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 Masihad 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.

AMICO STAMMI LONTANO ALMENO UN PALMO…..(la ballata di ben and charlie)


Digitmovies is certainly one of those labels that is unswerving with it’s releases, this particular score was issued a while back, but for some reason I omitted to review it, maybe because I thought it was a score that had been in my collection for years on record, and selfishly thought that everyone had heard it or was familiar with it, sadly or at least to my surprise I was told by many collectors that they were not familiar with the title at all. So I thought I would try and make amends now by writing this review. Originally issued back in 1972 on the Cinevox label (lp mdf 33/52), this spaghetti western directed by Michele Lupo, starred Giuliano Gemma and George Eastman. The film was originally destined to be scored by Francesco De Masi, but for some reason he did not complete the assignment, some of the music however that De Masi wrote still survives on a BEAT records compact disc of his western scores. Ferrio’s score is a well written and intelligently orchestrated work, which relies upon the use of the title theme throughout as its core, from this Ferrio builds an original sounding spaghetti western score, which is at times influenced with jazz colours. The central theme is heard at first in the form of a song, LET IT RAIN, LET IT POUR, is performed by Stefan Grossman who also provided the lyrics. This returns in various manifestations within the running duration of the soundtrack, and there is a particularly attractive version of it in track number 5, UN PASSAGGIO PER RED ROCK, where the composer utilizes guitar, strings and harpsichord to create an almost easy going version of the theme, this builds slowly into a fuller version of the composition the strings swelling into a romantic sounding crescendo of sorts bringing the cue to its end where Ferrio adds a saloon piano for effect. As with many of Ferrio,s other western scores, this certainly cannot be pigeon holed or categorized in with spaghetti scores that contain the stock sounds of the genre, there is no whistling, shrieks or soaring wordless female vocals, but say that it still is in my opinion a good candidate for being put into my top ten spaghetti scores. The CD contains 18 cues which are taken from the original LP release, and Digitmovies have added a further 5 bonus tracks, which had been omitted from the LP release. There is some nice choral work on the score from, THE CHILDRENS CHOIR OF RENATO CORTIGLIANI and some amazing guitar playing from Angelo Baroncini. A release well worth purchasing, a must have score.



This was the final installment of the madcap and highly implausible Italian western trilogy that had Sabata as its main character. For this movie, Yul Brynner took on the role of the bounty hunter Sabata, replacing actor Lee Van Cleef. Ironically Van Cleef had to turn down the role to star in an American western entitled The Magnificent Seven Ride; ironic because Van Cleef took on the role of Chris in the film, a character that had previously been portrayed and made famous by Yul Brynner. Director Frank Kramer (aka Gianfranco Parolini) also decided to change composer and hired Bruno Nicolai as opposed to Marcello Giombini, who had worked on both of the previous films. Nicolai provided a textbook Italian western score for the movie, full to brimming with grunts, shrieks, whistles, trumpet solos and electric guitar passages. The score was not available in its entirety at the time of the films release, and collectors had to be content with one track on a western compilation and a selection of tracks on a EP which was issued in Italy.

This release is the first time that Nicolai’s wonderful score has been issued in full. A film critic at the time noted, “It could be Ennio Morricone, or maybe its Bruno Nicolai, but you can be damn sure its not Percy Faith.” The highly infectious theme for the movie can be heard throughout the score, and the composer makes good use of this music where ever possible. There are also other themes present within the score which are equally as haunting and Nicolai punctuates the action with little trills and sounds, in a very similar way to Morricone in movies such as The Big Gundown. Alessandro Alessandroni’s choir Il Cantori Moderni also work overtime for Nicolai on this soundtrack, and create an effective and exhilarating sound.

I would personally stick my neck out and say that this is probably one of the best Spaghetti western scores written, alongside Morricone’s Dollar trilogy. Every track on the CD is entertaining, every note original. The disc is packaged well with excellent sound, sleeve notes and a list of credits for the movie. Well worth seeking out, an essential buy for lovers of Spaghetti western music.



Originally released in 1969 on UA records in the UK  and also on Parade records in Italy, GDM are to be thanked for this re-issue as it is an iconic and important work from the Maestro Ennio Morricone. LA RESA DEI CONTI or The Big Gundown was the first movie in a western trilogy of films that were directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Sollima, the other two being Corri Uomo Corri which was scored by Bruno Nicolai and Face To Face which had a powerful soundtrack penned by Maestro Morricone. The Big Gundown, is along with The Good The Bad And The Ugly one of Morricone’s most prominent western scores. It contains a Powerful and stirring main theme which can be heard in varying arrangements throughout the running time of the compact disc at times being robust and thundering and on other occasions being performed quietly,or in a subdued fashion. When released in Gt. Britain The Big Gundown was a ‘B’ feature movie,(shown along side THE WRECKING CREW-the Matt Helm spy spoof) this was because a few scenes were deemed too violent for British audiences, so Gundown was severely edited by British censors, and indeed a number of sequences were cut completely, consequently the films duration was also lessened drastically, making the story line difficult to follow and  at times missing out whole chunks of what are obviously important links within the story line. Morricone’s score was an important feature throughout the movie, at times the music running almost continuously, punctuating the antics of the oppressed and wrongly accused Mexican peasant and lovable rogue Cucillo (Tomas Milian) who was being pursued by lawman Johnathan Corbett (Lee Van Cleef), who had been given the wrong information about Cucillo and thus hunted him down until the end of the movie when Corbett realizes what a mistake he has made and puts that right.

