John Barry Orchestra / Monty Norman

Dr. No [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Musically, in terms of being a James Bond score, Dr. No is the weakest of the soundtrack albums in the film series, with only Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" marking out familiar territory. But as a piece of music and a pop culture artifact, Dr. No may be the most interesting album in the whole output of the James Bond series. A good portion of the most memorable music in the film, including "Kingston Calypso" (the "Three Blind Mice" theme from the opening of the film) and "Jump Up," constituted mainstream American (and European) audiences' introduction to the sounds of Byron Lee & the Dragonaires (who also appeared in the movie, performing "Jump Up"), who became one of the top Jamaican music acts in the world just a couple of years later; sharp-eyed viewers can catch a young white man dancing in that same scene, incidentally, who is none other than Chris Blackwell, the future founder of Island Records. Someday someone may sort out who actually played on tracks like "Twisting With James," with its heavy guitar sound and pop instrumental roots -- regardless of who it was, however, all of the music is still a pleasure to hear, not only on its own terms but for the cultural intersection that the Dr. No soundtrack represents. The movie, which was a significant success, marked one of the first penetrations of Jamaican music (albeit with a calypso beat) into the mainstream consciousness, and was of a piece with the burst in popularity for ska and reggae music in England. Of course, in the case of Dr. No, there were "distractions" as well, including the "James Bond Theme" music, Sean Connery's commanding screen presence, and Ursula Andress' physique in the movie. Despite being more exotic than any of the Bond soundtracks that followed, Dr. No has always sold steadily, based on having the original "James Bond Theme." The February 2003 remastered edition was limited to a major improvement in the analog-to-digital transfer, with a much closer, richer sound, and the addition of serious in-depth annotation. Composer Monty Norman reportedly would like to have seen more of his orchestral music on the album, but masters for any additional music from the film no longer exist.

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