SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY ONE.

ITS CHRISTMAS (NEARLY).

Its hard to believe we have reached number thirty-one in the soundtrack supplement, it’s also hard to believe the year we have had all over the world with the virus, let’s hope that the vaccine will be successful in at last allowing us to return to something that can be called normal. As promised in this latest edition we have a varied selection for you, a handful of new releases and MMI tips for scores of the year contenders when we do our little Awards announcements in January and February. Hints of these will dropped into certain reviews along the way. Also, a look at some western spaghetti, or Italian western soundtracks, which are not by the usual suspects. And some of the usual soundtracks that you may have missed or neglected over the years. And a section on vinyl releases too or at least that should be released, and a quick look at a few DVD releases, so a busy supplement, here we go then best get started before we know it Easter will be here.  

 

Let’s begin with a couple of festive favourites shall we, looking at the television the other evening it looks as if it will be more or less a re-run of Last Christmas for most of the channels, with the exception of a handful of premieres, so its HOME ALONE, HOME ALONE ll, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHRISTMAS CAROL (I think I counted around 7 different versions in the listings) SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE, THE SNOWMAN, ZULU, (hang on how did that get in there)? OLIVER, SCROOGE, PAINT YOUR WAGON, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MARY POPPINS, THE GREAT ESCAPE, (that is not actually on this year I just threw it in for effect.) STAR WARS, and a tribute to Michael Caine?  Or so it seems by the amount of his movies that are being shown. Well, I think I,ll stop there before I spoil the surprises for you, (what you are not surprised, well you don’t say) but I am sure you get the general idea. It may be the same old same old, but there is at least some variety in there. Which is something that TV lacks nowadays. There are no actual variety shows instead it’s all reality shows, talent contests where the judges are more important than the contestants, and game shows where the contestants have to eat unmentionables to stay somewhere  they dont really want to be,(show me the money) but of course if the price is right they will stay, and if opportunity knocks, then they might be able to make it through to the end of the show and double their money before reaching their tipping point and shouting blankety blank expletives, before saying who do you think you are, I am a minor celebrity get me out of here.  

But I digress, reality television and game shows are in my opinion pointless, and very rarely interest me in fact they should be stopped, so, “3 2 1” into the dusty bin with them and if there is nothing that appeals to you on TV over the Christmas, then why not pop in a DVD there are a few good ones around, maybe SORDO THE SILENT WAR would be something that you might like, a tale of the Spanish civil war, it has shades of the western thrown in and is I have to say a riveting storyline, beautifully photographed and sensitively scored. Its available on DVD and Blu-ray, and if you are into streaming it is also available on Netflix. Just something different and something that is entertaining as well, and no sign of Ant or Dec (which one is which by the way). So, onto film music now, and festive related titles to start with old and new.

The score for SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE and the film itself was received with mixed feelings, most of which were slightly negative when the movie was in cinemas, to be honest I think composer Henry Mancini did a pretty good job considering the material he had to work with, because let’s face it that film was not good was it, and at risk of being placed on the naughty list, I would say it’s probably not one of the best Christmas movies or one of my favourites, I think I much prefer the vintage stuff like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and the Alistair Simms A CHRISTMAS CAROL, from 1951. Or even something more up to date in the form of THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL with Michael Caine as Scrooge (oh yes that’s on TV over Christmas too), The soundtrack for SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE was originally released on LP then a compact disc was issued and the Spanish label Quartet then re-issued the score in an expanded form of three CD’s with cleaned up sound, the thing is many collectors were of the opinion that the sound quality was in fact the same as the original compact disc release.

But I have to say I loved the three-disc set, and I also have to come down on the side of the record label on this one (which is rare for me), that the sound that they realised on this release was stunning. The artwork too was far superior, and the label presented it attractively including informative sleeve notes. It was so popular that the label re-issued the score in 2019, with different artwork, the three-disc set comprises of the expanded soundtrack on the first two discs, which have a running time of over two hours, and the third disc has the original soundtrack edition with the same cues as the original LP record and the Singular records CD release. There are I am told a few copies of the re-issue around if you look for them, but they can be a little overpriced.

