It is amazing to think that it iS FORTY five years ago that ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE was released and the new James Bond played by George Lazenby was introduced to cinema going audiences all over the world. Now Lazenby certainly had a job on his hands, firstly he had to portray the suave, sophisticated and jolly deadly quintessential spy James Bond and secondly he had to fill the shoes of an actor that everyone associated with the role Sean Connery.
After it was initially released OHMSS was deemed to be something of a flop at the box office compared with its predecessors
GOLDFINGER,THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and yes I suppose receipts, reviews and above all audience reaction must have been disappointing to the films producers, plus the fact that Lazenby had announced before the films release that he would not be returning as James Bond. The on and off screen relationship between Lazenby and Diana Rigg also proved to be rather rocky and Lazenby even dared to suggest that the soundtrack for this latest Bond outing should have pop music tracked onto it. But taking all this and more into account OHMSS is for me one of the best if not the finest movie in the 007 series and even stands up against the latest Daniel Craig interpretations. I love it because of Lazenby,s performance because I think he brought something to the character that showed Bond’s vulnerability and also showed a human side to 007 proving that he was just a mere mortal that had emotions. Still cant quite forgive him for suggesting a pop song score though. The movie was a real adventure tale, filled with thrills spills, turns, twists, romance and of course a number of gadgets, plus the villain was also portrayed wonderfully by Telly Savalas who’s performance as Blofeld was probably the best out of all that had proceeded and also all which would and will follow. The musical score by the Bond Maestro John Barry is simply the best Bond score ever written. There has been nothing to rival it since or before its conception. I thought it was an insult that the song WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD was not recognised by the Academy and was not given an Oscar nomination. The song and also the movie have since become icons in their respective worlds with the movie attaining a cult status and the song being adored by millions because of its various uses in adverts etc. I remember first buying the LP way back in 1969 around December if my memories serves me correctly, it was in the record department of Bellman of all places, a gatefold LP on UA records, with a fold out of Mr Lazenby complete with ski suit and skis gun in hand in 007 standard pose. 39 shillings and 6 pennies it was and worth every penny and an LP I still have to this day. In later years I also purchased the American import version and then the subsequent compact disc release which culminated in the purchase of the expanded release CD a few years back.
I was always contented with the music that was on the original albums and compact discs as I think at times an expanded release is not required, less being more if you know what I mean. But in the case of OHMSS it is a bonus in the true sense of the word, and a welcome addition to any collection of Bond music. The EMI disc contained the 11 original album tracks (some of which did contain previously unreleased music) plus a scintillating further 10 cues which included the haunting WHO WILL BUY MY YESTERDAYS which was presented as SIR HILARYS NIGHT OUT (track number 18). The score for OHMSS as I have already said is in my opinion the best Bond score written, it has to it all the elements a Bond score requires, plus it has not one but two songs the second being a charming little Christmas themed vocal by Nina of Nina and Frederick fame, DO YOU KNOW HOW CHRISTMAS TREES ARE GROWN. This was not as successful as WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, but nevertheless was given air time on the BBC radio and also television at the time of the films release, Nina and a collection of angelic children making appearances here there and everywhere including THE MORECOMBE AND WISE CHRISTMAS SHOW. John Barry made effective use of the songs melody and gave it a somewhat sinister twist within track number 19 BLOFELD’S PLOT within his score. For OHMSS I also think that Barry created a more upbeat sounding support and utilised a number of electronic instrumentation as support to the more conventional orchestral sound that had become associated with Bond, the familiar strains of the JAMES BOND THEME for example was performed on electric piano/organ rather than the normal guitar rendition, there was still the bombastic sound present alongside the jazzy steamy passages and the exhilarating action cues that were complimented by laid back almost easy listening tracks, but there just seemed to be something else, its something I have not quite put my finger on even after all this time but the score for OHMSS was special and still remains so to this day as does the actual movie, I would rather sit down and watch OHMSS than any other Bond film and that too goes for the score, at the time Barry’s approach seemed fresh and bright certainly different from his previous Bond outings but still retaining the familiar musical aura that just oozed James Bond. It was also one of the very few Bond movies to roll the opening credits without a title song, instead Barry let fly with his fast paced and exciting OHMSS theme which became the foundation on which Barry constructed the remainder of his score, with this central theme and also the inclusion of various manifestations of WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD etc OHMSS is for my money the cream of Bond scores and the best Bond movie.
The compact disc is still available and along with all the other Bond soundtracks seems to get released every Christmas and also every time a new Bond is announced or released. If by any slim chance you have never heard ON HER MAJESTYS SECRET SERVICE or seen the movie, please please remedy this asap, an iconic score for an iconic movie in a series that are classics.