Casino Royale by George Hall
Like most kids my age, I grew up on James Bond movies. Between the impossibly cool title character, giant technicolor explosions, absurdly ingenious devices and beautiful cars (I still have my toy Aston-Martin), I - a nerdy little kid parked at his parent's TV - was immediately hooked.
And then there's the music, with its dark minor keys and fiendish deployment of the augmented fourth (aka the "Devil's Interval") coupled with sweeping, ominous strings and twangy rock 'n' roll guitar. Composer / arranger John Barry became an early musical hero, though I didn't know his name until years later (or his guitarist, the perfectly named Vic Flick).
In a world without TiVo, video rental or on-line streaming, the only way to see the earlier Bond movies was to scan the TV Guide pocket magazine for listings. At a certain point, I was sure I'd seen all of them, but it turns out I missed one: "Casino Royale."
It turns out that long before Sean Connery's Bond debut in 1962's "Dr. No," James Bond had appeared as (of all things) an American in a 1954 episode of a US TV show. The episode, titled "Casino Royale," took it's name from Ian Fleming's first Bond book. The film rights were later re-sold, then re-re-sold to a certain Charles K. Feldman who, after failing to put together a deal with "proper" Bond film series producer Albert Broccoli, decided to try another tack.
Having seen "Dr No," Feldman knew he couldn't possibly compete - but it being the 60's, with Batman, Susan Sontag and general post-modernism bringing camp into the mainstream, Feldman thought "why not a camp James Bond?" A team was assembled, which included such bona fide legends as Orson Welles, John Huston and Charles Boyer along with contemporary stars David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and even onetime "Bond girl" Ursula Andress. Hi-jinks necessarily ensued, budgets were broken repeatedly, coherence was out the window, and (spoiler alert!) everything blows up at the end.
Make no mistake, the movie is a mess best enjoyed in snippets by fans of 60's kitsch (you know who you are), but the music was another thing entirely. Assigned to hit songwriter Burt Bacharach, who'd worked on Allen's "What's New Pussycat" and "After the Fox," the result was nothing like John Barry, but quite wonderful its own right and even included a couple of hits in Dusty Springfield's timeless smooch-inducer "The Look of Love" and the title track, a #1 Easy Listening hit for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.
The latter is covered here by Seks Bomba - a mostly instrumental band from Boston, MA who absolutely revelled in this sort of thing - in a version which originally appeared on their intermittently obscure 2nd release, 2001's "Somewhere in this Town."
Lori Perkins - Hammond organ
George Hall - guitars, ebow
Chris Cote - guitar
Matt Silbert - bass guitar
Brett Campbell - drums
Recorded & mixed by Pete Weiss