us contributed our respective strengths to make a version of Saint Et’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ I couldn’t be more pleased with.

Postscript - On my first visit to Cardiff last year, on a night out in Grangetown, Shirley Bassey’s name came up and Ani pointed towards the bay and said ‘she was born right over there’. And that’s of course what used to be known as Tiger Bay, the title of Saint Etienne’s third album.

Friday, 17 July 2015


when i asked Ralegh if he wanted to write anything about his cover of Sheryl Crow's theme to the 1997 Bond film all he said was "Teri Hatcher"

as a bonus, here are all the Bond title sequences:

Friday, 10 July 2015

SURRENDER (from Tomorrow Never Dies) by PICTUREBOX

James Bond, for me, was definitely more TV than cinema. Childhood TV too. Hence the “was”. So in that sense he was a lot like Batman or The Six Million Dollar Man, less so Wonder Woman. He didn't have any super powers but lots of gadgets and his own special vehicles. Again like Batman. I didn't associate him with anything in the real world at all. I certainly never thought who the enemies were or why he should be after them. The same as never questioning why The Penguin was The Penguin. They were just these enjoyably far-fetched films that appeared on TV, mostly at holiday times it seemed, when we weren't out playing football.

I know I enjoyed them as I remember rushing off to draw bits on the reams of “computer paper” our elder brother recycled our way from work. I also remember seeing “The Spy Who Loved Me” on Betamax, taped off the telly and thinking “That's Ringo Starr's wife,” as Barbara Bach played tunes on the gears in the van. And being confused by Jaws, thinking 1) isn't Jaws a shark? And 2) why has he got big metal teeth anyway? They were no advantage in Moonraker, one of the only ones I ever saw at the cinema.

My brother had the toy Lotus Esprit car, the white one with fins that came out to help it go underwater and several red plastic missiles that could be fired. Or, more likely, lost. I think I had a Starsky and Hutch car myself, as everything had to be fair.

I didn't see much of Mr Bond from the early 80s on till he chucked the Queen out of a helicopter at The Olympics. But I did hear the music.

For this version of “Surrender”, I tried to imagine I was on Chemikal Underground, maybe in Arab Strap, doing it for The Breezeblock or a Peel Session. Cos you have to start somewhere. I wanted that slightly discordant picking guitar which I'd never played before, I wanted it as slow as I could go, and the vocals as low as I could go, even lower, till I chucked them for a robot. The lyrics sound incredibly creepy, so having them as an unwelcome message on an answer machine seemed ideal. And a message left by a robot, why not? It was all experimental. I began to feel quite sorry for the robot by the end. So it seemed like time to call a halt.

Friday, 3 July 2015


You Only Live Twice
(Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Music by John Barry)

Produced, arranged and performed by Jeff Mellin
Mastered by Pete Weiss

Sean Connery in the Canadian Broadcasting Company's production of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth"
(Public Domain, courtesy
Pickens Sisters, "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking"
(Public Domain, courtesy

The Perfect Martini*

Fill your martini glass with ice.
Pour one shot of dry vermouth over the ice.

Pour the ice and vermouth into a cocktail shaker.
Shake. (Don't stir.)

Stain the vermouth back into the martini glass.
Save the ice in the shaker.

Gently swish the vermouth around to coat the inside of the glass.
Dump the vermouth.

Pour two shots of quality gin** over the vermouth-soaked ice in the vermouth-soaked shaker.
Shake. (Don't stir.)

Strain the gin into your martini glass.

Garnish with three olives***.



*Based loosely on a hazy memory of the teachings of guitarist/photographer/bartender/probable spy Jonas Kahn from way back in the 20th century.

**Yes, Bond prefers vodka, but, as is often the case with government officials, Bond is wrong. A drink this simple requires the subtle juniper berry-infused complexity of gin. If you insist on vodka, try using Absolut Peppar, garnished with fresh basil and a cherry tomato. If you’re in a Bond film, drink with Special Agents Basil and Cherry Tomato.

