Burt Bacharach – Casino Royale – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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TWO STUNNING SIDES! With sound like this, I now understand why this has been such a highly regarded long-term resident of the TAS Superdisc List. A copy like this IS a TRUE SUPERDISC — but the average copy of this album is anything but. Who could take such harsh, grainy, thin, veiled, compressed sound seriously? What was Harry smokin’?

I can honestly and truthfully say that until we discovered the Hot Stampers for this album, I never thought this record deserved the praise Harry heaped upon it. Now I do. I once was blind but now I see, or something like that. And by the way, does his copy sound as good as this one? I would bet money right now that this monster is clearly the better pressing.

Let’s face it: Harry’s not the kind of guy to sit down with ten copies and shoot them out. That would be far beneath the great and powerful Oz himself.

Rare and Delightful Mastering

This is one of those rare (and delightful) instances where the mastering engineer had serious talent and knew how to use it, because both sides of this record are OUTSTANDING — Demo Disc quality all the way.

When you listen to a typical pressing of Casino Royale, you get the feeling that you’re hearing a standard-issue, boxy, bottomless ’60s soundtrack. Perhaps you hear some promise in the recording, but a promise that seems unfulfilled by the sound coming out of your speakers. This copy will completely redefine what you know about this music.

Two Top Sides

Side one of this copy is tubey magical and LIVELY beyond rational expectations! The transparency and clarity of Dusty Springfield’s vocals is mind-boggling — just listen to all that breath and texture! The sound of the brass is Right On The Money — you can really hear the air moving through the horns. The overall sound is rich, warm, sweet, and full-bodied, with loads of extension up top. We rate it A++ – A+++, Out Of This World — it’s BIG and BOLD, baby!

Side One overflows with full-bodied, intimate sound, most notably on Dusty Springfield’s hit, “The Look of Love.” You have not truly heard her sensuous, come-hither vocals until you’ve heard this copy. The transparency, ambience, presence and subtle dynamics make her sound like she’s softly singing into your ear. (Is it getting warm in here?) Herb Alpert’s trumpets sound warm and lyrical, as opposed to the typical shrill, abrasive mess we encounter. (We love his tone!)

Also, the bass found on this copy is present and resonant. Rest assured, bass of real quality is an anomaly for this record. This pressing also has some really subterranean 20 cycle stuff down below the rest of the music which I’d never heard before. Sometimes when a record gets cut right, it gets cut REALLY right.

Side two is even better! The brass is just right with the proper amount of bite. The presence and immediacy are jarring, and you won’t believe all the texture to the strings. The overall sound is open, spacious, and exceptionally transparent. The big-time immediacy and superb clarity really take this music to a whole new level. All the elements really come together here, making this one of the best side twos we’ve EVER heard.

How ‘Bout That Vinyl?

Finding copies of this album that aren’t covered in scratches and full of groove damage is hard enough; quiet vinyl is asking a bit much. While this particular plays M- to M– (pretty normal for this title), it isn’t free of issues. Side one has 17 moderate to light pops starting at the end of track one and goes into track two. There are nine moderate pops during the second verse of track two. Side two has 14 moderate pops at the end of track two and into track three. It is also lightly noisy between tracks.

If you can’t put up with the kind of surface noise that’s endemic to older pressings such as this one, hard to imagine you will ever be able to put together much of a collection. There has never been a quiet original copy of this record on the site. They just aren’t out there, in my personal experience. (People will sometimes tell me about quiet original pressings that they own. I remain very skeptical that this is in fact the case. The records you don’t play are always quiet. Pull one out and listen to it all the way through and you might find there’s more surface noise than you remember. And dull speakers that hide surface noise are not an option, although many audiophiles seem to prefer that sound, why, I’ll never know.)

Reissue? Don’t Hold Your Breath

There is no reissue, and there will never be a reissue, that will sound as good as a good original,. (And I hope it would go without saying that most copies are NOWHERE NEAR what a real Hot Stamper original is.) As usual, the Classic Heavy Vinyl Reissue is a disgrace.

Sonic Grade

OVERALL SONIC GRADE:

SIDE ONE – A++ – A+++
SIDE TWO – A+++

VINYL GRADE:

1) MINT MINUS TO MINT MINUS MINUS
2) MINT MINUS TO MINT MINUS MINUS

COVER GRADE: 7 OUT OF 10

TRACK LISTING

Side One

CASINO ROYALE THEME (MAIN THEME)
THE LOOK OF LOVE
MONEY PENNY GOES FOR BROKE
LE CHIFFRE’S TORTURE OF THE MIND
HOME JAMES, DON’T SPARE THE HORSES
SIR JAMES’ TRIP TO FIND MATA

Side Two

THE LOOK OF LOVE (INSTRUMENTAL)
HI THERE MISS GOODTHIGHS
LITTLE FRENCH BOY
FLYING SAUCER – FIRST STOP BERLIN
THE VENERABLE SIR JAMES BOND
DREAM ON JAMES, YOU’RE WINNING
THE BIG COWBOYS AND INDIANS FIGHT AT CASINO ROYALE / CASINO ROYAL THEME (REPRISE)

AMG Review

Bacharach excelled at these kinds of musical cut-ups, but thankfully he used liberal doses of humor and melody to keep the proceedings from turning too rarefied or messy. At times, the humor even turns to camp, as it does with the manic hodgepodge of circus themes, gypsy music, and lounge grind on ‘Home James, Don’t Spare the Horses.’ The more recognizable and certainly more straightforward side of Bacharach is here, too, on the Dusty Springfield smash ‘The Look of Love.’ This is one of Bacharach’s best soundtracks and a good buy for seasoned fans.