UNRELEASED MORRICONE . WHY ?

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Have you as a collector of Ennio Morricone film music ever sat and pondered, WHY? Why have so many soundtracks of this great Maestro been released and re released but others remain unpublished and unreleased? Yep me too, there are certain scores that of course we are so grateful to have but is really necessary to re issue these over and over, as you know this is a subject that I do get a little fired up over, so I thought instead of writing about the constant barrage of re issues of re issues why not try and delve into the reasons behind why there are certain Ennio Morricone scores out there that still remain unreleased when it is evident that the masters do exist. So are you sitting comfortably, good then lets begin.

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ROME COME CHICAGO, This is a great score which is credited to both Morricone and his at that time collaborator and conductor Bruno Nicolai, this is a hard hitting soundtrack filled with many of the Morricone trademarks that we all know and adore. Rasping brass underlined by almost manic sounding trumpets, strident strings and dark sounding piano, and this is just the opening theme, pounding percussion keeps the pace and the composers build upon what is already a strong and vibrant core theme. The move was not that successful out side of Italy but nevertheless it is still today an interesting and entertaining piece of cinema. Why this score has never been released is something of a mystery as the movie was released at a time when Morricone was producing some of his most interesting material, the score in my opinion is on a par with Morricone works such as CITTA VIOLENTA, THE SICILIAN CLAN, THE BURGLARS, A MAN TO RESPECT and FEAR IN THE CITY to name but a handful. A few tracks from the score appeared on a bootleg compilation on POO records, this included the score for THE HORNETS NEST on the A side of the LP, and on the B side we were treated to a handful of cues from a few movies, ROME COME CHICAGO being represented by two tracks, these however were the more down beat compositions easy listening if you like, but still welcomed by collectors at the time.

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A bootleg copy of the score was also doing the rounds a few years back but the sound quality on this was not that good, still at least the people who managed to get it had a chance to sample the delights of this Morricone/Nicolai work. SEVEN GUNS FOR THE Mc GREGORS is another score that as yet has not seen a release although recently there were rumours around saying it was coming paired with SEVEN BRIDES FOR THE Mc GREGORS, again utter disbelief that soundtracks such as GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS, BULLETS DON’T ARGUE, THE RINGO MOVIES and also Morricone westerns such as BANDA J AND S all got released on compact disc in the past five years or so, but not THE McGREGORS, maybe they were to bawdy to be released.
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The score for SEVEN GUNS FOR THE McGREGORS is in my opinion a fusion of styles, it has to it an American western sound with strings and brass creating broad and expansive themes, but it also has to it another musical edge with the sound of the Italian western seeping through and establishing itself on more than one occasion. Tracks such as MARCH OF THE McGREGORS and the excellent and thundering SANTE FE EXPRESS have appeared on compilations, but the remainder of the score is still I am sad to say in the vaults of CAM or SUGAR who now own the CAM catalogue, McGREGORS is a tricky one however because some of the rights to the music belong to Universal, so I suppose it could be delicate to obtain permission from both companies to release this one.

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It’s the same for the films sequel SEVEN BRIDES OR SEVEN WOMEN FOR THE McGREGORS, the score for this movie did contain some of the original thematic material from its predecessor but Morricone applied a lighter touch for this yarn probably because of the so called romantic content, in fact both of the movies were quite violent the second having a greater body count. Maybe the final decision about the release of soundtracks is down to the man who penned them Maestro Morricone, and with westerns I think we are on thin ice as we all know how he feels about his Italian western scores, he prefers not to talk about them, which for me is a little surprising because it was the music for the western that attracted the publics attention to this composer. Bernard Herrman regarded most if not all of his film music as rubbish, and maybe Morricone shares this opinion about his western scores.

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TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, is yet another score that still has to get a release, yes I know the soundtrack is released but the sound quality is terrible even though it is supposedly re-mastered (not), I am talking about the actual score, there is so much music in the movie and it is good too, again rumours were rife about this a few years back but nothing came of it, I think many were hoping that FSM would release it at the same time as DAYS OF HEAVEN, NAVAJO JOE and THE FIVE MAN ARMY, alas, nothing.

