Now here is a real gem of a spaghetti western soundtrack; it features a great title song performed by Maurizio Graf, the artistry of Alessandro Alessandroni as a choral director co-composer and guitarist, the distinct sound of il Cantori Moderni, the unmistakable talent of Franco D Gemini and of course the originality and the musical prowess of Maestro Francesco De Masi. Released in 1968 this is one of the many spaghetti westerns which were popular with audiences around the world during the 1960s through to the mid to late 1980s. Francesco De Masi had a unique style and sound when working on any type of movie but for me it was the western genre in particular where the composer excelled. His scores for westerns such as ARIZONA COLT, 7 DOLLARI SUL ROSSO, KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE, SARTANA NON PERDONA and QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST, to name but a few, all contain musical elements which are essentially akin to the Italian western sound but alongside them and fused within them have a style that evokes the Hollywood produced western scores such as HIGH NOON, THE BRAVADOS, THE TIN STAR etc., etc. De Masi not only utilized the typical expansive Americana sound of the western as envisaged by composers such as Tiomkin, Newman and Bernstein but he also stamped upon each project the inimitable sound of the Spaghetti western and further embellished this sound with a style and inventiveness that was all his own.
The CD opens with “Find a Man” (Tema di Johnny) performed by vocalist Maurizio Graf. This performer’s distinct vocalising was utilized by many composers in Italy and he worked on numerous western soundtracks. Maybe I am being a little over the top here, when I say I think that this is possibly the best song written for an Italian western, as it no only has great lyrics by Audrey Stanton and A. Alessandroni and an outstanding performance by Graf, but it also contains a fantastic jangling guitar riff courtesy of Alessandroni and a melodic and infectious musical backing consisting of organ, percussion, piano and lavish sounding strings;
“Find a Man Who Never Killed Not Even For the Love of Gold,
Find a Man Who Never Lied and Offer Him Your Soul,
Find a Man Who Never Stole From Any Man a Woman’s Love,
Find a Man Who Never Lied and Never Let Him Go”.
How can this not be a winning formula for a western song.
More than any other De Masi western score this includes some wonderful choral work which can be heard in cues such as “In Memoria” (track 3) and “Johnny Sulla Croce (track 16). It’s also a score that has a number of standout tracks – the composer creating secondary themes which because of their strength and quality could easily act as main titles for other assignments. For example, track 11 “Il Villaggio di Santana” is a great action piece containing driving percussion, uplifting and forthright Mexican flavoured strings, strumming guitars, proud sounding horns, whips and xylophone. All of these elements combine to create something anthem like and stirring in its overall sound. The composer fuses both Italian styles with that of a more conventional western sound and the end result is not only original but pleasing and rewarding for the listener. The soundtrack was issued previously on a CAM LP back in 1968. CAM re-issued the score in 1995 paired it with 7 DOLLARI SUL ROSSO but there were no extra cues included and it was a re-issue of the LP tracks. This edition contains all of those tracks 1-19 on the disc, plus we are treated to a further 8 cues, which are alternate takes on a handful of the previous tracks. Sound quality is outstanding and the presentation is handled nicely with many stills from the movie and informative notes by Filippo De Masi the composer’s son. This is the seventh CD to be issued by BEAT records in the Francesco de Masi western score series and at the time of writing an eighth is due to be announced. It shows just how many great scores were penned by this talented Maestro and how underrated he was outside of his native Italy.