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Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
J.A.C. Redford
Simon Hale

Co-Produced by:
Bill Bernstein
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Decca/Universal Music
(November 6th, 2015)
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Regular U.S. release.
The song, "Writing's on the Wall," won an Academy Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you appreciate Thomas Newman's attempt to drive the music of the Bond franchise closer to his own distinct suspense and drama mannerisms that don't include many references to the concept's past sense of high style and panache.

Avoid it... if you expect the song here to compete on any level with Skyfall or if Newman's score for that film did not appeal to your Bond sensibilities, in which case this entry will prove itself worse in both regards.
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WRITTEN 1/2/16
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Spectre: (Thomas Newman) Enthusiasts of the James Bond franchise have often wondered why the concept's villainous SPECTRE organization from the 1960's ("Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion") and its memorable lead, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, had gone missing for so long. As is usually the case, legal wrangling was the answer, a lawsuit pitting Bond creator Ian Fleming and filmmaker Kevin McClory against each other in the early 1960's yielding split copyright ownership, the odd situation regarding Thunderball and its remake, and the disappearance of SPECTRE from Bond films after Diamonds Are Forever. With the main lawsuit players dead and the estates and studio settling the issue, SPECTRE, now losing the acronym and simply going by "Spectre," made its comeback in the 2015 film of that name. Director Sam Mendes' second and reportedly final entry in the series, Spectre takes the opportunity to both look backwards and potentially conclude the Daniel Craig era of Bond's adventures. With Spectre and Blofeld in the mix, the filmmakers took extensive liberty to make connections to Fleming's novels throughout the backstory of Spectre as well as tie in the Quantum storyline of the previous Craig entries. The film was criticized for relying too heavily on old franchise formulas related to locations and supporting characters, though the movie's execution was widely praised. The movie was the most expensive Bond production ever (and one the most expensive movies overall), and studio misgivings about the project, revealed in a hack of Sony e-mails during production, were realized when Spectre failed to match its predecessor, Skyfall, in worldwide grosses. Regardless, Spectre was something of a treat for fans of the concept looking for some of the glitz, humor, and technology of prior Bond generations, not only continuing the exploration of Bond's past and its relationship to Blofeld, but in the token return of franchise favorites in limited roles, such as the car from Goldfinger and even actress Judi Dench. Though it was no shock that composer Thomas Newman returned to score another Mendes film, the relative lack of franchise influence on his music was a significant surprise given the film's frequent glances over its shoulder.

While Newman's score for Skyfall was widely praised, including a Grammy win and an Academy Award nomination, it's not difficult to chalk up that success as riding on the coattails of Adele's magnificent title song for that film. Like the song, Newman's score was cognizant of the past, echoes of John Barry and David Arnold's successful entries in the franchise addressing the dramatic depth of Bond's familial journey with the composer's usual dramatic gravity. In the case of Spectre, Newman doesn't have that phenomenal title song to bolster the soundtrack in general, though with the Craig era formally killing the idea of coordinating the song and score creation process in these films, perhaps that relationship doesn't matter as much anymore. That's an awful shame, for Bond soundtracks have always been at their best when the composer of the score also contributes to the song. Now, not only is there a completely disjointed coexistence between the two, but issues related to studio, artist, and/or record label greed have led to the lack of the song's inclusion on the official soundtrack for these movies. It's a disgraceful turn of events that needs to be rectified for the benefit of listeners and movie-goers. Perhaps with Spectre this issue is not as pertinent, because the song is mediocre and the score is only marginally rooted in the Bond universe at best. The song was the result of only half an hour of writing time by British artist Sam Smith and his regular collaborator, Jimmy Napes, before they recorded a quick demo in an hour that eventually became the final performance. The lack of polish shows badly, for the song attempts to pilfer chord progressions from several Bond themes (The World is Not Enough at the forefront, most interestingly) much like Adele relied heavily upon the original Monty Norman elements. But it fails to generate any real sense of romance, lament, or determination. Its instrumental recording, while palatable in an orchestral sense, is generically John Barry and has little unique style with which to define itself. The performance by Smith his absolutely hideous as well, his voice far too nasal and rooted in the treble region to function in an environment that has thrived on either sultry females or more forceful male voices. Public reaction to "Writing's on the Wall" was mixed, with solid sales figures not necessarily reflecting public sentiment that the song wasn't near Skyfall quality. At least it surpassed the rejected song for Spectre by English band Radiohead, faint praise from this reviewer.

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Average: 2.67 Stars
***** 27 5 Stars
**** 45 4 Stars
*** 76 3 Stars
** 81 2 Stars
* 56 1 Stars
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David Lounsberry - January 15, 2016, at 8:56 a.m.
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FVSR Reviews Spectre
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Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 79:31
• 1. Los Muertos Vivos Estan (2:48)
• 2. Vauxhall Bridge (2:19)
• 3. The Eternal City (4:34)
• 4. Donna Lucia (2:03)
• 5. A Place Without Mercy (1:04)
• 6. Backfire (4:54)
• 7. Crows Klinik (1:41)
• 8. The Pale King (2:55)
• 9. Madeleine (2:58)
• 10. Kite in a Hurricane (2:09)
• 11. Snow Plane (5:24)
• 12. L' Americain (1:42)
• 13. Secret Room (5:22)
• 14. Hinx (1:21)
• 15. Writing's on the Wall (Instrumental) (2:10)
• 16. Silver Wraith (2:15)
• 17. A Reunion (5:36)
• 18. Day of the Dead (1:26)
• 19. Tempus Fugit (1:21)
• 20. Safe House (3:55)
• 21. Blindfold (1:28)
• 22. Careless (4:39)
• 23. Detonation (3:53)
• 24. Westminster Bridge (4:14)
• 25. Out of Bullets (1:51)
• 26. Spectre (5:40)

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The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Spectre are Copyright © 2015, Decca/Universal Music and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 1/2/16 (and not updated significantly since).
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