Mancini’s score is well, typical Mancini, with lilting sweet melodies and heart felt themes that are oozing with melancholy and have to them a warmth and tenderness that we associate with the season of good will, the score also can be a little corny and cliched, but it’s that kind of movie. If you have not got this in your collection, just look for a copy even if it’s not the expanded version, so that you can savour it and be overwhelmed by the feel-good music of this much missed Maestro, it’s a score that you will warm to I am sure, but please show some elf control when listening.

 Another Christmas favourite is ELF, again syrupy and sweet this is an entertaining movie with Will Ferrel stealing almost every scene jumping into Christmas Tree’s, burping, eating spaghetti and syrup, and having the fastest snowball throwing arm in the west. The score was the work of John Debney, who penned a suitably becoming and supportive soundtrack, that underlined the comic parts and laced the more emotional section and gave a great big slice of relief to the proceedings when Santa managed to get his sleigh into the air. It is essential viewing for Christmas and Debney’s score is one of the many pluses about this movie.

After Christmas trees are taken down and decorations are returned to the loft for another twelve months, along with that festive cheer goodwill to all men. We soundtrack collectors often turn our thoughts to the up-and-coming awards season, in 2020 things were rather different, because of the Covid, there were ceremonies but not as we know them, and nearly all were done via zoom (which I thought was an ice lolly) and other such technology, the awards this coming year may be conducted in a very similar way because we are being told that things may not return to something resembling normality till April or the summer.

As you know we here at MMI have our own awards, nothing grand just a mention or a sign of recognition to the best scores in various categories from the past year.  There have been several scores this year that fall into the best of certain categories, however, I am still of the opinion that FANNY LYE DELIVER’D by Thomas Clay is out in front. But this is just the thoughts of MMI. The movie which has been screening on SKY movies recently is also to be given a special edition blu-ray release that also includes the soundtrack. It is I am told due around the third week in December 2020, so if you are stuck for a Christmas present why not treat a friend or yourself to this atmospheric, shocking, and very different movie.

Other scores that could make into the best slot in certain categories include Sid De La Cruz’s HELL ON THE BORDER. Again, this has been a regular on SKY movies and in my opinion is worth a watch, the score is certainly supportive of the action, and does evoke at times the style of Jerry Goldsmith and that is why it is a must for fans of fine movie music. So, to return to new releases and one that stays with the impending festive season.

THE CLAUS FAMILY is one of the most recent additions to an already impressive catlogue from the specialist label Movie Score Media. The music for this festive tale is by the incredibly talented Anne Kathrin Dern, and this I think is certainly one of her best, from the opening track it establishes straight away an atmosphere that is filled with a magical and mystical sound. This is a richly thematic score, the composer putting to effective use female voice, poignant and emotive themes and music that can only be associated with Christmas. In fact. this score is everything Christmas should be, romantic, mysterious, fantastical and joyous as well as being dramatic and haunting.

Sparkle and shimmering throughout the music just entertains and enthrals, it is a fusion of styles that we associate with the likes of both Williams and Horner, with sweeping and fly away passages executed by the string section that are accompanied and enhanced by affecting and fragile sounding nuances deployed via woods, percussive elements, and solo violin. There is also present a more apprehensive undercurrent, or a darkness which occasionally raises its head and leans towards the mischievous and the otherworldly at times, it is a score that you MUST listen to.

It will I am certain distribute a liberal sprinkling of cheer and magic and hopefully create moods and atmospheres that are warm and recall the festive seasons past and present. In many ways this work evokes the composers score for LILLYS BEWITCHED CHRISTMAS which was released in 2018 by Movie Score Media digitally and later by Kronos records onto compact disc. I do hope that this will be released onto CD as it is a score that deserves as much exposure as is possible.

