The first Italian western score I ever heard by composer Daniele Patucchi was DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS or LOS AMIGOS as it was called in Italy. I remember thinking that the music was not pure Spaghetti in its style and overall sound but was a fusion of that type of scoring together with a more conventional approach which harkened back to the days of the traditional western a la Hollywood. Patucchi is a composer who worked steadily in film during the late 1960s, through the 1970s and into the 1980s. Although containing a number of original references, his music was not as popular as other composers who were active at around the same time but this does not mean that Patucchi’s style and approach to scoring movies did not find favour with some soundtrack collectors and aficionados of music from Italian cinema.BLACK KILLER was released in 1971, two years before LOS AMIGOS and although the master tapes of the score were the property of CAM Dischi in Rome, the soundtrack never got a release on LP records at the time of the film’s release – which is surprising because the composer’s DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS did get an album release and was even issued in the UK on EMI records. This had to be something to do with Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero being in the aforementioned movie and BLACK KILLER starring Klaus Kinski who was little known in the UK at that time and audiences probably remember him as the hunchback in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Patucchi’s score for BLACK KILLER was a little more spaghetti sounding than LOS AMIGOS as it contained a number of references to the then already established sound of the Italian produced western; the composer utilizing a rasping electronic sound and instrumentation which clearly had connections with scores by other composers from the genre, i.e. banjo played in unison with a saloon type piano, fiddle (which is reminiscent of Morricone’s FIVE MAN ARMY), Spanish guitar solos and a fairly light and up-tempo central theme which again is reminiscent of the style employed by Morricone in films such as BANDA J AND S, THEY CALL ME NOBODY and THE GENIUS.
Of course there are a number of darker and more sinister or dramatic interludes within the score, where Patucchi calls upon electric bass guitar, percussion and tense sounding woods to create a taught and edgy atmosphere. Plus, there are a number of cues including variations on the core theme; the composer orchestrating and arranging these so that they remain fresh and vibrant on each outing. Harpsichord, guitar and Celeste are utilised throughout to create some nice low key moments which can be considered romantic in their overall sound. This is demonstrated in track seven, which includes all of the instrumentation I have already mentioned plus lush strings. In track nine, percussion together with bass guitar, underlined with woodwind provide a tense mood; the tension building further with the introduction of electric guitar stabs and noises which – whilst not exactly musical – add much to the composition. Overall I found BLACK KILLER to be an entertaining score. Maybe not as grand as the western scores of Morricone and De Masi but definitely in the same league as Nicolai, Romitelli, Fidenco etc… Well presented with an eye catching front cover and five colourful stills from the film inside the liner but sadly no notes. If you like Spaghetti western scores then I suggest you add this to your collection, “dannatamente veloce”.