It is often said that the music for the Spaghetti western made a profound impact upon composers, film makers and film music collectors all over the world, and this is a statement that I for one would not argue with. Its really amazing just how much influence that the music for these ultra-violent, quirky and sometimes complex and comedic films has had upon film music over the years, so much so that even today in certain movies and TV shows and also adverts that a sound or a collection of sounds combined with a certain camera angle or a close up of eyes etc evokes straight away the Italian Western as perceived by the likes of Sergio Leone, Sergio Sollima, and Sergio Corbucci to name but three.

This trio of filmmakers were responsible for creating the blueprint if you like that would be referred to by so many other directors and producers when making westerns and indeed when shooting any genre of film. What we saw in the Italian produced western was a harsher and more realistic take on the west, it was more cutting edge and certainly more violent than what had gone before in the guise of both the Hollywood western and the German produced western.

But there is truly little doubt that it was Leone, who was the main instigator for the way in which the Italian western was made, and his composer Ennio Morricone must also be given credit for his part in the creation of what is now an iconic genre of films. I do not think that music was ever given as much room or a composer given as much freedom to flex his musical muscles than in the Dollars trilogy, the music as we know becoming an integral part of the unfolding storylines and at times also being an important and vital component to the storylines of all three movies. I say this because of the use of the chimes in For a Few Dollars More, more than anything else and Morricone’s offbeat and unusual orchestration on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, where the lush and expansive themes of Hollywood productions were replaced by the shouts, screams and sheer originality of the now familiar Good, Bad, Ugly theme.

But it was not just Morricone that fashioned highly inventive scores for Italian made westerns, although it is, I suppose accepted that if Morricone had not been so innovative in his scoring of the Dollars trilogy, maybe the hundreds of scores and films that followed might have taken a different course both stylistically on screen and musically.

After all another composer was penciled in by Leone to score A Fistful of Dollars, because the director thought that Morricone’s work on films such as Gunfight at Red Sands was too Americanized and ordinary. We must be thankful that Leone re-considered. The sound of the Italian or Spaghetti western is a unique one, and it has a longevity that has been passed down from generation to generation of film buffs and film music lovers, and also composers so much so that the style pops up here there and everywhere, but no matter where it manifests itself, we all know that the composer whom ever they may be is doing a spaghetti simply because of the style and the sound we are hearing on the soundtrack. A recent example of this type of scoring is Daniel Pemberton’s brilliant score for The Man From Uncle which contains so many Spaghetti western references, take a listen to the cue, His Name is Napoleon Solo from the score, and you will see what I mean. Chimes, electric guitar, harpsichord, percussion all combine to create a Morricone-esque or Italian Western slanted piece. I thought it might be interesting to get other composers thoughts on the music of the Italian western and maybe some memories of the genre. I was surprised by the amount of positive feedback I got from composers, many of them saying Italian westerns had made them more aware of music in film and others commenting that it was probably the music they heard on these films soundtracks that made them determined to become film music composers.

The influence as I have said of the Italian western score is far reaching and profound, I for one although am no composer, but I adore the quirkiness, the darkness, the freshness and the inventive originality of the genre and its musical heritage. As well as composers working in film music today I have also included sections of interviews with Italian Maestros, who were scoring westerns at the same time as Morricone and were often asked to compose in a style close to that of Morricone. Composer Remo Anzovino is in my opinion one of todays most innovative composers of music for Film and TV, plus he is a remarkably talented and gifted pianist. His scores for films such as Frida Viva la Vida, and Van Gogh- of Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies, being two remarkable soundtracks that are haunting and filled with an emotive excellence. He commented upon the music and the films from the Italian western genre.

“Duck you, Sucker!”(Giu la Testa) a movie directed by Sergio Leone with the music by Ennio Morricone made a great impression upon me, I was born in 1976. I remember as a child some western comedies with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. When I started composing music during my adolescence and I discovered cinema, I certainly fell in love with the sounds that Morricone used in Sergio Leone’s films and over time I began to analyse their films from a musical point of view to better understand their magic”.

