Live And Let Write (Rejected Music): ALICE COOPER'S THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Chris Morley is the man with the golden gun in his pocket...

The ninth official installment in the James Bond cinematic series, 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun, saw Roger Moore return for a second outing as secret agent 007, with Christopher Lee playing the film's antagonist Scaramanga. As ever, there was an accompanying theme tune, this time performed by Scottish songstress Lulu, after early attempts to recruit either Elton John or Cat Stevens fell through.

John Barry, who composed and produced the theme song (and the film's score), with lyrics by Don Black, considers The Man With The Golden Gun the worst Bond theme tune - it is the only Bond film title track not to chart as a single in either the U.K. or U.S. - and his score to be among the weakest of his contributions to the series:
"It's the one I hate most... it just never happened for me."
He's not the only person it didn't happen for as we unearth one from the“could have been” pile and look back to Alice Cooper's attempt to contribute the theme for The Man With The Golden Gun.

Yes, you read that right, the American singer, songwriter, and actor, Alice Cooper, he of Schools Out fame and stage shows featuring pyrotechnics, guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, reptiles, baby dolls, and dueling swords. The Godfather of Shock Rock, more The Man With The Raspy Voice than golden gun but still, Alice Cooper was down to write and perform the theme tune for the new James Bond movie.

It seems he was a fan of the films, admitting in a March 1972 Rolling Stone interview that the entwining twanging guitars on Unfinished Sweet (from 1973's Billion Dollar Babies) owed a debt to Monty Norman’s iconic James Bond theme.
“That’s all the music we like. We swiped about 11 bits from the Goldfinger soundtrack on the first album [and] just redid them in guitar.”

Arguably at the height of his success, or rather their success as at this time Alice Cooper was the name of the band and not solely the property of the man born Vincent Damon Fernier, returned to the studio with producer Bob Ezrin, bassist Dennis Dunaway, drummer Neal Smith and guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce to record their Muscle Of Love album, and whilst they were doing so took a stab at coming up with their own Bond theme.

According to the man himself it was a case of so near & yet so far,
“It was supposed to be the Bond theme, but it actually came in a day too late, and by the time they heard it, they'd already signed for Lulu's song."
And so this is what the world got...

But Alice Cooper wasn't taking no for an answer...
"I went, you're gonna take Lulu over this? Cause it was perfect for The Man With The Golden Gun. It had helicopters, it had machine guns, it had the Pointer Sisters, Ronnie Spector & Liza Minelli doing background vocals!
Liza Minelli, Alice Cooper, Ronnie Spector
We went to every single one of those John Barry albums to try and invent the perfect James Bond song, and even Christopher Lee, who played Scaramanga in the movie, said, "Oh, man, why did we take the Lulu song? This song is the one!".

So, yeah, we lost out on that one, but I still put it on the album. I said, "I don't care, I'm going to do a James Bond track no matter what...”
Which he did, his take on The Man With The Golden Gun stuck firmly in the middle of side two of Muscle Of Love - the album serving as an epitaph for the original Alice Cooper band before they all parted ways and Fernier took the Alice Cooper name for himself.

As subjective as musical tastes are, it's hard to argue against Alice Cooper's take not being a better suited theme song than Lulu's effort. Even Lulu herself doesn't rate her Bond theme,
"I think mine was probably the worst one ever"
...She said in 2017.

However, it's unlikely that if the producers had opted for Alice Cooper's composition as the theme for The Man With The Golden Gun it would've made much difference to the quality of the final film, it being one of the weakest in the series, but it couldn't have harmed, could it?

And so concludes the tale of the nearly-man with the golden gun!

Monty Norman
John Barry  
Sir Paul McCartney & George Martin

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