One of John Barry's best efforts, with a particularly striking title song belted out by Shirley Bassey between blasting brass fills, Goldfinger was also the first James Bond soundtrack to hit the number one spot on the U.S. charts (ironically, displacing another United Artists soundtrack, A Hard Day's Night), even as Bassey's performance hit number eight as a single. While Barry effectively expanded his collection of Bond themes with Thunderball (underwater themes) and You Only Live Twice (space themes), Goldfinger was a prime opportunity to lock in some of the action themes that would recur over the next 35 years. Of particular note is the track compiling Barry's cues for the robbery of Fort Knox ("Dawn Raid on Fort Knox"), which provides a slow build so wonderfully agonizing that the remainder of the album, including "The Arrival of the Bomb and Count Down," with its pounding drums and roaring brass, actually serves as stress relief. In February of 2003, Goldfinger was issued in a remastered edition that featured not only significantly improved sound but also added an extra nine minutes of music, contained in four sections of the soundtrack that originally appeared only on the British LP edition.
After the surprise success of 1962's Dr. No, the producers of the budding James Bond series began to establish what would become its trademark elements, with its debonair anti-hero frolicking libidinously through increasingly amped-up foreign intrigue and exotic locales. Musically, this soundtrack represents perhaps their most crucial decision: hiring band leader/budding composer John Barry as scorer. Abandoning the first film's calypso kitsch for an orchestra powered cocktail of elegance and jazzy sophistication, Barry immediately gave the Bond saga a focused musical language that would become arguably its most consistent element over the decades and amidst a revolving series of lead actors and increasingly improbable cinematic predicaments. While anchored by a medley that includes Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme," this soundtrack also introduced another longstanding Bond tradition, the pop-ballad title track/single, here penned by Lionel Bart and sung with urgent conviction by British crooner Matt Munro. This digitally remastered new edition features new liner notes, as well as artwork and stills from the film.
Musically, in terms of being a James Bond score, Dr. No is the weakest of the soundtrack albums in the film series, with only Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" marking out familiar territory. But as a piece of music and a pop culture artifact, Dr. No may be the most interesting album in the whole output of the James Bond series. A good portion of the most memorable music in the film, including "Kingston Calypso" (the "Three Blind Mice" theme from the opening of the film) and "Jump Up," constituted mainstream American (and European) audiences' introduction to the sounds of Byron Lee & the Dragonaires (who also appeared in the movie, performing "Jump Up"), who became one of the top Jamaican music acts in the world just a couple of years later; sharp-eyed viewers can catch a young white man dancing in that same scene, incidentally, who is none other than Chris Blackwell, the future founder of Island Records.