***If you prefer your martini garnished with a twist of lemon, I’d recommend using Philadelphia's own citrus-infused Bluecoat American Gin ( I don’t know if that’s appropriate for an agent of Her Majesty's Secret Service, but again, neither is vodka.

For a Manhattan -- which is what I’ll be having tonight, thank you -- substitute the dry vermouth with sweet, the gin with Kentucky bourbon, and garnish with maraschino cherry.

****Responsibly, of course. You've got a world to save. What's that? It's never been a problem before? Well then...

Friday, 26 June 2015


once again, i'm sorry to say we're dedicating this post to another screen legend - Sir Godfrey Tibbett and of course John Steed - Patrick Macnee


Casino Royale by George Hall

Like most kids my age, I grew up on James Bond movies.  Between the impossibly cool title character, giant technicolor explosions, absurdly ingenious devices and beautiful cars (I still have my toy Aston-Martin), I - a nerdy little kid parked at his parent's TV - was immediately hooked.

And then there's the music, with its dark minor keys and fiendish deployment of the augmented fourth (aka the "Devil's Interval") coupled with sweeping, ominous strings and twangy rock 'n' roll guitar.  Composer / arranger John Barry became an early musical hero, though I didn't know his name until years later (or his guitarist, the perfectly named Vic Flick).

In a world without TiVo, video rental or on-line streaming, the only way to see the earlier Bond movies was to scan the TV Guide pocket magazine for listings.  At a certain point, I was sure I'd seen all of them, but it turns out I missed one: "Casino Royale."

It turns out that long before Sean Connery's Bond debut in 1962's "Dr. No," James Bond had appeared as (of all things) an American in a 1954 episode of a US TV show.  The episode, titled "Casino Royale," took it's name from Ian Fleming's first Bond book. The film rights were later re-sold, then re-re-sold to a certain Charles K. Feldman who, after failing to put together a deal with "proper" Bond film series producer Albert Broccoli, decided to try another tack.

Having seen "Dr No," Feldman knew he couldn't possibly compete - but it being the 60's, with Batman, Susan Sontag and general post-modernism bringing camp into the mainstream, Feldman thought "why not a camp James Bond?" A team was assembled, which included such bona fide legends as Orson Welles, John Huston and Charles Boyer along with contemporary stars David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and even onetime "Bond girl" Ursula Andress. Hi-jinks necessarily ensued, budgets were broken repeatedly, coherence was out the window, and (spoiler alert!) everything blows up at the end.

Make no mistake, the movie is a mess best enjoyed in snippets by fans of 60's kitsch (you know who you are), but the music was another thing entirely.  Assigned to hit songwriter Burt Bacharach, who'd worked on Allen's "What's New Pussycat" and "After the Fox," the result was nothing like John Barry, but quite wonderful its own right and even included a couple of hits in Dusty Springfield's timeless smooch-inducer "The Look of Love" and the title track, a #1 Easy Listening hit for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

The latter is covered here by Seks Bomba - a mostly instrumental band from Boston, MA who absolutely revelled in this sort of thing - in a version which originally appeared on their intermittently obscure 2nd release, 2001's "Somewhere in this Town."

Lori Perkins - Hammond organ
George Hall - guitars, ebow
Chris Cote - guitar
Matt Silbert - bass guitar
Brett Campbell - drums

Recorded & mixed by Pete Weiss

Thursday, 18 June 2015


we're a day early again, but this time for happier reasons


Live and let Die by George Hall


Live & Let Die was the first Bond movie I saw in a theater, and I loved it. In fact, I still love it, despite (or perhaps because of) not having seen it since – I mean, why subject a perfectly good, happy childhood memory to the inevitable trauma of informed, adult scrutiny?

I remember the giant, colorful explosions - our TV at home was still black & white - making up for the disappointing lack of a singular, iconic Bond mobile (not an Aston Martin to be seen!), along with the creepy exotica of New Orleans which, come to think of it, made it my first "blaxploitation" film as well. The switch from erstwhile Bond Sean Connery's vaguely and/or not-vaguely menacing drollery to Roger Moore's blithe (and veddy English) dispenser of one-liners was apparently reviled by "serious" Bondophiles, though I don't recall this being a problem. at least as long as stuff kept blowing up. There was also a boat chase,possibly the greatest in the history of cinema, by my entirely unscientific reckoning.