I asked the composer his thoughts on How Morricone is often credited with the creation of the Italian western sound but as well as Ennio Morricone what other composers would he say made innovative contributions to the genre, and did he think that the musical scores and the way in which the music was utilized in the movies shaped the way in which film music has evolved?


Luis Bacalov, in particular the music composer for “Quien Sabe?”(A Bullet for the General) directed by Damiano Damiani. I answer the second part of the question with reference to the relationship of Morricone’s music in Leone’s films. Surely the fortune of Morricone’s western music is due to the absolute genius of the Maestro, but it is also due to the huge space given to music in a movie. At that time (and in some ways still today) it was something unthinkable giving that kind of lead role to the soundtrack, like the role of the actors.

A pivotable part of the Italian western is the gunfight, or THE gunfight that takes place at the end of a movie, because there are as we all know many shootouts within these sagebrush sagas with a difference. But it is the end duel or the dance of death as it was often referred to that is the apex of many Italian western’s storylines. The settling of grievances, the final word in a difference of opinion or a long-standing feud, and also a chance for certain protagonists to have their revenge. In the American made western these gunfights were of course important but rarely were given the Centre stage and certainly not scored in the same way as Italian westerns were, with the composer at times writing the music first and the directors then shaping the footage and the scene around the score.

A prime example is the end duel in Once Upon A Time in the West, music by Ennio Morricone, who once again integrates into his score an instrument that is linked to one of the movies central characters, this time a Harmonica, the final faceoff between Harmonica (Charles Bronson) and Frank (Henry Fonda) is now a classic piece of cinema, with camera shots of both protagonists eyes, hands hovering over pistols, and a camera doing a 360 between both characters, Leone was a master at building the tension via this way of filming, but it is again the music of Morricone that brings the tense and nervous mood to the scene.

With the wailing harmonica, fuzzy sounding electric guitar strings, percussion, and choir. The harmonica an instrument associated with the cowboy and the old west in a homely and comfortable way is suddenly transformed into the harbinger of death the sinister sounding instrumentation being perfectly unsettling and wonderfully building the tension and uncertainty of the outcome of the gunfight. Morricone and Leone together also created a similar tension in both For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and The Ugly in the end gunfights for both movies, the harmonica being replaced by chimes in For a few Dollars More and by a soaring trumpet, dark sounding bass guitar and racing percussion in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Composer, Marco Werba, relayed his thoughts and memories on the Italian western soundtrack to me.

The soundtracks of western movies were decisive for the success of the films themselves and to build the raw and violent atmosphere of the wild west: but, unlike the American cinema, in which the commentary music was very “pastoral”, with th typically “American sound” of Aaron Copland, in Italy, in the Sixties, a new genre of music was created, mainly inspired by Mexican folklore. The most important author who “invented” the genre was surely Ennio Morricone, who introduced original solutions at the request of director Sergio Leone. The first collaboration between Morricone and Leone started with the film “For a Fistful of Dollars”. The film was a success, followed by “For a few dollars more”, “The Good, the bad and the ugly”, “Once upon a time the West”, “Giu la testa” and Once upon a time in America, the latter being a “gangster movie”. The style created by Ennio Morricone for the westerns was so incisive as to become a model to follow, a school of thought. In this regard it is curious to note that American composer Dominic Frontiere imitated the music of Morricone written for the film For a few dollars more for the western Hang’em high, which also starred actor Clint Eastwood in the principal role.

The western phenomenon as created by Italian Film makers also involved other composers who have felt, more or less, the influence of the Morriconian style in their soundtracks. I refer to Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi, Luis Bacalov, Franco Micalizzi and Stelvio Cipriani. We see the stylistic differences between the music of “For a Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”.

