I am not going to go on and on about this release, as so many collectors have probably already purchased it, and to be quite honest, it’s a spaghetti western score by Morricone, hell do I have to spell it out, go and get it NOW !!!! Nicely packed by FSM, lots of stills from the movie, and the cover art is thankfully a reproduction of the original Ariete LP, notes by John bender are informative and so detailed, surely a labour of love for him, and the track by track descriptions by Alexander Kaplan are also extremely good. You got it yet, why not ?
Volume four of this wonderful set begins with three tracks from two movies scored by Ennio Morricone. VAMOS A MATAR COMPANEROS and THEY CALL ME NOBODY, the latter being represented by its quirky sounding main theme, with the former opening with its equally quirky and almost manic sounding central theme and also being represented by the clumsy sounding “Il Pinguino”. Track 4 is from LOS AMIGOS or DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS (1973-CAM). Danielle Patucchi penned an entertaining score for this Franco Nero Anthony Quinn movie. This is the vocal version of the films theme and was used over the main credits, performed by Ann Collin who also provided the lyrics with vocal support coming from Il Cantori Moderni. Sound quality on this track is a little distorted because I think it came from vinyl source.
LE DUE FACCE DEL DOLLARO is next in the running order and we are treated to the really entertaining main theme from the score, which relies upon guitar, harmonica and percussion to establish itself before the string section becoming involved alongside choir, this is a well written and superbly orchestrated piece. Then comes Duello, and in the tradition of the spaghetti western it is the solo trumpet once again that has the lead in this an also extremely well constructed piece. Next up we have four cues taken from the ALLELUJA films, music is by the multi talented Stelvio Cipriani and I must admit I do count the scores from these movies amongst my favourites within the area of spaghetti western music. The first two cues are taken from TESTA T AMMAZZO CROCE SEI MORTO… MI CHIAMANO ALLELUJA (1971-CAM) and includes “Alleluja” and the infectious sounding “La Marcia Della Resurrezione” which has lyrics penned by Alessandro Alessandroni under the non de plume of G de Mutis, the vocals on the composition are performed by Il Cantori Moderni. These two tracks were originally released on a CAM 45 rpm single and the score was recently issued on a compact disc by Hillside CD productions, plus it was previously issued as part of a DVD set of the Alleluja movies by Koch in Germany and was made available for download by CAM. The second two selections are from the second Alleluja film IL WEST TI VA STRETTO AMICO… E ARRIVATO ALLELUJA (1972-CAM). All selections are certainly worth listening to and are important musical contributions to the spaghetti western genre. I think that this fourth disc in the collection is probably the most entertaining, simply because at the time of its release its track listing contained some of the most sought after spaghetti compositions in the form of Bruno Nicolai’s DEAD MEN RIDE and Lacerenza’s THE WRATH OF GOD. Plus it contains Ferrios theme for CALIFORNIA one of the last spaghetti westerns from 1977.
The spaghetti western encyclopedia, was and still is an important release, it charts the progress and development of the music from these often gimmicky but entertaining westerns that influenced so many filmmakers, actors and also composers.
Volume 3 in this desirable and now quite rare collection is another thoughtfully compiled volume and contains real classic material. It opens with Nora Orlandi’s instrumental version of “Basta Cosi” from 100.000 DOLLARI PER UN MASSACRO (1967-via radio), I say instrumental because there was also a vocal version in the movie played over the films end credits if my memory serves me correct and even though the score has been issued twice on compact disc the song still has not made an appearance, which proves that even when scores eventually do get a release record companies do still hold tracks back or omit them from the release. Orlandi scored a handful of western scores and each one was original and appealing in its own right, her style is at times akin to the school of De Masi and Lacerenza. She began her career as a singer then moved onto providing choral support for composers on films scores and songs via her singing group 4×4 working extensively with Guido and Maurizio De Angelis and on many occasions with Fidenco, Cipriani, Poitevin and many others.
