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SHAFT, is a character that I suppose we all primarily associate with actor Richard Roundtree, it’s one of those movie fan things, we hear the name Richard Roundtree and up pops the infectious SHAFT theme tune in ones head, more recently however Samuel L Jackson assumed the guise of the black private investigator with rather direct and unconventional methods of obtaining information, but Roundtree even made an appearance in that modern day version of the story. Shaft began in book form back in the 1970,s,authour Ernest Tidyman was white, but could see the possibilities of having a private detective in a black environment, he sold the rights to his book before it was finished and MGM asked him to write a screenplay, probably at the time the producers actors etc that were involved were not aware that it would become the runaway success that it was and also endure for so many years afterwards, but SHAFT was completely different from anything that had hit the screen before and also it had in all of its principal roles black actors, but black actors that gave performances which were also different from anything that cinema audiences had witnessed before.

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It took the IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT notion to a higher level, giving black actors a chance to show they were every bit as good if not better than white performers. Interestingly enough the films producers were all white, but MGM called on black filmmaker Gordon Parks to act as director on the movie, which was a smart move on the part of the studio. This I suppose was the beginning of the era of the Blax-ploitation genre, many critics at the time saw Shaft as a real depiction of how it was on the streets but in reality Shaft was nothing more than a sharp thriller, which in essence gave black audiences their own James bond figure.

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SHAFT spawned a handful of sequels and also a television series it was also to become the film that many other moviemakers tried to emulate during the 1970’s in films that would follow such as TROUBLE MAN, SUPERFLY, CLEOPATRA JONES, ACROSS 110TH STREET etc. It is also true to say that films produced decades later would take their cue from the SHAFT trilogy of feature films, i.e. BEVERLY HILLS COP, 48 HOURS and to a degree a more recent picture entitled ALEX CROSS and the BBC TV series LUTHER, in fact it even influenced movies outside of the private eye/police thriller genre in the form of BLACULA which was a blax-ploitation take on the classic Bram Stoker vampire story, which was updated and given soul and a whole lot of eye candy for the gents by its producers. But it was not just the movies within the SHAFT series that proved to be popular, the music for all of the films and also the television series became firm favourites with soundtrack collectors and also soul, funk devotees.

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The first movie in the series contained a score by already popular composer/performer Isaac Hayes, the composer/artist fused expressive grooves with funky sounding flourishes along side jazz vibes and blended these seamlessly with fast paced and dramatic orchestral elements and the occasional vocal performance such as the laid back and ever so soulful/ Gospel influenced HARLEM MONTAGE (SOULSVILLE) which Hayes performed himself ,the enticing near easy listening piece LOVE SCENE ELLIE (ELLIES LOVE THEME) and I CANT GET OVER LOSIN YOU (which has a kind of Earth Wind and Fire vibe going on) along the way to create a soundtrack that was not only infectious and haunting but one that crossed over from film music into the soul and jazz funk genres thus becoming a soundtrack album that was popular with numerous fans. It was a score that appealed to the already converted soul/funk collectors and also it intrigued hardened film music devotees, who had up until that time been used to more conventional symphonic sounding soundtracks, only sometimes experiencing jazz flavoured works for the screen by composers such as Quincy Jones, Elmer Bernstein and their like, in fact the only examples that I can think of that came close to the style employed by Hayes on SHAFT are in my opinion Sid Ramin’s excellent score for STILETTO, which was released in 1969, Ramin employing jazz vibes alongside easy listening cues and high octane dramatic interludes also the now classic soundtrack to BULLIT (1968) by Lalo Schifrin and to a degree Michel Legrand’s wonderful score for THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968). The pulsating and vibrant up-tempo beats created by Hayes for SHAFT were destined to become part of film music history and also earned the composer/musician an Academy award for his trouble in the best original score category. SHAFT contains a score that is jumping right from the off, smooth and delectable sounding jazz influences and bursts of adrenalin filled orchestral flourishes that are laced with funky colours that match the action are infectious memorable and got a lot going on. It was a fresh and original way to score a movie and the music worked well with the images on screen and also had a life away from those images, Hayes creating an urban sound that matched perfectly the inner city environment in which the film was shot. It is probably the now iconic title song that most are aware of, with Hayes performing the vocals and the rhythm section being provided by the Bar-Kays and movement, the title song or a version of it included on this FSM compilation SHAFT ANTHOLOGY His Big Score and More is taken from the actual score and is slightly different to the version that was issued as a single at the time of the movies release and I have to comment that the sound quality is a little distorted at times, this FSM compilation also contains a number of cues from Hayes’s score that have not been available before (SHAFT, score- tracks 1 to 22 disc one) and as bonus tracks has Hayes’s theme from THE MEN (track 23) and a cue entitled TYPE THANG (track 24) which was used as a source cue in SHAFTS BIG SCORE.

