The soundtrack from the 1987 James Bond film "The Living Daylights" is a seminal work in the franchise's musical canon. Composed by veteran Bond composer John Barry, the score is characterized by its adventurous, sweeping arrangements and its memorable, thematic material.
One of the standout features of the soundtrack is its inventive use of various instrumental colors. Barry utilizes a full symphony orchestra, incorporating strings, brass, and percussion to create a rich, layered soundscape. Additionally, he employs unique instruments such as the duduk, a double-reed instrument native to Armenia, to add an exotic touch to certain cues.
Another key aspect of the soundtrack is its use of theme. Barry's main theme for the film is a memorable, soaring piece that perfectly captures the spirit of adventure and excitement inherent to the Bond franchise. This theme is woven throughout the score and serves as a unifying element that ties the various action, suspense, and romantic cues together.
Despite its many strengths, the "Living Daylights" soundtrack is not without its flaws. Some fans and critics have criticized the score for its lack of a strong, standalone love theme, a staple of many previous Bond soundtracks. Additionally, some of the action cues can feel repetitive and formulaic, lacking the ingenuity and creativity of some of Barry's other Bond scores.
However, these criticisms are ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things. The "Living Daylights" soundtrack remains a standout work in the Bond franchise, and a testament to John Barry's immense talent as a composer. Its memorable themes, adventurous arrangements, and innovative use of instrumentation make it a must-listen for fans of the franchise and of film music in general.
Source: Film Score Monthly, "The Living Daylights" soundtrack review by Christopher Palmer (1987).