Thursday, November 15, 2018

Aftertoughts on the 'The World Is Not Enough' Soundtrack

The day of 1999 when my grandmother bought me the soundtrack for The World Is Not Enough could have been somewhere on November or December, but it surely was before the release of the film in my country. I was nine years old and already a huge James Bond fan, having watched all (or most of all) the 007 films on VHS, and GoldenEye on TV and Tomorrow Never Dies on the cinema.

Back then my knowledge of James Bond wasn't big. I didn't even know who John Barry was and his important contribution to the music of the series. Also, I didn't even have a CD player or a PC. So the only option to listen to the soundtrack was going to the place of some of my relatives who had a PC or a CD player. The The World Is Not Enough soundtrack was the only CD I had back then besides the The Best of James Bond: 30th Anniversary Collection compilation which, being released in 1992, didn't reach the Pierce Brosnan era.

I remember that day fondly, I was extremely excited because I wasn't expecting to find it and it was a way to own a part of that new James Bond film, besides I heard parts of Garbage's main title song which I adored and, back then, we couldn't just pop into YouTube to listen to a song. You had to get the album, or wait until MTV shows the music video.

Now, as Renard says in the film, "with no more further interruption, let's proceed". I'll go track by track reflecting on the soundtrack. Mind you, I say "reflecting" and not "reviewing" because I'm not what you might call a music expert and I might be wrong when identifying the instruments used by composer David Arnold. So, it's gonna be more of an informal talk about the soundtrack. So, here we go...

Triptic booklet for the MCA Radioactive The World Is Not Enough CD soundtrack release

001. The World Is Not Enough (performed by Garbage, produced by Garbage and David Arnold, lyrics by Don Black) (3:55)
This is probably the best main title song of the Pierce Brosnan era: a versatile and catchy melody, haunting lyrics, and the great voice of Garbage's Shirley Manson. David Anold did a fantastic job composing this tune and the talent of Don Black needs no introduction. He always delivers what people want in the song he writes, in this case anticipating the evil nature of the victim-turned-villain Elektra King: "I know how to hurt, I know how to heal," the song begins. Fantastic. This song has aged quite well in these two decades.

002. Show Me The Money* (1:28) / 003. Come In 007, Your Time Is Up* (5:19)
Tracks two and three of the soundtrack are actually one, but for a reason split in two. Show Me The Money is, in the film, when Bond learns the briefcase he handed Sir Robert King is carrying a concealed explosive. Come In 007, Your Time Is Up contains the boat chase in the Thames River, with Bond on pursuit of the Cigar Girl. I personally think they shouldn't have divided it, let alone separating it during the James Bond Theme build-up (Bond stealing the Q Boat). I'd say that the Show Me The Money part is nothing out of this world, while Come In 007, Your Time Is Up kicks in with eleven powerful notes that derivate from the main title song or the Bond theme. All in all, there is better action tracks in other David Arnold or John Barry 007 soundtracks, but I don't want to remove merit for this one that fantastic during the boat chase.

004. Access Denied (1:33)
After the bombastic tracks two and three, David Arnold tones it down for track four. Access Denied is comprised of what probably are woodwind instruments and synthesizers. The music evokes a mood of mystery, investigation and sophistication with a little pinch of drama. Appropiate elements for the moment where 007 looks up information about Elektra King's kidnapping on the MI6 digital database.

005. M's Confession (1:32)
A dramatic track which is less consistent than Access Denied. It tries to stress on drama, on remembering something from the past, so probably the first word to associate with this music would be melancholy, a melancholy that is wiped out as Arnold introduces some modern synth sound that brings us back to the present. This is from the scene where M tells Bond how she advised Sir Robert King not to pay for Elektra's ransom in order to distract Renard and get a chance to kill him. To me, it's a fairly good track, but it lacks the panache and depth of the other ones.

006. Welcome To Baku (1:41)
And now, here comes the first awesome track of the soundtrack, which also contains characteristic bars of the main title song. As 007 drives his BMW Z8 trough the oil fields of Azerbaijan to meet Elektra, David Arnold gives us a melancholic and ethereal tune echoing the most identificative part of Garbage's song. In the film we have an orchestrated version, while in the soundtrack we also have an ethnic vocal by Natacha Atlas. Both are very good, altough I personally prefer the film version since I find Atlas' vocals a bit distracting. Anyway, this is the big peak of the soundtrack, the one that distinguishes it as a part of that film and it emphazises the Middle Eastern feeling of the story.

007. Casino (2:55)
This is the first track to use the music that characterizes Elektra King, which will be repeated often. Piano, trumpets and flute (I think) make up this adorable song which is sexy and melancholic at the same time. It may qualify as ambient music, in fact it is heard as Elektra King visits Valentin Zukovsky's casino L'Or Noir in Baku, but somehow it distinguishes itself from what you can label as source music because I feel this track has personality, is as if it's inviting us to relax, enjoy and feel a bit of nostalgia at the same time. It works that way with me, at least.

