l_gdm 4166  front

I have fond memories of I MALAMONDO-AKA FUNNY WORLD,A long time ago back in the 1970,s I was browsing in a local Woolworths, and there were literally hundreds of LP records in racks going for around 50p each, this was just after decimalization in the UK so that was around 10 old shillings, I skipped through picked a few out and then came across this LP with a weird cover art, I MALAMONDO, ummm I thought, never seen this before, music by Ennio Morricone, ok thanks a lot, off I trotted very happy to the cash out, and I was even happier when I got home and listened to it.







It has since that day been a firm favourite of mine, I was pleased when CAM re-issued it onto compact disc, but recently Hillside re-issued the score again with extra music. I MALAMONDO is for me the ultimate 1960’s Morricone soundtrack, it has within it the typical style of the Maestro and also posses a luxurious and easy listening quality, that conjures up thoughts of hot sunny days in Rome taking in the sights and enjoying the Italian pace of life. This mad cap documentary was released in 1964, so just after Morricone had begun to establish himself with his first DOLLAR score for Sergio Leone, the film looks at young people all over the world and the weird, strange and sometimes hilarious things that they get up to. Morricone provided the movie with a wonderfully varied score and managed to cram just about every style into it. On the American EPIC records release there was even a dreamy sounding vocal of the title track FUNNY WORLD with crooner Ken Coleman do the honours. This track however must have been for the benefit of American buyers only as the song did not appear on any other release of the soundtrack. This latest edition of the score to be issued on to compact disc includes tracks in both mono and stereo, the first 19 cues representing the original album release and these are in stereo, the remaining bonus material a further seven cues are in mono, to be honest I am not that bothered about stereo or mono, as the mono recordings from the 1960,s I have always thought were excellent and contained a rich and full sound,(well they sounded good on my dansette). With a soundtrack such as I MALAMONDO it is difficult to actually pick out any tracks that one can call stand out cues, for the simple reason that every single one stands. As I have said the score contains many styles and Morricone treats us to wonderful jazz infused compositions, off the wall pop orientated pieces, modern sounding fast paced percussion led sections and amusing and highly entertaining tracks which delight and surprise, we also have bossa nova beats, romantic sounding interludes and wonderfully performed chorale passages. When you take a close listen to I MALAMONDO one can hear the sounds that Morricone would utilize in many of his later scores, for example track number,17,LA CITY, could easily be mistaken for a track from NAVAJO JOE, and track 19,SOSPESI NEL CIELO is a pre cursor for many of the themes that he penned utilizing the extraordinary voice of Edda Dell Orso. One of my favourite cues on the soundtrack has always been TWIST DELLE ZITELLE, and here in stereo I must say its glorious, its one of those cues you are going to either love or hate, with mad barking, Hammond organ, and timpani setting down an up-tempo beat that gets faster as the track progress’s add to this a female choir “hip hippping” in the background, with duck calls going off here and there, well just listen to it and you will know what I mean. This latest re-issue of I MALAMONDO is certainly the best, it has great sound wonderful graphics and extra music, what more could you want, so what you waiting for, go and get it.. 


marco-beltrami-the-eye-coverAs you have probably guessed with a movie such as THE EYE the musical score does contain a fair amount of atonal or crash bang and wallop as a friend of mine once described it. However Marco Beltrami’s soundtrack is not all low strings foreboding and sinister sounding crashes and bumps. The composer is in my opinion one of the most accomplished music smiths who is working in film today, not only does he has the capacity to create complex and interesting compositions but he also is highly gifted in creating the more melodic sounding piece. He has certainly pulled out all the stops with this powerhouse of a soundtrack. The score opens with a pleasant almost lilting sounding theme which is performed by guitar, strings and female voice, it is somewhat reminiscent of many of the themes that composer Ennio Morricone created during the late 1960,s and 1970,s for films such as BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and to a degree LOVE CIRCLE, it has an eerie but pleasant sounding twist to it, as if it is inviting you into a nice warm environment, but at the same time one senses that all is not so nice and comfortable because of the undertones which sound ominous. Track 2, BRUYA is pure atonal, almost experimental sounding in places, but again the composer keeps the music interesting bringing in sounds musical and otherwise to heighten the tension which culminate in a crescendo of grating and spine chilling effects. Track 3 RAIN is for me one of the scores highlights, I say this because its opening is a beautiful piece for light and delicate piano that leads into a haunting violin passage and although brief certainly makes an impression upon the listener. The remainder of the cue is a tense and taught sounding composition, that growls and meanders its way to its conclusion. Track 4 NOT MY EYES includes elements of both the preceding tracks the composer slowing the tempo slightly and putting the emphasis more upon the string section. This is a foreboding almost virulent sounding cue, that has shades of some of Pino Donaggio’s work for Director Brian de Palma. In track number 5, TO SEE AGAIN Beltrami, takes the theme from the opening and gives it another brief outing, this time utilizing solo piano enhanced by strings. Track 6 is the type of cue that you should never listen to at night or own your own, it at times jumps out on you without warning, making you jump out of your skin. Skipping to track 8, THE ROAD TO MEXICO, this is a slightly more up beat track,

being performed by string section, piano and percussion, again reminiscent of early Morricone in places. The remainder of the score is a mixture of light and dark, but mostly the latter, a listen not for the faint hearted because the composer has a knack of just leaping out of the speakers at you when you are least expecting it, I recommend this score to any Beltrami fan, and also hopefully it will interest others that are still to sample his wares.



