In these days of limited funds for just about anything and everything it is something of a surprise to me that record companies in Italy in particular seem to have embarked on a program of re-releasing soundtracks that have already been re-issued and this has been recently onto compact disc, some of these first generation re-releases being billed by record companies as definitive editions in other words complete editions of these scores, then lo and behold a few months later up pops the same soundtrack but this time it has a bonus track, umm sorry bonus track so surely the definitive edition was not definitive not complete or the full score, oh yes they found a track or maybe took elements of tracks from the already released soundtrack and mixed it in a computer generated cue that is now a bonus track? So this edition I suppose is the definitive, definitive, complete and full score with a bonus cue (running out of room on the front cover to fit this all in guys). Then here we go again up the score pops again, this time with an alternative cue (wow) and no, no please don’t tell me a bonus track ? No!!! oh its got improved sound and it’s a stereo mix. O I see well that makes all the difference, I will have four copies please because I see they are also limited editions. Ok that’s it then, ummm, no its not, ok here it is again released on a budget label but minus all the bonus definitive stuff and with not so good art work and no notes
(a blessing in some cases), in other words the same as the original LP then? (which is probably something we prefer). So does this mean we can start the definitive and complete circus all over again as the soundtrack has just been issued with the original tracks? Probably…………So watch your inbox for news of an expanded, then a definitive, then a definitive expanded complete full edition with alternative cues and bonus tracks and also maybe an edition approved by the composer with cues taken exclusively from their archive and new art work with liner notes that might state that the score was actually composed by someone else.
Years ago in the days of places such as Soundtrack in the foyer of the arts theatre club, Harlequin records and Dean street records in London’s Soho, alongside the many second hand stores that were dotted around the area which was in the late 1960,s into the seventies, soundtrack collecting was a voyage of discovery. It was exciting and interesting, by interesting I mean that on each outing one would discover new composers, new films and new labels. On one trip to London one could pick up the LP releases of A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, LANDRAIDERS and CORRI UOMO CORRI for Princely sum of just £3.15p each and whilst selecting your purchases earmark other releases that you might acquire on your next trip back there.
With Italian releases I personally used to go by the art work on the cover, this was because at that time many of the films had not seen the light of day in the UK, or if they had I was not old enough to go and see them, so I suppose that is what made collecting in those days more exciting, you did not know what the music was like, there was no internet to hear samples on, in fact samples were things such as washing powder and breakfast cereal etc that you got posted through your door. So unless the shop actually played the albums for you, you were in the dark as to what the music sounded like. After a while however one got to know that certain composers were consistent and looked out for Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, Francesco de Masi, Gianni Marchetti, Gianni Ferrio, Nico Fidenco, Carlo Rustichelli and Ennio Morricone of course. One also got to know in which genre each composer seemed more at home in, westerns by Fidenco and Cipriani for example were always a sure fire winner. Crime capers from De Masi hit the spot as did his westerns and anything by Gianni Ferrio, Nicolai and Morricone was pretty much guaranteed. Another name I used to look out for was Alessandroni and his Il Cantori Moderni at least when he was involved one knew that the “Italian film music sound” would be present, then it was labels one looked out for CAM, RCA, ARIETE, BEAT, CAROSELLO, GEMELLI, CINEVOX and later GENERAL MUSIC and others. Amid all this I noticed one name on numerous CAM releases, G.Giacchi, later I found out he was Count Giuseppe Giacchi and he was responsible for sound engineering duties for this then prominent label. I say was because he was dismissed in later years by CAM and to be honest since he departed in my opinion the label went down hill, why ? I am not entirely sure but I think when Giacchi left CAM he took with him any passion or actual knowledge of the music and indeed the composers who wrote it. CAM although a great label during the 1960,s and 1970,s was somewhat removed from the music that their releases contained, by this I mean after a while CAM became not a recording label but a music publishing company that licensed music in their archive to other labels, which ended up in recent years has being sold to the SUGAR music group.
In the 1990,s their soundtrack encyclopedia series was I thought a stroke of genius but many of the compact discs were simply carbon copies of the original LP releases and were less than 30 mins in duration and full priced so because the label released so many at a time (100) collectors could not afford them and had to be selective, thus the sets ended up being broken up and sold separately, but this did not stop CAM releasing a second 100 titles which were not as interesting as the previous set and these too ended up in bargain bins for less than a pound in many cases, so were CAM out of touch with collectors they obviously did not research or gauge the market correctly before embarking on a somewhat ambitious programme of releases. Which is something I thought they did because of the great scores that they had in their archives, if that was me I would be releasing as many as was possible without flooding the market and maybe at a lower price tag but surely it makes sense to maybe consult with collectors and take into account what they actually wanted, after all they are the people who will be purchasing the releases. This is a practise that could be put to good use nowadays, instead of record companies surging forward with low quality releases from inferior movies why not ask for requests from collectors, surely this would ensure sales? It would also allow labels to compile a kind of top twenty of requested scores and releases these in two’s or three’s.
BEAT records too, are a much respected label and as with CAM it was always BEAT that seemed to have all the best scores, this label I think have done a sterling job with the preservation of great Italian film music, well up until about two years ago that is when the odd few non descript scores started to be issued, these became more and more common until a few months back I made the decision NO MORE and stopped buying them, I wont make one bit of difference to the sales(maybe because they not selling in the first place). But surely discerning collectors of film music out there must also be a little miffed at the low quality of the BEAT releases in the past say six months (maybe they are but wont say) who knows. Who cares, well I do actually.
I have always championed Italian film music and always supported the labels etc when ever I can, I never had to give negative reviews because it was not appropriate to do so, but now I find myself listening to things or did until I stopped buying, that were not even worth a fleeting run through, so please BEAT release something that will fire us up and excite us like you used too.
DIGIT MOVIES, good idea at first great start, but these too have gone the same way as BEAT releasing scores that really collectors don’t want, don’t need and don’t buy, So why release them, again I don’t know, ask them, UMMM I did but they never answered, not even a none of your business e mail.
I thought that DIGIT MOVIES would continue on its way and get stronger and stronger,,,,,WRONG…….it kind of fizzled out a couple of years back, the label releasing again what they or the people that supposedly are advising them want to see (so a lot of stuff straight to the bargain bin).
I know that the Italian film music archives are not endless, but there must be better material than this laying around somewhere, unless the rumours that were circulating a few years back about the RCA masters archive being destroyed were not rumours and were true, this is something that was denied aggressively by ROME record companies to the point of getting phone calls saying stop talking about this ( I did as I did not find the idea of sleeping with the fishes appealing, getting an offer I cant refuse was not really what I needed and what is a concrete overcoat anyway).
Maybe I should leave it here, (I hear the strains of the GODFATHER in the background), but think on collectors, ask questions, e mail the record companies ask for specific titles and consider before you buy all these so called definitive editions, or expanded, super stereo, enhanced and improved issues and be very sceptical of bonus material (it could be a track that you already have but enhanced via a PC). Lets be discerning out there.