A Conversation With Lukas Kendall

Producer of the James Bond Re-mastered Bonus Soundtracks

 

Recently I had a chance to interrogate . . . , I mean interview Mr. Lukas Kendall, one of the producers of the newly re-mastered and expanded James Bond bonus soundtracks.  After hours of heated questions and sodium pentothal, I was able to get the real story behind the greatest release of OO7 music since the 30th Anniversary Collection.

Dr. Shatterhand:  Welcome to The Question Room, Lukas.  Tell me what is Filmscoremonthly.com?

Lukas Kendall:  Filmscoremonthly.com is the website for Film Score Monthly, a magazine about movie and TV soundtracks I have owned and operated since 1990.  I started it as a small newsletter when I was finishing high school and have kept it going ever since.  Through the magazine, we produce and release new CDs of classic film scores from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, which we license and restore from the film studios.  Among our many genre soundtracks are Logan's Run, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the 1966 Batman feature.  Our complete catalog is at https://secure.filmscoremonthly.com/store/cds.asp.

 

DS:  Are you a James Bond fan or a John Barry fan or both?

LK:  Absolutely both!  I love the Bond films, particularly the Connery ones, and John Barry is one of my top-favorite film composers.

 

John Barry relaxing between music sessions during Octopussy 1983.



DS:  How old were you when you saw your first Bond film and what year was that?

LK:  I think I saw You Only Live Twice as the ABC Sunday night movie in the early 1980s.  I know because it was one of the first things we ever taped on the family VCR.  

I'm chagrined to say that I think the first Bond film I saw in theaters was A View to a Kill, and even at age eleven I thought, gee that guy seems kind of old.  But certainly the Bond films made a seminal impression on me when I was a little kid fascinated with movies and television -- and their music.



DS:
  How did you get involved with re-mastering the Bond soundtracks?

LK:  I have built a relationship with MGM due to the film score CDs we have licensed from their library, such as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and On the Beach.  So, they knew of me as someone experienced and hard-working when it comes to resurrecting archival film scores and presenting them on modern-day CDs.  MGM recommended me to EMI, and EMI saw fit to hire me.

 

DS:  How long did you work on this project and were there late night sessions in order to meet the deadline?

LK:  I first met with EMI before Labor Day and did the actual album production in late October and early November, 2002.  It happened very fast, but fortunately "fast, cheap and good" is the way I am used to working, as I own a record label where I am both the financial backer and the perfectionist producer.  There were late-night sessions and late-night reviewing on my part of work done the previous day, so as to maximize studio time.



DS:  Did you have any roadblocks in bringing the "previously unreleased" music to the public?

LK:  I was only an independent contractor on this project, so that's not really a question for me to answer.  MGM and EMI made the decision to do the expanded albums and I do not know what kinds of roadblocks the executives faced.  I know that there were some corporate issues to be resolved simply pertaining to who has the rights to the albums after all this time.  Fortunately, the executives on both sides cared about getting the albums done correctly.  My concerns were mostly technical and logistical in comparison, having to do with transporting the music and getting it mixed and mastered in time.

 

DS:  What condition were the master tapes in when you received them?

LK: I never got near the original master tapes.  Abbey Road in London (EMI's tape storage facility) transferred all of the analogue masters onto a Pro Tools hard drive, and then shipped us the hard drive.  We remixed the scores at a facility I use in Hollywood called Private Island Trax (engineer: Michael McDonald), and then mastered them at Mulholland Music in North Hollywood (engineer: Doug Schwartz).  I worked closely with the engineers to make sure the albums sounded correct and had all the extra music fans wanted.  As far as I could tell, the analogue reels were all in immaculate condition.  There was one reel of On Her Majesty's Secret Service that suffered water damage but by the time Abbey Road worked their magic, I could not hear any deterioration.