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Which brings us to the next instalment of the SHAFT film trilogy the aforementioned SHAFTS BIG SCORE (also included on the FSM compilation-tracks 1 to 18 on disc two) many thought that after the success of the music in SHAFT producers would have Hayes back to repeat his musical triumph and maybe even take it to higher levels, but to the astonishment of many the score was written by Gordon Parks who was the director of the original movie and also was the cinematic helmsman on SHAFTS BIG SCORE. This was due to certain disagreements between Hayes and the studio, and Parks found himself in the role of composer as well as director, musical arranger Tom McIntosh had already been contracted to work with Hayes on his return to the SHAFT scoring stage as he had done previously on SHAFT, but as Hayes was now not involved Parks negotiated with McIntosh to work with him on the score for SHAFTS BIG SCORE.

Gordon Parks.
Gordon Parks.

The music was very much inspired and influenced by Hayes’s original score and in fact although the music was essentially good and worked well within the movie, it did not contain the same originality, vibrancy or freshness that Hayes had demonstrated and achieved in the original score. The opening title song for example was in effect a clone of the SHAFT theme, yes it had different vocals and the instrumentation and construction was slightly different but it was still SHAFT all’a Hayes, with its simmering cymbals and smooth sounding strings that were punctuated by brass stabs, pulsating bass lines and up-beat percussive eruptions. BLOWING YOUR MIND was performed by O. C.Smith, and took the same line musically and stylistically as the original Hayes opening theme, it contained a long instrumental intro and then a question and answer vocal ensues O.C.Smith asking the questions, with the chorus vocalists answering him with breathy vocalising of “SHAFT” or “HE SURE WILL” and “THE MANS TROUBLE HIS BEEN TO MY HOUSE”,” PUT A HOLE IN YOUR SOUL HONEY” etc etc and all the time smooth but bubbling strings accompanying them with a constant background of percussive elements and brass punctuating the proceedings. Vocalist Smith also performed two additional songs for the score, DON’T MISUNDERSTAND which is a slow soulful number and also the upbeat and infectious MOVE ON IN which was utilized as source music in a scene in a club when Shaft is roughed up and dumped in a back alley.

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Parks score for SHAFTS BIG SCORE also featured a near 15 minute cue which was released as the entire B side to the original MGM Long Playing record, SYMPHONY FOR SHAFTED SOULS is an upbeat affair for the majority of its duration, featuring the tracks TAKE OFF,DANCE OF THE CARS,WATER BABIES,CALL AND RESPONSE and THE LAST AMEN. It was in effect a coming together of many of the major themes that had been heard throughout the score and cleverly arranged and orchestrated into a lengthy suite. Steamy brass and effervescent sliding strings with a background of up-tempo percussion are the order of the day. The third movie in the SHAFT trilogy was SHAFT IN AFRICA (unfortunately the music from this is not featured on the FSM compilation-but is available on I tunes) now this was something a little different as we see the central character becoming more of a secret agent than a gumshoe as he fights against slave traders in Africa, the movie was directed by John Guillerman, the musical duties on this final cinematic SHAFT outing were handed to veteran composer, performer, arranger and band leader Johnny Pate. Pate who had worked closely with Curtis Mayfield on SUPERFLY (1972) and been a collaborator on other projects with him, seemed a natural choice to the executives at the MGM studios.