Jay McCarrol is a composer that I have to be truthful about and say I have not come across him before, but after a little research I found out he is an accomplished Canadian composer, musician and actor, based in Toronto, McCarrol studied at the Berklee college of music, he has worked on several film scores including THE DIRTIES (2013) and OPERATION AVALANCHE (2016). He has also scored a few commercials and been involved with various musicals. His score for THE KID DETECTIVE is in my opinion outstanding. It has a light and easy sound to it that I think one could compare with many of the Italian scores from the 1960’s and 1970’s that accompanied so many of those police and crime dramas, it is a fusion of lounge styles and jazz that are brought together by a dramatic and richly haunting sound, the composer putting to great and effective use wordless female voice in the style of Edda Dell Orso, it is great when one discovers  a score that you were not aware of and also know nothing of the composer or indeed the movie itself. But this is a work that I could sit and listen to on repeat all day long and I think even after a week or so I would still be finding little quirks and melodies etc that I had missed in the previous airings, so is it good I hear you say, Of course it is, and you should head over to digital platforms and check this out, you will not I promise you be sorry at all. The sound and the style are in my opinion very 1960’s and at times it has that Barry-esque sound that we experienced in scores such as THE IPCRESS FILE, with breathy and sensual woods creating steamy nuances and also the composer in certain cues evokes the Mancini sound from movies such as EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, a mix of drama and jazz that works so well. The track ABES THEME is a prime example of this stylisation and sound, with the composer employing electric guitar and smouldering brushed percussion alongside those mysterious woods. This is an accomplished work that for me was a surprise, but a genuinely nice one that I recommend to you without reservation.

Bear McCreary is a composer known for not being predictable, his scores are innovative and inventive, and he seems to be able to create wonderfully supportive soundtracks that work on so many levels, he is a composer that I would say cannot be letterboxed or put into a type cast category, because he has worked on so many genres and diverse subjects. AVA is one of his most recent assignments, and although I have to say I was not that enthusiastic about the score after hearing it a few times, it does the job it is supposed to do in the movie.

It is a mainly electronic or synthesised work, and if there are any conventional instruments in there, they are more than likely solo performances that are either used as a foundation and built on or enhanced by the electronic hardware that the composer has employed. Still, AVA, I think is a good soundtrack because it is supportive of the movie and brings more depth to the proceedings and creates so many moods. If you are a fan of McCreary, then this will be an essential purchase.

Back in time a few years for two scores by Alan Silvestri, both of which were Christmas releases. The first is THE POLAR EXPRESS, which I think everyone loves, as in the film and the score.

The second is A CHRISTMAS CAROL which was rebooted in animated form back in 2009 by Disney, using the voice over talents of Jim Carrey as Scrooge. In its opening cue we are treated to a suitably dramatic and festive piece in which Silvestri integrates Christmas favourites and carols into his original soundtrack, this is epic sounding material and Silvestri utilised large symphony orchestra and choir to fashion this imposing and yet touching work, it also includes a certain impish quirkiness in cues such as SCROOGE COUNTS MONEY and there are oodles of foreboding and dread in many of the other tracks such as MARLEYS GHOST VISITS SCROOGE as an example.

Plus, we must not forget the warmth and the cheeriness as displayed in tracks such as RIDE ON MY GOOD MAN and the charming and delicate airs and graces of FIRST WALTZ. If by any chance you have not heard this then now is the time to check it out, as it is available on most digital platforms. But do not, restrict your listening to just Christmas time, because remember “A SILVESTRI IS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST CHRISTMAS”.  And moving swiftly on.

Do you recall I mentioned the Netflix movie, JINGLE JANGLE briefly a while ago but now its full score is out on digital platforms, John Debney does once again what he does best and creates a score that is laden with rich and wholesome sounding themes, it is fully symphonic and to maybe understate the obvious it is grandiose, and a magical and pulsating musical adventure that will be returned to many times and not just during the holiday season. The cheeky yet grand work overflows with commanding moments and is oozing with a bright and vibrant sound and style. This and his score for COME AWAY is possibly the best we have heard from Debney in a while, he seems to have returned to the style of past triumphs such as HOCUS POCUS, creating wonderfully lyrical themes and outstanding action cues.

Plus, do I also detect this score having Spaghetti western sounding references? Which materialise in cues such as DON TURNS GUS TO THE DARK SIDE, ok it may be slightly paradoxical, but it is there, with solo trumpet and choir, well at least hints of it with its Hispanic/Mexicana type flavour. JINGLE JANGLE is a musical as we know. But the score by Debney shines all on its own, with is sweeping symphonic flourishes, its fragile and intimate moments and the composers use of a soulful wordless female voice in places makes this an absolute must, because yes you guessed, its recommended, one for the Christmas stocking, go on you deserve it.

PASTA THE SPAGHETTI.  

