Fresh off his success with the Rocky films, Bill Conti was undoubtedly a pretty good choice for a Bond composer. He also had the benefit of having written both a successful score and song, a latter a crucial factor in making the choice for any Bond composer. For Your Eyes Only is indeed a very good entry and delivered with gusto by Sheena Easton. Conti takes Barry's lead and uses the song as a pleasing love theme, notably performed on flugelhorn (one of two, by different soloists - a first for film music I would suggest) by Derek Watkins.
The score itself is a slightly frustrating mixture of some great orchestral writing far too much grim disco (or the 80's successor) that seems to have escaped from a surf movie. A Drive in the Country is a case in point; after a playful Spanish trumpet motif, one that recurs a few times, what seems to be a promising action track then gets shafted (as it were) by some nasty synths and dismal attempt to sound contemporary. It has been pointed out that David Arnold's very modern tinkering in recent scores will eventually end up sounding as dated as Conti's, time will tell. Similarly, Gonzales Takes a Drive begins with more lilting Spanish stylings, but it two has an aggressive takeover by the electronics. Fortunately, there are a good number of purely orchestral cues, disco isn't really suited to suspense and so tracks such as St. Cyril's Monastery are actually quite effective. Even the appearance of a couple of bass guitar twangs midway through don't detract from a well conceived piece of drama.
Conti uses the opening and rising opening figure of the Bond theme in much the same way as Barry, although he has a tendency towards melodrama, which Barry carefully avoided. Make it Last All Night is a rather nasty disco song that should pretty be avoided at all costs. The final cue from the film, The P.M. Gets the Bird (featuring a cameo of Margaret Thatcher's look alike) is a witty end to the score before a reprise of the song for the end credits. Naturally, this leads into the opening cue. Some legal genius felt that for some reason, the original album order should be preserved and the extra tracks featured at the end. Therefore track 12 is actually the last track of the album (and of the film) and 13 is the opener with the Bond theme, gunbarrel opening. The extra tracks feature most of the best cues, the orchestra largely replacing electronics. Sinking the St. Georges is a good suspense cue and Unfinished Business leads into a brief, but amusing march. Ski... Jump... Shoot... is another well conceived suspense cue, with interesting piano reverb effects that do occasionally feel too clever for their own good, but are effective none the less.
If you find the idea of the tracks in the wrong order maddening, the correct order is: 13, 1, 4, 7, 5, 2, 14, 11, 15, 8, 3, 16, 10, 9, 17, 18, 19, 6, 12. Some tracks combine cues that aren't quite in the correct order, but this is as close to film order as is possible without editing up the tracks. I suppose there is no brilliantly conceived structure to the score as it stands, so playing it in the correct order isn't exactly crucial, although having the first and last tracks correctly sequenced is obviously preferable. As with Octopussy, the fold out liner sheet is a bit cumbersome, but given the quantity of information, it's a minor complaint. If you can take the disco, then it's not a bad score and the orchestral parts are good, Conti being the first composer able to get close to the quality of Barry's writing. With less emphasis on the era, this could have been one of the top Bond scores. Damn you disco.