In the first  score Morricone uses the model of the deguello (a dance of death) for trumpet and strings that Dimitri Tiomkin had already used in the film “The Alamo”, an Indian tribal dance, of “ride” music with trumpets, male choirs and strings, nostalgic themes, variations of the deguello theme with the oboe or the English horn, tense pieces in which he uses bass and electric guitar, harmonica, flute, piano etc. and last but, not least, the theme performed with the whistle of Alessandro Alessandroni, the guitar, the whip, the tubular bells, and strange male choirs.

In “For a few dollars more” instead he uses a Carillon, Spanish castanets, the guitar with metal strings, again the choirs, a church pipe organ, (which gives a more solemn and majestic character, alternating with the theme with the trumpet, the strings and the choirs). He writes, among other things, a Saloon music for piano; a sort of Scott Joplin style ragtime. There are clear differences between the two soundtracks. With “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, Morricone turns page. The film tells of three men searching for gold against the backdrop of the American Civil War.

The soundtrack combines perfectly with the scenario of the American Civil War, with the sad ballad “The Story of a Soldier”, played by Southern prisoners when Tuco is tortured by “Sentenza”.  The famous climax of the film, during the scene of the cemetery, is introduced by the memorable Ecstasy of gold and the final stand-off is accompanied masterfully by Il Triello: a music that comes straight to the heart, and makes the protagonists speak with the eyes, despite seven minutes without any dialogue.

Then there was the slightly less big budget movie Sabata, which starred Lee Van Cleef and was scored by Marcello Giombini, directed by Gianfranco Parolini under the alias of Frank Kramer who also directed the two sequels. Now in this example from the genre there are several instances where the score becomes integral to the action because of the instrument used by one of the main characters, Banjo played by William Berger, walks around town plucking out a lovely little tune on his ukulele and even plays his adversaries a tune before gunning them down in the street or wherever they might be.


The instrument has a sawn-off rifle concealed inside it and when Banjo has finished entertaining his opponent, he uses the instrument to dispatch them. Giombini, even incorporated the use of sleigh bells within his score because the character Banjo wore bells on his trouser legs and jangled as he walked. Also, Banjo played music to another of his victims in Sabata this time on a church organ, the composer also made good use of this within his score and not just for that scene but utilising it for dramatic effect elsewhere.

Another successful series of movies was the Trinity films, the first two in the series They Call me Trinity and They Still Call me Trinity being the most well-known, with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill in the leading roles. The first movie had a score by composer Franco Micalizzi, which was the second soundtrack that he had worked on, I spoke to him in Rome at his house and studio.

The Gunmen of The Ave Marie was my initiation into film music, I composed the score with the help of my good friend Roberto Pregadio, we scored the film in late 1969, and it got released in 1970, later I worked with him again on I Due Volti Della Padra and Lo Chiamavano Trinita. I must admit that we did write the score in a style that was very similar to that of Morricone, but there again many Italian western soundtracks contained scores that were basically Morricone sound alike soundtracks. It was done with the greatest respect for the maestro; after all he was along with Sergio Leone the creator of the Italian Western sound. It was the hope of every producer and director in Italy to get Morricone to score their productions, but the great composer could only work on so many films, so the filmmakers tried to imitate Leone, and asked other composers to attempt to mimic Ennio Morricone, and this is what happened on The Gunmen of the Ave Marie. We even employed musicians and other performers that had worked with Morricone, to get the sound that we did. For example, Alessandro Alessandroni whistled on the score, and the trumpet solo was performed by Michele Lancerenza, both of whom had played on Morricone western scores, we also had the Il Cantori Moderni, providing the vocals. For Trinita the director wanted a more upbeat style and sound, because it was a comedy, I think the first Italian western comedy, but he also wanted it to contain that Italian western sound too, so again we used Alessandroni and his choir, to try and emulate the style of Morricone. Because this was a new direction for the Italian western and it was not certain how audiences would react.

The big composers at the time were not really interested in the film, the idea of comedy and the style of the Italian western being combined did not enthuse anyone, apart from the film’s producers and myself, I think that many of the composers Morricone included were a little concerned that the film was going to turn out to be an embarrassment to the genre. So, the producers decided to take a chance on me, and offered me the score”.