At one time early on in her career she formed a singing group with Alessandro Alessandroni but both artists went their separate ways. The two tracks included here are fairly typical examples of her composing skills and style, both comprising of the stock sounds now associated with the Italian western score, trumpet and choir being paramount in the proceedings. WANTED (1967-CAM) by Gianni Ferrio is next in the running order, with lyrics by Giovanni Danell and a vocal performance by Il Cantori Moderni. “When Your Wanted It’s A Test Not To Run, Remember Keep A Hand On Your, Your Wanted Yes Your Wanted, When Your Wanted Where The Hell Can You Go, They’ll Find You Searching High Searching Low”. This is a powerful vocal and has some equally potent backing music. The second cue from this score is “Vivo O Morto” (alive or dead) which is a fast tempo cue in which Ferrio seems to throw everything in including racing snares, trumpet, strings and electric guitar. Listening to this track makes one wonder why Gianni Ferrio did not become better known out side of his native Italy. Track 5 is the beautiful and soaring central theme from IL GRANDE DUELLO music composed by Luis Enriquez Baclov, in this cue the composer utilises harmonica to begin the composition punctuated by sparse use of guitar which is joined by subtle placing of harpsichord and slow and subdued percussion, add to this swelling strings and choir and a flawless soaring vocal by Edda and you have the recipe for sheer excellence, it does not get much better than this.
On seeing the movie quite recently I was a little disappointed to see that the composer was not credited and also there was some type of hillbilly hoe down music tracked over some of the scenes, Baclov’s music was present but in a watered down form as if it had been just edited into the movie as opposed to actually being scored to the action. Track 6 is taken from ALL’ULTIMO SANGUE (1966-CAM), music is the work of Nico Fidenco, this successful composer started his career as a singer and became immensely popular in Italy during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Fidenco told me in interview he became involved in scoring movies because he often used to sing theme songs and decided that maybe this was something he would like to do, he also said that although the ideas for the music came from himself, it was actually Giacamo Del Orso who orchestrated it and scored it to the films, I think what he was saying that he was essentially in the early part of his career what is known in film music as a hummer. With Dell Orso applying the necessary skill as a composer/conductor and arranger to convert these ideas into actual music. Fidenco was quite open about this practise and gave full credit to dell Orso. The track representing ALL’ULTIMO SANGUE is entitled “Chaleco”, a haunting and quite up tempo composition, again trumpet and choir being utilised throughout. Tracks 7 and 8 are taken from UCCIDI O MUORI (1968-CAM) Music comes from veteran Italian composer Carlo Rustichelli. Rustichelli worked on numerous movies both inside of Italy and away from Cinecitta, his approach to scoring westerns I would say in most cases was of a more classical one, in this case however the composer employed a fusion of styles, on one hand it is grandiose and leans towards the American style of western scoring, but on the other he put to good use solo trumpet, organ and guitar all of which are trademarks of the spaghetti western score. The first selection here is a vocal entitled “I Must Go”, this is definitely Spaghetti meets HIGH NOON, that can be detected in the lyrics. “When Injustice Has Been Done, Men Must Fight And Never Run, When Injustice Has Been Done One Forgets To Love, Though I Love You I Must Go, Leaving You At Home I Know, Please Don’t Hate Me Don’t Forsake Me, Time Has Come I Must Go”. The second selection is the title track from the movie and is more spaghetti, Rustichelli creating a full blooded and rich sounding theme which begins with stirring trumpet that segues into a guitar solo and use of organ and strings, probably one of the composers best western themes.
Tracks 9 and 10 are taken from QUELLA SPORCA STORIA NEL WEST (1968-CAM). The first is the title song, vocal courtesy of Maurizio Graf, with that now familiar and infectious opening guitar rift brilliantly performed by Alessandro Alessandroni who also collaborated with composer Francesco De Masi on the lyrics. The second offering from the score IN MEMORIA is for the best part all choral and performed flawlessly by Il Cantori Moderni. The remainder of the disc features some prime examples of Italian western scoring, including Carlo Pes at his infectious best with the theme from PROFESSIONISTI PER UNA MASSACRO, Bruno Nicolai’s ESPANTO EN EL CORAZON from CORRI UOMO CORRI performed by Tomas Milian, Morricone’s GUI LA TESTA, Baclov’s THE PRICE OF POWER and selections from Romitelli’s SPARA GRINGO SPARA, De Masi’s AMMAZZALI TUTTI E TORNA SOLO, Morricone’s TEPEPA and strangely enough Rustichelli’s MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE which was not actually a western, but was thought by many to be.
