adios-gringo

I have been collecting Italian soundtracks for what seems to be forever now, the Italian or spaghetti western being one of the main genres that I sought out on my regular trips to London and to see Michael Jones in various retail outlets. So as you can imagine I purchased many of the soundtracks on LP record all those years back and the majority of these recordings were on the CAM label, CAM was I think one of the first if not the very first film music speciality labels that concentrated 99 percent of its efforts into releasing film music. One its early releases was from the western ADIOS GRINGO, with an atmospheric and highly innovative score by composer Benedetto Ghiglia. Innovative because it seemed to be an original sounding work within a number of original sounding works, but it was just slightly different the soundtrack contained no strings, it relied heavily upon the utilisation of percussion or at least percussive elements which created a sound and a style which was all on its own.

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The score was re-issued on the CAM label on CD which was a straight lifting of the sixteen tracks that were on the original album, this had a running time of around 30 mins or just over, but for this re-issue Digit movies uncovered the mono tapes which yielded a further 30 mins of music including the song GRINGO performed by Fred Bongusto, so in total the re-issue contains over an hour of music from the score and this includes two previously unreleased stereo mixes of one of which is the title song. The composers use of percussion, guitar, choir and castanets creates a driving and infectious sound and although it is from a spaghetti western it has very few musical connections with the rest of the scores from the genre from that period, the style employed is at times similar to that of Gianni Ferrio and to a degree does contain certain rhythms and quirks of orchestration that can be found within scores by Cipriani, but that is where the similarities end as Ghiglia is certainly inventive and original, this inventive use of instruments can also be found within his score for FOR A DOLLAR IN THE TEETH which appeared on the CAM CD.

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Released in 1965, ADIOS GRINGO is a Giuliano Gemma western that was directed by Giorgio Stegani and although not one of the genres finest or glittering examples it still manages to hold ones attention throughout and entertain at the same time. Ghiglia’s score adds much to the impact of certain scenes within the film and also stands alone as a separate entity to be savoured and enjoyed as just music. There are no saloon cues here no tender little western ditties in fact Ghiglia’s score is quite harsh and brash in places, it oozes a rawness and also has a simplicity to it but it works both on screen and off. Another one for the collection.

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