I think we all must agree that the film and its score worked well. So, composers such as Franco Micalizzi were influenced by the likes of Morricone and the films that he scored for Sergio Leone and were often asked to imitate that sound. I spoke to American composer Reber Clark about his memories of the spaghetti western and its scores.


I came to Italian westerns sort of haphazardly and did not hear Mr. Morricone’s work in chronological order. I suppose my first experience with it was “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” which made a huge impression on me music-wise – it was SO different from Bernstein & company, and only years later did I view “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For A Few Dollars More”.  With a little research I found out that Mr. Morricone had a limited music budget and came up with creative ways of making his score such as adding whistling, the guitar, chanting, etc. I loved that. I have always believed that there is a way to do what you want to do – just use your imagination which, wonderfully, Mr. Morricone did!  

I began writing music in the sixth grade. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was nowhere near a prodigy, far from it, but I knew I wanted to do that. But I do not think that I saw any particular movie from the Italian western genre that I can say made me think about the score’s orchestration etc.  Of course, many of these movies played on television while I was growing up and I do recall that they sounded different but that is as far as it went.

As well as Ennio Morricone what other composers would you say made innovative contributions to the genre.

As far as other Italian composers than Morricone making contributions – I really have no idea.  For money I was a projectionist at our local movie theatre when I was in college. John Williams’ “The Missouri Breaks” score always impressed me with its use of bass harmonica and harpsichord among other things. Of course, I love “The Magnificent Seven” music of Elmer Bernstein and Jerome Moross’ “The Big Country“. Alfred Newman’s “How the West Was Won” is exciting to me too. There are so many!

I listen to a wide variety of scores in a wide variety of genres – especially if they work well in a movie that I like. Other composers, I am sure, do the same. Now, with the internet, all this wonderful stuff is available worldwide and it cannot fail to influence the future of movie music. The Italian western Ennio Morricone “sound” is so unique and characteristic that I think its influence will remain far into the future. Let us not forget, however, that he produced some wonderful full orchestral scores such as “The Mission”, which is a favourite of mine, in addition to his work in the westerns. 

It’s a surprising thing that many composers that became active in Italy at around the same time as Morricone scored the Dollars trilogy, began their career by scoring a western, or was it?  Stelvio Cipriani scored numerous westerns, but before breaking into film scoring, he worked as a pianist and an accompanist to many famous vocalists.

Un uomo, un cavallo, una pistola

“My first movie was The Bounty Killer. Which was a western, it was the 10 July 1966: my film music career started with that movie. I could exploit that opportunity thanks to my previous experience, differently from the present composers… Experience is particularly important: after my training and experience in piano, before starting with soundtracks. I lived many different situations. I played for 6 months, with a small music band, on cruise ships. At that time there were many ballrooms (or “balere” in Italian) – it was an immensely popular fad! – and we played in the manner of many other bands… like Peppino Di Capri and Fred Bongusto, to tell only two names.

The ships sailed from New York to Porto-rico, Haiti, and Caribbean Sea…When I came back to Italy, I was enlisted as pianist and accompanist by Rita Pavone the famous singer, who at the time started her career. Again, I’m never stopping to repeat how these experiences were fundamental for my skill and proficiency. An essential platform who, after 5 years, would have given me a useful knowledge, necessary to work in cinema”.


The Italian western score or at least themes from the scores also became popular and had a life away from the films that were intended to enhance, and many were covered by other recording artists, as Stelvio Cipriani, recalled in interview during the late 1990’s in Rome.

When I was young, I was a great fan of Henry Mancini… He represented an aim for me, like a searchlight in the sea. While I was working on my second movie, Un Uomo, Un Cavallo, Una Pistola, aka– A Man Horse and a Gun or The Stranger Returns.  I was very honoured because his attention to my music theme from the film. It’s a very big satisfaction: it’s a sign of your artistic value! When a few years later I met him, he was amazed to know me in person and said: – I thought you were older, with white hair!  I studied on his books about film music also. I never attempted to imitate him, but I considered him as an example by a professional point of view”.


