Although I'm a Bond fan I wouldn't consider myself a Bond collector. I doubt many real Bond collectors would, either. I have a few posters, a few books, a handful of trinkets and a copy of every available soundtrack LP (long play) album. For me, that's good enough.

Among these record albums, I have the soundtrack to Charles K. Feldman's Casino Royale. Obviously, it is one of the worst movies ever made, yet it still grossed more than On Her Majesty's Secret Service (among the best of the real Bond films). Production values and box office aside, the soundtrack for Casino Royale is pretty good. Certainly much better than the dull Never Say Never Again. So, for the most part, I had considered this album to be nice to have, and tucked it away with my other Bond soundtracks.

One day, years ago, a friend of mine showed me a newspaper article about the Casino Royale soundtrack. Apparently it is one of the most sought-after LPs among audiophiles. The reason: they consider it the best technically mixed-and-cut album.

Ever.

"I've heard stories of mint, sealed copies going for as much as ten grand! I once saw one for $150, but I hesitated because I felt that for that kind of money it'd be in truly terrible condition." writes Marc Phillips in his 1998 article about Casino Royale's soundtrack.

Steve Marshall writes, "Sure, the music sounds dated. This is music your parents used to listen to. However, from an audiophile's standpoint, this album is nothing short of stunning. The bass will shake the room, and the highs are clean and crisp. For those of you who like to show off your stereo system, Casino Royale is one the best albums around."

So right about now you are probably wishing you were more careful picking that needle up from your copy.

Perhaps some clarification is needed here. The fact that the original album is so collectable is not to say that recent re-issues of the soundtrack in cassette or CD form are as desirable. Neither of these are worth the sticker price to the audiophiles. It is also important to note that the original 1967 albums were pressed in both stereo and mono versions, and in low quantities. It is the stereo version that is worth so much to these people. The stereo version of the album is identifiable by the code in the upper left corner of the cover. "COSO" means stereo, and "COMO" means mono.

On an artistic level, what makes the soundtrack so good is the mix of incredibly talented people. Burt Bacharach is a composer icon whose greatest accomplishments occurred in the 1960s. He had a gift for creating simple songs that became classics. Among these are "What The World Needs Now Is Love", "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", which earned him one of two Academy Awards for the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Bacharach created the soundtrack for the film Alfie, which was directed by Lewis Gilbert (director of three Bond films). He had already worked for Feldman on the film What's New Pussycat? before taking on scoring duties for Casino Royale. The film is a narrative disaster, but the music has a fresh, full sound. The title song is performed by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and the song "The Look of Love" became one of Bacharach's most memorable compositions. The lyrics were written by Hal David, a long-time Bacharach collaborator who would later create lyrics for "We Have All The Time in the World" and "Moonraker", with John Barry composing the music for both. "The Look of Love" was performed by Dusty Springfield. Her sultry voice had a perfect Bond quality, and was certainly one of the reasons the song was nominated for an Academy Award.

The album cover is based on the poster. It's a unique image of a girl holding two guns and whose body is decorated with the film title amid psychedelic colors. It was created by veteran Bond artist Robert McGinnis. It's vintage '60s. Orson Welles used to credit the poster for any business the film received.

On the back cover are liner notes by Mort Goode, who specialized in writing copy for albums. Also on the back are various production stills from the film. Reading the humorous captions for them reminds one of how unfortunate it was to have had the opportunity to adapt one of the best Bond novels for the cinema, and completely blow it.

If you own an original stereo version of Casino Royale, I wouldn't necessarily call the home insurance agent just yet. The supposed rarity of this album is a very well-kept secret. Bond collectors are un-aware of it. As of this writing, there is one on eBay and it's languishing at $10.00. An auction for a sealed copy just ended and the price was $13.30.

On the other hand, there are people out there who still own turntables, and a few of them take it very seriously. If any of them are crazy enough to give me $150.00-plus for my Casino Royale soundtrack, I might just be crazy enough to sell it to them.

Copyright© 2002 Joseph Stachler


Contact the Author: Joe Stachler