008. Ice Bandits (3:52)
We are back in action again with Ice Bandits. This track goes full techno and its notes again derivate from the main title song. It's catchy and adrenaline inducing, but no better than Come In 007, Your Time Is Up to me.

009. Elektra's Theme (2:06)
The Elektra motif is repeated again, this time in a soft piano version with a few wind instruments in the background. I like it very much, it's romantic but more dramatic and ten times more nostalgic than Casino, but not necessarily better. In fact, I consider it two-dimentional when comparing to the previous one, which I like best. Still, works beautifully for the scene when Bond intimates with Miss King.

010. Body Double (3:00)
Another mystery theme, much less nostalgic than Access Denied. This is for a espionage moment as Bond confronts Davidov and assumes his identity. While most of what we hear must be synthesizers, there are a few strings that make this one quite attractive. Arnold makes a good use of the qanun, a Middle Eastern instrument, for some notes. I adore the feeling of mystery with a touch of ethnical flavour.

011. Going Down - The Bunker (6:27)
This is perhaps my least liked track: too repetitive, a mash of techno sounds superimposing over each other. It starts good, with some suspense, but it gets wrong when it goes full techno and action. In the film, it had a James Bond Theme fanfare during the "Bond, James Bond" moment of this scene. Sadly, it was omitted from the soundtrack.

012. Pipeline (4:15)
This track is comprised of four notes repeated with different intensity, so it's very repetitive but still fantastic. One of the best of this soundtrack: totally catchy and appealing to suspense. The four note cue is accompained by another sound, probably some brass, that gives some direction to the melody until it reaches a spectacular closure. A huge improvement from Going Down - The Bunker.

013. Remember Pleasure (2:45)
Begins with the four notes of Pipeline and follows with a darker, more evil version of Elektra's Theme, perhaps to disclose what we see in the film which is her allegiance with Renard and their love story. I could describe it as a dark romantic theme slightly different to the original version, with some brass adding notes of suspense and cruelty. It's good, not the best of all, but good indeed.

014. Caviar Factory* (6:01)
This one is fantastic, particularly the first minute where Arnold goes full ethnic with Turkish flutes, qanun and other Balkanic sounds as the screen shows us the walkways of the Caspian Sea at night, where Bond confronts Zukovsky until they are surprised by deadly saw choppers and goons sent by Elektra and Renard. Then, the sound breaks with a five note fanfare to introduce us the danger 007, Christmas Jones and Zukovsky have to face. This melody is often intercut with a techno version of the James Bond Theme, which is nice, altough I would have preferred a less techno approach for that.

015. Torture Queen (2:22)
Very much in the vein of M's Confession, but with more darkness a than melancholy. It's a very dark theme for the moment where Elektra tortures Bond. It repeats sounds from the first minutes of Going Down - The Bunker and towards the end it makes use of the four notes from Pipeline. Wooden instruments are used for small percussions or a few distinctive sounds, but what hear the most is an approach to Elektra's Theme without precisely being Elektra's Theme. Nothing really special in this track, except for those few charactersitic sounds of Pipeline and Going Down - The Bunker.

016. I Never Miss (3:32)

We have an action tune again, this one handles brass, strings and piano for a little more than three minutes, with a slight techno feeling as action kicks in after a minute or so of build up. The build up comes as Elektra is about to kill Bond, Zukovsky comes to the rescue, gets killed and Bond gets himself free. Then we have a number of horns playing short sounds as 007 pursues Elektra to the top floor. As he kills her, we have the cue of her theme once again until we resume action, that is Bond jumping to the Bosphorus Sea to catch Renard's sub. This track is nothing special, similar to the last seconds of Pipeline and Going Down - The Bunker in a way, but I liked the Elektra rendition at the end.

017. Submarine* (10:19)

The longest track of the soundtrack covers, as the title implies, the climax at Renard's nuclear submarine. David Arnold takes elements from Pipeline and Caviar Factory, the most important cues of those tracks, and blends them with a mix of action and suspense troughout the 10 minute lenght of the track. Horns and synthesizers play an important role and the sound is a but similar to Going Down - The Bunker as well, but thankfully played at parts. It's overall very good and I liked the reuse of previously heard notes, but just like in Caviar Factory I didn't like the techno riff of the Bond Theme at the end. Could have been done less techno and it could have worked much better.

018. Christmas In Turkey (1:27)
The very last track from the movie is beautiful. A piano and a violin (I think) make up a beautiful composition for the very last scene when 007 and Dr. Jones celebrate, as the title says, Christmas day in Turkey. It's utterly melancholic, but at the same time sweet and definitively romantic. I feel like if this melody conceals the magic of Christmas Eve and love at the same time, that feeling of "the pain is gone, now you are with the girl celebrating", also a concealed "goodbye" to us from the film since this is what we last hear before the end credits in the last James Bond film before the new Millennium. Brilliant music here.