This in my opinion has got to be one of Morricone’s best scores within the Italian western genre and contains many of the musical trademarks and sounds that are now considered as standard or stock motifs for the Italian western score. Pounding percussion accompanies and underlines shrills and shrieks that mimic animal sounds in the opening section of the film’s central  theme, these give way to thundering kettledrums that herald a slower paced percussive interlude which acts as support to the marvelous voice of Edda Dell Orso, who performs the film’s principal theme with ease and perfection. This part of the composition builds to a crescendo that in turn leads into a full working of the theme on brass, accompanied and embellished by strings, percussion and choir, that carry the piece along to its thundering and dramatic conclusion. This is without a doubt the power of classic Morricone. I say it is the films main theme,but really it is but a version of it as it does not come into the equation until the film has nearly finished and accompanies Cucillo running from his pursuers through cornfields over desert terrain and also over rocky and rough landscapes.

The score also contains two gunfight sequence compositions, both of which are very different in their musical make up. The first, ‘La Condanna’, begins with a piano composition which Morricone borrows unashamedly from Beethoven to accompany the pompous Austrian / German count that faces Corbett in a showdown. The cue progresses into solo guitar and tense sounding castanets, it builds creating a tense atmosphere but eventually subsides without reaching any real climatic crescendo. The second is ‘La Resa’ which is the music for the films main showdown scene. Morricone utilizes a deliberate and rather clumsy sounding piano to usher in the  choir and trumpet again creating a  tense and dramatic piece of scoring that perfectly enhances the stand off between the two protagonists, in the knife versus gun showdown. Then there is the marvelous vocal version of the film’s main theme entitled ‘Run Man Run’ which is sung by Christy, the LP included the song but only in English, here we are treated to both the English and Italian versions,which are powerful and glorious her booming voice being accompanied and supported by Morricones infectious and rousing music. The sound quality for this release  is good, but not outstanding as at times the mix seems to be rather lacking, in fact in both the two major cues that feature full workings of the central theme,there is a distinct echo present and the re-verb is a little too much and it causes  the instruments to sound as if they are rather mixed up or overlapping and all trying to overpower each other. However apart from this negative the CD is enjoyable and boasts ten additional cues, striking artwork and an impressive array of colourful stills, plus notes that are brief, but informative.



One of the many Italian westerns that received a release during the 1960’s, TEXAS ADDIO, starring Franco Nero, was typical of many of the movies that appeared during that period, a tale of revenge laced with numerous gunfights and bad dubbing, but nevertheless a popular movie in Europe at the time of its release. The score is, in my opinion, one of the most appealing and melodic non-Morricone western scores to come out of Italy. The music is by Anton Garcia Abril, who interestingly is Spanish, and had considerable success in his own country with scores for TV and film and also was the composer of the score for the English western made by Michael(Hammer films) Carreras entitled SAVAGE GUNS. Originally the for TEXAS ADDIO score did not get a release on LP, but a 45rpm single was released in Italy (containing the title song performed by Don Powell and an instrumental version of the theme) and a further single in Japan was issued containing an alternative version of the song and theme.

Texas, Adios
Texas, Adios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this the definitive edition of the soundtrack, Screen Trax have re-edited and also digitally remastered the tapes, producing not only an entertaining CD, but also a disc that has good clear sound with very few distortions. The theme ‘Texas Goodbye’, features throughout the entire running time of the score in one form or another, at times performed on solo trumpet, harpsichord and also orchestra and choir.

There is also a secondary more subdued theme, that is heard on cues such as ‘Amor’ and ‘Anguish And Tenderness’. The soundtrack also features a few tracks that are Mexican cantina type compositions, these are short lived, but are not unpleasant, and seem to bring a certain authenticity to the work. The score also contains a third theme and at times is blended and fused with elements of the other principal thematic material, creating some exhilarating and highly charged interludes, as in ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘Fight’.

The CD boasts, fine eye catching art work, and there are also a few sleeve notes, which have unfortunately lost something in the translation, as they say, but this is one of the negative points or at least one of the most discussed points among collectors at least where Italian releases are concerned. There is also a suite from the score included, which runs for nearly 14 minutes, which I am sure has been put together in the mastering process and not by the composer. A classic score from a genre that contained its fair share of original and innovative musical works, many of which proved to be more popular than the films that they were composed for.