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COLLECTING 007 – Original Soundtrack Recordings

Casino Royale was issued on record in the UK by RCA Victor (SF 7874 Stereo/RD 7874 mono) in 1967, but it’s the original USA first pressing from Columbia's ‘Colgems’ Records that audiophiles have sought out since its original release. Casino Royale was recorded at the Cine-Tele Sound Studios (CTS) in London from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th January 1967, where composer Burt Bacharach conducted between 50 and 60 musicians on more than 100 different cues, which amounted to over 60-minutes of music. American Phil Ramone (1934-2013) was the producer, but UK union rules prevented him from engineering the recording, so CTS employee Jack Clegg became the actual sound engineer. Ramone would later produce the On Her Majesty's Secret Service soundtrack album that was also recorded at CTS in Bayswater. What was unusual about the recording of the music for Casino Royale was the way Jack Clegg pushed the limits of the equipment, and how this was recorded onto the three-track Agfa magnetic master tape. This very risky, but finely-engineered method produced what turned out to be one of the most highly respected LPs ever made. For this reason the Casino Royale soundtrack became highly sought after by audiophiles wishing to test the limits of their own stereo equipment. 

Casino Royale has divided fans and film critics alike since its original release, with many even refusing to acknowledge it as a James Bond film at all, as it did not originate from the same stable as EON Productions’ film series. Regardless of its troubled production history, and the fact Casino Royale is a comedy, the film is loosely based on the first novel by author Ian Fleming, and does include many characters from that story, including James Bond (several 007s in fact!). If little else, Casino Royale gave the world the wonderful song ‘The Look of Love’ - recorded specifically for the film by Dusty Springfield, and in the process became a standard, one of the most popular and oft-covered songs of all time.

Casino Royale Colgems COMO-5005/COSO-5005 (1967)

Casino Royale Original Soundtrack Album

Casino Royale Original Soundtrack Album rear sleeve

Casino Royale Original Soundtrack Recording
Colgems COMO-5005 Mono (1967)
Colgems COSO-5005 Stereo (1967)

 

In 1991 the New York Times published an article by Richard Panek featuring an interview with Harry Pearson (1937-2014), the American journalist, audio reviewer, and publisher who founded The Absolute Sound magazine for high-end audio enthusiasts. Harry Pearson is considered the most influential figure in the history of audiophile journalism.

‘Casino Royale’ Is an LP Bond With a Gilt Edge
The New York Times
Sunday July 28, 1991
[excerpts]

As vinyl verges on extinction, one album has emerged as the prime specimen of the species. Of all the millions of recordings released in the 114 years since Thomas Edison said, “What hath God wrought?” [Subsequently corrected by the New York Times to “Mary had a little lamb”] this album has come closest to achieving the potential of a vanishing medium. It represents “the paradigm,” says one audiophile, “the paramount, if you will.”

It is... the original soundtrack of the 1967 movie Casino Royale.

This unlikely choice - a jaunty Burt Bacharach score for a James Bond spoof - makes sense only if one disregards traditional criteria for liking an album. Collectors of Casino Royale aren't necessarily interested in the music. “Some people enjoy it,” says one rare-record dealer, shrugging. “Some people can't stand it.”

What interests audiophiles is the quality of sound. They swap stories about the legendary recording session in London, spend hundreds of dollars for a pristine copy if and when they can find one, and then, like oenophiles who wouldn't dream of opening a 1945 Lafite-Rothschild, often refuse to listen to it. So volatile is the market for this LP that any nugget of news that enhances its considerable mystique can affect the price - and some significant new information, about the deteriorating condition of the master tape, indicates that the price is about to rise dramatically.

The Casino Royale movie is memorable mostly as an artifact of its era. The producer, Charles K. Feldman, who had bought the rights to Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel before the movie series became a hit, conceived of Casino Royale as the film that would out-Bond Bond. He threw $12 million, five credited directors and a host of uncredited screenwriters at the material. He assembled a cast that included Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen - but not Sean Connery - as only three of the movie's various James Bonds. And he hired the hottest movie composer of the time, Mr. Bacharach, who in turn enlisted Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to play the title cut.

The soundtrack, like everything else about the movie, was over the top. “The legend is that the original master tape had ‘mad’ levels on it,” says Harry Pearson, editor and publisher of the audiophile bible The Absolute Sound and, by general consensus, the person most responsible for creating the Casino Royale cult.

