Originally released in 1967 on a CAM LP record which also included tracks on the B side from THE BELLE STARR STORY with music by Charles Dumont, this Cipriani spaghetti western score has to be one of the most popular and well known non-Morricone western scores from the 1960s. The theme was covered by numerous artists worldwide including the likes of LeRoy Holmes, Geoff Love and Henry Mancini – the latter held Cipriani’s composition in high esteem and was a composer who Cipriani said was an inspiration to him. A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN was also one of the first soundtracks to be re-issued by CAM as part of their Soundtrack Encyclopedia series (CSE 102). But sadly the recording was slightly flawed and was of a very short running duration; the original CD release running for just 23 mins 40 seconds. CAM did re-issue the score again with a few extra tracks and included it on a disc with tracks from two other westerns scored by Cipriani, THE BOUNTY KILLER and NEVADA. So it has been available before but not in such a complete version. This latest edition is, as far as we are aware, the entire score which was originally a project that CAM were contemplating at the time of the film’s release and is made up of tracks from a mock-up LP as well as cues from the film’s soundtrack. It contains 11 previously released cues and a further 11 released for the first time, billed as bonus tracks – although, in saying this, the central theme from the score is repeated a number of times but in differing arrangements. The sound achieved by Hillside/GDM is amazing and all tracks are in full stereo apart from track 22, which is a mono mix of an alternate version of the central theme. Presentation is also very well done, with the original LP cover being utilized and a number of attractive and colourful stills and publicity posters from the film decorating the disc booklet. The score by Cipriani is, in every sense of the word, a “CLASSIC” and it is this soundtrack along with examples from the same period by Ennio Morricone, Gianni Ferrio, Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi and Nico Fidenco that set the standard and also created the precedence and style that was to become the iconic spaghetti western “SOUND”.
The CD opens with the now familiar and dare I say famous theme, “Un Uomo un Cavallo una Pistola”. Spanish guitar punctuated by subdued bass electric guitar open the cue and usher in shrill but melodic woodwind, establishing the main body of the theme. Strident, forceful strings add momentum and increase the composition’s tempi. The strings are then joined by racing snares, bells and eventually an electric guitar which takes on the role established by the woods and continues to pick out Cipriani’s infectious theme. Trumpet is added to create a wonderful rich and exuberant sound depicting the man and the horse riding at speed. The tempo then alters drastically as the composer introduces a slower and more romantic arrangement of the central theme. Woodwind again with low brass and strings are combined with a laid back percussion supporting them. Again the tempi changes and becomes fast paced but only very briefly, bringing the cue to its conclusion as it fades.
Track 2, “Una Canzone per la Luna”, is the secondary theme for the score, and in many ways evokes memories of Morricone’s “Goodbye Colonel” cue from A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Subdued percussion, bells and martial timpani are interspersed with electric bass and piano creating an almost bolero sound, which has the central phrasing of the theme performed by woodwind and also at times passed to solo trumpet which is slow and mournful in its overall sound, supported by sparse use of electric organ. Track 3, “Faccia a Terra”, is one of the highlights of the score; driving percussion, punctuated by whip sounds act as background to a striking and memorable trumpet solo which itself is embellished by the use of a rasping voice which creates a stunning and highly original effect. I am also glad to say that, on this version of the score, the re-mastering has been done wonderfully because on the original CD release there was a slight imperfection that was very noticeable on this particular track, which has now been remedied. Overall this soundtrack is a rewarding listen and one of the Italian western genres greatest scores.