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The 60's spy craze produced not only great cover versions of spy music, but great album cover art. The cover art was often better than the music, but that's part of the fun. The cheesier the better. I can't possibly cover everything here, but see if any of these are your cup of T.N.T.
Probably the all time best covers in both categories are the three "The James Bond Thrillers" LPs by The Roland Shaw Orchestra. Not just the songs everyone knew, but even the incidental background music! They probably had the only recordings of "Pussy Galore's Flying Circus" and "Let The Love Come Through" at the time and often had unique arrangements of tunes like "Twisting With James" and "Chateau Fight" that made them even more amazing.
"The Return Of James Bond", a two album set released in 1971 included all the Bond themes up to "Diamonds Are Forever" plus "The Avengers", "I Spy", "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", "The Saint", "Our Man Flint", and more... PLUS a genuine photocopy of Sean Connery's picture and autograph!!!!! Was life good or what? Keep reading...
"James Bond in Action / Themes for Secret Agents" is a 2 CD set on the Cherry Red/Poker label with all the music from the "Return of James Bond" 2 LP set - including the Diamonds Reprise and most of the music from the original three LPs... It's missing 8 tracks! (which I am told are lost!)
"Music To Read James Bond By", "Music To Read James Bond By Vol. Two", and "The Incredible World Of James Bond", are LPs United Artists put out with a mixture of soundtrack cuts, covers by Leroy Holmes, Ferrante and Teicher, Perez Prado, Al Caiola, and Count Basie as well as some loungy originals in the style of Bond. Several Tracks have turned up on the Ultra-Lounge series.
Also from the United Artists vaults are some unique takes on Bond tunes. Ray Barretto's "Señor 007", Count Basie's "Basie meets Bond" (both on CD!) and...
Al Caiola's "Sounds For Spies And Private Eyes"
Now pay attention 007. Both "The James Bond Songbook" CD (released on LP as "James Bond and his Sextet") and "Confidential Sounds For A Secret Agent" by the David Lloyd Orchestra have different arrangements of the same tunes There were only four Bond films at the time. (Dr. No, FRWL, Goldfinger, and T-ball) so titles after T-ball are originals... and they're pretty good! (James Bond - no relation - is a jazz bassist and wrote the YOLT and Golden Gun tracks.)
Apparently David Lloyd teamed up with Johnny Pearson for a spy album that I've never found, but Johnny Pearson and the Sounds Orchestral put out a nice collection of Bond music, "Impressions Of James Bond" which is on CD as "Sounds Orchestral Meet James Bond".
As collections go, they don't get much better than Billy Strange's "Secret Agent File". All the best spy tunes and fantastic twangy arrangements.
Crescendo put out a CD dropping the "9th Man Theme" (and I swear a couple of seconds from the middle of "Get Smart"). They added "You Only Live Twice" (also performed by Strange), "Reilley: Ace Of Spies" (from the orig. soundtrack), "Moonraker", "Octopussy", and "The Prisoner" (performed by Neil Norman), and for some reason... The Rockford Files??? (also performed by Strange).
"Soul Bond" by German organist Ingfried Hoffman is now on a Verve "Jazz Club" CD as "Hammond Bond". There are only three (T-ball, G-finger, and FRWL) actual Bond themes. The others are just jazzy little ditties with remotely spy-sounding titles, but it was the 60's, a swingin' hammond organ, and it's pretty good!
"Intrigue With Soul is well worth searching out. Recently released on CD on the Monkey Dog label. Nice bluesy jazz versions of early (Dr. No to G-finger) Bond music with some originals performed by Perry And The Harmonics. Note: the CD is mono. With a little searching you can find the stereo LP.
"James Bond's Greatest Hits" is Franck Pourcell's contribution (on CD) to the genre. A little on the easy listening side, but saved by some interesting instrumentation.
Ray Martin's "Musiche Dai Film Di James Bond" probably has one of the strangest versions of "The James Bond Theme". A bunch of ladies singing, "Ba didy ya Da da da da". A ripping version of "Thunderball", and a couple of original pieces not to mention the lurid cover make it almost worthwhile.
Si Zentner's "From Russia With Love" LP has been combined with his "Warning Shot" LP on a Dutton Vocalion CD. These are two of the better cover version LPs out there and include The James Bond Theme, From Russia with Love, the 007 theme, as well as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Prize, Charade, Peter Gunn, and others.
Elliot Fisher's "Bang! Bang! Bang!" gives us spy themes played on a Theremin (that thing they use in old Sci-fi movies!). Pretty good. A few tracks have turned up on the Ultra Lounge series.
Hugo Montenegro's ""Come Spy With Me" (on CD) has his take on a number of Spy themes.
as well as "Super Spy Themes" by the Clee-Shays (on CD).
From here on you're on your own. Some of these are just plain awful, but sometimes you get one fantastic cut. I'll add to this cover art gallery as new items turn up. Please get in touch if you know of something that should be here. Happy hunting!
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