For any fan of the music of the Italian western or indeed Italian film music as a whole, the name Alessandro Alessandroni will be a familiar one.  He is undoubtedly the one artist, composer/musician that is involved in almost 99% of all Italian soundtracks, his choir IL CANTORI MODERNI, has vocalised on scores for the Italian cinema that have been penned by the likes of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Carlo Rustichelli, Nico Fidenco, Francesco De Masi, Franco Micalizzi, Stelvio Cipriani, Piero Umiliani and Gianni Ferrio to name but a few, he is also responsible for a handful of scores for Italian productions and has been a featured soloist on many soundtracks. His whistle is distinctive and flawless, and his performances on electric guitar are second to none as is his polished performances on the sitar. It is Ennio Morricone that is the composer Alessandroni worked with most extensively during the mid to late 1960s and throughout the 1970s and 1980s and it is true to say that is was the collaborations with Morricone that brought Alessandroni to the attention of many.

When I spoke to Sandro in London back in the 1990’s I could not believe how modest the composer was. He is virtually the ‘Sound’ of the Italian film score especially the Italian western score and it is he who is the heart of the music for the Italian cinema, but he made no big thing of this achievement.
“I am a performer not a star, the stars are the composers such as Morricone, Nicolai, Bacalov and others”.

Working so closely with Ennio Morricone for such a long period of time must have influenced Alessandroni in his composing style or on how he placed music into a movie when he began to score his own projects.  

 “I think that all composers in Italy were influenced by Morricone. His output during the 1960s and 1970s was immense. It was also very good. I think that he also influenced composers outside of Italy and he created a sound for the western that is still being employed today by some composers. His musical presence is impossible to ignore”.


The sound of the Italian western is at times referred to as the school of Italian Film Music, which in essence means that composers at times would play in others orchestras and also conduct for each other and invariably would utilize either the choirs of Alessandro Alessandroni or Nora Orlandi, which is why the sound achieved although innovative was also quite uniform in its overall conveyance, composers who worked within the genre would use the same soloists for trumpet, electric guitar, soprano voices etc, so this is how the sound of the Italian produced western became so familiar. As composer Nico Fidenco, explained (in interview in 1990’s).

I never actually worked with Alessandroni in the sense of writing anything together, but I did have him, and his excellent choir Il Cantori Moderni, perform on some of my scores. If I correctly remember John Il Bastardo, Dynamite Jim, and maybe The Texican, probably more as it was so long ago now and it was hectic doing so many movies back-to-back at times. Alessandroni is a wonderful person. He is a talented performer, with his guitar and whistle, and a gifted and very underrated composer. Nora Orlandi would also conduct her choir on some of my scores – things like El Che Guevara. I think she also is exceptionally talented.  Alessandroni was an incredibly good friend of Giacamo Dell Orso who conducted most of my soundtracks.


His wife Edda has an exquisite voice and is responsible for a lot of work on Morricone soundtracks, as I am sure you know. Giacamo would take my musical sketches and turn them into something special. He is a skilled orchestrator and an excellent conductor.

I spoke to the composer of Hell on the Border and more recently Insight, the incredibly gifted Sid De La Cruz about his take on the music from Italian westerns.

Beginning with did he recall any one score from an Italian western that made an impression upon him.

Yes, the music to, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”. I thought the music was excellent in capturing the western sound. I do not, think I have ever heard a whistle as part of the film score, until I had seen this film. Another big score that made an impression on me, although it is not an Italian Western, was the music to, “The Magnificent 7”.

Before you became a composer Did you ever see an Italian western and become inspired by the score or about how the music was constructed.

To be honest, it was a little later in my musical studies when I actually paid any real attention to music in movies; however, during the earlier part of my musical studies, I did listen to Aaron Copland. I think it was Copeland, who exposed me to the western sound, with his music from the ballet, “Rodeo”, specifically, “Hoe Down” and later the soundtrack to “Red Pony” specifically “Walk To The Bunkhouse”. I then explored more of the western sound and that is when I came across, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”. That is when I really paid attention to the music in a western film.

