This series of movies were made in the same style as the Rambo films, and dealt with the same basic issues, a soldier returns home after fighting for his country to find that the attitudes of people are just the opposite of what he thinks they should be, they are not grateful for him risking his life but are resentful of his presence. De Masi,s scores are both vibrant and action packed affairs, but at the same time are both different, THUNDER is a fully symphonic work, and the composer relies on the more conventional instrumentation and approach for the first movie, but in THUNDER 3 he employs more electronic sounds etc, THUNDER is a powerhouse of a score, it contains numerous action cues, but also has its fair share of lighter, quieter and even romantically laced compositions. A varied and consistently good work that is a pleasure to listen to over and over again. De Masi makes excellent use of the talents of Franco De Gemini on harmonica, and his performance brings to the score a sense of intimacy. The grander moments within the THUNDER score are very much like the composers work on LONE WOLF Mc QUADE, fast paced and full of action but also tinged with romanticism and having an almost melancholy sound to it. The theme for THUNDER is a driving composition and is utilized throughout the work in numerous guises, at one stage De Masi adds a rock sounding fuzzy guitar to the proceedings which is very effective when combined with percussion and brass. This compact disc is a worthy addition to any film music collection, and both scores included will I know become firm favourites with collectors, THUNDER contains two previously unreleased cues, THUNDER GYMKANA and THE OLD INDIAN MAN which are tracks 15 and 16 respectively. THUNDER was actually the first CD that BEAT ever released they have certainly progressed since then. Art work is striking, and the release also contains notes in English and Italian. Check it out,
Another extremely good release from BEAT records, they continue to amaze me with all the music that they are making available from their obviously ample and comprehensive archive. Francesco de Masi is no stranger to any collector of film music Italian or otherwise, his scores have delighted and entertained for decades. De Masi was a composer that seemed to be happy when working on any genre of film, his western scores at times rivaled that of Morricone and his soundtracks for thrillers and police based shoot em ups were always hard hitting and powerful. NAPOLI SPARA is certainly no exception to that rule, it’s a jazz influenced highly dramatic and fast paced work, which has its fair share of big band sound influenced passages, but de Masi heightens and elevates these moments with the use of electric guitar, racing percussion and organ. As in the opening cue VIOLENT LIFE and also track 4 THE TRAIN ROBBERY. The score also contains a handful of lighter more romantically slanted cues, as in track number 12, A CAR FOR GENNARIO and the sexy and almost steamy sounding ELENA in track number 5. Dramatic and tense cues also are included and these make up the majority of the score, the composer orchestrating them cleverly to create an atmosphere of suspense and nervousness. The CD also contains a music cue by Guido and Maurizio de Angelis, A GANGSTERS STORY which was utilized originally within the score for LA POLIZIA INCRIMINA LA LEGGE ASSOLVE. I must admit it was a surprise to hear this amongst all the De Masi music, but maybe the director used this as a temp track on the film and liked it so much kept it in ? There is also a traditional sounding Italian vocal SI PUTESSE CAGNARME “STU CORE”. Again collectors who purchase this soundtrack will not be disappointed, its certainly an entertaining release, and one that is packaged attractively in a digi pack format, with a great eye catching front cover, it also contains a booklet which is full of stills and overflowing with interesting notes by Flippo de Masi. One to add to the collection.
I have for a fair amount of time looked at the name of Alan Williams on the internet and caught snatches of his music for film and television, this week a package came through the letter box which contained no less than five compact discs of this composers music, courtesy of Mr Williams himself. I decided the best thing to do was to review this double compact disc called THE CINEMA COLLECTION first, good start I think as it contains numerous pieces that showcase the obvious talent and dexterity and diversity of this composer. This is a collection of themes and other cues from a over 50 movies scored by Alan Williams, the discs are slotted into categories or genres i.e. Disc one contains ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, ACTION and MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE, disc two has categories or sections labelled FAMILY, DRAMA,COMEDY and WORLD. The thing that strikes one immediately when first hearing Alan Williams music and I am not talking of any track in particular, is that it is not only well structured and extremely well orchestrated and constructed but it is also stunningly beautiful, emotive and above all powerful. The 11 cues in the opening ADVENTURE category are in themselves inspiring and grandiose with an atmosphere of vastness, unknown, passion and exploration being conveyed within each track. I was particularly attracted to KILIMANJARO, this is a haunting and commanding work composed for large orchestra that includes sweeping strings, triumphant brass, African sounding choir and percussion that combine to create a proud yet humble sounding theme, after the cues impressive and attention grabbing opening, the atmosphere shifts to a somewhat more subdued mode, with layered strings being accompanied by delicate use of woods underlined by percussion briefly, with the strings being left to take the composition to its conclusion in a slow and passive fashion. I don’t like to compare when reviewing but I suppose it’s the best way I can let fellow collectors what sort of sound Alan Williams creates, shall we say he evokes for me memories of the likes of Bill Conti, James Horner, James Newton Howard, Lee Holdridge, John Barry and at times Elmer Bernstein, he fashions highly listenable themes with haunting and attractive central cores and builds upon these to develop amazing, outstanding and rewarding compositions.