I would be the first person to say if it is an electronic score then I probably am not going to be that keen on it, but I suppose we have to take into account the budgets etc nowadays for movies and also we have to look at the tools that are now at hand for composers, some may argue a large symphony orchestra is not needed on certain scores and a small but sophisticated electronic ensemble is sufficient. PAIN AND GAIN is a fairly new release and the score by Steve Jablonsky received a release on Varese Sarabande a little while ago, although I am not a fan of synthesized scores, I would never dismiss a soundtrack simply because it was electronic, I will always give it an airing and a fair chance. Look at GETTYSBURG by Randy Edelman, a great soundtrack brimming with themes but not a real instrument in sight and also CHARIOTS OF FIRE and around 90 percent of Vangelis’s soundtracks all synths but still containing melody, substance and being enjoyable and memorable. Given the subject matter of PAIN AND GAIN, we just know we are in for a little bit of a high octane and fast paced ride, Jablonsky makes effective use of the electronica he chooses to use and manages to create some appealing and also memorable moments within the perimeters of his soundtrack, but for the most part this is an action score, plenty of up-tempo passages and lots of brooding edgy material that probably lends itself wonderfully to the action that is occurring up on screen, but somehow falls a little short when it comes to being an enjoyable listening experience, but what we have to realize is that this is film music, music that is written to accompany, enhance and support images and action, and that is what composers do they write music to fit the action not to create a collection of lovely sounding themes that will make a good album. As I have said there are a handful of nice touches within the score that do make one stop and listen, for example track number,11,RUN HIM OVER, although slightly repetitive is quite appealing, the composer gradually building the momentum as the cue progresses, adding layers and sounds and supporting these with a percussive punctuation. Track number, 22 DU BOIS, is also haunting in its own way, again the track builds as it progress’s Jablonsky adding elements to it as it does so, the composer here I think is successful in creating a really rich sound that is enticing and interesting.  Overall I would say that if you are into large scale score with sweeping strings and booming percussion that is laced with brass stabs and highly melodic and wistful themes, then PAIN AND GAIN is probably not for you, on the other hand if you like synth scores with up tempo and beat infused cues that evoke an urban or industrial feel then maybe try it and see.



In the October of 2006 Hillside CD production issued the full version of SPARA GRINGO SPARA, a little while afterwards in the early part of 2007 BEAT records released for the first time the excellent soundtrack to YETI,  what do these wonderful titles have in common, well yes you guessed it the composer Sante Maria Romitelli. A little while after these releases, FIN DE SIECLE records which is based in SWEDEN,or at least was because releases from this label seemed to have been put on hold for a while, which is a great shame. Anyway Fin de Siecle issued  another wonderful soundtrack by this underrated composer which was plucked form the dusty depths of the archives somewhere in Rome and restored it wonderfully giving us the Italian film music collector another gem to savour and relish. Romitelli’s score for this comedy romp is in a word entertaining, but then I would not just be able to leave it at that, it is an interesting and certainly original sounding work that I know will delight and amuse every collector who purchases it. The soundtrack fuses many styles which include jazz and a big band sounds that are intertwined with dramatic and romantic writing to create a varied yet balanced menu of sounds. The opening track is a perfect example of the many styles and types of music that are encompassed with Romitellis score, it begins with a fast paced almost madcap sounding composition performed by jazz flavoured brass backed by driving percussion and interspersed with shrill woods strategically placed along the way, the pace of this soon slows and we are treated to a jazzy sounding solo trumpet which is enhanced by the use of brushed drums and almost sleazy sounding electric guitar and a muted trumpet. It then returns to the original tempo of the cue the trumpet this time taking the lead so in the first 5 mins or so of the score one is hooked waiting for more of the same, but then the composers switches styles, tempos and surprises the listener at each cue, the second track being a more or less traditional sounding Italian or Sicilian sounding track, a jaunty little ditty performed by brass and woods in the main with piccolo taking on the lead at one point within the proceedings. Track three TEMA DI SCOTTY is an even bigger surprise, Romitelli creates a bagpipe sound with woods and brass with underlying drums which are played in a slightly martial manner. And then we are taken aback by the contents of track 4, YOU AND I. Wordless female vocals courtesy of the one and only true Diva of Italian film scores Edda Dell Orso, are delicately enhanced by the utilization of romantic strings, gracefully placed harpsichord and brass. Overall this is a delightful soundtrack, and a solid example of the work of Sante Maria Romitelli, who’s scores have always pleased but maybe have not been given a chance to entertain collectors by record labels up until now. Certainly one for the collection. Sound quality is very good, and the CD is packaged well with nice art work and informative notes.