Morricone is often credited with the creation of the Italian western sound. But there are so many other composers that were involved in scoring examples of the genre.  As well as Ennio Morricone what other composers would you say made innovative contributions to the genre.

I think Luis Enríquez Bacalov, in the Django score. But, I think Ennio Morricone had definitely set the standard. 

The Italian western as a genre and musically has had far reaching and long-lasting influences. Do you think that the musical scores and the way in which the music was utilized shaped the way in which film music developed?

For sure, a score like “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” was unique, in that, it used whistles, chanting, electric guitar. That allowed future composers to experiment with different instruments and textures.

Holly Amber Church is a composer who in my opinion has a great deal of talent, her scores for horror movies such as Worry Dolls and the recent Open 24 Hours are already considered iconic works for the genre. She spoke of the Italian western score.

“You know I am sure that everyone will probably say that it was The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, that first made an impression upon them. It certainly did me. The interesting thing about it was that it was such a different sound for that time, and yet now it is “The Sound” mostly associated with those movies. It really displays what some innovation can do. I cannot recall whether I saw a spaghetti western before I became a composer, but I was however familiar with the music from the films. As for the music influencing film scores even of today, I think the fact that they did something unique and different especially with budget restraints, showed how film music can be used in different ways, but still be highly effective to the story-telling aspect of the film.

Franco De Gemini was another artist that eventually turned to composing music for films as well as running the famous soundtrack specialist label BEAT in Rome.  He is probably best known for the distinct Harmonica performance on Once Upon a Time in the West, but also contributed many performances to literally hundreds of soundtracks by various composers, Francesco De Masi amongst them. I interviewed the Franco De Gemini at the BEAT records offices in Rome in 2006. I enquired if at the time of performing on the Once Upon a Time in the West soundtrack, he ever thought that it would still be such a popular and considered classic work so many years later?

“I realised that it was different and that it was also very powerful, but difficult to say really, as when performing it there in the session at that moment who knew? I surely did my best in my performance to obtain a sound that was perfect for the movie”.

Like many composers in Italy during the ‘60s Francesco De Masi was busy scoring so many westerns, the composer placed his musical fingerprint upon so many Italian made westerns, and one in particular has always stood out, Arizona Colt, which contained the theme song The Man From Nowhere, the Maestro recalled the score in interview in 2003, and also how the schedule was so tight on scoring movies in that busy period.

“I composed the theme and some of the score for Arizona Colt with Alessandro Alessandroni. This was the first time that I had collaborated with him and thankfully this collaboration continued in other film scores and developed into a great friendship. Working with a musician such as Alessandro is always interesting and most certainly always stimulating. Like in other countries we were always rushed in the scoring of a picture, and like you say there were so many westerns being produced at this time. Arizona Colt was no different, but it is like everywhere and on all genres of film, the director wants the music yesterday”.

Composer Frank Ilfman (Big Bad Wolves, Ghost Stories, Abulele and Lebanon-Borders of Blood amongst others) also recollected the Italian western and its score.

“I would say it was La Resa Dei Conti (The Big Gundown) with this crazy soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, that first attracted me to the Italian western soundtrack. The opening titles sung by Maria Cristina Brancucci (Christy) and the crazy choir sounds from Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni, just blew my mind.

I have seen many western films, growing up as I always liked the wild west, most of the movies I watched were American made and had a very lavish classical orchestral score, then the Italian Western started to take over and these were vastly different, they included all these strange looking characters, extreme close up style filming and the music was always loud and very dominant. For me as a kid, I found the music for the Italian westerns to have a very rock & roll approach with all those guitars, bass, and drums added vocals and screams and some orchestra and to be more pop in approach as per melodies and how it was contracted. I later found out it was more because the lack of budget for the music that they needed to be more inventive and that created a more original way of scoring and the use of some instruments and sounds that we still copy to this day”.