Spaghetti westerns as you are probably aware are a passion of mine, not just the scores but the movies too, and I know that many of these quirky western dramas and comedies have not stood the test of time well, but the music is something that remains original and fresh as homemade pasta. And imitations of this sound have a habit of turning up in many contemporary scores for both cinema and TV. It was an incredibly influential style that has since its debut in the westerns of Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima remained in the minds of many, including a generation of film music composers, who when faced with a western type scenario in a film have turned to it and re-invented it. So, in this soundtrack supplement as promised heres a few that you might have missed. To do full reviews would take up far too much time and space, so maybe a short and concise appraisal of these would serve you better.

But before I continue, I notice news of a three compact disc set of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, from Spanish label Quartet, this iconic score by Morricone is probably the most famous or at least most familiar western theme of all time, and I can see nothing in the offing that could even topple it from its number one perch. But I am somewhat suspicious of expanded editions, especially when it comes so many years after the score was written.

It’s good to have more but also at times it can be a bad thing as in less can be more in some cases, I can see the three discs are made up of  film score, and the original soundtrack release, the first two discs being the film score with alternate takes and orchestral versions of cues such as STORY OF A SOLDIER, but it does at times make one stop and think with mouse about to click buy this item, do we really need it? Will I be a lesser fan if I dont get this? I do not think so, I have to be truthful and say that after the death of Morricone, I did get rather agitated by the number of SO-CALLED FANS that started to wax lyrical about the Maestro and his music, some of them and only some I remember making derogatory remarks about the same Maestro, and his music, so to the fair weather fans of Ennio Morricone, I do say we have long memories. So, as a big fan of Il Maestro, since the early to mid-1960’s I have to add that I am holding fire, just a while on this. And before things take an Ugly direction from any readers of this, remember this is just my own personal take on the situation ok. It is a great release do not get me wrong, and I would imagine in the hands of the talented Mr. Chris Malone the sound will be amazing, and there are also extensive liner notes from journalist Tim Greiving, which are packed into a twenty-four-page booklet and includes an interview with Clint Eastwood that was especially conducted for this release.  Based upon their past record Quartet will I am certain present this well. However, I am for now at least making do with my fifty-five-minute edition which I love or even the original release which I love even more.  

From an iconic film and a classic Italian western score to something that is maybe a little less familiar. THE MAN CALLED NOON was released during the summer of 1972, and although the movie did not enjoy much success at the cinema box office, it is nevertheless an entertaining and at times thought provoking sagebrush saga. Directed by British filmmaker Peter Collinson whose other film credits include THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE and the taught quite harrowing physiological thriller FRIGHT and produced by the larger-than-life Euan Lloyd, who was responsible for the production of films such as, THE WILD GEESE, THE SEA WOLVES, PAPER TIGER and the over-the-top western CATLOW. THE MAN CALLED NOON, is for the most part an entertaining movie that is probably more of a thriller than a shoot em up western it did remind me slightly of HANNIE CAULDER, although saying that there is a considerable head count of deaths notched up when it comes to the gunfight sequences.

The musical score is courtesy of Luis Enrique Bacalov, the style which he employed on this movie is I suppose is slightly different from his earlier efforts within the western genre, ie; DJANGO, QUIEN SABE and THE PRICE OF POWER and I think it is possibly THE MAN CALLED NOON that was Bacalov’s stepping stone to the current sound and style that we expect from this Maestro. The score is a work that encompasses numerous styles, which include a sweet-sounding melody that the composer utilises as the heart of his soundtrack building the remainder of his thematic material around this and also using variants of it to introduce other strong thematic material within the score. The central theme is performed by strings which at times are enhanced by the wonderfully unique and wordless soaring vocalising of the incredible Edda Dell Orso.  Luis Bacalov creates a sound that is not a million miles away from Morricone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Which is something that the composer returned to on his score for another western, THE GRAND DUEL. THE MAN CALLED NOON, however, does also contain darker material and tense and dramatic compositions that are supportive to the action on screen, whilst at the same time remain entertaining away from the movie.