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So is there something or someone in the background stopping these scores being released, that I cannot answer, all I know is that we are bombarded with re-issues of Morricone scores from Italy all of which have been released before, (but it has a nice new cover……oh ok I will have 10). There are so many Morricone scores that have not been released, WHY ? We alas will never know or get the truth, it’s a bit like that. It maybe the Maestro himself that stops the release of the westerns and certain other scores, but in my ever so humble but slightly informed position I think not, it’s the interference of an outside source who for some reason believes it is right to keep these gems from collectors, in recent weeks this has happened with a western score and it was again a case of if I cant do it no one else will, they would rather the score remain unreleased than let someone else issue it, that to me is called jealousy and hypocrisy and is fed by an over inflated ego. Shame on you.

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HENRY MANCINI.

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In the Aliquippa High School year book of 1942 there was an entry that spoke of one of the students that attended the school, it read:
“ A true music lover, collects records, and has also written a handful of beautiful themes and compositions. He wishes to continue his music studies and eventually to have his own orchestra”. The student that this refers to is the acclaimed but sadly late Henry Mancini who’s melodies, themes and songs have now become part of the musical establishment and are looked upon by many aspiring young composers as classics. Mancini was born in Little Italy, which was a neighbourhood located in Cleveland. The young Mancini was brought up in West Aliquippa near the steel town of Pittsburgh. His parents were immigrants and moved to the United States from the Abruzzo region of Italy. It was Mancini’s Father Quinto who was a steelworker that encouraged his son to become involved in music and also made him have Piccolo lessons from the age of just eight. From the age of twelve Mancini also began to take lessons for piano and after graduating from High School he attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York, these studies were cut short because Mancini was drafted into the army mid way through 1943 where he initially served as an infantryman, later in 1944 he transferred to the Army Band and was also present at the liberation of the Mauthausen Gusen concentration camp which was located in the south of Germany. After being demobbed Mancini returned to his music and became a pianist and arranger for the newly re-formed GLENN MILLER BAND.

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The rest as they say is history, Mancini went onto become one of the worlds most prolific and respected composers of music for film and television. Working on numerous box office hits during the late 1950,s through to the 1970,s. His career for film music composition however began in 1952 when he was signed up by Universal Pictures and contributed music for some of that studios movies that have since attained something of a cult or classic status. IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, TARANTULA, THIS ISLAND EARTH and THE GLENN MILLER STORY. After working for Universal Mancini decided to strike out on his own as an independent composer and soon penned a theme for a television series that endures to this day, PETER GUNN was the first time that the composer worked with filmmaker Blake Edwards and as we all are aware it was not the last time that this creative duo collaborated.

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They worked together for the following thirty five years and in that time Mancini scored thirty movies for the Producer/director, THE PINK PANTHER, THE GREAT RACE, 10, EXPERIMENT IN TERROR,THE PARTY, VICTOR VICTORIA and most notably BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S which included the evergreen classic song MOON RIVER and THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES which also included a haunting song and melancholy theme that began with a faraway sounding horn which for me established straight away a feeling or atmosphere of loneliness, which related to the movies main characters, lyrics of course were courtesy of Mancini’s long time collaborator and friend Johnny Mercer. The composer also collaborated with a number of A listed directors such as HOWARD HAWKS, STANLEY KRAMER, GEORGE ROY HILL, NORMAN JEWISON, MARTIN RITT, VITTORIO DE SICA and STANLEY DONEN to name but a handful.

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Sadly his music for Alfred Hitchcock’s FRENZY in 1972 was rejected by the director and replaced with a soundtrack written by British composer Ron Goodwin. Mancini was as busy working on projects for the small screen and was a master at creating highly infectious opening themes for TV productions establishing the theme in an instant or so it seemed. MR. LUCKY, THE THORN BIRDS, NBC MYSTERY MOVIE, WHATS HAPPENING, TIC TAC DOUGH, NEWHART, REMINGTON STEELE, HOTEL, CADES COUNTY and RIPLEYS BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

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Mancini also became particularly active in the genre of easy listening music and released over 60 albums on the RCA label which included big band sounds, standard instrumentals, Latin flavoured collections, film themes and arrangements of pop songs all of which were etched and infused with that unmistakeable Mancini touch. I remember buying a number of these compilations, LOVE STORY AND OTHER THEMES, for example which included the themes from movies written by Mancini and other composers such as Francis Lai, Stelvio Cipriani and Nino Rota. Although we associate Mancini with light and romantic or melancholy music for film, the composer also wrote his fair share of dramatic and powerful pieces for the cinema, these include CHARADE (which many consider to be a light sounding score, when in fact it is highly dramatic apart from its rather sugary sounding song),

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LIFEFORCE, WAIT UNTILL DARK, THE NIGHT VISITOR, the excellent THE MOLLY MAGUIRES and the equally as riveting THE HAWAIIANS (MASTER OF THE ISLANDS). One of my favourite scores by Henry Mancini is THE GREAT RACE as I think this showcases perfectly the versatility of the composer, he was able to adapt his style and composing skills to almost every situation and scenario and this was shown to the full in THE GREAT RACE.