There was another album where the condition of the masters proved an issue and that was Thunderball.  Most of the music was in great shape at Abbey Road but music from the ending of the movie had been shipped to the U.S. branch of Capitol Records (EMI) in the 1960s, presumably for a Volume 2 soundtrack LP which never happened.  We had quite a scare until we realized and found this.  (Except for the gun-barrel, ALL of the music that was included on the 30th Anniversary suite was from this U.S. source.)  But again, I never saw the analogue tape -- EMI's internal facility transferred it to digital.

 

DS:  Any humorous moments during those sessions?

LK:  The only humorous thing I can recall is having all of this wonderful music in the Pro Tools or Sonic Solutions computer, so that when someone walked into the room, we could blast classic John Barry "stings" to herald his or her arrival.

 

The re-mastered and expanded soundtracks have liner notes and montages of rare photos included.

 

DS:  Why wasn't Dr. No, From Russia with Love, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, and A View to a Kill released with extras?

LK:  This is the real question... It's a combination of not having master tapes available (Dr. No and From Russia with Love are going on 40 years old, and Moonraker was recorded in Paris), and not having the time and money to do the remixes.  EMI had limited resources -- these albums are midline releases to them -- and I advised them to do what I consider the classic Barry/Bond scores for which they did have the original masters: Thunderball  through Diamonds Are ForeverLive and Let Die sort of happened as a bonus.

 

George Martin, seen here with Celine Dion in 1998,  composed the music to the film Live And Let Die.

 

In addition to being the best scores, these were only done as a 3-track, 4-track or 8-track recordings and were not nearly as time consuming to remix as scores like The Man With the Golden Gun (16 track) and The Spy Who Loved Me (24 track) would have been.  I don't know the whereabouts or condition of the A View to a Kill tapes.

In an ideal world, we would have scoured the earth for all of the masters and spent as much time and money needed to present them all in complete form.  But it was not an option.

 

DS:  The Thunderball CD is 79 minutes long and yet there is still some music cues missing such as Bond's wild car ride with Fiona.  Were these not available?

LK:  Thunderball is a very long score and EMI did not have the budget to release a 2CD set.  With 40 minutes on the original LP (43 if you count the fact that the mono LP had an alternate version of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") plus 20 minutes in the 30th Anniversary suite -- and an obligation to include everything that had been released before, save the vocals of "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" for artist clearance reasons -- there was not much room for previously unreleased music.  I picked what I thought were the most important cues -- like the "Street Chase" -- but sadly some other things had to be left off including the music cue of Bond's wild car ride with Fiona.

 

DS:  Were the music cues titled or did you come up with the titles?

LK:  Actually none of the cues were titled -- the new titles were made up by me. They are listed simply numerically (1M1, etc.) on the reels and legal cue sheets.

 

Lukas Kendall (left) and former UCLA football player turned audio engineer maestro Michael McDonald (right).  Remixing the music that has been missing all these years at Private Island Trax, Hollywood, CA - November 2002.


DS: Did you do any additional work with the latest versions of For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and The Living Daylights?

LK:  No I did not, although I did participate in the earlier Rykodisc issues in the late 1990s to different degrees. I think I helped coordinate liner notes, as I did again with the new EMI discs (they were done by one of my editors at FSM, Jeff Bond, with a helpful assist from Jeff Eldridge).  I know I helped to select the previously unreleased music for The Living Daylights.



DS: Why was Licence to Kill omitted?

LK:  MCA Records owns the soundtrack rights to Licence to Kill in perpetuity
and so it was not available for EMI to reissue.



DS: Will there be other re-mastered Bonds in the future?

LK:  I wish I knew!

 

DS:  Which of the re-mastered CDs is your personal favorite?

LK:  My favorite score, before the newly expanded versions and since, is Diamonds Are Forever!

 

DS:  Is there anything else you would like to mention before I drop you into my piranha pool?

LK:  There is quite a bit of extra trivia and information about how the albums were assembled, and I'll be writing an article for an upcoming issue of Film Score Monthly. I want to thank all the people who have enjoyed these albums, as well as MGM and EMI for the "All Time High" of working on them!

 

All photos on this page are copyrighted and held by respective owners:
John Barry,
MGM/United Artists Corp.,
Universal Music Canada,
Film Score Monthly

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