What other composers would you say made important contributions to the genre?  

“It’s true to say Morricone invented the “sound” that we know as the Italian western or at least associate with it.  As the trilogy of scores, he wrote for Leones Dollar films became world famous and have remained thus years after, however he as a composer always disliked his western scores compared to other music that he wrote.  There were a few other composers who were big in those days and wrote many scores great and were very inventive with the use of a small group of musicians for Italian cinema such as, Luis Bacalov, Alessandro Alessandroni, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi and Franco Micalizzi.  I think even now we do in one way or another often use those Italian films and their scores as references and not the old American productions. If its the use on instruments to symbolize the Good and the Bad characters in a very stand out way both comedic and dramatic. Or as a more pop orientated track like with writing some music prior to filming to inspire the actors as Leone did many times with his movies”.

Sergio Leones Once Upon A Time in the West is a movie that I find is either loved or loathed by fans of the genre, it was for me as a 15 year old in 1970 somewhat difficult to piece together and understand, it was different from the Dollar trilogy, but also when I first saw the movie at the Curzon cinema on a wet Sunday afternoon, it had been cut to pieces so in later years it made more sense when I was able to see a more complete version of the movie. However, the music stayed with me and even though it was in places a different Morricone I was hearing compared with the Dollar films it is a score that I still refer to as Morricone’s Masterpiece, and look on the film as being another milestone of movie making for the director Leone.

Like so many Italian westerns I got the soundtrack album before seeing the movies, which was something that was normal in the seventies, as many of the spaghetti westerns were not released at the time of their initial release in Italy, the Big Gundown for example was released in the early part of 1967 in Italy, but never made it to cinema screens in the UK until 1969, and again was ruthlessly edited by the British Censor at times jumping from scene to scene without actually having any continuity or sympathy for the actual storyline. But again, it was at this time it was the music that I personally was more interested in, it was different, fresh and integral to the action opening up on screen, not just a collection of lush and expansive sounding themes interspersed with ho down and square dance interludes.

But saying that, have you noticed how the Italian composers at times poked fun just a little at the American cowboy soundtrack, with over-the-top saloon piano performances, folksy and country music slanted cues and Morricone even giving a rendition of a square dance theme in A Fistful of Dollars. Which was heard as US cavalry ride into the town, the composer setting the scene with the slow- paced square dance cue to depict American characters or was it the composer adding his own little touch saying that the American western score had really no place in the movie?  The saloon piano in an American made western would invariably be in the background, but in an Italian western the composer used it to his advantage, often playing a honky-tonk type of arrangement of the films main theme or a theme for one of the characters in the movie.

Composer Maximilien Mathevon (Rollon-Sur le Traces du Premier Normand, Peplum: Muscles, Glaives, et Fantasmes and The Good Mr Bonaparte) told me what film or films he remembered mostly from the genre. And also spoke of Morricone and other key composers involved with it.

“For me it is Definitively the “Dollar trilogy” by Sergio Leone, especially The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, film wise as well as score wise. That I recall above anything else”.

“I was always fond of Morricone scores for those movies and became particularly interested by the use of unusual instruments for the genre (the whistling, the electric guitar, the percussions, the vocals and other shouts), apart from Morricone, I have no real knowledge of other composers for this genre. One who I remember is American (for an American western, if I recall correctly) and it’s because the main theme of the score is mainly written in the Morricone stylings – Dominic Frontiere for “Hang’ em High”… (and I love that score!)  As to the music of the Italian western influencing the way in which film music was written in its aftermath and its subsequent influence on the way in which movie scores have evolved?  Yes, absolutely. In westerns and also other genres of movies. The use of unusual instruments is now a given – look no further than known composer’s works like Marco Beltrami’s (his western scores, for example, are full of the kind of orchestrations derived from the Italian western genre, I think) or Hans Zimmer’s (and many others). Recalling the styles and the sounds of the Italian western score reminds us to look outside the box and find inspiration with unusual ideas or sounds”.