The section labelled ROMANCE is a treat to listen to, the accent being on the string section in sensitive overdrive swelling strings that rise and fall are enhanced by crashing cymbals and faraway sounding almost Barry-esque brass in track number 12, MEMORIES, then we have a solo piano embellished with melancholy sounding woods on track 13, THE LOVE OF A PRINCESS, both of which are underlined by strings which eventually take on the central theme and give it a full working. Skipping to the ACTION category now, and the opening theme HOSTAGE is a fast paced work, that is tense edge of the seat material, again written for traditional orchestra, the composer puts to effective using frenzied strings backed by brass to create a anxious and stress filled composition. The MYSTERY AND SUSPENCE section opens with a wind swept sounding theme entitled DANGEROUS, which after its fairly lively opening soon switches to a more low key affair, which oozes menace in a kind of melodic way, the composer utilising solo piano, woods and strings to bring this to fruition. To review this compact disc on a track by track basis would end up with an article of mammoth length, as there is just so much music included on this two disc set, this collection is certainly the best way to become acquainted with the music of Alan Williams, and includes some of the most melodic, dramatic and atmospheric music I have heard that has been written for film
This interview took place a few years ago as the label were almost ready to release their 100th compact disc.
1. Was it your own interest in film music that persuaded you to establish Digit movies the recording label ?
It was a HUGE PASSION for CINEMA and FILM MUSIC, of course! We wanted “save” the film music masterpieces from Silver and Golden ages
presenting them with the best possible presentation, packaging and sound restoration.
Digit-movies was born like a kind of game, nothing serious in the beginning…and now we are close to our 100th CD!
2. Who decides what scores are going to be issued on your label ?
The titles are decided as a STAFF project, in our staff we have people that are specialized within different genres of films etc, . Many mixed ideas together can produce very good end products.
3. Are there any soundtracks that Digit movies have wanted to release but have not been able to, due to copyright difficulties etc ?
No, luckily this has never happened all of our projects have been given the green light.
4. You have released a number of CAM soundtracks, this was something of a breakthrough as many companies had tried without luck to work with CAM, will this be an ongoing collaboration, and do you envisage releasing any westerns scores that CAM have ?
Yes, our relationship with CAM is very good.
They are very good friends and we enjoy a co-operative association with them very
Western scores from the CAM archive will be among our future releases.
5. What have been your most popular releases to date ?
SODOM & GOMORRA, LO CHIAMAVANO TRINITA’ and OK CONNERY
6.Do you try and involve the composers with the release process, ?
Composers such as Stelvio Cipriani are very friendly and cooperative!
7. Have there been any scores that you have handled that have been in such poor condition that you have been unable to restore them ?
For examples the GENTLEMAN JOE master tape was in very poor conditions.
We tried our best to restore it, anyway it was a very important Western title, having it with a just so so sound condition was still good, at least we have rescued it!
8. Italian film music seems to be as fresh and vibrant as it was back in the 1960,s and 1970,s, what do you think is the appeal of Italian movie music ?
Film Music had big names in the past , today film music is still a predominant part of actual Italian Cinema with new names such as Guerra, Buonvino, Vivaldi, Abeni,Plivio and De Scalzi etc. and Ennio Morricone, at 78, is still hugely creative and prolific.
11. Do you think that in the future, Digit movies might release some non Italian soundtracks ? Ie; British, French, German etc.
Effectively we issued some score for American movies like PIRANHA II, CATACOMBS, and not forgetting SODOM AND GOMORRAH, possibly the most ambitious compact disc project of them all!
12. How long does it take approximately to work on a title. From start to finish ?
This varies according to the project in hand. Restoring the sound, assembling the CD master, making the graphic etc..
13. Your releases are always well packaged, wonderfully illustrated and contains notes and information on the film etc, do you think that notes and colourful illustrations and packaging is an important factor ?
Yes, Of course. The best presentation is something we wish always for making collectors around the world happy and satisfied.
14. When you look at a score that has already been issued on compact disc such as, PREPARTI LA BARA and THEY CALL ME TRINITY, what factors do you take into account before you decide to re-issue ?
The main factor to take into account is how much extra music was not included in the original release and it depends firstly on the master tapes conditions and how much indent music is available.
15. Have you a favourite film score at all ?
Claudio’s favourite score: LOGAN’S RUN by Jerry Goldsmith
Luca’s favourite score: CASPER by James Horner
Many thanks to both Luca and Claudio for their time and for answering the questions.
Do we really need another version or an expanded definitive version of this soundtrack, well with something as musically original and iconic as Morricone’s BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, I am going to have to say yes please and thanks to Cinevox we have it. The attractive packaging is enough to attract me alone, with its digi pack and accompanying booklet crammed with stills from the movie and also poster art work and absorbing notes by Claudio Fuiano and Daniel Winkler. But then we have the musical extras which have been included, these are a collectors dream come true and in Stereo for the first time, which makes the score sound even more eerie and threatening in places. The score for me anyway was and still is one of the composers most atmospheric and it also can be said that the soundtrack is probably one of his most accomplished from the period as he utilizes to great effect female voice and atonal sounding compositions and punctuates these with chilling sounding gasps and heavy breath effects creating a highly original and at times down right scary atmosphere, it is via these components and performances that the maestro manages to keep the work interesting, original and at the same time enticing and attractive. It can be said that this is a groundbreaking work from the composer, and one that enhanced and underlined the movies action perfectly, showing us the cinema going public just how important music was and still is in film. We are treated to the original album line up from tracks 1 through to 10, and if this were not enough, tracks 11 to 20 are all bonus material, granted much of the music in the bonus track section are repeats or different versions of the tracks from the album, but it is good to have all of this music available at last in stereo. THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE was a landmark score for the composer, and also one that attracted much attention at the time of the films release, I think that this re-issue will keep devotees of the composer happy and also attract new members to the already swelled ranks of Morricone fans. A highly recommended release, that not only contains extra music but also boasts some really eye arresting art work, both inside and out of the CD liner and much improved sound quality.