Casino Royale Soundtrack album advertisement

Mr. Pearson explains that a sound engineer usually adjusts recording levels so that when musicians are playing their loudest, the meters on the console reach zero. “Once the meters pass zero, it means that you're saturating the tape and running the risk of distortion,” he says. “On ‘Casino,’ they used a supposedly very fancy grade of tape, and the engineers really pushed it, so the meters were typically running deep into the red - plus one, plus two, plus three, plus four.” As a result, he says, the record has an “extremely wide dynamic range” - higher highs and lower lows.

“They weren't afraid to push the medium to the limits of the recording process,” Mr. Pearson adds. “It can lead to disaster, but in the case of ‘Casino,’ it doesn't. There's no saturation, no distortion. The record is as clean as a whistle.”

For this reason, ever since the album's release, audiophiles have valued Casino Royale as a test for stereo equipment. “The better your system gets,” says Mr. Pearson, “the more you get out of that album.”

‘The Look of Love’ provides several such tests. Dusty Springfield recorded her vocal in a “tiny isolation booth, so on a really good system, you can hear her voice emerging from what sounds like a little hole in space,” Mr. Pearson says. “She's not part of the general orchestral acoustic, and once your system gets to a certain point, you can hear that.”

The song also features a sudden saxophone dip and rise that, on less sophisticated equipment, sounds like two or three distinct instruments, and a serrated gourd called a guirot, whose every notch will sound, under ideal conditions, Mr. Pearson says, “like a tooth on a comb. A normal sound system simply can't reproduce this series of very quick transients” - stiff sound waves - “at a very soft level. Just cannot do it.”

Mr. Pearson founded The Absolute Sound in 1973 when he was still an environmental reporter for Newsday, and he tries to apply objective reporting to the subjective experience of listening to music. “Whenever we get a piece of equipment that we think is setting new records,” he says, “out comes ‘Casino.’”

Mr. Pearson has often cited the record in The Absolute Sound, which has a circulation of 35,000. It is these references that have contributed to the soundtrack's cult status. Other albums are rarer than Casino Royale, with prices as high as $10,000, and even Mr. Pearson has to admit that “there are better-sounding records. But I don't think there's one quite as useful overall.”

Today [1991] a pristine copy of Casino Royale can fetch upwards of $400. “I've seen scratched-up copies go for $100 to $125,” says Ron Saja, manager of Footlight Records, a Manhattan rare-record store that specializes in movie and stage recordings. Footlight has sold Casino Royale for as much as $195, though the current price would be $150 - if the shop had one in stock. “Amazing,” Mr. Bacharach said when he heard how valuable Casino Royale has become, in an interview with The Absolute Sound several years ago. “I don't even have a copy.”

Paul McCartney, Dusty Springfield & Tom Jones at the 1966 Melody Maker Pop Poll Awards/The Look of Love US advertisement

ABOVE: (left) 13 September 1966 – ‘Bonding’ at the Melody Maker Pop Poll Awards Paul McCartney, who would later write and perform the title song for Live And Let Die (1973) accepted the award for Best Group (The Beatles), with Dusty Springfield (top female vocalist) who would record ‘The Look of Love’ in January 1967; and Tom Jones (top male vocalist) who had sung the title song for Thunderball (1965). Tom Jones was a last-minute replacement for Dionne Warwick whose version of ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ was to have been the main theme, until the producers decided that the film title needed to be in the song. (right) A US advertisement for Dusty Springfield's single version of ‘The Look of Love’. The Philips Records single version became a big hit in the USA reaching number 22 on ‘Billboard's Hot 100’. ‘The Look of Love’ was released in the UK in May 1967 as the the ‘B-side’ to ‘Give Me Time’ but did not chart. Dionne Warwick would record her own cover version of ‘The Look of Love’ released on the album Dionne Warwick's Greatest Motion Picture Hits in 1969. The album was produced by Burt Bacharach, and contained  several cover versions of hit songs written with Hal David.

