October 2000

Casino Royale (Original Soundtrack Recording)
Burt Bacharach, conductor and composer
Classic Records DAD 1033
Released: 2000

by Roger Kanno

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***

[Reviewed on 24/96 DVD]Although the original soundtrack recording of Casino Royale features a score written by the renowned Burt Bacharach, it is not something that I would have guessed would be remastered and released on a high-resolution 24/96 DAD from Classic Records. I am not really a fan of movie-soundtrack albums, but I will admit to having a few in my collection of CDs, including Classic’s excellent 24/96 DAD remaster of the Glory soundtrack.

For those who are not familiar with it, Casino Royale is the 1967 parody of the James Bond films which stars David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles, and Woody Allen. Its soundtrack consists of orchestral arrangements of Burt Bacharach compositions as well as performances by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Hal David also contributes lyrics for the single "The Look of Love," for which Dusty Springfield provided the vocals.

And Springfield's sultry performance on this song is the album’s highlight. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass provide a muggy, soulful backdrop for her vocals before jumping into the mostly upbeat and campy instrumental selections. This soundtrack is signature Burt Bacharach with its easy-going, but energetic themes, and it makes a wonderfully rousing accompaniment to the film. However, like most movie soundtracks, it is not necessarily something that you would want to listen to every day.

Sonically, this DAD is very good but suffers slightly in fidelity when compared to the very best modern recordings. For instance, although Springfield’s vocals are captured with a great deal of expressiveness and emotion, they are slightly veiled. Another example is the cadence of the snare drum at the beginning of "Money Penny Goes For Broke," which is a little lean. Although the instruments do not appear in the soundstage as flat, cut-out objects, there is a definite lack of air around them. Also, as with many older recordings, the instruments tend to image either dead center or extreme left or right, which leads to a distracting fragmentation of the sound into three apparent point sources. On the positive side, there is plenty of blat and bite to the horns of the Tijuana Brass, and some nicely recorded percussion provides a swinging foundation to the horn arrangements.

After contributing songs and appearing in both Austin Powers films as well as collaborating on an album with Elvis Costello, Bacharach is experiencing a resurgence. While not nearly as ubiquitous as he was during his late-'60s heyday, when he recorded "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," and this soundtrack, Bacharach’s sound is still unmistakable, as evidenced on the excellent album, Painted From Memory [Mercury Records 314 538 002-2], his recent collaboration with Costello. The Casino Royale soundtrack may not be one of Bacharach’s best works, but it has received excellent treatment on this Classic DAD reissue, making it at least a solid recommendation for Bacharach fans both old and new.