But above all, there was that Paul McCartney theme song.


As a Beatle freak from the moment I caught a TV re-run of their movie "Help!," I was prepared to love it no matter how terrible it was, but - luckily for me - its combination of high kitsch, pop smarts and absurd-yet-flawlessly-musical lyrics made it an instant classic. I must've been 10 or so when I first heard it, and I'm still 10 whenever I hear it, even today!


The Elderly are a widely unknown supergroup from Boston, Massachusetts, comprising members of such regionally popular performing units as the I Want You, the Weisstronauts, Kingsley Flood, Eddie Japan, New Million Box, Seks Bomba and others. They are responsible for 2 releases, one of which is better than the other.

Jim Gerdeman - vocals, guitar, tin whistle
Kevin Quinn - vocals, bass guitar, patois
Joe Kowalski - misc keys, riddim assemblage, samples, tympani
Michael Spaly - violin, zipper, misc strings, bg vocals
George Hall - guitar, bg vocal
Rafi Sofer - guitar, technical jibber-jabber
Will Davies - drums, bg vocals
Chris Barrett - trumpet, euphonium
Recorded & mixed by Rafi Sofer at Q Division Studios, Somerville, MA

Thursday, 11 June 2015


we're a little early because of today's sad news: this week's blog, track and video are dedicated to The Man With The Golden Gun, Christopher Lee 1922-2015

Corgi 261 – The James Bond Aston Martin DB5

One of my earliest memories of growing up in 60’s suburbia was a fascination with cars – I remember giving my own names to them before I knew what the makes and models really were. A Ford Anglia was a ‘Smiling-Back-To-Front-Car’ according to my toddler logic (which seems no less convincing to me now actually) and a Morris Minor was a ‘Brenda Car’. Not that we knew anyone called Brenda - the car just seemed to be ‘saying’ it.

I had a collection of Corgi and Matchbox toys, many of which I seem to remember inheriting from our next door neighbour Ken Perry who was a few years older and had grown out of his. Sometime about 1966 or 67 I got the James Bond Aston Martin – Corgi 261: for many the crème de la crème of toy cars – although I can’t remember if I had mine from new or if it was one of Ken’s. It definitely had the baddie in the ejector seat included, so if it was his, Ken had been very careful not to lose him in one of his earlier carpet- or table-top- based missions.

Now….we are at the risk of edging dangerously towards Top Gear territory here I know – the model is such an icon that it’s inevitably been written about before – and not surprisingly James May has covered it in a piece here where he goes through lots of the nerd-magnet info you’d expect: that the car isn’t gold in the movie, the rear lights are not the correct shape etc.

For me at the time, of course, it was one of my favourite toys along with other gadget based, weapon-firing TV or film spin off merch like the Batmobile, the lesser known Green Hornet Limousine (I didn’t know the character but his car was excellent with a missile and a nifty spinning radar disc that flew out of the boot), and the brilliant Captain Scarlet vehicles. Two that I coveted and never got were the Monkeemobile the incredible Chitty Chitty Bang Bang model.

Bond, as a concept, wasn’t really any more significant to me that any of those others. I was aware of the movies, perhaps the music more so. I knew the films were sort of ‘sexy’, like the Carry On movies only more glamorous/serious. But of course in the wonderful synaesthesia of childhood the toys, movies, TV, sweets, music, school etc. all merge together somehow…... I could be casually zooming the golden DB5 across the carpet towards an absurdly small Stuka, pondering my deep love for Mrs Peel in the Avengers, and at the same time imagining the dark wardrobe world that Pink Floyd were spinning in my head as I listened to See Emily Play - which is one of the earliest records that really captured my imagination.

