LTK unused Eric Clapton instrumental possibly found? (UPDATE: authenticity confirmed)

mattjoesmattjoes The page you were looking for could not be found.
edited March 24 in Music Posts: 5,556
UPDATES:

MARCH 22ND 2022:

In a written piece for the MI6 website, Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury, authors of Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films, confirm that the SoundCloud track is authentic. They first listened to the Clapton theme in September 2020, when sound engineer Stephen McLaughlin, whom they had contacted about the theme, streamed it for them, having recently acquired a copy of it from Zoe Kamen, Michael Kamen's daughter.


FEBRUARY 28TH 2022:

Licence to Kill music editor Andy Glen has implicitly stated that the SoundCloud track is authentic. His comments can be found in this Twitter thread:



In the same thread, a person who contacted the original uploader of the SoundCloud audio gives more details on how the track was obtained.


FEBRUARY 23RD OR 24TH 2022:

Vic Flick has restated that the SoundCloud track doesn't fit with his memories of the 1989 LTK sessions. He says the original piece was more subtle and Bondian, and had no brass. Flick won't say the SoundCloud track isn't the right one but won't authenticate it either. The full comments can be found in the "James Bond Enthusiasts" Facebook group. Link unfortunately not available (it's a private group). Here is a link to a follow-up post by the person who contacted Flick: https://www.facebook.com/groups/404575723277508/posts/1508943272840742/


FEBRUARY 23RD 2022:

Vic Flick has said that from what he can remember, the SoundCloud track sounds nothing like the 1989 LTK sessions. His full comments can be found in the "James Bond Music" Facebook group. Link to the relevant post (check the comments section): https://www.facebook.com/groups/JBMAS/posts/5192347487471635/


FEBRUARY 22ND 2022:

The SoundCloud link has been deleted. Try this one instead. It's the original audio downloaded from SoundCloud (no re-encoding): https://archive.org/details/licence-to-be-killed

A YouTube video with the track has also been deleted "due to a copyright claim by Michael Kamen." It's worth noting that copyright claims can be falsified, though in this case, the domain of the email used for the claim was "kamen.co.uk" (source). This is the link to the deleted video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6o6BHRs0_A


ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS:

Given the notability of this piece of music, I think this deserves its own thread.

As you might know, an instrumental piece was composed by Michael Kamen for Licence to Kill, and was recorded featuring both Eric Clapton and Vic Flick on guitars. In the end, it wasn't used and, to the best of our knowledge, it has never been released.

About two weeks ago, I was listening to something on SoundCloud and I ran into this:



The title reads: "James Bond Theme - License to Kill - Eric Clapton outtake". The description reads: "The unreleased EC track from the 007 film, License to Kill. Recorded at the Townhouse Studios, London February 1989." The piece was uploaded to SoundCloud on January 2nd, 2022.

The uploader seems to specialize in Eric Clapton music.

You'll understand I took a skeptical position about what I was seeing and hearing, so I left a comment asking for a second confirmation that the uploaded piece was indeed the unused LTK instrumental, and asking for information on how this piece was found. Unfortunately, there has been no response to date.

Still, we can analyze the piece of music by ourselves and see if it is consistent with what we know about the unreleased LTK instrumental.

The following text is taken from Jon Burlingame's book, The Music of James Bond. I have bolded certain relevant parts.
By early February 1989, Kamen had come up with a theme. As on Lethal Weapon, he brought in guitarist Clapton, and, at the suggestion of engineer Stephen McLaughlin, original Bond theme guitarist Vic Flick (who had not played on a Bond since the 1960s). Clapton and Flick joined Kamen, drummer Steve Ferrone and percussionist Ray Cooper at London’s Townhouse Studios to record the music for a TV commercial that would also cross-promote the movie.