This style of scoring is more prevalent in cues such as the track, FIRE AND GUNS and IN THE FORTRESS. There is at times also a South American or Latin influence, present in the cue HIGHLANDS which is not unpleasant and works so well pan pipes and all. The LP record was originally issued on General Music or GDM as it is now known, and has received a couple of compact disc re-issues, its one I recommend that you check out, that is if you do not already have it. Luis Bacalov was notorious for re-using music from films he had scored within other movies, just listen to DJANGO and then go to QUIEN SABE? And also, THEY CALL HIM KING and you will undoubtedly hear examples of similarities, which are more than actual similarities and more to the point are exact duplicates note for note. THE MAN CALLED NOON does not thankfully display or suffer this method of scoring and it is a work that is a glowing example of this Maestro’s inventive and melodious style.

From the melodious style of Bacalov we go to the more offbeat and at times jazz influenced writing of Gianni Ferrio, and his score for the western SENTENCE OF DEATH, this is a soundtrack that I have always really been attracted to, I think because of its unconventional styles in which we hear Mexican flavoured themes, breathy and mysterious cues and jazz laced pieces. Alongside a jazz or bluesy title song entitled THE LAST GAME.

Ferrio I feel was more innovative than he is given credit for, after all when scoring westerns just as an example, the composer was not really part of what we know as the Italian film music school, he very rarely used a whistler, his compositions also contained elements of the old Hollywood western and he combined this with a style that was evocative of Morricone, Cipriani etc, but also fused this with his own distinct way of fashioning music to suit the various scenarios on screen.

Thus, I suppose in essence Ferrio created an Italian western sound that was a sub-genre of music that itself was also imitated in later years by other composers. Ferrio I think made it more acceptable for jazz influenced compositions to be utilised within a western movie, as did fellow Italian composer Piero Piccioni.  

Another composer that also used this type of scoring tecnique was Amedeo Tommasi, who although did not work on many westerns, created a handful of scores that stood out within the genre of the spaghetti western and its collection of innovative scores. THE LONG DAYS OF HATE (1969) is a good example of his distinct style of writing for film, and although this score does in fact contain a few of the stock sounds of the Italian western film score, it also has to it a sound that is highly original and therefore attractive. The composer not only manages to fashion dramatic interludes with brass, electric guitar, strings, and bass guitar as did composers such as Francesco De Masi.

But he also provides a powerful title song, which could be likened to many of the opening songs from Italian made cop and crime dramas, and as well as this he creates a handful of tracks that to be quite honest would not be out of place in a contemporary romance or even one of the many Giallo movies that were produced in Italy during the 1960’s and 1970’s. So, THE LONG DAYS OF HATE is in my opinion a must have Spaghetti western score, because of the variations within it, and because its pretty good as well and it is surprising that the composer never scored more westerns. The compact disc was released on the GDM label as a special edition in the 2000’s and has since (2007) become available on digital platforms, this is well worth seeking out. Two more Italian western scores to look at then back to a few new releases.

The sound of the Italian western as we all are aware is a quirky and at times haunting one, the use of what are known to be more traditional western instruments such as banjo and harmonica in the hands of Italian composers seem to take on the guise of something more foreboding and sinister, the harmonica in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST for example, the Spanish or classical guitar also can at certain key points within scores also become more threatening as in THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY in the cue THE SUNDOWN, which begins melodically then alters its path into something more fearful and apprehensive.

So to a score that I am sure you are familiar with, and one that was issued originally back in 1970 on a Japanese import LP record, SABATA, by composer Marcello Giombini, is one of the genres best non Morricone scores, the soundtrack was thankfully re-issued on various LP releases and then onto compact disc originally by Hillside and GDM but has since been released again and again, but it is surprising that it is a score that even now a number of collectors are not familiar with.

Released in 1969 SABATA was the first in a trilogy of sagebrush sagas that were directed by Italian filmmaker Gianfranco Parolini under the alias of Frank Kramer. The movie enjoyed only moderate success at the box office both in Italy and other countries, although the film did not receive a release outside of its country of origin until as late as 1971. It still nevertheless was an original and entertaining entry to the then growing catalogue of Italian or Spaghetti westerns. Photographed cleverly by Alessandro Mancori and with a hectic, diverse and at times chaotic storyline the movie took us on a veritable rollercoaster ride that involved ingeniously devised bank robberies, frantic chases, double dealing antics between the main protagonists and their allies, plus plots and counterplots that are laced with numerous gunfights and smartly staged showdowns.