Johnny Pate.
Johnny Pate.

SHAFT IN AFRICA included an infectious and vibrant title song ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH which was performed by the legendary Motown group THE FOUR TOPS, and Pate,s score was also a energetic and well structured work with powerful themes and imaginative arrangements that were dramatic and jazz influenced with a strong funky sounding foundation that was laced with an almost big band or swing sound. The opening cue sets the scene wonderfully for the remainder of Pate’s score, brassy percussive and up-tempo. YOU CANT EVEN WALK IN THE PARK sets the stage for an entertaining and polished work. With highlight cues being the slow and sultry sounding ALEME FINDS SHAFT, the upbeat but sophisticated and contagious SHAFT IN AFRICA(Addis) and the slow but compelling EL JARDIA plus three versions of the title song, the longest of these being the cut that was issued as a single. Also in 1973, MGM embarked on a small screen version of the SHAFT stories and a series of seven 90 minute shows were produced from the latter part of 1973 through to the early part of 1974, Richard Roundtree reprised his on screen role as John Shaft and included guest appearances by notable actors such as Tony Curtis, Robert Culp and George Maharis.


The music for the series was the work of Johnny Pate, who utilized heavily the original Isaac Hayes SHAFT theme and from time to time would work the theme into the fabric of his own scores and introduce various arrangements of the theme. The TV series soundtracks are represented on the FSM compilation by selections from 5 of the shows, THE EXECUTIONERS (Oct-1973), THE KILLING (Oct-1973), HIT-RUN (Nov-1973), THE KIDNAPPING (Dec-1973) and THE COP KILLERS (Jan-1974).
The Film Score Monthly compilation SHAFT ANTHOLOGY-HIS BIG SCORE AND MORE is certainly worth seeking out and adding to your collection, it is a toe tapping collection of funky tunes that are entertaining and infectious but also are innovative and highly original film scores. Presented superbly with great liner notes and a colourful collection of stills.




It always amazes me that there is so much quality film music out there that maybe gets under our radar and we loose out on the experience of savouring it and experiencing a score that is brimming with all things that are right and good in the film music department, well one score that I am pleased did not get away thanks to Gus Reyes the composer, (thanks Gus for the heads up on this one) is THE PHYSICIAN by Ingo Ludwig Frenzel, to say that this is an epic soundtrack would indeed be something of an understatement. It is not only brimming with sweeping and highly melodic themes it is positively overflowing with them. The movie was released in 2013 and also the soundtrack was issued on compact disc in December of the same year, I am not sure about the movie, but I am certain that the soundtrack only got a release in Germany on Colosseum Music Entertainment GmbH (03387). I have to be honest and say I have not heard of the composer before now, but it does look as if he has been involved on a number of projects. This I suppose is an example of film distribution etc, where a movie is not released in certain territories so it at times sadly fades into obscurity and then ends up in a film studios vaults to gather the proverbial dust. The score is a rich and fully symphonic work that relies upon highly thematic material and establishes a real sumptuous almost vintage Hollywood lush sound early on in the proceedings. The composer utilizes the renowned Film Orchestra Babelsberg and also putting to effective use various ethnic instrumentation, choral interludes and the distinct and haunting vocal talents of Persian-German vocalist Schirin Partowi who’s performances give the score a certain earthiness and authentic sound along the way. The composer interweaves and fuses all of these elements seamlessly to create a work that is a delight to listen to from start to finish. It has a resonance to it that is rich and attractive sound and also a style that is bursting with a fresh and vibrant vitality that is appealing and highly emotive. The movie stars the excellent Ben Kingsley and is based upon the first in a trilogy of books by American author Noah Gordon. It is an exhilarating adventure tale set in the middle ages. The Physician tells the story of Rob Cole played by British newcomer Tom Payne, Cole is an orphan and a young aspiring doctor and barber surgeon from 11th-century England who goes to Persia to meet the polymath Ibn Sina (Ben Kingsley) to study medicine. Whilst on route to Persia he meets and falls in love with Rebecca portrayed by Emma Rigby who along with the young physician confronts a plethora of obstacles and dangers that put their lives at risk.
German born composer Ingo Ludwig Frenzel matches the action perfectly with this multi styled soundtrack and underlines the dangers and the romance that are unfolding on screen, whilst at the same time enhancing and highlighting the mysteries of a far off land and punctuating the excitement and adventure of the story line. At times I detected a style that was not dissimilar to that of a young James Horner which also had elements of the early style of Danny Elfman, I think this is more easily detectable with the choral parts, as they contain a certain childlike quality that is haunting and attractive.