I didn’t want any of that to go away – the slightly surreal connections between all the things I loved - it did for a bit I suppose, as I got older, but in later years I’ve managed to get at least some of it back. I got seriously into model aircraft as an older kid, and later in my 20s and 30s rediscovered and honed that hobby into an all consuming obsession to fill the free time alongside my jobs playing in bands back then. I became fanatical about detail, colours, scale and accuracy (that bullet proof shield on the Bond DB5 would be totally impractical if it was full size you know. It would be about 4 inches thick and the tyres could never take the weight!). The smell of enamel paint or cranked-up Scalextric motors will always be linked to some of my favourite records and TV. The glint of a tiny jewelled headlamp can conjure up much more than just the movie the car was in.

I didn’t stick with Bond movies beyond the 70’s I must confess. But my love of cars never went away, and even the most mundane gadgetry in a real motor can give me almost as much of a thrill as those tyre slashers on the Bond DB5. As I hit mid-life I went through a few classics – I wasn’t quite as bad as Jamiroquai, and a real Aston Martin was never going to happen obviously – but after a series of questionable (blind) eBay purchases that I didn’t keep for very long, I’ve settled on something suited to my age, psyche and need for comfort. It’s not a Bond car. But it’s the exact car that Roger Moore drives in the movie he made three years before he first played 007 - The Man Who Haunted Himself……..

The Song:
I chose The Man With The Golden Gun because it’s definitely one of the underdog ones (although this is now its second appearance in this project!!). As a song, people seem not to rate it much in the Bond canon, but it’s actually brilliant - that arrangement is really…..naughty sounding. And Lulu is cool. She was pretty great early on - I loved her version of The Boat That I Row as a kid - and at the time of this theme she was going through her Bowie collaboration too, so became even cooler to the likes of me at the time. If you think about it this tune does have a little Diamond Dogs-era Bowie drama about it, though I doubt John Barry and Don Black were thinking about that when they wrote it.

The Video:
When I asked fellow Papernut alumni if they wanted to contribute anything to the track, I wasn’t quite expecting what Ralegh Long came up with – namely no music, but the offer to use some video footage from a spoof Bond movie called Blackeye that he and some friends had made when they were schoolboys. It’s the perfect thing, looks loads of fun, and it’s quite sobering now to realize that when they made this I was already the wrong side of 30 playing and touring with Death In Vegas, and probably not being any more grown up than they were!

Here’s a few words from Tom Kingsley, Blackeye’s director:

“This video is an extremely condensed version of an hour long James Bond film that some friends and I made in 1998, when we were twelve.  It has about five minutes that are actually good, and fifty-five that are almost unbearable to watch. This edit makes it look a lot better than it really was. Blackeye was shot on the school camcorder, with the assistance of most of our year group, who enthusiastically died many times on camera. When an athletic French exchange student called Alexis came along in the summer term, we roped him in to doing a lot of extra stunts in the final showdown sequence. We shot the film in chronological order with a story that we made up as we went along, and so the film gets better and better towards the end, when *SPOILER* James Bond fails to stop Blofeld blowing up the entire planet.”

Friday, 5 June 2015


Mark is also a part of Saturday's School of Noise at the Union Chapel

The Man with the Golden Gun by Crock Oss

It’s all my wife’s fault. Since we met ten years ago she had been telling me how we must go to Thailand, about what an amazing place it was. Whilst I had little doubt this was true I was put off by the thought of spending a day or so travelling to get to a place where it would often be too hot to do anything except sit around on a beach. Well last year I finally broke. I agreed we would spend the Easter holidays in Thailand, provided Becca did all the organising.

I worried about flying via Moscow with Aeroflot. I worried about bags going missing in transit. I worried I wouldn’t be able to find any food that I liked. I worried that I was going to be bored.

I had a vague recollection that there was a James Bond film that had been shot on location in Thailand somewhere. When we arrived it became apparent that we weren’t too far from the location, which seemed to be universally referred to as ‘James Bond Island’. All the local tour companies advertised day trips which included the island, usually in combination with seemingly unlikely companions such as canoeing, ‘floating Muslim village’ and ‘Buddha cave temple’.