What actually happened that day depends on who’s telling the story. "It was a disaster," recalled Sill. "Michael was completely unprepared. He was vamping, and this was the wrong time to do it." Remembered Flick: "It was kind of a bluesy, bendy tune, with Clapton fooling around from the outline of a theme on top of a basic backing track and me providing the dark-guitar countertheme in the bass end." Flick (who had brought his original 1960s guitar) recalled that "all day we worked on this composition and by the close it was sounding pretty good." McLaughlin recalled it as "a big Bond-y tune, and it also had a kind of quote of the Bond theme."

According to Flick, a video shoot for the commercial took place the next day "in the attic of a riverside wharf [in the] London dock area." Kamen summed it all up years later by saying that the session "didn’t really bear any fruit." Sill dismissed it as "terrible," and together with the Broccolis a decision was made to shelve it. Issues involving payment for Clapton’s participation further complicated matters, and as a result the track has never seen the light of day.

In addition, Kamen hoped to turn his main theme into a song, just as predecessors Barry, Hamlisch and Conti had done. Scottish songwriter B. A. Robertson, who had written hits for Cliff Richard and Mike & the Mechanics, was invited to pen the words. Kamen had not, however, had a hit film song at that point; that would come two years later, with the chart-topping Bryan Adams hit "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" from Kamen’s score for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. "I was very displeased to find that my tune and my melodies were not taken seriously,” he later admitted. “I was sorry not to be able to write a Bond song. I thought I had written a really good one."

The SoundCloud piece is consistent with Vic Flick's description. The piece is bluesy, and the electric guitar melody literally includes pitch bends. The Bond theme riff is heard a few times on the low end as a secondary melody. The piece is also consistent with engineer McLaughlin's description, in that it has a quote of the Bond theme (the riff and the chromatic vamp, not to mention the intro and outro). Whether it is "a big, Bond-y tune" is more subjective, though I would agree with that description. The main melody seems fairly extravagant and dramatic, in Bondian fashion.

The arrangement and instrumentation are also interesting to study. Rhythmically, the intro of the theme is reminiscent of the gunbarrel theme of the score. The strings playing the chromatic vamp of the Bond theme at 0:20 sound quite similar to the ones heard in the gunbarrel (in both cases they sound like violas and celli playing in unison). The riff of the Bond theme is played on high strings at 0:27, which is also the case in the gunbarrel theme and the track Licence Revoked from the soundtrack album. At 0:40, a bell tree is heard. Bell trees are also present in the soundtrack album, in the tracks James & Felix on Their Way to Church, Sanchez Is in the Bahamas/Shark Fishing, Ninja and Licence Revoked. I haven't verified it thoroughly, but it seems to me bell trees were frequently employed by Michael Kamen in his film score work.

Now we come to the aspect that gives me pause. While the guitars, bass and drums sound authentic to me, the orchestral elements sound like synths, particularly in the intro and outro of the theme. The repeated "machinegun" notes on brass are especially telling in that regard. Still, the fact those instruments might be synths doesn't necessarily mean the piece is fake. The possibility remains that some instruments were performed "live", while others were performed on synths, with the idea of re-recording them with an actual orchestra at a later time. I'm not sure how that lines up with the fact the theme was initially recorded for a TV commercial, but the fact music producer and consultant Joel Sill says Kamen "was vamping, and this was the wrong time to do it", and Vic Flick says "all day we worked on this composition and by the close it was sounding pretty good", suggests that the composition suffered significant changes during the recording session. It would make sense not to have an orchestra standing by when a theme is going through major changes.

So is the SoundCloud piece authentic? I don't know for sure, but I think there's a substantial possibility that it is. If it is authentic, that means it was somehow leaked from wherever it's stored. I have to say that possibility doesn't make me suspicious at all, as there are many bootleg soundtrack albums whose music came from tapes that were copied by some random employee who didn't tell anyone about it.

If anyone here is intimately familiar with Eric Clapton's work, it would be interesting to hear your opinion on whether the guitar playing sounds like him.