The second volume of this unique collection launches with the title song from the violent spaghetti western DJANGO (1966=CAM), music is by Luis Enriquez Baclov with the English language vocal performance courtesy of Roberto Fia, this is probably one of, if not the most popular of spaghetti western songs and also an important one within the genre. Baclov utilising an attention grabbing electric guitar rift to kick start proceedings, the composition is made up of choir and an upbeat percussive pop orientated backing which acts as an effective support to the vocalising and the haunting lyrics, DJANGO, HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN ALONE, DJANGO HAVE YOU NEVER LOVED AGAIN, DJANGO YOU MUST FACE ANOTHER DAY, DJANGO NOW YOUR LOVE HAS GONE AWAY, etc. Personally I am of the opinion that the Italian language version of the song is superior, as it seems to flow better. The song plays over the films main credits, where we see Franco Nero as Django dragging a coffin through mud. This opening track is followed by an instrumental version of the theme, the vocal parts being performed by piano/harpsichord. Tracks 3 and 4 are by composer Gianni Ferrio, who contributed an immense amount of music to the genre of the Italian western but remained relatively unknown outside of Italy. Ferrio’s style and sound was somewhat different from what we now call classic spaghetti western, as he used percussive elements of the orchestra to wonderful atmospheric effect and at times combined these with large set piece expansive and grandiose thematic properties, which arguably rivalled the western music of composers such as Alfred Newman, Elmer Bernstein and Dimitri Toimkin. These were performed predominately by strings and brass with dramatic use of woodwind supported by timpani and at times embellished by the inclusion of choir, the composer also experimented with jazz like motifs within many of his western scores, an approach that surprisingly worked well. E DIVIENNE IL PIU SPIETATO BANDITO DEL SUD (1967-CAM), is a prime example of Ferrio’s talent to employ the more grandiose type of scoring, and also showcases the composers obvious talent in the blending of a neo classical approach with the more modern near pop sound, i.e.; electric guitar, harmonica, trumpet and chorale work. The tracks included here BILLY track 3 and UN RAGAZZO SOLO, track 4 were taken from a single 45rpm release, and one can hear slight background noise on these recordings, although it does not detract at all any of the impact or enjoyment of these fine compositions, in fact it adds atmosphere and creates a feeling of de ja vu for collectors who started out by purchasing vinyl. The quality of Ferrio’s music is outstanding and surely this is a strong contender to have a full score release in the near future.