The music is at times also darker and more down beat and contains a sombre sounding mood but still retains a melodic foundation that manages to shine through. This is evident in track number 23, THE BITTER PRICE, the composer employing low and dark sounding strings for much of the cues running time, but lacing these with slightly more lighter sounding strings that carry a theme that although remaining sinister seems to rise slightly above the darkness to create a glimmer of light the composer enhances these further with subdued percussion and also introduces woodwind towards the end of the cue. Track number 24, MAIN TITLES THEME is short lived working of the soundtracks central theme, strings again take the lead to create a lush sounding tone poem ,which the composer builds upon ushering in brass and a few rumbles from the percussion. The score opens with a suite aptly entitled THE PHYSICIANS SUITE, this nearly 9 minute piece is a lavish arrangement of the scores central themes, all of which are gathered together in an overture like composition, brass, woodwind, strings and percussion work together to relay a sound that is rich and full, female vocals are brought into the equation being underlined and punctuated by strings with touches of harp. John Barry-esque faraway horns are also present evoking expansiveness and greater depth giving the piece a sense of the great outdoors but also evoking a sense of loneliness. Strings again are given the biggest share of the composition, being ably supported by woods in the more melodic parts and relaying a darker side to the piece mid-way through the composition. I recommend this soundtrack to all, it is one to seek out and add to your collection, as I have already said it is available from Colosseum in Germany so maybe that’s the best place to start.–Ingo-Ludwig-Frenzel-.html



Beauty and the Beast is one of your most recent assignments, how did you become involved on the movie and at what stage of the production did you become involved?

I was introduced to Christophe Gans in March 2013, when the editing of the film began. He told me a lot about film, his intentions, his desire to make a film for everyone, but in which each generation finds its account. I quickly made what would become the waltz of the film, which he enjoyed very much.


How much time were you Given to score Beauty and the Beast, and where did you record the score?

I had a lot of time on paper, the first sessions taking place in October, so about 7 months starting from April. But there was 80 minutes of music to write, and the film was constantly being altered and edited. The sessions took place at Abbey Road Studios in October and December.


I sensed a hint of the style of John Barry Within the score, with its beautiful strings, plaintive piano and emotive sounding horns, what artists or composers would you say have inspired you or influenced you in the way you write music or approach the scoring of a motion picture?

I do not think I have had any direct influences whilst scoring the picture as I think listening to other composers music is not always a good idea> My ideas for the style of music came mainly from discussions with Christophe Gans who gave me some ideas as to what style of music was needed or he felt would be best suited to the movie, whilst working on Beauty and the Beast we discovered many common musical tastes: Woljieck Kilar, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Hermann, Michel Legrand to name a few. In any case, I knew he wanted a large musical score that was generous and romantic, but within the frame a European context. He wanted the film repatriated with its French origins of the original story, and the music involved in it.


Do you believe that orchestration is a significant part of the composing process?

Yes I think it is, however on this occasion I did call upon the services of a co-orchestrator, Mathieu Alvado, which is the first time I have done this because the task of scoring the movie was so immense and there was really not a great deal of time, so we worked on the orchestrations together. It was essential, above all, that music has a “body”, it has to be noticed but it also must not overpower the images. I decided very quickly the option of a “classic” nomenclature, although without the orchestra’s trumpets.