Lastly, I will say that, authentic or not, that SoundCloud piece is going in my collection, because it's really cool. The melody is delightfully dirty, and I love how every once in a while, the riff of the Bond theme is heard along that piano.
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Comments

  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,403
    If that’s not Clapton, then it’s a VERY good imitation of his style.
  • Posts: 815
    Well Vic Flick is still alive, you should tranmit the link of this post to Jon Burlingame, see if he can contact Vic Flick about it.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited February 21 Posts: 10,739
    I agree that it sounds an awful lot like Clapton, and there are indeed links with how the Bond theme is arranged in LTK and I’d also say that it is overall quite reminiscent of Clapton & Kamen’s Edge of Darkness.
    It is pretty convincing and also a bit suspiciously high quality at the same time. I’m inclined to believe it but then perhaps there are great Clapton impersonators out there, I don’t know. I wouldn’t be too worried about the synth strings as Kamen used them even in final pieces: check out Edge of Darkness or even the LTK score in places. These do perhaps sound a little better?
    Thanks for sharing, great find!
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    Posts: 4,213
    Wow! I really love what I just heard.
  • Posts: 9,208
    I prefer this over what we got and in fact this would of been amazing I wish this was released I would buy it right now
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,739
    Is it me or is the four note 'Li-cence To Kill' melody line actually the first four notes of the bebop section of the Bond theme played backwards?
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe JenaMaloneforBond.comModerator
    Posts: 12,696
    A great fine indeed, but no, I didn’t like that one bit. It sounds horrible to be honest. Kamen’s Licence Revoked is far far better.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,739
    Yeah, being charitable I'd say it is perhaps unfinished. ;) I'd certainly ditch the Bond theme bits: they're surprisingly irritating!
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 10,482
    I like the experiment and it would work fine for the end titles. Too bad they had a killer pop song covering that.

    A choice cut of Bond history to relish, I'm a believer and stand by for the confirmation.
  • HildebrandRarityHildebrandRarity Centre international d'assistance aux personnes déplacées, Paris, France
    Posts: 378
    I was bored to death listening to the solo, so it's exactly in line with what 80s (and later decades) Clapton inspires me.
  • Posts: 113
    This is a really cool artifact to finally hear, even if it doesn't quite live up to our expectations. But again, was it ever going to? And as @mtm pointed out, it's unfinished and essentially a demo. I'm just glad we finally have it!
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,739
    Interestingly I asked my mate who's been a lifelong listener of Clapton, seen him perform many times etc. and plays guitar himself, and he wasn't entirely convinced.

    I tend to think that to fake this you need to get someone who's got a good ear for both Clapton and Kamen, which would have to be a bit of a tough combo to pull off, but who knows.
  • mattjoesmattjoes The page you were looking for could not be found.
    edited February 21 Posts: 5,556
    Well Vic Flick is still alive, you should tranmit the link of this post to Jon Burlingame, see if he can contact Vic Flick about it.

    I had considered doing something like that, but was a bit reluctant. Today I went ahead and contacted a relative of Vic Flick with the hope that he could get him to listen to the audio, and confirm or deny its authenticity. To my surprise, an answer came back quite quickly. The relative said that he doubted Clapton would be involved with something that 'sloppy', and that Vic Flick certainly wouldn't.

    Unfortunately, from the way the answer was worded, I'm not sure Vic Flick himself got to hear the audio. But if this person says Flick didn't work on it, he must have a good reason to do so. This is a very strong indicator against the authenticity of the piece, if not a flat out confirmation that it's fake. Your mileage may vary.

    Edit: Personally, I would like to double check this in some way. Sometimes you get surprised by these things.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 10,739
    Yep, I certainly think it's not a definite that it's real. I guess the problem is it's a bit of an open goal for a faker because the demo seems to have been regarded as a bit of a failure at the time. So that gives a pretty good excuse for 'Clapton' to be sounding sloppy, because the demo was sloppy and that's why it was shelved, so that just makes it a bit harder to tell if it's right or not.
  • Posts: 14,040
    Very, very interesting.
    I've got that guitar lick in my head now. Does sound pretty Clapton like I must say.
    I don't really care for the Bond theme guitar melody playing on and on without concluding, though.
  • mattjoesmattjoes The page you were looking for could not be found.
    Posts: 5,556
    I was going to create a thread about this on the Film Score Monthly forums but I see someone's already made one. Cool. The word is spreading around. I'm sure we'll get further confirmation on the authenticity (or lack thereof) at some point.

