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A Listener's Guide

Spy Sounds


"Goldfinger" Soundtrack, John Barry (United Artists)
Vic Flick's driving and deadly electric guitar line, counterpointed by sinister French horn figures, introduced James Bond, British secret agent and cultural icon. The music proved indispensible to the character and accompanied his exploits in over 15 films so far. There's a complicated story behind why Monte Norman is credited with writing this tune, but we all know who really did it.

"The Ipcress File" Soundtrack, John Barry (Decca)
Len Deighton envisioned working-class stiff Harry Palmer as an antidote to Bond, but Palmer's signature theme, introduced on a cymballum (Hungarian hammered dulcimer), proved equally indispensible, although it only made it through two sequels.

"In Like Flint" and "Our Man Flint" Soundtracks, Jerry Goldsmith (20th Century)
The one truly swinging bachelor of all the secret agents (Dean Martin's Matt Helm was slopping, not swinging). So Jerry Goldsmith's scores are among the few spy tracks you could imagine playing at a party. One where "The Bad Guys Are Girls."

Music from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", Hugo Montenegro (RCA Victor)
Hugo takes the credit, but Gerald Fried and Robert Drasnin actually wrote most of these numbers. The sequel to this album is particularly fun, but you'd be hard pressed listening to many of them deducing that these were taken from a spy story.

Come Spy with Me LP

Come Spy with Me, Hugo Montenegro (RCA Victor)
A compilation of cuts from TV and film spy soundtracks, featuring a great cheesy organ.

Music from "Mission: Impossible", Lalo Schifrin (Dot)
Schifrin's theme is one of the most memorable in all of television, but most of the rest of the numbers on this album have a cooler, funkier feeling.

Music from "I Spy", Earl Hagen (Colpix)
One of Hagen's very few recordings period, the score from this buddy spy series beats the other buddy spy series, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," cold. It's much harder to find, though.

Music to Read James Bond By, Perez Prado and others (United Artists)
A compilation of covers by United Artists artists, featuring Perez Prado's "take no prisoners" charge through "The James Bond Theme."

Goldfinger and Other Thrillers, Ray Martin (RCA Camden)
One of the terrific albums Ray Martin did in the mid-1960s, full of goofy back-up vocals, popping percussion, and rocking guitars.

Music for Secret Agents, Roland Shaw (London Phase 4)
Shaw takes a set of spy themes straightforwardly, but tosses in some nice new touches, like the driving rhythm line in "In Like Flint." The result is probably the best single spy tune comp you'll find.

The Man from O.R.G.A.N., Dick Hyman (Command)
Jack of all keyboards Hyman rocks out with a boogaloo-ing sampler that includes one of my all-time favorite dance floor shakers, a cover of Lalo Schifrin's theme from "The Liquidator." Trust me, it will terminate you with extreme prejudice.


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