A little research revealed that the island location had been used for the hideout of the villain Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, in the 1974 Roger Moore Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Many of the reviews of the film were less that favourable and I tried to recall if it was one I had seen.

I grew up in the 1980s, when Roger Moore’s Bond was a staple of Bank Holiday Sunday afternoons. As a child I don’t think I saw beyond the car chases and pretty girls but with the benefit of hindsight some of Moore’s films are, well, not very good. The Man with the Golden Gun, is a case in point. A reclusive assassin decides, for some reason, that taking out contracts for ‘a million a shot’ isn’t good enough and he decides to corner the World’s market in renewable energy. By stealing and murdering. This won’t do of course, so Bond is dispatched to sort it out. His stunt man does some kung fu. A naked girl called ‘Chu Me’ (really) swims for no reason. Some school girls do kung fu. He has a chase accompanied by a really annoying ‘comedy’ American sheriff. The best stunt in movie history is ruined by a swanee whistle. He is supposed to be helped by Britt Eckland, but she’s useless. Bond kills the baddies and then makes a ‘coming’ joke. MI6 have Scaramanga’s had phone number all along. The End.

I remembered seeing on Twitter than wiaiwya were doing this blog/album so, half joking, I sent a tweet offering to ‘sing into my phone’ on the beach. The reply told me to go for it. The Man with the Golden Gun is John Barry’s least favourite Bond soundtrack (he had two weeks to write the complete score) and the theme song, sung by Lulu, is great big messy single entendre. But that was what it had to be.

We booked a trip to James Bond Island and, after an hour and half in a beautifully air conditioned mini bus and twenty minutes on a long tail boat we arrived at the island. Khao Phing Kan and Ko Tapu, known collectively to tourists and locals alike as James Bond Island, are instantly recognisable. The 20 metre tall islet of Ko Tapu is ingrained in the subconscious of anyone who’s seen even bits of The Man with the Golden Gun. The islands look the same, the beaches look the same. However, where once were the funky seventies entrances to Scaramanga’s lair are now a collection of gift shops selling tat. And of course the island is no longer the home to just a triple-nippled assassin, his midget butler and beefy mute technician. It is now crawling with tourists recreating Bond and Scaramanga’s dual, videoing the ‘turn to the camera’ gun aiming move (we did both) and trying to spot which parts of the island doubled for which part of the lair.

You only get half an hour so on the island so I quickly set up the iPad, recorded the sound of the sea and the tourists and whispered the vocal into my phone (unused it the end, although a similar vocal recorded in Bangkok survives, almost imperceptivity). Photos taken, we re-boarded our boat and at this point it became apparent what an impact the film has had on the area. Prior to 1974 the islands were little visited, now thousands a day disembark to explore. Not only that, the majority are then taken to one of a number of river cruisers, moored permanently in a channel off the main bay. Here they are loaded onto canoes and paddled around the sea caves by a local oarsman. Next the boats set off for the village of Koh Panyee. When the village’s original Muslim inhabitants arrived from Indonesia, it was prohibited for non-Thai nationals to own land. Thus the fishing village was built on stilts. Much of the income of the village still comes from fishing, but in the dry season a series of huge waterfront restaurants serve a simple lunch to the James Bond Island tourists and a market behind sells souvenirs and local produce.

I found it remarkable that a few short scenes in a, pretty bad, 1974 film have led to the creation of an entire regional tourist industry. Hundreds of people’s livelihoods depend, if not fully, then partially on the existence of two tiny islands where Roger Moore and Christopher Lee once stood back to back against the stunning tower karst seascape.

Returning to the song, having programmed a basic version of music for the Island recordings, I worked on them further at out hotels in Railay and Bangkok. As we were flying home via Moscow it seemed that I must record something there, so I dictaphoned an announcement on the aircraft and did some more work on the track in an airport coffee shop. When we finally got home I added a few more bits, mixed it all together and then, finally, took a drive to Pinewood Studios. If this was to have proper James Bond location credits then those credits had to end with ‘and at Pinewood Studios, London, England’.

Mark Williamson records iPhone pop as Crock Oss and works with field recordings and found sounds as Spaceship.