Tracks 5. 6 and 7 are taken from TEXAS ADDIO music by Antonio Garcia Abril, the composers score is a highly regarded one within the Italian film music collecting fraternity and the three tracks featured include the title song performed by Don Powell, who’s distinct vocal performances have graced many an Italian western soundtrack. There is also an instrumental version of the theme and a short but memorable cue from the score, which must have been taken from the original vinyl as it jumps mid way through its running time, again it does not spoil the effect or pleasure of the music, but as I said previously merely adds atmosphere to the overall listening experience. Tracks 8 and 9 are from UN DOLLARO BUCATO (1966-FONIT), they are lifted from a 45rpm single that was issued in Italy at the time of the films release. The cues are two versions of the scores central theme A MAN A STORY, the first is a vocal rendition by the popular Italian vocalist and composer Fred Bongusto, which has quite easy going lyrics but really do seem to loose their direction in the translation from Italian to English as in, NOBODY KNOWS THE STORY OF A MAN, A MAN THAT GOES ON LOOKING TOWN TO TOWN, HE CRIES WHEN PEOPLE SMILE HE SMILES WHEN PEOPLE CRY, IF YOU SHOULD MEET HIM WOMAN LIE TO HIM, SHE TALKS ABOUT A NIGHT WITHOUT A MOON, HE DOES,NT CARE DOES,NT NEED IT. The second selection being an instrumental version, which is performed by electric and classical guitar featuring whistler and also an almost lazy but not quite solo trumpet playing a large part within the composition which is, supported by strings and percussion. The music is the work of Gianni Ferrio although he is not given a credit on these tracks. STRANGER, STRANGER, WHO KNOWS YOUR FACE, STRANGER, STRANGER WHAT IS YOUR NAME, are the opening lines from Francesco de Masi,s excellent and driving song for VADO… L;AMAZZO E TORNO (1966=BEAT) performed by Raoul, who was another mainstay vocalist within the genre, his unmistakable and distinct vocal talent appeared on many a title song and it lent much to creating the correct atmosphere for a western ditty, even if at times his thick accent did make it difficult to understand fully what the lyrics were, but this was all part and parcel of Italian western music. The composition was penned by De Masi, Alessandroni and also had a credit to Gulia de Mutis, Alessandroni’s late wife. The other cue from the score included here is VENTO E WHISKY in which De Masi flexes his musical muscles producing a commanding and infectious theme performed in typical spaghetti style with soaring solo trumpet, choir, harmonica ,percussion and strings.
For tracks 11 and 12 we are back with the highly original style and sound of Gianni Ferrio for the 1966 production PER POCCHI DOLLARI ANCORA, two cuts of music are included the first is the main theme DIAMOND and the second RED MINE, both are powerful and entertaining pieces, the composer creating a sound that is obviously Western all’ a Italiano but at the same time being original and individual. Subtle use of guitar, harp and harmonica open DIAMOND, making the listener think that this is maybe a gentle and lilting melody, but Ferrio has other ideas as he introduces strident sounding strings played in unison with strong voices and two trumpets which mirror themselves musically supported by a lone French horn to create a dramatic work. The music of Benedetto Ghiglia is next, with two cues from his highly atmospheric and creative score to A DOLLAR IN THE TEETH. This composer although being highly original in his style of music construction and orchestration, still to this day remains something of an unknown quantity within the ranks of film music collectors, his style is certainly innovative and at times somewhat unique and like Ferrio manages to produce a sound that although is easily identified as being spaghetti western also has an originality of its own about it. I always thought that within the scoring of the Italian western there were what I called an A and B category, the A referring to Morricone, Nicolai, Baclov, De Masi and to a certain extent Cipriani who for me employed the full on spaghetti style combining the music with the images wholly, making the action and the music integrally complete. The B group included Fidenco, Giombini, Ghiglia, Ferrio, Pregadio, Poitevin etc. Who employed the sound of the spaghetti and wrote in a similar style to composers in group A but maybe did not utilise the music to its operatic or maximum potential. In fact there could even be a third group, for composers such as Orolani, Rustichelli, Lavagnino and in later examples of the genre Donaggio who used a more conventional symphonic even romantic approach to scoring these sage brush sagas from Cinecitta. And then of course there was De Angelis and Bixio, who had a different slant on the entire thing. There are at times noticeable variations in approach and style even if the composers did utilise the same orchestras, choirs and solo artistes, by this I mean, even though the Italian western score had its laid out formula and overall sound after A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, there were many variations and deviations upon on this formula, some good some bad and the few that were downright ugly, but each and everyone of them being original, individual, memorable and enjoyable.
