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Monty Norman completes the circle

Monty Norman with Graham Rye 2nd August 2005

GRAHAM RYE reports for  007 MAGAZINE on the recording of Monty Norman’s new 2-CD album.

Although John Barry is quite rightly considered to be the ‘sound’ of the James Bond films, Monty Norman is the first man of James Bond music, and his contribution to the Bond legend should never be underestimated. His composition ‘The James Bond Theme’ has undoubtedly taken its place in cinema history as the most famous film theme of all time, and it’s difficult to believe that anyone anywhere on the planet now wouldn’t recognise his theme from those first few notes plucked out on guitar.

James Bond theme composer, Monty Norman between takes

Mony Norman & Musical director Paddy Milner

Recording & mixing engineer Paul Madden

Monty Norman has a short break
between takes

Monty runs through ‘Bad Sign, Good Sign’ with his musical director Paddy Milner

Recording and mixing engineer
Paul Madden at work

Monty Norman 'fine tunes' his composition with Paddy Milner

Monty ‘fine tunes’ his composition
with Paddy Milner

The first thing you notice when meeting Monty Norman is that his looks and personality belie a man who turned 76 this April, and I defy anyone who doesn’t know his birth date to put an age to his singing voice. After 50 successful years plus in showbusiness he still retains the creative drive, enthusiasm and energy that would exhaust a man half his age. It wasn’t until Monty explained to his old friend, record producer Gerry Bron (brother of actress Eleanor) that the original show song he wrote, from which the James Bond theme was derived, had never been recorded, that the ‘Completing The Circle’ project started to evolve. It’s a highly personal project, and surprisingly is the first album that Monty has ever recorded. For this 2-CD set he has written and recorded a number of new songs and has also included some of his past show/film songs.

Monty Norman
Monty Norman recording session

Monty, Tabla drummer Pandit Dimesh, and Paul Madden listen to the first playback

Watching and listening to Monty’s musical director Paddy Milner pull his new arrangement of Monty’s James Bond theme into shape with his band for the first time, together with the technical wizardry of recording and mixing engineer Paul Madden, was a unique one-of-a-kind pleasure, to put it mildly. These guys were all consummate professionals, and it showed. Having seen Paddy Milner and his band perform live at the Dover Street Wine Bar on the same evening after the recording session, I can attest personally to their stamina; a funky evening that had the whole joint jumping!

Monty Norman listens to the playback

Monty Norman as the recording session of Completing the Circle

Bob Dowell on trombone

Monty Norman looks on at the ‘Completing The Circle’ recording session

  Bob Dowell on trombone

Bob Dowell, John Radford, and Ben Somers belt out 'The James Bond theme'.   Take five! Paddy Milner pauses for reflection between takes.

Bob Dowell, John Radford, and Ben Somers belt out
‘The James Bond Theme’

  Take five! Paddy Milner pauses for reflection between takes

Chris Hill on Double-Bass. Adam Skinner on drums Monty sings Dum Di-Di Dum' Adam Skinner on drums Paul Madden oversees the recording of The James Bond Theme

Chris Hill on Double-Bass

ABOVE: (top) Adam Skinner on drums
(bottom) Monty sings ‘Dum Di-Di Dum Dum’

 Paul Madden oversees the recording of  ‘The James Bond theme’

Monty Norman listens to playback

Mahboob Nadim on Sitar

A hard days' night - Paddy Milner

Monty listens to another playback

Mahboob Nadim on Sitar

 Musical Director Paddy Milner at the piano


Monty Norman with Gerry Bron


 Monty with record producer and old friend Gerry Bron

The ‘Completing The Circle’ 2-CD set also includes a colourful fold-out sheet with a track-by-track breakdown written by Monty Norman, which gives an insight into the award-winning composer’s creative thought process and an autobiographical look at his career. All-in-all an interesting and value for money addition to your music collection.

(Right) Tuesday 2nd August 2005 – with the new recording of ‘The James Bond Theme’ in the bag, Monty Norman and recording engineer Paul Madden (seated) gather for one last shot. (L-to-R): Paddy Milner, Ben Somers, Gerry Bron, Bob Dowell, Randall Breneman (Acoustic & Electric Guitar), John Radford, Adam Skinner, Chris Hill.


Completing the Circle recording session participants

007 MAGAZINE Issue #46 signed by Monty Norman

A very limited number of Back Issues of
007 MAGAZINE #46 are available signed by Monty Norman
and featuring an exclusive 4-page interview with the ‘James Bond Theme’ composer
£150 + P&P

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