Casino Royale Is Too Much For One Single!
The last day of the recording sessions for Casino Royale was reserved for Dusty Springfield’s vocal of ‘The Look of Love’. This alternate arrangement was recorded at an evening session at Philips Studios, located in the basement of Stanhope Place, rather than CTS. It is likely that the change of venue was because Dusty Springfield was contracted to the Philips record label, and as a rule all Philips artistes recorded at the company’s own studio. The single version of ‘The Look of Love’ was released in the USA (Philips 40465) and became a big hit, but when the song was issued in the UK (Philips BF 1577) for some unknown reason the order of the two songs on the single were reversed, and ‘The Look of Love’ became the B-Side to ‘Give Me Time’ and consequently the record failed to chart. No doubt due to its popularity in the USA, ‘The Look of Love’ was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Song, but singer Dusty Springfield was unable to perform at the 1968 Oscar ceremony as she was busy working on her hit ITV Television show It Must Be Dusty at the time. The song was performed at the awards ceremony on April 10, 1968 by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 .The Latin-Jazz group later recorded their own version of ‘The Look of Love’ released in the USA in 1968 (A&M 924). Dusty Springfield's version of ‘The Look of Love’ lost out at the Oscars to ‘Talk To The Animals’ from Doctor Dolittle (1967), which had music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. The prolific English composer, lyricist, and playwright had co-written ‘Goldfinger’ in 1964 with John Barry and Anthony Newley; and also the lyrics for ‘You Only Live Twice’, sung by Nancy Sinatra in the other James Bond film released in 1967. Bricusse later told lyricist Hal David that he thought ‘The Look of Love’ should have won as it was ten times better than his own song. In 2008 Dusty Springfield's version of ‘The Look of Love’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Before the Dusty Springfield UK Philips record release, a cover version of ‘The Look of Love’ by the Roland Shaw Orchestra was the first 45rpm single issued on Friday March 31, 1967 with an instrumental interpretation of ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ as the B-side. The 45rpm single (Decca F 12595) cover version of ‘The Look of Love’ later appeared on Roland Shaw's 1971 compilation album World Of James Bond Adventure (Decca SPA 158). Roland Shaw (1920-2012) and his orchestra released several Bond albums on the Decca label between 1966 and 1971; these were not only versions of John Barry’s themes, but also Shaw’s own interpretations of other tracks from the film soundtracks. His ‘Big Band’ arrangements were the English equivalent of the recordings by US Jazz legend Count Basie on his popular Basie Meets Bond album from 1966. Another cover version of ‘The Look of Love’ was released on April 4, 1967 this time by singer and actress Shani Wallis on the London Records label (HLR 10125), with ‘Let The Love Come Through’ as its B-side. Shani Wallis recorded the songs just before playing Nancy in Carol Reed's musical Oliver! (1968). Originally composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as a theme for Casino Royale, ‘Let The Love Come Through’ was rejected by producer Charles K. Feldman, but an instrumental version remained in the film and features in the sequence where Mata Bond  and Carlton-Towers arrive in Berlin. The music also ended up on the original soundtrack album as the second half of the track ‘Flying Saucer – First Stop Berlin’.

The Look Of Love sheet music Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66

Mike Redway/Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

ABOVE: (top) Sheet Music for the 1968 release of ‘The Look of Love’ by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. (left) Mike Redway in a publicity pose for his novelty record ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ released on April 14, 1967. The song appears over the end credits of Casino Royale (1967) but was not included on the original soundtrack LP. The single was originally played in cinema foyers to bewildered customers waiting to see the film. (right) The front cover of the April 1st edition of the New Musical Express announcing the release of the title song from Casino Royale by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

On April 14, 1967, the day after the world premiere of Casino Royale at London's Odeon Leicester Square, yet another 45rpm single containing music from the film was released. The novelty single ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ was sung by Mike Redway who had performed the song for the film, but this recording did not end up on the original soundtrack album. Redway's vocals are also heard briefly during the dream sequence where Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) is drugged by Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress), and appear as part of the penultimate track on the original soundtrack album as ‘Dream On James, You're Winning’. Redway performs a portion of ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ over the end credits in the film. Redway's contribution to Casino Royale went un-credited on screen, but the track ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ now appears on the 2017 expanded CD release of the soundtrack released by Quartet Records. The promotional single was originally played in cinema foyers to bewildered customers waiting to see Casino Royale, and has slightly different lyrics (written by Hal David) to the version heard over the end credits of the film.

