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Goldfinger (1964) - Shirley Bassey (Shirley Bassey) - All about the song ...

Subsequently, "Goldfinger" entered the top hundred of the most famous melodies of US cinema. In 2008, the single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame...

The History of the Golden Classic: Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger and the History of Its Creation...

"Goldfinger" is a legendary classical composition, first performed by Shirley Bassey in 1964. The song was written by John Barry, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the James Bond film of the same name. Subsequently, sound artists such as Dr. Evil, Max Power and more...

More than half a century has passed, and this song still stands above all others in the James Bond series! She harmoniously combines music that conveys an ever-present sense of intrigue, adventure, evil, wealth and glamour... And who would have thought that back in 1964 she was almost removed from the film! Just producer Harry Saltzman said, “This is the worst song I've ever heard in my life! (there was also a couple of swear words, with which Saltzman emphasized his obvious disapproval ... But we will omit them)” But the song was lucky! She was left only because there was exactly a month left before the British premiere of the film and there was no time to write a new one. And what was the surprise of our esteemed "musical gourmet" when the track did not just shoot ... "Goldfinger" became a world famous song, the subject of universal recognition and Shirley Bassey's signature hit!

Goldfinger single cover
Goldfinger single cover

"The Midas Touch"

John Barry first asked Bassey to record the number when he acted as her conductor on a national tour in December 1963. It is worth noting that he had a romantic interest in the singer ... Then the text of "Goldfinger" had not yet been written. Well, let's listen to the memories of the performer herself:

"He said, 'There's a new song for a James Bond movie called 'Goldfinger'. I would really like you to sing it ... I know your rule: you never listen to a song that has no words. And I must warn you: there really is only music that I wrote. Lyrics are on the way…” And since we had a great relationship with him during our tour, I said: “Well, I'll listen to it. I will break my rule." Today I am very happy that I did it… When he started playing, I got goosebumps… And I said: “I don’t care what the words of this song are. I will do it!" Luckily, the words were great…”

Shirley Bassey
Shirley Bassey

There is also a rather curious story connected with the melody "Goldfinger"...

Initially, the film's director Guy Hamilton pointed out "Mack The Knife" to John as an example of a "rough and strong" song about a sworn enemy that could inspire him ... After that, the composer plunged headlong into work: he worked on music night and day, and at the end, Kotsov created a melody that used the word "Goldfinger"! However, the next morning, Barry's roommate, actor Michael Caine, was forced to upset his friend ... When John played the first three notes at breakfast, Caine immediately declared: "It's Moon River," referring to the theme from the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany." Then Barry added a brass line of three notes to hide the similarity, however, this did not deceive the authors of the text ... As soon as they heard the melody, they looked at each other and sang "Goldfinger" to the melody of "Moon River"! However, John Barry was not surprised.

For their part, Leslie Bricassom and Anthony Newley told a colleague about how Auric Goldfinger (the hero of the film) punishes his assistant Jill Masterson for betraying him by making her gild to death... This prompted them to come up with the phrase "Midas touch", which in turn provided the lyrical template for the song and helped finish the job in a couple of days.

And so, on May 14, 1964, Anthony Newley recorded a heartfelt demo to the accompaniment of John Barry, and this served as the basis for the further release of Shirley Bassey ...

Right hand

Meanwhile, after composing the soundtrack and arranging the famous James Bond theme, Barry could boast of the uncommon pressure of his daring jazz orchestrations ... Next to him at the console sat engineer Eric Tomlinson, who recalled:

“I loved working on these Bond films and I really enjoyed working with John Barry… He was an extremely talented person and while he could be very pushy about how things should sound, we got along great!”

Eric Tomlinson at the Telefunken board in Cts...
Eric Tomlinson at the Telefunken board at Cts…

It all started with the fact that Eric Tomlinson - a fan of jazz and big bands - on the weekends helped his friend, who works at Radio Luxembourg, connect cables and set up microphones. That man was Allen Stagg, the future manager of EMI Studios on Abbey Road. And when he got a job as manager of IBC Studios at Portland Place in central London, he invited Eric to join him as an assistant engineer. Tomlinson soon began learning to play the ropes, recording various forms of orchestral and "easy-to-listen" music, and working with jazz artists such as Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Lane. In 1959 he worked on his first John Paul Jones film score for composer Max Steiner.

Prior to this, very few studios, including major UK cinema complexes, had the capacity to record large-scale orchestral film music, so CTS offered a conveniently located alternative capable of accommodating about 65 musicians in its 85 x 40 foot rectangular room, while relatively the simple control room was equipped with a 12-input Telefunken console, a Philips three-track tape cassette, custom Tannoy monitors, and, in terms of effects, a pair of EMT echo plates.

