When the James Bond film series entered the 1980s, the producers decided it was time to give the series a makeover. The result was For Your Eyes Only, a tougher film that downplayed the gimmicks and comic book elements that dominated the Bond films of the 1970s. This film was also noticeable for replacing regular series soundtrack composer John Barry with Bill Conti, a composer best known for his work on the Rocky films. Conti keeps For Your Eyes Only's score full of symphonic grandeur and spy film theatrics, but also adds several new elements to update the sound to fit the early 1980s. For instance, Conti adds elements of dance and funk music to the action cues: "A Drive in the Country" and "Melina's Revenge" both work funky bass lines, roaring electric guitar leads, and whooping synthesizer lines in with the standard orchestral elements. The modernized tone also extends to the film's Sheena Easton theme song: it replaces the lush strings and brassy orchestrations that typically dominated Bond theme songs with a minimalist style built on synthesizers. However, Conti proves elsewhere that he could comfortably write music in the traditional vein without utilizing any electronic or pop elements: "Take Me Home" is a lovely romantic interlude that highlights a gentle flugel horn solo against a backdrop of lush orchestrations, and "St. Cyril's Monastery" is a taut suspense cue that builds from atmospheric strings into a brassy reinterpretation of the "James Bond Theme." Purists may complain that complain that the pop elements Conti incorporates into this score date it, but there is no denying that the overall score is tight and skillfully written. In the end, For Your Eyes Only stands as one of the best James Bond film scores of the 1980s. Collector's note: The 2000 Rykodisc reissue of this score adds an additional seven cues that beef up the running time to just under an hour.
AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco
feat: Eddie Blair
feat: Derek Watkins
feat: Sheena Easton