The score for Beauty and the Beast is large and sumptuous, with quite lavish and lush themes. When you began to score the movie, did you have any fixed ideas about what style of music you would write and did these ideas alter as the project progressed?

Having ideas and developing them is essential, it gives coherence to the whole thing. The score consists of 4 or five main themes, but they all at times cross over into each other. Without upstream work, without image, it would have been difficult. Once fixed my nomenclature, and having identified the main areas of work, I tried these themes. Then began to work with the images.


Do you prefer to create a primary or main theme for a score first, and then build the remainder of the work around this?

Yes I think one has to establish a central theme firstly, but at times the movie dictates otherwise, the main theme I composed was originally supposed to be present a lot more in the film. But the film itself decided otherwise.

As I have Said Beauty and the Beast is a great work, All which is fitting for the story, in fact I would say it is very much akin to what I call an old fashion film score, that ‘contains strong thematic material and is full of energy, what is your opinion of contemporary movie music as Opposed to music from the 1940’s thru to the 1970 s?

It is great to have nostalgia and be able to look back at vintage scores, I think John Williams remains a reference today he remains busy and composing wonderful scores, which he also did back in the 1970. That said I really like the work of people like Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat, and many other contemporary composers who are working in film.


What musical education did you receive and did you focus upon Any Particular instrument whilst studying?

I did classical studies at the conservatory, both in composing and oboe, which was my main instrument.


What size orchestra did you Utilize on Beauty and the Beast and what choir Performed on the score?

I used an orchestra that had 80 members, plus I added to this the London voices which made up the adult choir and also we had the Tiffin Boys choir for the children

You began to write movie music at a very early age, I think you were fifteen when you undertook to score your first film, but your first official credit is on IMDB as SHIP OF MARRIAGE in 1994?

Ship of Marriage or “The boat wedding” was I suppose my first feature and it was also the first feature film by Jean-Pierre Améris. The budget was very small we had about twenty musicians in total if I remember correctly. I had previously however worked with the same director on a documentary As sometimes happens, he was more than happy to entrust the music for his movie to me.


You have I think Predominantly Worked in France and Europe, where do you prefer to record your scores, do you have a preference for a Particular studio or internship and indeed an orchestra?

I work a lot in France of course, and have a lot in common with the French musicians. But we begin to experience problems with studios. More film music is recorded abroad, which makes a lot of studios in Paris close due to lack of projects. I love recording in London, which is European capital as far as recording is concerned.


Was the film music something that you had always been attracted to, I ask because you have also written numerous songs, so was movie music something that became more prominent as your career progressed?

Yes, the music always came first, as a teenager I was passionate about jazz and I listened to the big bands! Then from there I became interested in writing for cinema. I have actually not written so many songs except maybe for movies when I’m asked to, but the song or song writing is not my main musical path. By contrast I worked on a lot of arrangements for songs as well as being a composer.

How many times do you like to see a movie before you start the actual work of composing, and do you spot the movie with the director?

With Beauty and the Beast, I saw the film for 7 months, I cannot tell you how many times I watched it in that period, it was several times a week at least, this was I wanted to ensure that the music would be suited to each and every scene, and as I have said the film was constantly changing and being edited and then re-edited, so I had to change the way in which the music was utilised, or maybe would have to cut the running time or at times extend it. We ran through the reels chronologically, each reel being spotted with Christophe Gans and Sébastien Prangère who was the editor on the movie we did this to be absolutely positive and accurate with everything.

Beauty and the Beast has been released by the Spanish soundtrack label Quartet records, did you have any input into what music Would be included on the release, there is 80 mins of music on the disc which includes the French and English versions of the song, how much did you write for the movie?

Yes of course, I did involve myself with the preparation of the compact disc release; I had to shorten some of the cues so that the two versions of the song could be included on the disc. I did not write the song.