“This studio was originally built as a banquet hall for Whiteleys department store,” said Tomlinson. “They had an orchestra playing among the potted palms, and it was basically a very large tea room. Then it turned into a mart, so it wasn't acoustically correct by any means. But the sponsors of the CTS project took care of it, and the result was amazing! There was a curtain that we could draw halfway across the room to sort of separate the string section from the horns and percussion, so the overall sound was very manageable…”

Orchestral maneuvers

John Barry's arrangement featured saxophones, brass and a rhythm section. Here is what Tomlinson said about the "orchestral maneuvers" of the composer:

“At the beginning of a session, John Barry had the musicians run through his score a couple of times to make sure they had the right tempo. When the musicians first entered the studio, they didn't know what they were going to play. They heard music for the first time. But these were top notch British guys… They were amazing. They would just sit down and talk about horse races or football scores, and then once John was ready, they would do some absolute magic…”

 

“…The musicians sat with their backs to the screen while John watched the movie and conducted, and I don't remember us having any problems. However, there was one instance when Eric Rodgers, who composed the music for Carry On, got irritated and told him, “Stop looking at the screen! This is a very bad tone! You must look at me!"

 

“Although John Barry and I got along very well, he was a demanding person and was never satisfied,” continues Tomlinson. "He always said, 'Let's do another take,' which is why Shirley Bassey nearly lost her voice when she had to hit the extended high note at the end of 'Goldfinger' multiple times!" "Yeah, it's very good, very good," John kept repeating, "but I think we can do another take." I remember Shirley turning purple and saying something I didn't catch...

 

“I almost passed out…” recalled Shirley Bassey.

Shirley Bassey...
Shirley Bassey...

Success

Luckily, all those efforts paid off! "Goldfinger" became Bassey's only US Top 10 hit, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100!

By the time the song reached number 21 in its native UK, the soundtrack album was a big success! In 1965, the single topped the Billboard 200...

John Barry and Shirley Bassey pose with their gold records for Goldfinger...
John Barry and Shirley Bassey pose with their gold records for Goldfinger…

Meanwhile, in addition to John Barry's scores for other films, during his time at CTS, Eric Tomlinson recorded the work of many other leading composers. Among them was Ron Goodwin, whose popular theme for the 1965 star-studded comedy Air Adventures became a source of tension for Pinewood Studios re-recording mixers John Mitchell and Gordon McCallum…

“The film was shot in Pinewood, they dubbed it, and they insisted on hearing the result of our first morning work,” recalls Tomlinson. “They had a car waiting outside to pick up a cassette of music, and by around noon we got a phone call… We were told, 'It's useless.' That evening we drove to Pinewood where we were greeted by the entire sound group and their manager who told us that our music had too much echo! In their opinion, the sounds were too far away, they did not work for a picture that should be “felt, not heard” ... Then they insisted that Ron and I listen to what they considered the right music for the film ... "

 

“... It turned out to be a rather boring memorial service, and Ron Goodwin was shocked. But all the Pinewood staff, who were clearly working overtime, kept saying that my recording of Ron's music was too explicit, when instead it should have been very soft background noise ... So we continued to work in our own way, the music was eventually accepted this outdated sound department…”

By the way: a very bizarre, and slightly barbaric story is connected with CTS ... And it happened through the fault of Tomlinson himself, who once thought at the weekend that the studio looked “a little boring”. Then he gave the cleaners from CTS instructions, which he soon regretted:

“It was a busy week, there was very little work, so I thought that they could clean the studio and decorate it a bit ...,” Tomlinson recalled. “But when I came back a couple of days later, I found that everything was varnished! Including the floor, walls and even a matte black grand piano! They covered everything they saw and the studio was like entering an ice cave. Let's talk about sad things - I couldn't believe it! The wood used to help dissipate the sound, but now the place was unusable, so I called the cleaners again and they spent the next two or three days using a lot of wire wool to clean everything up. However, the piano never returned to its original state ... It's good that at least the guitars were not lying around.

And finally...

As for the track for the film about James Bond, then subsequently "Goldfinger" entered the top hundred of the most famous melodies of US cinema. In 2008, the single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Goldfinger (gold single by Shirley Bassey)
Goldfinger (gold single by Shirley Bassey)

Shortly after the success of Goldfinger, Eric Tomlinson left CTS to join Anvil Films. There, he took on the challenge of renovating a musical theater inside the outdated Denham Studios facility, which was founded by film producer and director Alexander Korda back in 1936! At 50 feet tall, it was almost twice the size of the room Tomlinson was used to in CTS! The studio could accommodate about 120 musicians!

“The main area was a big, old-fashioned set with a 50-foot ceiling, a catwalk at the top, and a big screen at one end,” Tomlinson said. “I built a control room right in the studio, with a dividing box next to it. It was a huge place, and it was here that the soundtracks for Star Wars and Superman were recorded live, without any overdubs ... "

 

“…Over the course of my career, technological advances have definitely improved the final product. In fact, I think he's now reached a point where he won't get any better for the foreseeable future. Surround sound really drives me crazy, especially when I go to the movies…”

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