In March 1952, hunched over a typewriter on a semi-circular table in the corner of a Jamaican villa, a man has finally completed his first draft of an espionage novel that would revolutionise the spy-genre. Having spent the better part of a month distracting himself from his impending wedding he lights up a cigarette, content with his manuscript’s candid final words: “The bitch is dead now.” Where
A worthy spectacle and an immersive historical insight into the soundtracks accompanying James Bond through his sixty-year tenure
007: Voices of Bond is a collection of the Bond series’ best known tracks, where the quintet’s repertoire spans from the Connery years and the magic of John Barry all the way up to the modern era of Adele and Billie Eilish. Led by the charming and talented Maia Elsey, the band’s 50-minute slot is compact yet commanding, interplayed with brief but insightful snippets of Bond trivia.
Pianist Luke Cunningham stands out on the likes of License To Kill and You Only Live Twice, where the latter’s beautiful rendition is interwoven perfectly with the mesmerising vocals of Elsey as she sways in rhythm in true Bond girl fashion. Elsey is a more than capable singer, though her voice is not as suited to the deep alto of Shirley Bassey on numbers like Diamonds Are Forever. Where Elsey truly shows her vocal prowess, however, is on numbers like Nobody Does It Better and For Your Eyes Only, which is paired well with her gentle disposition, all the more evident on No Time To Die, though she is nonetheless capable of pulling off a memorable version of Skyfall.
Drums and bass are handled well by James Morgan and Noah Nelson respectively, though at times the volume eclipses the vocals. Alex Beharrell’s skills on guitar are commendable, and he lends his falsetto to Elsey on the likes of Live and Let Die and Another Way To Die. The latter choice, however, is not a sensible Bond opening to go for, and it is hard to imitate Jack White’s distinct nasally vocals without given risk. This is not so much an issue of musical talent as it is an artistic choice, though we can be thankful that Madonna’s Die Another Day was excluded. However, every Bond actor is acknowledged save for Pierce Brosnan. Whilst we can be grateful the days of exploding pens are a thing of the past, it would have been nice to have included a Brosnan era theme. Certainly, ditching Jack White/Alicia Keys’ poorly received, turbulent duet for the catchier Goldeneye or the subtler The World Is Not Enough might have been more palpable and easier for the band to perform. But if this error of selection is evident, it does not dampen the overall cohesion of the quintet nor the act as a whole. Indeed, 007:Voices of Bond is truly a worthy spectacle and an immersive historical insight into the soundtracks accompanying James Bond through his sixty-year tenure, bridging the gap between romantic, nostalgic appeal and gritty, contemporary confidence.