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The score also produced another great Mancini/Mercer song THE SWEETHEART TREE, which when I saw the film in the cinema even encouraged the audience to sing along with the words displayed on screen, as well as madcap chase music, romantic themes and grand fanfares and regal and luxurious sounding waltzes.

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It’s a pity that a more fuller soundtrack album was not released, the score was initially issued on RCA VICTOR on a long playing record, then years later it received a CD release, and in 2001 as part of Mancini soundtracks collection was paired with THE PARTY another Blake Edwards movie on one compact disc. THE GREAT RACE is also one of my favourite movies, ok yes I know I am easy to please I hear you say, but it just appealed to my sense of humour and even now I find myself giggling when I think of the erroneous but hap- hazard and disaster laden Professor Fate played by Jack Lemmon with his much slapped and kicked assistant Max portrayed brilliantly by Peter Falk. Who’s chaotic slapstick was underlined by the masterful scoring of Henry Mancini as in PUSH THE BUTTON MAX. The Mancini soundtrack collection also included pairings of classics such as HATARI and HIGH TIME, CHARADE and EXPERIMENT IN TERROR and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and ARABESQUE.

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Mancini was also regarded as an easy listening artist, which was probably why he was so successful because his music from film crossed over to fans of this genre of music and vice versa, because film music collectors would very often go out and buy the latest Mancini album even if it was not film music related.
His music for SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE was greeted with mixed feelings, but since its original release has become a must have Mancini score for collectors. Mancini passed away in LA on June 14th 1994 after suffering from pancreatic cancer, his music is played daily on TV radio stations and in homes all around the world and for me he is the ultimate composer, conductor, arranger and entertainer.
He is still sorely missed.

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate the musical legacy of songwriter Johnny Mercer with a gala centennial tribute featuring film clips of many of his timeless classics, and personal performances and appearances by friends and colleagues, on Thursday, November 5, at 8 p.m. at the AcademyÕs Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Performances by program host Michael Feinstein and Monica Mancini (daughter of MercerÕs longtime friend, Henry Mancini) will bring some of MercerÕs most beloved songs to life on the AcademyÕs stage. This event is sold-out, but standby tickets may become available. Pictured: Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer at the 1962 (35th) Academy Awards ceremony.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will celebrate the musical legacy of songwriter Johnny Mercer with a gala centennial tribute featuring film clips of many of his timeless classics, and personal performances and appearances by friends and colleagues, on Thursday, November 5, at 8 p.m. at the AcademyÕs Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Performances by program host Michael Feinstein and Monica Mancini (daughter of MercerÕs longtime friend, Henry Mancini) will bring some of MercerÕs most beloved songs to life on the AcademyÕs stage. This event is sold-out, but standby tickets may become available.
Pictured: Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer at the 1962 (35th) Academy Awards ceremony.

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TRIBUTE TO UGO TOGNAZZI.

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Going back to the 1990,s in fact to 1995 for this Compact disc release, billed as a tribute to Ugo Tognazzi, it contains selections of cues from three of the actors movies. IL COMMISSARIO PEPE music by Armando Trovaioli, SLENDORI E MISERIE DI MADAM ROYALE music by Fiorenzi Carpi AND SISSIGNORE with music courtesy of Berto Pisano. All three scores are perfect examples of Italian film music from the late 1960,s and the early 1970,s. IL COMMISSARIO PEPE is for my money probably the better of the three soundtracks included here or at least the most entertaining, but this is only because like most of his scores Trovaioli includes so much rich thematic material which leaves the listener thinking how could so many great themes possibly come from one film score, the orchestration of this occasion is remarkably refined, the composer utilising, laid back Hammond organ, whistling from Alessandroni, luxurious sounding stings and easy going saxophone solos that in turn are complimented by polished piano performances a song WE’LL KEEP TRYING performed by Lydia McDonald who also wrote the lyrics. Plus there is the flawless vocals of Edda Dell Orso, what more could you want? To try and identify a stand out track is impossible because every cue is a delicious and riveting listen. However I was rather drawn to track number 7, WALTZ THEME in which harpsichord is used to great effect along side romantic and lush strings and also track number 8, LOVE THEME, which is what is says a beguiling and sensual piece with steamy Hammond organ, harpsichord flourishes and underlying passionate strings that are present throughout but never overpower or overplay the harpsichord. Track number 9, too is a text book Italian film music cue, with whistling, strings, jazzy saxophone percussion adding a rhythmic backing and again the harpsichord adding a great atmosphere to the proceedings. The score has since this release received an expanded edition release, but I am content with the 9 tracks I have here another triumph for Trovaioli.

