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O.H.M.S.S. Random Memory

There was talk on a Facebook James Bond music group about some of the remaining unreleased Bond music, and given that I produced the 2003 expanded albums, I felt qualified to weigh in.

Those albums were done very quickly in the fall of 2002 and sometimes I think of giving a blow-by-blow account...but I really don't want to.

The folks at EMI were very good to let me spend more money than they probably wanted to for the transfers and new mixes for Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die. We were going to do The Man With the Golden Gun too, but they said we had blown the budget and I said fine.

The above chicken scratch (on the back of one of those old phone message “While You Were Out” notepads) is by me, taken on the phone to London from Private Island Trax (our mixing facility) as we were trying to find missing reels to O.H.M.S.S. There had been water damage at the vault, and one additional reel was located and playable. But another, probably 66532 (hence my question mark), was lost, and I think it contained the film version of the “Escape from Piz Gloria” with the Moog opening, and the reprise of the chase music through the Swiss town.

There was a weekend near the end of the process, I remember, where EMI suddenly told me they couldn’t include the previously unreleased tracks due to some unforeseen clearance problem. I was appalled and begged them to try to sort it out—spent the weekend sick to my stomach over it—and by Monday, it had been fixed.

I also remember a mildly confrontational phone call where they inquired about my including previously unreleased music within some of the old album tracks. They were like, hey, how come these timings changed? (Like, “Do you think we’re stupid?”) And I said it was because I restored some cut bars, which was partially true—I also had added some adjacent cues...and they said okay, whatever.

I intended O.H.M.S.S. and Diamonds to be all-new sequences, in film order, but they said the album tracks had to come first. But for those two discs, you can rearrange the sequences in your playlists to hear them in film order (mostly).

I wrote about these titles in FSM at the time, and I’d refer folks to those pieces, back when my memory was fresh. See this issue and this one.

I am reliably informed that the complete Moonraker session tapes do exist and have been archived at M-G-M. They were not stored in the same place (Abbey Road Studios/EMI vaults) as the other tapes we used, and I may have started the rumor that they were lost. Sorry!

So why haven’t more expanded albums happened? It’s just a super heavy lift the way the licensing is worked out. You would need Universal Music (who have the album rights), MGM and Eon Productions all to make it a priority...and they have other concerns. Universal Music is always backed up on licensing their catalog...MGM is being bought and sold...and Eon is focused on their next billion-dollar blockbuster Bond movie.

People ask me from time to time what might be happening, and I’m always sorry I don’t have an answer for them.

For what it’s worth, I made sure to properly archive all our Pro Tools sessions so that if these titles are revisited, the new producer (it will NOT be me) will have easy access to the masters.

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Darren MacDonald
Darren MacDonald
Sep 07, 2021

My memory from the time was of you always saying that Moonraker existed, but was stored somewhere more inaccessible, and that being the reason it wasn't expanded with the other titles. I always felt it was people on the message boards who just jumped to the conclusion that it was lost or missing or destroyed, and then others read those posts and the myth perpetuated.

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