SABATA and its subsequent sequels managed to capture the attention of cinema goers during the early 1970’s when Spaghetti Western fever was running high, SABATA in-particular was filled with gimmicky little twists that made the storyline implausible but at the same time were massively entertaining. Marcello Giombini, provided the film with a up-beat and infectious sounding score, the composer who was at the time of the film’s release comparatively unknown outside of Italy, provided the movie with a soundtrack that was in effect a collection of themes, which were written for the central characters of the story. The themes were heard throughout the film either as a character was about to enter the screen or was the centre of attraction on the screen. The composer utilised these musical motifs in a highly original and effective fashion and arranged and orchestrated them in varying ways throughout the proceedings to keep them fresh and vibrant.

Because of the composer’s approach to scoring SABATA it was at times possible not to have to look at the movie to see which of the main characters was coming onto the screen, as Giombini’s excellent music would tell you this. That is another thing that Italian western scores were very astute at, integrating the instruments on screen into the score for the movie, or vice versa. SABATA is a perfect example of this and manifests itself in the cue BANJO, which was also the name of one of the main characters, Giombini utilising banjo whenever this character might appear on screen either strumming the instrument or indeed just as he walked into a scenario. Music played a big part in SABATA, its jangling guitar led theme accompanying the central character, (Lee Van Cleef) and Banjo playing a church organ in one scene. The villain of the piece, (if there are villains and heroes in Italian westerns) Stengal is portrayed convincingly by actor Franco Ressel and is often accompanied by a slow and powerful composition that has a down tempo and deliberate sounding persona, the trumpet led piece is supported throughout by dramatic and swirling strings that are underlined by percussion.

The cue NEL COVO DEL STENGAL is the most prominent use of the composition or at least it is the cue where the composer gives the theme its most fluent and expressive rendition and is heard when Sabata, and the villain meet for the first time in Stengal’s dining hall. Giombini later combined elements of the Stengal theme with the central theme for Sabata, which resulted in a highly effective and dramatic piece. The soundtrack was as I say released onto CD by Hillside/GDM and was paired with the score that Giombini penned for THE RETURN OF SABATA, and although this is also a worthy spaghetti score it does somewhat pale in the magnificence of the original score, it being not as inventive or entertaining, but saying this the film too was a little lack lustre. Both are available on digital platforms.

To the last of the Italian western soundtracks and again one that you could have missed, and why is that? Well because it was never issued onto compact disc and at this time is not on digital platforms and I have not heard of any plans to releases it sadly. It was the A side of one of those CAM double soundtrack features that had two scores on one LP, the B side surprisingly was Stelvio Cipriani’s classic Spaghetti score for A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN.   French composer Charles Dumont who worked on films like TRAFFIC, wrote the score for this little-known Italian western entitled THE BELLE STARR STORY, and I just dont understand why this has not been issued onto CD or made available on digital sites.

The movie was released in 1968, and the LP (SAG 9004) contained just a handful of cues (6) that were released as a representative of Dumont’s score. I suppose because of A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, being more of a prominent movie and score, Dumont’s efforts were somewhat overlooked, even though it was the A side, but I remember thinking at the time of getting the LP back in around 1971 that the score was good. The song from the movie was also released on a 45rpm single, (AMP 34). So, heres a question, why has it not been re-issued in any format? It is after all a member of the Italian western score club, ok, it has no real musical affiliations with the rest of the genre as in stock sounds or even is it remotely connected stylistically with the sound that we so readily associate with the Spaghetti western, apart from a saloon track which seemed to be obligatory in most Spaghetti scores. The soundtrack LP opens with a fanfare of sorts that introduces a vocal entitled NO TIME FOR LOVE, which is something the main character of the movie identifies with. The vocal is performed by the movies star Elsa Martinelli, who delivers a suitably sultry and sensual vocal.

CHARLES DUMONT.

Dumont penned the music for the song as well as the score and the lyrics were provided by Andre Salvat and Norman Newell. The music for the song is sparse whilst the vocals are being performed, and comprises of woods, bass guitar and a subtle Spanish guitar, until the vocal or first part of it at least comes to an end, and then Dumont enters the fray with a galloping and quick paced piece that is performed by timpani, percussion and horns with strings supporting. This ends abruptly as the vocal is again re-introduced this time with a more elaborate support of strings giving it a more romantic feel and atmosphere. Track two, is an instrumental version of the song and the composer employs dramatic strings to open the cue, but these are then tailed off and amore lush and sumptuous rendition of the song is performed by soaring strings which themselves fade and lead into a delicate and quiet guitar solo.

