The Bond Music Of Roland Shaw (1920-2008)

In my first article I stated that the various albums by Nic Raine and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra represented the most sustained series covering James Bond music. Second on that list would be Roland Shaw and his Orchestra, active in a much earlier time. The recent death of Mr Shaw has prompted this look at his Bond music.

Recording for the Decca label from 1966 to 1971 (as far as Bond music is concerned), Shaw’s was one of the many 60s orchestras and bands which leapt on the Bondwagon to produce their own versions of John Barry’s themes, and cut their own slice of the highly popular market for all things Bond. The main difference from these other bands is that with one or two exceptions (eg, D.L. Miller’s Thunderball covers) most  ignored the cues from the films themselves and restricted thier attempts to the main title songs. Roland Shaw produced faithful and enjoyable interpretations of such deserving tracks as “Dawn Raid On Fort Knox”, “The Wedding”, and others. Some interesting curios resulted, including a track intended for use in the 1967 Casino Royale but absent from the soundtrack album, “Let The Love Come Through”- heard for only a few seconds in the film.

Themes For Secret Agents

  1. The Man From UNCLE
  2. Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  3. The Spy Who Came In from The Cold
  4. Goldfinger
  5. The IPCRESS File
  6. The Saint
  7. Thunderball
  8. The Avengers
  9. From Russia With Love
  10. I Spy
  11. Our Man Flint
  12. James Bond Theme 

His list of Bond-related LPs began with 1966’s Themes For Secret Agents. Not all the musical content was Bond- alongside “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” could be found music from the like of The Saint and Our Man Flint. Shaw’s interpretations were not always carbon copies- his “Ipcress File” on this album is startlingly different from Barry’s original- and rarely subtle. Give a listen to his bombastic “Thunderball” where Barry’s Wagnerian brass is taken to the nth degree.

James Bond Thrillers

  1. James Bond Theme
  2. Goldfinger
  3. Dawn Raid On Fort Knox
  4. Dr. No’s Fantasy
  5. Twisting With James
  6. From Russia With Love
  7. The Golden Horn
  8. Girl Trouble
  9. Leila Dances
  10. 007

It was on his next LP The James Bond Thrillers, released later that same year, that Shaw began to cover more than the title themes as well as dedicate an entire album to Bond music. From Russia With Love’s “The Golden Horn”, “Girl Trouble” and “Leila Dances” sit alongside “Dr. No’s Fantasy” and “Twisting With James” (both from Dr. No). “Dawn Raid On Fort Knox” appears here too, as well as (IMHO) the best cover of “007″ ever.

More Themes From The James Bond Thrillers

  1. Thunderball
  2. Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus
  3. Kingston Calypso
  4. Gypsy Camp
  5. Arrival Of The Bomb And Countdown
  6. Tania Meets Klebb
  7. Into Miami
  8. SPECTRE Island
  9. Underneath The Mango Tree
  10. Guitar Lament
  11. Death Of Goldfinger

More Themes From The James Bond Thrillers, a third 1966 release, included further music from From Russia With Love (”Tania Meets Klebb”, “Guitar Lament”) alongside plenty of Goldfinger covers (”Arrival Of The Bomb and Countdown”, “Death Of Goldfinger”). Most interesting was the inclusion of “Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus”, a piece left off the U.S. release of the Goldfinger album till 2003!

The James Bond Thrillers, Vol 3

  1. You Only Live Twice
  2. Capsule In Space
  3. Gypsy Camp
  4. Teasing The Korean
  5. The Wedding
  6. Casino Royale
  7. The Look Of Love
  8. Bond Below Disco Volante
  9. Thunderball
  10. Jump Up
  11. Chateau Fight
  12. Let the Love Come Through

The following year brought Vol 3, this time containing music from You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale (1967). “Capsule In Space” and “The Wedding” were competently handled, and there were unique takes on “Teasing The Korean” (Goldfinger) and “Chateau Fight” (Thunderball). Burt Bacharach’s “Casino Royale” was enjoyable, but the vocal on “The Look Of Love” suffers from comparison with Dusty Springfield’s original. It’s on this album that “Let The Love Come Through” first appeared.

The Return Of James Bond

  1. Diamonds Are Forever
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Thunderball
  4. You Only Live Twice
  5. Casino Royale
  6. 007
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (Reprise)
  8. Goldfinger
  9. The Look Of Love
  10. Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  12. James Bond Theme
  13. The Avengers
  14. The Saint
  15. I Spy
  16. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
  17. Mission Impossible
  18. Peter Gunn
  19. The Man From UNCLE
  20. The IPCRESS File
  21. Wednesday’s Child
  22. Our Man Flint

The Return Of James Bond, a 1971 double album, mainly re-used earlier tracks (and not exclusively Bond music) but also featured Shaw’s recordings of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Diamonds Are Forever”, the latter also with an intriguing Shaft-like “Reprise” alternate arrangement. By now the height of Bondmania had passed- Shaw recorded no cues from those movies.

There have been many compilations and re-packaging of Shaw’s Bond material including such titles as  James Bond In Action, dating both before and after the CD was introduced, but the listings above show the original releases. Perhaps the CD to recommend would be The World Of James Bond Adventure in its 22-track form- and one to avoid would be the poorly mastered Cinema Gala James Bond 007 compilation.


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