019. Only Myself To Blame** (performed by Scott Walker, produced by David Arnold, lyrics by Don Black) (3:37)
This is a vocal version of Elektra's Theme, although the orchestration is much closer to Casino with piano and brass. It was meant for the end titles but replaced for a new version of the James Bond Theme by David Arnold. The inception of this song what when lyricist Don Black felt that Elektra's Theme had a hidden song, and so he wrote it from the existentialist perspective of a man looking back at his love life and remembering an unique woman whose face he sees "from city to city" following him "round all over the place". This song is beautiful and striking as a standalone piece, but I think they did right in scrapping it out of the end titles because it wouldn't have fit the film as a whole or the happy ending between Bond and Christmas. However, I'm glad it made the soundtrack and it's a spiritual succesor of Louis Armstrong's We Have All The Time In The World from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

020. Sweetest Coma Again*** (Japanese end title song - Performed by Luna Sea and DJ Krush, produced and arranged by Luna Sea) (5:10)
To attract a bigger audience for the film, in Japan the prints of The World Is Not Enough featured a Japanese song titled Sweetest Coma Again, performed by a national band known as Luna Sea and Tokio-born DJ Krush. A translation of the lyrics indicate that the song is related to the film indeed, dealing with a man left in "the sweetest" coma after loving a powerful and manipulative woman, apparently Elektra King. This song is indeed shocking for a James Bond film, particularly with that dance music feeling and the heavy techno melody. I can't really say I like it, but maybe people of Japan think differently. Perhaps a Japanese version of Garbage's song would have been more suitable.

*Contains portions of the James Bond Theme.
**Not heard in the film.
***Only in the Japanese edition of the soundtrack.

Enhanced CD Content (US Theatrical Trailer)
With the upswing of the personal computer era, the The World Is Not Enough CD soundtrack included a CD-ROM "enhanced" content. When you popped in the CD on your drive, the US Theatrical Trailer played in what is now a very low and pixelated quality. Nothing more than that. Watch here (in today's "good quality")

Left: cover artwork for the German edition of the The World Is Not Enough soundtrack, using the international artwork. Right: back cover for the Japanese CD soundtrack featuring Sweetest Coma Again, their exclusive end title song.

Unreleased Music

Some beautiful music for the film was sadly excluded of the CD release, altough two of them were available thanks to David Arnold trough his (now extinct) official web site for a while.

Snow Business (1:16)
It's so beautiful that its omission form the commercial score feels utterly painful. Horns, violins and bells emphasise the beautiful snowy mountains of the Caucasus as Bond and Elektra ski together. Very reminiscent to the beginning of the Ski Chase theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Listen here.

Kazakhstan (1:22)
Another good use of the main title tune in a more powerful and steadfast way than in Welcome To Baku, used for when Bond goes incognito to a nuclear facility installation in Kazakhstan. It begins with a pinch of suspense and exoticism and then the crescendo introduces us the melody of The World Is Not Enough with some horns and drums. Again, it should have been on the album. Listen here.

More Unreleased Music
Some of the music never saw the light outside the film itself, starting with the gunbarrel sound (same as Tomorrow Never Dies but slightly more techno). The escape from the Swiss fight and fight with Lachaise's bodyguards featured a cool orchestration of the James Bond Theme, much better than the other techno sounds that made into the soundtrack. My personal favourite is the one heard as Bond kisses Dr. Warmflash, which consists of a few piano notes of The World Is Not Enough with a synthesizer heard in the background. There are other omitted themes, too, an evil music introducing Renard at the Devil's Breath and a cue similar to Remember Pleasure as Renard arrives to Istanbul to reunite with Elektra. The James Bond Theme from the end credits was not released either, it's actually the trademark Bond music intercut with a small suite of music from the film, the cues we can hear in Come In 007, Your Time Is Up. Listen to this Bond theme version here.

Early track listing
It usually happens that the track listing change their titles since their announcement and The World Is Not Enough wasn't an exception. Here's the preliminary track listing for the Bond 19 soundtrack. One track is missing: Casino. Perhaps they decided to add it later. Anyway, I'll post the early track listing before it gets lost on the cyberspace.

  1. The World Is Not Enough (performed by Garbage)
  2. Show Me The Money
  3. Q Boat Chase
  4. Bonding At The Computer
  5. M's Confession
  6. Baku
  7. Ski Chase
  8. Elektra's Theme: The Bedroom
  9. Spying In Baku
  10. Going Down
  11. Pipeline
  12. M And Renard
  13. Caviar Factory
  14. Garotte
  15. Elektra Upstairs
  16. Submarine
  17. Christmas In Turkey
  18. Only Myself To Blame (performed by Scott Walker)

In retrospect, I see The World Is Not Enough as a fantastic album, perhaps my favourite from David Arnold. While Tomorrow Never Dies is very good and it's very Bondian without doubt, I feel like this one is a bit more exotic and the music fits the film perfectly. I would have preferred that Arnold avoided going too techno sometimes, notably in Going Down - The Bunker, but the romantic and "Bond goes to the mission" tracks have an unique feeling.  

Nicolás Suszczyk

UPDATE - November 23, 2018: La La Land Records has announced a 2 CD edition of this soundtrack complete with unreleased music and bonus tracks to be released on November 27, 2018. Check it out here.

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