Disaster movies and in particular movies with a airliner or plane at the centre of the storyline always seem to attract cinema audiences, well at least they used to, I suppose it all started in earnest in 1970,when AIRPORT hit cinema screens, and then of course there were so many sequels, some good some bad and some well we wont even go there. TURBULENCE was released In the winter of 1997,and in that same year Hollywood seemed to resurrect the age old scenario of disaster in the air with movies such as CON AIR and AIR FORCE ONE. TURBULENCE although not immediately recalled is probably one of the better movies that dealt with this subject matter. Directed by Robert Butler the movie starred the excellent (and still underrated) Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly. The musical score is by the late Shirley Walker, who in my ever so humble opinion was a genius n the field of film scoring, her passing left a void within the community that will never be filled. The score for TURBULENCE is as you can imagine a tense and exciting one, full of many highs and also containing some richly dark and threatening moments along the way. On listening to the score from start to finish I thought at first it reminded me of Jerry Goldsmith as in any of his action scores, but then John Williams as demonstrated in scores such as RAIDERS and even STAR WARS at times one can hear something that is a little Danny Elfman or perhaps a string or brass passage that is vaguely Bernstein, but then listening again although there are certain references to the action scoring of all four of the composers mentioned, there is also an originality and a style that can only be Shirley Walker, which shines through and makes its presence felt. Swirling and menacing strings, high and jagged brass with flyaway flutes and other woods are supported by pounding percussion and punctuated further by the use of subtle electronics and a scattering of plaintive sounding piano, all of which go to create a score that is certainly edge of the seat, knock em down and drag em out material. One of the most ingenious cues on the score for me anyway is the opening track, CAROL O THE BELLS/CHRISTMAS SHOPPING/I.M INNOCENT. This is a masterful and canny piece of scoring, the theme itself we associate with the season of Yuletide, so a season of peace and goodwill to all men, well in the hands of Shirley Walker it does not quite work that way, via a clever arrangement of the well known Carol, the composer turns it into a threatening and quite dark sounding piece, in fact in many ways it sounds something like the late Bernard Herrmann might have delivered if he were still working in pictures at the time of this films release.

shirley_walker_150To say it is Herrmanesque in its overall sound is something of an understatement, as it is mysterious and threatening, creating a definite aura and air of unease. It begins quite gently and one thinks we are in for another rendition of this particular Christmas tune, but very swiftly by adding shady sounding strings the atmosphere alters drastically, and although one can still hear that the Carol motif is still present as such, there is the underlying ambience of darkness and disquiet which is created superbly by Walker, piano is laced around the strings and also subtle utilization of woods are added, plus a touch of low brass which then converts the seasonal joy bringing song into a menacing entity. Track two, F.A.A. 214, also contains smatterings of the Carol, but its life within this particular cue is short lived, Walker utilizing brass to great effect to create a stirring and upbeat theme which is kind of reminiscent of Elmer Bernstein’s, Carpetbaggers in places. Track number three THE TAKE OFF is an apprehensive sounding piece, full of expectancy and also excitement ,which is relayed via strings, brass and segments of the Carol of the bells that occasionally slips into the Christmas shopping motif then the brass section supported by strings simply take off with a rousing and fuller version of theme that Walker has introduced. Walkers work in film is quite stunning and this is certainly no exception, it is an action score first and foremost, plus it also contains some lighter and more melodic interludes, but for the majority of the scores running time we are treated to highly dramatic tense and nervous passages, but these are not atonal or unmelodic, the composer keeping themes running through the work all the time and introducing new ones and varying arrangements of already established ones. In fact the only real atonal cues I think are track number six, RYAN SAVES TERI/NO PULSE, where the composer puts to effect use percussive elements and hissing strings, conjuring up an atmosphere that is fraught and dramatic, and track number 9,LEVEL SIX/LAST BREATH, which contains elements of Carol of the bells, Teri’s theme that are underlined by dark sounding strings and percussion. I would call this a score that is old school, and this remark is no way meant in a derogatory way, this is proper film music, great film music and entertaining film music, film music in the style of film scores that attracted me to film music in the first place. Packaged wonderfully as always by LA LA LAND RECORDS with an array of colourful stills and fantastic liner notes. Recommended.