Track three, WESTERN CASINO, is self-explanatory, and this is where the saloon piano piece comes into the work, Dumont providing a jaunty, honky-tonk saloon sound via the at times off kilter piano that is backed and punctuated by strummed banjo. THRILLING PER UNA STELLA is the title of track number four, Dumont, switching to a more dramatic musical style, with electric bass, percussion, brass, and bongos, combining to create a taught and apprehensive sound, that is quite reminiscent of Cipriani in A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, the track builds with the composer adding strings that seem to envelope and carry the remainder of the instrumentation, bringing the track to a close. Track five, is a guitar version of the central theme and is entitled BELLE STARR GUITAR.

Which is brief but effective, the final track is BELLE STARR, in which Dumont creates a suitably western sounding riding cue, with brass, strumming guitars, electric bass punctuations and rumbling percussion. A short but interesting and entertaining soundtrack, that sadly was at the time of its release ignored by many. On re-visiting the movie, I found it an interesting if not different take on the western, but the score was effective and there is a lot more music in the movie than there is available on the LP record. I suppose we must wait and hope that someone might come across the tapes and release this entertaining soundtrack so we can all savour and appreciate it. Maybe four flies, or All score might consider this as a future release. Until then its back to the record deck for me.  

Staying with Italian releases but not westerns I discovered a couple of TV scores from nature documentaries recently, I had either missed them or even ignored them initially, but both are now available on digital platforms and on CD, with one as far as I can see is released on LP and available via the Italian label Four Flies, who never seem to slow in the pursuit of releasing entertaining if not slightly obscure and quirky soundtracks onto vinyl. These two scores are GLI ANIMALI CHE SIMPARTIA from 1974 and ZOO FOLLE from 1975, both films were directed by Riccardo Fellini the Brother of Federico the acclaimed feature filmmaker.

Music for both documentaries is by Giuliano Sorgini, who you may remember for his atmospheric soundtrack to THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE which was originally available on an LP and then later on CD from BEAT records and Quartet. The scores for both nature studies are wonderfully delicate and melodically exquisite, the composer creating touching, emotive and haunting themes within both. His use of wordless female voice in ZOO FOLLE is stunning and hints at the style and sound of Morricone all’a mid-sixties and gives a gentle nod in the direction of both Cipriani and Nicolai. The composer also infusing jazz elements and textures into both the works. These scores are worth checking out, and as I say they are both available to you via sites such as Spotify and I tunes.

 So, I think that’s about it, apart from Caldera records re-issue of Ennio Morricone’s score for SOSTIENE PEREIRA which is an expanded edition and being a Morricone is always worth having, but of course there are recommendations that we can make if you get bored over the five days of Christmas this year, why not return to scores such as SORDO THE SILENT WAR by Carlos Martin Jara, you know you love it. Or if its something non film music that you are looking for there is always composer Jara’s AQUI Y AHORA or HERE AND NOW album which is in a word delightful, it’s a collection of themes for solo piano that are mesmerising and relaxing performed eloquently and with emotion by the composer, treat yourself after Christmas lunch, chill out after the Queens speech.

Or if you feel like swashing buckles and slapping thighs, why not go back in time to those days of old when Knights were bold, and spin some classic movie scores such as THE SEA HAWK, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, EL CID, BEN HUR or even do some plate smashing to the bouzouki themes from films scored by Manos Hajidakis or Mikis Theodorakis,(it saves on washing up liquid and the fairy also deserves a bit of a break don’t you think?) or even immerse yourself in some John Barry or indulge in some of the 1960’s Morricone scores that are so innovative even now. Or how about you dive into the MMI archives, now there is an idea.  After all it is Christmas, pass the quality street (other chocolates are available). Hope you enjoyed this 31st edition of soundtrack supplement, number 32 will be making an entry soon, maybe before 2021 decides to make an entrance, who knows? But have a jolly Christmas, one and all, and also be jolly careful.

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