"Casino Royale" has a long and interesting history of previous releases. Audiophiles consider the LP legendary, but it was soon out of print. It sold for high prices in the secondary market until the late eighties, when two bootlegs appeared (both say “Made in Portugal” but one was actually pressed in Canada and the other in the U.K.), followed, at last, by the first digital edition, courtesy of Varese Sarabande. I loved this release and was always grateful to Varese for it (it was only recently that I learned of the alleged “scandal” of the incorrectly-rewound tapes). I especially liked the SLC Japanese release which appeared around the same time, as their generous package was in color and much more attractive. A little over a year ago came a terrific expanded release from Kritzerland, mastered with great care, improving on many of the imperfections of previous releases, and including a transfer of the original 1967 album from mint-condition vinyl. I considered this CD a gift to all who love this score. As if to prove its quality, this limited edition of 1000 copies sold out in less than a week, and now commands very high prices in the secondary market.

But all of these digital releases were based on the album produced by Phil Ramone in 1967 (where more than half of the themes are re-recordings) and thus only included about half of the music composed by Bacharach. When listened to chronologically and completely, the full score takes on a very different meaning from the wonderful 34 minutes of easy-listening music contained in the album. Unfortunately, the original tapes, recorded in London’s old CTS Studios, are missing. They not are in the vaults of the former owners of the film, or at MGM, or in Mr. Bacharach’s personal archive. How then have we been able to release the album that you hold in your hands?

The idea came to me early last year, viewing the film in MGM’s great DVD collector’s edition, and discovering that the music, while not an isolated track, sounded pristine in a way not evident in previous editions. I wondered if there could be some music-only element in the MGM vaults that might have been used for the remastered DVD and, voilà, two different DMEs (with corresponding music stems) were in the studio’s library. Naturally, the 1967 music stem is in mono and marred by the uncomfortable rise and fall of volume used by the sound mixer to adjust dialogue and effects, but the sound is nonetheles warm and beautiful. This fact was sufficient to propel us into a new release of "Casino Royale", including every note of music written by Burt Bacharach for the film – especially if we could celebrate the film’s 45th anniversary (and the 50th anniversary of the Bond films) with an appropriately deluxe treatment of liner notes and visual packaging.

We were even more delighted when, last April, we found a 1/4, 15 ips stereo tape copy of the 1967 album master in the vaults of Sony Music Spain. The album was released in Spain in March 1968 by RCA Victor (now owned by Sony), and the tape was kept in RCA’s vaults (a miracle, since in Spain most master tapes of the sixties and seventies are lost or destroyed – a fact of which I’m not proud). Sony kindly provided us with the tape, and in our transfer (for CD2) we have used subtle equalization (respecting the brightness and dynamic range of the original recording) and other modern technological means to minimize the flaws inevitable in a 45-year-old tape. Although it is not the first generation (that tape was irreparably damaged in an earlier transfer), we thank heaven for the rediscovery of this mint-condition copy. In less than two months we had found both the film’s music stem and a copy of the album stereo master unused since 1967. The coincidence of these two treasurable finds cried out for a new release.

The production of this double CD has taken a year of hard and patient work, and I am enormously grateful of all those who have helped. Above all I want to give a huge thanks to José Luis Crespo, one of the best sound engineers in the world (He has recorded and mixed all the Alberto Iglesias scores, and he is responsible for the incredible nuances of works like "The Constant Gardener", "Talk to Her", "The Kite Runner" or "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"). José Luis decided to bake the tape of the 1967 album before making the transfer, to avoid losing the emulsion and get as much information as possible from the 45-year-old tape. To level the tracks from the music stem – eliminating the rise and fall in volume – we used the most advanced version of CEDAR, where each cue was repeatedly cleaned of imperfections, noise, etc., to get the best result from a source that was not always ideal. Equalization was achieved using the best equipment from GML and Gyraf, and the final master (with an added stereo reverb for more pleasant listening) was made at 96KHz/24-bit to ensure the highest quality digital audio.

I hope that all this work has paid off, allowing you to enjoy, 45 years later, Burt Bacharach’s great masterpiece.

Jose M. Benitez