Tracks 16 and 17 are from the pen of Ennio Morricone, IL CRUDELLI or HELLBENDERS is a score that some do tend to ignore or overlook, maybe because the movie was not that successful, it is certainly a spaghetti, but is one of those movies that also contains a number of influences from the Hollywood produced western, Morricone’s score however is a strong one and includes some fine choral work from IL CANTORI MODERNI, the soundtrack is represented here by UN MONUMENTO and TITOLO. Next up are two cuts from SETTE DOLLARI SUL ROSSO, music by Francesco de Masi, the first of which is the excellent JERRY THEME, this is everything that Italian western music should be, the laid back trumpet solo is obviously the highpoint of the composition, but the composers use of an almost clip clopping effect picked out on electric guitar that is enhanced by light use of organ and used as a backdrop to the trumpet is in a word genius. The second cue from this score is the films central or main theme, again classic spaghetti sound reigns with guitar, vibes, percussion, sweeping strings and that all important trumpet present, De Masi certainly knew how to lay down a tune with a hook, his music is appealing, haunting and enduring. The next selection is from a movie entitled THE LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE, this is something of an oddity within the spaghetti western genre, when I say oddity I mean the score and not the actual film. As we know composers in Italy were gainfully employed during the boom years of the Italian western, many cutting their proverbial musical teeth on them, so why then did the composer of LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE Armando Trovaioli, only score this one film within the genre? This is one of the most energetic themes from within the genre, and contains many of the musical trademarks from it, i.e. racing snares, electric guitar, over the top soaring trumpet and a catchy up
A collection of Italian western themes and songs, well more than a collection it was THE COLLECTION or at least it was probably the most extensive collection of music from spaghetti westerns at the time of its release, its kind of funny looking back at this set as when I first got it I used to think when listening through wow, this is a great theme or a brilliant song, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have the complete score from this movie or at least a few more cues from this score. Well 16 years on many of the tracks featured are available on compact discs that contain the full scores; we certainly have come a long way in that time. But this 4 volumes set still holds a certain fascination for collectors and is still as fresh and wonderful to listen to now over a decade and a half later. A number of the tracks featured were originally put together on a double LP set on the seven seas label called THE BEST OF THE BLOODY WESTERNS, again another classic release from Japan which was in a gatefold edition with some great pictures and stills from the movies included. I think the appeal of the SPAGHETTI WESTERN ENCYCLOPEDIA was and still is the all round variety it contains, there are numerous songs performed in English and also Italian, instrumental tracks from scores and classic Italian western themes from the leading Maestros who worked within the genre. In fact nothing as ambitious has been released or made available commercially since. Remember this was at the same time as CAM first announced their own SOUNDTRACK ENCYCLOPEDIA series, which began with items such as CORRI UOMO CORRI, A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, THE PRICE OF POWER and MINNESOTA CLAY. Each disc in the SPAGHETTI WESTERN set is packed with what we now call classic western music and between the four discs we are treated to no less than 94 cues of music and songs. I would not say that the discs are compiled in any particular order in the way of release date etc, but whoever compiled them obviously had a good knowledge of the genre and the music and also was very conscious of what collectors really wanted. The variety and mix of styles is commendable and makes for an entertaining and thrilling listening experience.
Volume one launches with the instrumental version of A GRINGO LIKE ME from Morricone’s first western score GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS(1963-CAM), we all know this in effect started Morricone’s involvement with the spaghetti western, but was before the real spaghetti western sound had been formulated by the Maestro. It is in fact a rather clichéd and Americanised sounding theme, and the movie itself was something of a concoction of Italian and American takes on the western, or at least an Italian take on an American made western resembling something that was more like an American made B movie as opposed to a European production. Morricone in HIGH NOON or GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL mode producing something that sounded more like Tiomkin or Newman. Track 2 on disc one is completely the opposite it is the archetypal trumpet theme from 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO (1967-CAM) by the highly gifted trumpet player and composer Michele Lacerenza this for me is the epitome of what a spaghetti theme should be, the flawless trumpet solo flows like gently running stream over a background of castanets, organ and what I am sure is a mandolin that support and embellish Lacerenza’s gracious and stirringly beautiful trumpet performance. Track 3 is the first vocal on the collection, from TEMPO DI MASSACRO (1966-CETRA) Sergio Endrigo provides us with an energetic vocal performance entitled BACK HOME SOMEDAY sung in English this is one of the great Spaghetti vocals. And a score that I have to say deserves a full release and sadly has not yet received one. Tracks 4 and 5 are both taken from Piero Piccioni’s MINNESOTA CLAY (1964-CAM), directed by Sergio Corbucci this was also an example of the early Italian western, released in the same year as A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS this had Cameron Mitchell in the title role, Piccioni’s score leaned more towards the conventional sound of the western soundtrack, no choir, whistling or shall we say original orchestration present. 100.000 DOLLARI PER RINGO (1966-GEMELLI) is represented next, the title song, RINGO DOVE VAI? penned by Bruno Nicolai and performed by Bobby Solo is certainly a worthy addition to the Italian western score canon. As is track number 7, “The Lanky Gunman” from PER IL GUSTO DI UCCIDERE(1965), great guitar playing and a highly original rendition of the song by the composer Nico Fidenco, THE LANKY GUNMAN AIMS AT YOUR REWARD, TONIGHT HE RODE IN TOWN SO I AM TOLD, AND WHEN YOU MEET YOUR BOUND TO DIE, classic stuff. Track 8 is an instrumental version of the theme, but the sound on this is rather inferior, maybe taken from the film and it also contains gunshots, still a great theme though.
