Released early in 1965, ALLA CONQUISTA DELL ARKANSAS was one of the very first Italian produced westerns. Because it was an early example of the genre it was not what many of us would call a full blooded Spaghetti western. I say this because the genre had not at that time established itself completely. ALLA CONQUISTA DELL ARKANSAS was basically a western movie produced in Italy but its appearance was more like an American made sagebrush saga or even a slightly more interesting clone of the German made western which at that time was beginning to establish itself throughout Europe. The film’s storyline or plot could be any number of storylines that had been used before with alterations here and there. Francesco De Masi’s score was not what we now call a spaghetti western soundtrack but this does not mean that the music was – and is not – good. In fact it is a score that matches perfectly the action and storyline of the movie and one that is entertaining as a stand alone work. De Masi always said that he admired Dimitri Tiomkin and this is certainly reflected within this particular score. It is grand like many of the Tiomkin western soundtracks from the 1950s, romantic and exciting in places, with touches of melancholy and also dramatic interludes, but the score also contained that special De Masi ingredient or sound which was to be developed more fully as the genre of the spaghetti western itself evolved and established itself in later years. De Masi utilized harmonica, percussion, brass, choir, guitar and more conventional instrumentation and in many ways it is closer to a Hollywood western score than one from Cinnecitta. Don’t forget, this was before electric guitar or shrieks and screams had begun to become the standard sound of Italian westerns. The sound which De Masi fashioned for the movie was what I like to refer to as B movie music, not because the music is not good but simply because it was rather clichéd in its overall sound and in the way it was placed within the movie. The composer put his own stamp on the project but did it in such a way that the finished product evokes many memories of movie soundtracks such as HIGH NOON, RIO GRANDE and THE TIN STAR etc etc…. So if you are fan of Spaghetti western scores, maybe you will be a little disappointed in ALLA CONQUISTA DELL ARKANSAS, but also I think you might be fascinated by the strength and versatility of De Masi’s music from this example of the early days of the western alla Italiana as it is an insight into what was to follow. Great art work from BEAT on this one, and some absorbing liner notes by Filippo De Masi. Sound quality is very good indeed.


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