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass Casino Royale single/ Burt Bacharach & Hal David

ABOVE: (left) Bond Connections - The original UK 45rpm single record of ‘Casino Royale’ by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass released in April 1967 on the A&M label. Herb Alpert also played trumpet on the title song for Never Say Never Again (1983) which was sung by his wife Lani Hall.  (right) Burt Bacharach who composed the musical score for Casino Royale (1967) with Hal David (1921-2012) who provided the lyrics to ‘The Look of Love’, and ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’. In 1969 Hal David wrote the lyrics for ‘We Have All The Time In The World composed for the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service by John Barry. Hal David also provided the lyrics to ‘Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?’ sung by Nina Van Pallandt in the same film. Hal David was re-united with John Barry when he wrote the lyrics for the title song ‘Moonraker’, sung in the 1979 film by Shirley Bassey.

The final 45rpm single with original music from Casino Royale was released in the UK in late April 1967 as the film went on general release. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass recording of the main title theme was issued by A&M records (AMS 700). It was originally intended to add the ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ lyrics to the backing track Burt Bacharach had already recorded with the assembled musicians during the CTS sessions, and have Johnny Rivers sing the song. Rivers had recorded ‘Secret Agent Man’ as the title song played on the US screenings of Patrick McGoohan's British TV series Danger Man, replacing Edwin Astley's jaunty title track ‘High Wire’, that played over the titles when the series aired in the UK. Although announced in the press, the American Rock 'n' Roll singer turned down the offer claiming that the song was terrible. Eric Burdon, lead singer with the popular English group ‘The Animals’ also recorded ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ on the evening of January 25, 1967, but this was rejected by lyricist Hal David as Burdon had not properly learned the song and his short-lived connection to the film was never publicized.  However, an unidentified vocalist performs the lyrics to ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ on a US radio spot for the film - could this be the demo version heard by Johnny Rivers, or a fragment of the lost Eric Burdon and ‘The Animals’ recording?

Casino Royale radio spot featuring ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here sung by Mike Redway and an unidentified second singer... [from 1.10 onwards] could this be the demo version of the song heard by Johnny Rivers, or Eric Burdon of ‘The Animals’?

The producers eventually settled on the instrumental version of the title theme performed by easy listening exponent Herb Alpert who, together with his backing band the ‘Tijuana Brass’, had popularised a Mexican brass sound in the mid-1960s. Bacharach later played his backing track over the telephone to Alpert, who was in New York, suggesting it could be augmented by his distinctive brass sound. A master tape was forwarded to Alpert, who simply double-tracked his trumpet and added some light percussion before returning it to London. All of this took just three days. It is believed that the musicians who made up the ‘Tijuana Brass’ did not perform on the track, despite being credited along with Alpert, under what appears to have been a contractual agreement at the time. Apparently members of the ‘Tijuana Brass’ did spend two days in a Los Angeles studio in February 1967 recording their own version of ‘Casino Royale’, but this appears to have been shelved, presumably because the Bacharach version already recorded in London was superior.

Scranton Pennyslvania record store ad/Casino Royale promotional metal badge

ABOVE: (left) Newspaper advertisement promoting the Casino Royale soundtrack album which was discounted at the Mell-O-Dee Discs record store during the film's engagement at the Comerford cinema in Scranton, Pennsylvania in June 1967. (right) As part of the Casino Royale publicity campaign a set of three metal badges were issued, one of which featured the ‘Tijuana Brass’.

The A&M single and Colgems soundtrack album received four Grammy nominations in 1967 for ‘Instrumental Theme’, ‘Instrumental Performance’, ‘Instrumental Arrangement’ and ‘Original Score’, but lost out in all categories. However, Burt Bacharach did win in the ‘Best Instrumental Arrangement’ category for his version of ‘Alfie’. Burt Bacharach later released his own Casino Royale related record in 1967 after signing to A&M Records. The independent record label was co-founded by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Bacharach's LP Reach Out contained a track called ‘Bond Street’ which was actually a reworking of ‘Home James, Don’t Spare The Horses’ featured on the original Casino Royale soundtrack. ‘Bond Street’ was issued as a single in the UK (AMS 702), with Bacharach's Grammy-winning ‘Alfie’ as its B-side. The UK album Reach Out (AMLS 908) also contained Bacharach's own instrumental version of ‘The Look of Love’.