Two tracks from ADIOS GRINGO (1965) the first being the instrumental version by Benedetto Ghiglia which is a low key affair for harmonica, electric guitar and Spanish guitar, this is followed by the song from the soundtrack performed by Fred Bongusto who also co wrote this with Locatelli, something I noticed with this was the instrumental version was published by CAM but the vocals rights were the property of fonit? The great Francesco De Masi is represented next on track 11, with his stirring and powerful theme for SETTE WINCHESTER PER UN MASSACRO (1966-GDM). Track 12 thru till 14 are from Luis Baclov’s SUGAR COLT (1968-GDM), this contains one of the most endearing Spaghetti western themes I have ever heard and the composer makes excellent use of orchestra combined with male voice and a little squeak or trill that punctuates the proceedings on the opening cue. TRE PISTOLE CONTRO CESARE (1967-parade) is up next the title song is performed by the ever energetic Don Powell, with Marcello Giombini’s excellent orchestral backing forging onward in galloping mode complete with choir, racing snares, whistle and electric guitar, this is outstanding. Track 18 is from LA SPIETATA COLT DEL GRINGO (1966-CAM) the vocal A MAN MUST FIGHT is performed by the sadly missed Peter Tevis with a superb orchestral arrangement by Francesco De Masi. Another classic vocal comes next in the running order Gino sings the Italian version of QUEL GIORNO VERRA from UN FIUME DI DOLLARI or THE HILLS RUN RED (1966), this is followed by the theme from the movie , which is probably one of Morricone’s most neglected and forgotten spaghetti works. Carlo Savina and Don Powell collaborate on the following track, POCCHI DOLLARI PER DJANGO (1966-PARADE), Savina’s almost fanfare like brass heralding a fast paced and entertaining instrumental that is the background for Powell’s exuberant vocal in which he sings of A LAWLESS TOWN THAT HAS GONE ASTRAY, AND A MAN WHO LAYS COLD ON THE SAND. Stelvio Cipriani pitches in for the first time on the collection with 2 tracks from his BOUNTY KILLER (1966-CAM) soundtrack, which include the main title theme and also the excellent composition entitled SENTENZA DI MORTE. Marcello Giombini makes another appearance on track 22 with his vocal version of BALLATA PER UN PISTOLERO (1967-CAM) that is performed by Peppino Gagliardi. Track 23 and 24 both hail from LO VOGLIO MORTO (1968-CAM) composer Nico Fidenco was often asked to compose a score in the style of Morricone when writing for westerns, in this particular case he certainly is influenced by Morricone, but at the same time produced an original and haunting soundtrack that was filled with rich themes and scattered with musical motifs and trademarks that are now so readily associated with the spaghetti western. Harmonica, solo trumpet, choir and racing snares all feature within these two entertaining pieces, “Galloppata Tragica” and “Clayton Ballade”.