The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez.

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At times I think one forgets just how much influence that the genre of the Italian western has had upon the Cinema industry as a whole, and I am not just talking about the movies within the genre but the music that was such a big part of that genres development and impact. In fact I wonder if Ennio Morricone and other composers who worked within that collective of films at the start of their musical careers realize now even just how much of a rich palette and legacy of music that they were responsible for creating, probably not !  Italian western influences crop up here there and everywhere in modern day releases but of course unless you are a fan of the Italian produced western you probably would not realize this. Also composers and music supervisors that work in the film business nowadays also borrow regularly from the Maestro’s who were responsible for actually laying down the musical foundations of Spaghetti western music. Ok, it is true to say that the sound is probably not as raw as it was back in the day, but the influences and techniques still manage to glimmer through. Recently I was approached by composer Ruy Folugera who told me of a film he had scored which was the last movie of Hollywood legend Ernest Borgnine, of course I was certainly interested and was even more intrigued when he explained that he had written a Spaghetti western flavoured soundtrack. This was a statement that I had to be fair heard before and when I have been handed the score to listen to have on many occasions been disappointed with the end result as I sometimes failed to hear the Spaghetti influence at all. But I am glad to say with this particular soundtrack I made that connection more or less within in seconds of pressing the play button. The score opens with the title song, which is introduced by electric guitar, whistling and also choir which is backed by a Mexican sounding rhythmic accompaniment. THE BALLAD OF VICENTE FERNANDEZ, is for me a brilliant way to commence proceedings, the vocal is certainly something that could be taken from any number of Spaghetti westerns and although fairly short in it’s duration is sets the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. The vocalist (Elia Petridis, is actually the director of the movie) gives a performance that is impassioned and committed with accompanying backing vocalists and choir plus strumming guitars, trumpet, strings and whistler all of which combine to create an entertaining and strident sounding piece, which has great lyrics, THERE’S A MAN  SO BRAVE O SO VALIANT, THAT THEY DARE NOT CALL HIM BY NAME, SO INSTEAD THEY CALL HIM THE STALLION AND HIS SONG BARES THE LIFE OF HIS PAIN. AND IF YOU SEE HIS OPEN FINGERS, THEN YOU KNOW THAT HIS COMING FOR YOU.SHAKE THE HAND OF VICENTE FERNANDEZ AND YOU WILL RIDE LIKE THE LIGHT OF THE MOON.   In these days of tight budgets, the music is usually one of the components of any movie that suffers, the composer due to slender financing normally having to utilize synthetic elements to create his score and although this soundtrack does contain a sprinkling of electronic instrumentation the composer has made effective use of strings, female wordless vocals, Celeste, whistler, guitars and a handful of other instruments that he has cleverly and seamlessly woven and fused with synthetic elements to achieve a sound that evokes the spaghetti western wonderfully. I won’t say that this is a parody of the Italian western soundtrack because I feel that it is actually a sincere and well written Homage to the genres many musical attributes. Track number two, THE LIGHT IN EVERY ROOM SHE’S IN is a cue that in its three minute duration manages to conjure up various moods and atmospheres, in the first instant it has a near happy sound to it with vibes introducing guitar and delicate chiming underlined by plaintive sounding strings, this soon segues into strumming guitar and Mexican flavoured trumpet, then the cue enters a more melancholy sounding interlude with Celeste and poignant sounding chimes (shades of Morricone’s love theme from THE HILLS RUN RED).

Track number three,  THE WALKER GANG takes on a more sinister sound and the composer again turns to the Celeste to create an almost spidery and gothic sound that would not be out of place in any of Mario Bava’s horror movies. The track then moves into a more relaxed atmosphere with an variation of the title theme, this however soon fades and is replaced by a more strident version of the scores central theme introduced by guitar and then carried by trumpet, female voice and whistler.  I think the highlight of the score for me personally has to be track number seven, A GOOD MAN KILLED BAD, Guitar opens with wind instrument adding a typical spaghetti western rasping effect to herald in a guitar solo version of the central theme, which is halted by a single note on trumpet that leads into a glorious female wordless vocal, underlined by trumpet, the cue then starts to build in typical Italian western style, guitars act as a background to whistler, percussion and choir which all come together to give us a great showdown piece. The composer bringing into play and combining most of the thematic elements of the score and building them into a crescendo. As I have already said this is a homage to the music of the Italian western and it evokes the music from those sagebrush sagas perfectly, but there is also present a sound that is original a more modern sound that not only compliments but also manages to shine through creating another entertaining level within the score.




It is inevitable that comparisons will be made between this and other scores that contain a western flavour, in my opinion Ruy Folugera has written a soundtrack that is on the same level as some of the works of Fidenco, Cipriani and Ferrio. His music  also contains hints of Morricone, Micalizzi and Pregadio when we are thinking of the original spaghetti scores. It also has affiliations with THE MEXICAN and SUNDOWN when thinking of soundtracks that have paid homage to the spaghetti western, plus it has a pleasing and attractive side to it that is not dissimilar to ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. So it’s a soundtrack that will please all, well worth checking out… available on amazon, iTunes and amoeba records on vinyl.