    As mentioned over at the FSM forums, the drum kit sounds quite a bit like the one in the film score.

    Personally, I love the track. I almost want to take it and replace the synth orchestra with, uh, a synth orchestra, but a better one.
  • It sounds more like a demo than anything else
  • Posts: 14,040
    Listening to this repeatedly. I really like it.
  • slide_99slide_99 USA
    edited February 22 Posts: 432
    Sounds more like an attempt at copying the 80s sound than an actual 80s-era recording. Whatever it is, it doesn't belong in a Bond movie.
  • Outstanding find! It would be nice to know for sure, but it certainly seems this could be the real thing. I don't think this would have worked well at all over the opening titles or anywhere else in the film, but it's a very interesting artifact nevertheless.

    The opening blast of the James Bond theme sounds like it would fit well in one of those tongue-in-cheek Visa commercials with Brosnan commandeering a tuk-tuk. Then the smooth jazz electric guitar with background shimmering sounds like it belongs in a Miami Vice-style TV show. Then at 1:35 you get the drum kit from the Dam level of GoldenEye N64 for a bit. Then some traditional and dangerous-sounding James Bond theme from Vic Flick before it's back to the Miami Vice and Dam level mashup, then more Vic Flick, then more Miami Vice/Dam mashup, then just a little more Vic Flick, and then back to Visa commercial for the close.

    Again, a great find and a cool listen, but I really can't see it working in the film.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,403
    Hope we hear what Vic Flick has to say about it soon. Whether you like the piece or not, it’s a part of Bond history and it’s just cool to hear something that’s only been talked about for over 30 years.
  • edited February 22 Posts: 815
    Nice, me too I hope Vic Flick will be aware of this post, after all doesn't he said in interview back at the time ? : "Many Bond aficionados are trying to find it and I wish you luck. Please tell me first if you come across it!" ( https://www.universalexports.net/interviews/flickinterview.shtml )

  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    Posts: 4,213
    Hope we hear what Vic Flick has to say about it soon. Whether you like the piece or not, it’s a part of Bond history and it’s just cool to hear something that’s only been talked about for over 30 years.

    I agree.
  • Posts: 3,975
    Word seems to have got around enough for it to have disappeared.
  • mattjoesmattjoes The page you were looking for could not be found.
    Posts: 5,556
    I was afraid that might happen. I wonder what that implies for the authenticity of the track, if anything.

    Here's another upload:

  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,403
    Damn. Hope Flick got to hear it to confirm if it’s legit.
  • mattjoesmattjoes The page you were looking for could not be found.
    Posts: 5,556
    The SoundCloud track was also uploaded to the Internet Archive.

    https://archive.org/details/licence-to-be-killed

    I can confirm this is the exact audio that was uploaded to SoundCloud (the YouTube audio I posted above was likely reencoded in the process of uploading it).

    Interestingly, the MI6 HQ website points out the SoundCloud track was not deleted by its uploader. I'm not sure how one can tell that, but there you have it.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited February 22 Posts: 10,739
    mattjoes wrote: »

    Interestingly, the MI6 HQ website points out the SoundCloud track was not deleted by its uploader. I'm not sure how one can tell that, but there you have it.

    I like their version of the story behind the track:
    "The story goes that EON, despite having commissioned the Clapton work, had decided to go with a snog instead"

    Cubby not keeping his mind on the job there.

    https://www.mi6-hq.com/sections/articles/music-eric-clapton-lost-session-song-licence-to-kill?id=05023
  • Posts: 648
    I'd rather have a snog too, than listen to that 80's drum and guitar noodling.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    edited February 22 Posts: 6,403
    I mean, that’s what Clapton was always known for. If you asked Clapton to participate on a new take of the Bond theme, that’s exactly what he would do.

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