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SLENDORI E MISERIE DI MADAM ROTALE is next in the running order with music composed and conducted by a somewhat overlooked Italian film music Maestro, Fiorenzo Carpi, 7 cues represent his score on this release, which is to be fair quite a nice listen, with Carpi even providing a parody of the Spaghetti western score in the cue COME IN WESTERN, there are some nice touches within the score his use of woodwind and piano underlined by strings etc, the movie is a comedy/drama, which at times does not get its punch lines over to non Italian audiences, (its lost in the translation as they say). Carpi score however is an interesting listen and seems to musically dip its foot into every genre of film imaginable, western, period, dramatic and of course comedy and even if it does have a particularly annoying vocal it is still worth listening to too.

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SISSIGNORE is next with the composing duties being taken on by Berto Pisano who is another unsung hero of the Italian film music world. This an upbeat affair for the most part with an opening theme which bares more than a passing resemblance to CLASSICAL GAS by Mason Williams. The film was a comedy written, directed and starring Ugo Tognazzi, Pisano’s score is suitably upbeat and at times chaotic, but also contains some nice less furiously full on moments, a jazz orientated flavour weaves in and out of the score with Pisano adding just the right amount of dramatic content and diluting this with little touches of comedic sounds before things get too serious.

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Tracks such as TEMA DI OSCAR and JUMPING ON THE SAND are exhilarating and filled with great musical hooks to keep the listener interested plus there are cues such as SKI LIFT that contain an almost Count Basie sound and ATTIMO PER ATTIMO which has some wonderful saxophone work. Like IL COMMISSARIO PEPE, SISSIGNORE is filled to overflowing with vibrant and infectious themes. This is a fantastic compact disc and I notice is still available on certain shopping sites on the internet. It would be re-miss of me not to say GO AND BUY IT.

PROFUMO DI DONNE.

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Originally released as part of the CAM SOUNDTRACK ENCYCLOPEDIA, PROFUMO DI DONNA, is in my humble opinion one of Armando Trovaioli’s most accomplished scores. It is also one his most haunting and infectious with every track yielding a theme that remains with the listener long after it has finished. The movie which was released in 1975 is based upon the novel DARKNESS AND HONEY by Giovanni Arpino. Two army officers are injured in an accidental explosion and are both blinded, they are so distraught that they will never again see that they make a pact to meet in Rome where they plan to commit suicide. However things do not go quite to his plans and on route to Rome he is accompanied by a young soldier and starts to realise that the love of a woman is still worth living for even if he cannot see her. Directed by Dino Risi, the movie blends light comedic touches with drama to great affect, Risi managing to combine the two successfully. Trovaioli’s score is a romantic and fairly easy going one, it has some of the most attractive thematic material within it and is a joy to listen to from start to finish, the composer fusing at times light and intimate jazz moments with that of lush orchestral passages and interweaving delicate and touching musical nuances between the two styles. Many of the cues are piano led with Trovaioli building upon the foundation of the piano to create wonderfully melodic compositions, on listening to the score one I think would image it to be a easy listening album with each and every cue being something of a triumph in its own right. It is also in my opinion very similar to the work of Morricone from the same period, but saying this Trovaioli certainly has an individuality and a sound that is undeniable his alone.

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Re-issued recently on the Sugar label but with sadly no extra music (probably because there was none). The compact disc also features one of my own personal favourite Italian vocals CHE VUOLE QUESTA MUSICA STASERA performed by Peppino Gagliardi, with the orchestra being directed by another Italian film music Maestro Stelvio Cipriani. The original CAM release is probably quite scarce nowadays so I suggest you seek out the re-issue on the Sugar label. If you have not already got this it is one that you have to purchase ASAP……..A classic Italian soundtrack.