Have you ever experienced problems with a temp track on a movie, Has a director ever asked you to fashion a score “just like the temp” and do you find the use of temp tracks helpful or unproductive?

Temp-tracks can be very useful, provided that the director understands their role and knows to abandon them once the composer begins work on the film. The problem is that the temp is sometimes installed on the film right from the outset of the production and everyone that is involved with the movie becomes used to this music, so it can be hard for the composer to come in at a later stage and write something that works for the director, producer and at times even the distributor. They are however very useful tools or guides for the composer when it comes to the pace of the film.


I Understand That You Were in ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS playing the role of a pianist in a bar, have you ever been on location for any of the movies or TV shows you-have Scored, if so did you find it helpful with the development of your score?

It was not a role, just a representation! I went several times on film sets, but I’d rather stay in the post-production department. The only thing that helps me to find an idea for a score is to see the movie as much as possible, and talk as much as possible with the director and editor. Even reading the script rarely gives an idea of the film as it will be, because of editing and even whole scenes being cut.

Have you Any Given concerts of your movie music, and do you perform on your own scores?

I have not had the chance to make my music into concert suites as yet, except once at Cannes for the film “Paris I love you.” Otherwise I always conduct the orchestra in the studio; this is probably the most impressive moment and also a better time.

What would you identify as the main differences between scoring a TV show or series and a motion picture, or do you approach both TV and film in the same way?

The difference is mainly due to the budgets that are available, with TV the budgets are smaller thus it can be a case of being inventive as a composer and utilizing to your best ability what you have available.


As a composer and conductor do you find it better to work-have a conductor with the orchestra so That you can study and supervise the recording session from the desk?

No, I really prefer to conduct my own music for film and television, I’m in front of the orchestra, in a privileged position, it gives me a sense of participation in the life of the music after spending weeks alone, it also allows you to adjust more quickly balance issues for example. And above all: listen closely, without filter, this is the greatest reward of all.

Have you ever been at a recording session and Realized that maybe the music is not working as you would have liked it to, if so what do you do in a position like this?

No I don’t think this has happened to me, but It might do fingers crossed it will not.

What are you working on at the moment, and what do you do musically away from the film?

I’ll soon start to write arrangements for an album by a French singer. In the periods between projects, I just listen to a lot of music, which I never do when I am working. I now have many records to listen too. I love to read music as well: just released is the simile Varsity “sacred spring” of Stravinsky.



RYSE; SON OF ROME, has a very epic/exciting sounding score which is brimming with proud and commanding musical themes. I am always amazed at the quality of music that is being written for games in recent times, in fact I would go as far as to say that many of the scores that are written for games are in many ways superior to some film scores, the composers of game music are at times sadly overlooked and even dismissed by collectors of film music but game music for me is just an extension of film music and therefore should be treated as one and the same and be considered and respected in the same way as music for motion pictures. As games become more sophisticated and realistic and continue to develop so does the use of music within them.

RYSE;SON OF ROME is just one example, its thunderous and attractive thematic properties adding atmosphere, tension, drama and emotion to each new step of the game. Tilman Sillescu is just one of the composers who worked on this project and together with musical collaborators Borislav Slavov and Peter Antowski has created a score that is commanding and at the same time highly listenable, for me personally the music evokes the raw power that composer Jerry Goldsmith fashioned at times when he wrote for action or epic story lines, such as FIRST KNIGHT, CASSANDRA CROSSING,TOTAL RECALL, and THE WIND AND THE LION. The score contains powerful percussive lines that act as an impressive background to driving strings, flyaway woodwinds and growling turbulent sounding brass which are carried along by further use of strident strings, timpani and bolstered by synthetic support, added to this are a number of ethnic instruments which add a certain authenticity to the soundtracks overall sound, and at certain points it also has Hermannesque sounding strings which punctuate and enhance further brass stabs. But although this is a full on powerhouse work for the majority of its running time it still remains attractively and enticingly thematic. It is however not all action mode music as the soundtrack does contain a number of less effervescent sounding interludes that contribute a more settled atmosphere and add an attractively subdued and even calming and emotive persona to the work. The impressive orchestration plays an immense part to the works hard hitting impact, with rams horn entering into the equation at one point and although this is only a fleeting appearance it is sufficient to add an air of menace to the proceedings which is unsettling and chilling, also the introduction of the aforementioned ethnic instrumentation gives the score greater depth and seems to give it credence. I recommend this score without question or doubt and I hope that film music collectors who for what ever reasons are unwilling to give game music a place in their collection might be persuaded to take a listen to RYSE; SON OF ROME, because I know if they do they will be blown away by its epic sound, its quality compositions, its imaginative and innovative orchestrations and its sheer power. Ten out of ten for this one….