Casino Royale CDs Varese Sarabande/Quartet Records

Varese Sarabande CD VSD-5265 (1990)

Varese Sarabande CD VSD-5265 (2002)

Quartet Records CD QRSCE037 (2012)

Quartet Records Casino Royale 2012 45th anniversary track listing

ABOVE: Casino Royale Is Too Much For One CD - (top L-R) The original 1990 CD from Varese Sarabande was a direct digital transfer from the original album master tapes so the track listing was identical to the 1967 LP version. Varese reissued this CD in 2002 with a different cover. The Quartet Records 2012 45th Anniversary Edition featured the most complete version of the soundtrack then released, including tracks sourced from materials found in MGM's vault. (bottom) The track listing for the 2012 45th Anniversary CD from Quartet Records which included a version of the original album on disc 2 mastered from the materials used to create the Spanish LP in 1967. The tracks were identical to the US Colgems release, but the sound quality was inferior.

It is a testament to the quality of the recording of the Casino Royale soundtrack, both aurally and aesthetically, that it has been re-issued several times on CD since its initial 1990 release. Independent American label Kritzerland reissued the soundtrack in 2011 (KR 20017-6), this time offering the score in two presentations. On the first half of the CD, Bacharach’s music was presented in film order, with material not on the original Colgems album including the climactic song performed by Mike Redway, ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’. The second half of the CD featured the original LP sequence, mastered from a mint vinyl copy, with no added EQ or processing. Limited to just 1,000 copies the Kritzerland edition sold out almost immediately. In 2012 Spanish label Quartet Records announced that they had discovered two different DMEs [Dialog-Music-Effects] in MGM’s vaults, and although the music stems were in mono, they were in excellent condition, except for the obligatory volume shifts required for the sound mixing of the final film soundtrack. Using sophisticated software tools Quartet were able to remix these tracks to consistent sound levels. Controversially Quartet chose to then issue the new tracks in artificial stereo, with the standard album version on disc 2. The 45th Anniversary CD (QRSCE037) came in a slip-cased package including an 8-page full colour booklet and a separate 64-page full colour book analyzing Burt Bacharach's iconic score. The Quartet double-CD edition was limited to 1,500 copies and again sold out very quickly upon its February 2012 release. Quartet Records later reissued the same double-CD in a non-limited edition (SCE047) in October 2012, but this time featuring a newly remastered version of the original LP album recording in place of the Spanish LP master used on their earlier release.

Quartet Records Casino Royale 2017 50th anniversary CD

For the 50th anniversary of Casino Royale in 2017, Quartet Records revisited the soundtrack once again and issued another limited edition (QR304), this time the complete score was rebuilt from the DME sound stems with no additional processing. The CD starts with the LP recording in stereo, followed by the film tracks as a bonus programme; this time in mono without adding any stereo reverb. The single-CD 50th anniversary edition dropped a couple of bagpipe interludes (‘Pipe Lament’ & ‘Cock O' The North’) from the film score as they were not composed by Burt Bacharach, and did not include those tracks already in stereo which existed as part of the LP album sequence. The result was the best-sounding and most technically accomplished edition of Casino Royale on CD yet released. This time limited to 2,000 copies, it is ironic that the film which divides fans has had the most individual and comprehensive CD releases of any James Bond film, with varying degrees of audio excellence. The 50th anniversary edition therefore contains all of Burt Bacharach's music recorded for Casino Royale (1967), including a bonus track making its CD debut - the promo-single version of ‘Have No Fear, Bond Is Here’ by Mike Redway, also arranged by Bacharach. In 2019 Quartet Records released Casino Royale on black vinyl as a double-LP with a gatefold sleeve. Replicating the content of the 2017 50th Anniversary CD, this edition was limited to just 500 copies and sold out almost immediately.

Quartet Records Casino Royale 2019 Gatefold Double-LP

More than half-a-century after its original release the soundtrack to Casino Royale is still highly sought after in its various incarnations. Sadly the same cannot be said of Michel Legrand's lacklustre score for Sean Connery's ill-advised 1983 comeback as James Bond in Never Say Never Again. The film did not have a soundtrack release until 1993, when it first appeared on CD only from Silva Screen Records America, and two years later in the UK. Lani Hall's title song did have a 45rpm single released at the time Never Say Never Again was in cinemas, but failed to chart on both sides of the Atlantic.


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