WILFRED JOSEPHS, FORGOTTEN GENIUS?

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This month is obviously the month for Remembrance, so I frequently think of a number of Films and Music scores that have special significance at the this time of year. THE WORLD AT WAR of course, a milestone in Television Documentaries, with a fine score by Carl Davis, but going back to the First World War, there is only one series of note , and that is the BBC ‘S THE GREAT WAR, made way back in 1964 when a great many of the combatants where still with us.

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Although not blessed with a great deal of original music, the Mid Sixties documentaries didn’t use a great deal of especially written music, much came from Library music or the Classical Repertoire. so whatever Music Wilfred Josephs wrote was supplemented with Vaughan Williams etc. It was after all a 26 part series .That said his Main theme, dark and like the visuals descending to the dark void of hell that was the Western Front, was a fine piece of music in it’s own right . Indeed it catapulted him to a lifetime of writing music for Films and Television.

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Much later in the 70s, he formed it into a GREAT WAR SUITE, built up around three main themes. First is “The Start of the War” a almost jaunty piece showing the British Tommies marching off to War, full optimism, that the War would be over by Christmas. Lovely piece this, very characteristic of Joseph’s work, with almost North Country feel, Here as in most of his works, he was master of making a smaller orchestra sounding a lot bigger than it really was. We then descend into the Middle section. “The Great War” basically the music for the Main Credits , but here stretched out , but almost heart wrenching in it’s showing War’s total lack of humanity . Slowly, , very slowly we move into “The End of the War”, a joyous celebration ,a release for the Four Years of Hell. Here Joseph’s music incorporates Arne’s “O God our help in Ages Past” which I suspect was sung in every Church in the Land on the first Sunday when the War was over. Here using his own theme as Counterpoint with the Hymn is master stroke and never fails to make me realise how much of a genius he was.

This was the high spot of album released by Polydor in 1974 (Circle of Sound 2383 294) which also contained themes from CIDER WITH ROSIE, SUSPICION , BEN – GURION, WEAVERS GREEN and 24 HOURS TO KILL, all conducted by Marcus Dods. This, has never been available in a CD format.

Last year was the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and I thought , probably too late , that this suite would be perfect to played at the Proms. I wrote early on to the two leading Classical Music Magazines saying it would be ideal , and it would really kick up a storm to played at the this time. Of course, my letters weren’t published. Perhaps I was naive to think they stood a chance anyway.

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There seems to be a blind spot with certain composers either on the airwaves or in magazines or Compact Discs. Certainly Josephs comes into the this category. To a lesser degree Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Considering his output, there is a real lack of recordings available. Chandos bravely started a series some years ago A CD came out which contains some premieres and was received well. It was even promoted a s Volume One . We are still waiting for Volume Two

The neglect that has befallen Wilfred Josephs is even more scandalous. None of his Symphonies or larger works are commercially available. yet everything that Sir James MacMillan writes is out there, ditto Sir Harrison Birtwistle. These are the composers that the Prom’s laud as the great British Composers and no doubt well liked by the Promenaders, but to be honest, how music of their music is really listened too outside the Royal Albert Hall.

Is it that old problem, of working in the media that comes back to haunt? Josephs did stirling work, especially on Television. I recently caught PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the 1980;s version and his score was delightful. Not as in your face as Carl Davis’ score for the most famous and recent adaption, but quite delightfully small scale. Again, working with smaller forces, no doubt for budgetary reasons his music is delight from beginning to end.

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Some of the top shows from the Seventies had Joseph’s music : I CLAUDUIS, ENEMY AT THE DOOR, THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH, POLLYANNA , THE GHOSTS OF MOTLEY HALL and not forgetting the most famous , and controversial THE PRISONER. He even worked on HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR, an episode with the delightful title of CARPATHIAN EAGLE starring Suzanne Danielle..

A true original, and it should be said a very nice man, and whilst it doesn’t always go with the territory, I always enjoyed the brief chats we had when I was working on a TV Composer Book. He was down – to – earth and approachable, like his music and I like to think appreciated the interest in his music.

So next time you come across his music , in a film, a TV series, or maybe though I doubt it, on the Radio, stop and listen to a true original , a British Composer of distinction.

P.S. Pass it on!!

JOHN WILLIAMS