Music from two Italian Peplums, Digit movies have again managed to amaze me with this marvelous double compact disc set. The music from HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED released for the first time in its entirety. Both scores have been issued before on the CAM- Phoenix label, and some music from HERCULES made it onto a RCA LP which also included dialogue and sound effects. Both scores are the work of composer Enzo Masetti and conducted by Italian film music stalwart Carlo Savina. I remember when I was a kid going to what we used to call Saturday morning pictures, this was a thing for kids during the 1960,s and was always a bit of an experience, at times it was hard to hear the movie for the noise being generated in the cinema. It was at these Saturday morning sessions that I became familiar with characters such as HERCULES in the form of Steve Reeves plus many other characters from Greek mythology, this was via a huge amount of Italian peplums that were screened at these Saturday morning outings. Of course I was not at that time aware that the films were of Italian origin, I just enjoyed them. As we all know some of the Italian peplums were re-scored for U.S. and U.K. audiences, but I honestly think that the films I watched all those years ago contained the original scores by Masetti, I might be wrong so don’t all write to me and tell me I was imagining it. With this release in particular I think Digit movies has managed to convince me that they are probably the best soundtrack label in the world. With each release this dedicated label brighten my listening experiences. This magnificent 2 cd set. Is a must have item. I was a little apprehensive when it was announced as an up and coming release, but my fears of sub standard music and poor sound quality because of it’s age were totally unfounded. The sound quality is in a word wonderful, the music is superb and the presentation of the compact disc by Digit Movies is excellent. I thought that maybe the music would not be that interesting, simply because British scores from the same period were no more than a continuous musical wallpaper on the film, with no real purpose or character. But this collection of themes are thoughtfully composed, meticulously orchestrated and performed to perfection. The level of sound quality achieved here is stunning. Enzo Masetti has penned some exquisite and wonderfully lyrical compositions for both of these movies, with the first compact disc HERCULES standing out just slightly from Disc number 2, HERCULES UNCHAINED. There is just so much music here, a total of 79 cues in total. It is true to say that many of the cues are somewhat short-lived, but this does not in any way detract anything from them in the quality stakes, and are a vital component within a score that is varied and rich in its overall sound.

The style that Masetti utilized for both of these movies is a fusion of romantic, dramatic and epic, and somewhat akin to the style utilized by Eastern European composer Dasan Radic during the 1960,s on his LONG SHIPS and GENGHIS KHAN scores, I only mention this to give you a basic idea of what to expect. Track number 21 on disc one of the set is a good example of the sound and the flavour of the scores, URANGANO contains brass, strings wistful woods and an almost heavenly choir. The compact discs contain numerous previously un-released cues and Digit movies have taken much time and also a lot of care in restoring and releasing these soundtracks, and this time and care has certainly paid off, and we as collectors are the ones to reap the benefits of their labours. The art work is stunning and the notes by Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog are well written and extremely interesting. The booklet contains various examples of posters from the movies, and also lobby cards and even the original art work of the RCA album. It also has a fascinating spread of black and white photographs taken on the sets of both movies, one in particular caught my eye, which is of Mario Bava who was F/X photographer. I cannot recommend this release enough, it is one to buy play enjoy and cherish.