Often a neglected or overlooked score even by hardened Morricone fans, THE HILLS RUN RED is in every sense of the word a classic and also a key work within the genre of the Italian or spaghetti western. Originally released on a bootleg LP record on the POO label at the same time as THE HORNETS NEST, the soundtrack was crying out for an official release, at last some thirty years after the release of the unofficial recording, came a compact disc issue on the film score monthly label, this was released as part of a box set of MGM scores that also included a wide range of scores from the 1960s through to the 1970s and coincidently THE HORNETS NEST. Why then release the score again on a single compact disc so soon after the FSM release. Well, there were a number of collectors who missed out on the box set because of its limited production run and being a Morricone score and also a western it would be remiss not to issue this as stand alone disc as well. The score is essentially constructed around two principal themes. The central core of the work being made up of various versions of a driving and energetic piece that includes infectious trumpet flourishes which are like mini fanfares heralding the onset of the remainder of the cue which includes racing snares, choir and urgent sounding strings that segue into the main body of the theme which is performed in the main by brass supported by choir. Gianna Spagnola features prominently within the score and her distinct vocalising brings a certain earthiness and raw ambiance to the work. There is no doubt that this is a classic work from the Maestro and anyone watching the movie for the first time would be aware that it was his unmistakable and individual style from the opening strains of the music in the pre credits sequence. The other theme that is present is lighter and more melancholy in its sound and style, and is performed in vocal and instrumental versions. The vocal version HOME TO MY LOVE opens the compact disc, and is for me anyway an entertaining and uncomplicated cue, which has many affiliations with Morricones vocal themes for A PISTOL FOR RINGO, RETURN OF RINGO and also other western ditty’s such as LONESOME BILLY etc.
This theme is utilised within the film at moments of sadness and also when the central character is returning home or has returned to his home finding it derelict and that his wife is dead and his child is missing. The composer provides us with a particularly touching music box version of the theme where he embellishes and supports the central music box feature with light and poignant strings. The vocal version also makes more than one appearance throughout the running time of the compact disc, and is heard in Italian as well as English, with a full instrumental of the cue also being included. If you were fortunate enough to get the MGM box set from FSM then maybe you are thinking I wont bother with this release, as it is the same in content and also sound quality, ok that is fair comment. But, where this release comes into its own is in the presentation department, it contains a number of rare and colourful stills from the movie, striking front cover art work and a great back cover illustration plus alternative notes to the FSM release. This is an essential purchase for all devotees of Morricone and for all fans of the Italian western genre; this is a limited edition for collectors of 1,000 discs. Highly recommended