Spanish born composer Manel Gil-Inglada, also added his thoughts on the  genre and the musical scores that enhanced it.

“I think I remember that the first score I noticed, and one that caught my attention, was “For a Few Dollars More”. Those notes, the rhythm, and the colour of the jew’s harp sound at the start of the song were a revelation: this was something new and powerful. Whistles, voices, recorders, guitars, solo trumpet, harmonicas, etc, etc. A new way of conceiving the musical storytelling of a movie, based on sound experimentation and an unusual orchestration, which at that moment captured the viewer’s attention by giving an overwhelming personality to visually somewhat crude and dirty productions. Back in the 70’s I got to see some of the great spaghetti westerns which were shot in the 60’s. I especially remember:  as I have said ” For a Few Dollars More” but also “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West“. Of course, at that time in Spain films such as “They Call Me Trinity” starring Bud Spencer and Terence Hill were triumphing. The comic version of the genre that contrasted with Sergio Leone’s raw films but did not offer any special appeal musically. At that time, I was very young, but I believe that the sound universe that I discovered with the Maestro Ennio Morricone was etched in my memory. And everything and that I have not had the opportunity to write the score of any western, whenever I have been able, I have tried to experiment with other sounds radically different from those of the orchestra instruments that in some way can contribute something different and provocative and interesting to the score like the “Theremin” or the “Music Box” in the soundtrack of “Daddy, I’m a Zombie” and “Dixie and the Zombie rebellion” or the different instruments: Erhu, Santoor, Auto-Harp, Guitars, African percussions, Catalan drums, woods, metals, boxes, etc, that I am playing in the score of the video game that I am composing now. There are also two other Italian composers that I most admire who both made good contributions to the genre: Luis Bacalov with the soundtrack of “Django” among others, and Armando Trovajoli with “Long Days of Vengeance”.  I especially think that Ennio Morricone is largely responsible for the recognition and importance of a good score in a film. The soundtracks of his in the spaghetti western represented a radical change for the original and the radical, which did not leave anyone indifferent.

Musical Storytelling acquired a higher importance, not only because of its fantastic use of melody and its application in themes and leitmotifs, but also because of its constant concern to experiment and incorporate those sounds that could contribute much more than expected to a score. Ennio Morricone revolutionized the Spaghetti Western and was and continues to be a big source of inspiration for all of us who dedicate ourselves to and love film music.”

As you can see there is a reoccurring pattern with composers, most naming one of the Dollar Trilogy of films as the one that first caught their attention regarding the Italian western genre. It is probably the third in the trilogy The Good the Bad and the Ugly, that is mentioned more often than any other Italian western as the film itself and the score by Morricone were both ground-breaking, as in the sound, style, orchestration etc of the music and with the movie the style, cinematography, storyline and formula that was executed, firmly establishing the Italian western with cinema audiences around the world. Not only did Leone take something that was full blooded American as in the Western or Cowboy movie and turn it on its head, inside out and run it backwards, but he also acted as a historian with this film including scenes that could have been taken directly from a newsreel if there had been such a thing at the time of the American Civil war.

His attention to detail and eye for preciseness was meticulous and it certainly paid off as the battle for the bridge is stunningly effective and, in my opinion, authentic. However, Leone’s epic Once Upon a Time in the West is also mentioned a few times and is sited by composer Vincent Gillioz (They, Love’s me Loves me Not, The Fox Hunter, Gods Waiting Room, Pray for Morning).

“Once Upon a Time in the West, is the music I remember, I was very young and playing the score on vinyl without having any clue about the concept behind it. I had no idea what a score was, I was too young. I experienced a movie, a movie is emotions, and a score is indivisible of the whole experience. I believe we experience the music when taken apart from a movie and it brings back the whole emotional experience of the movie. Both are indissociable, like 2 atoms of hydrogen with 1 atom of oxygen is water, and oxygen by itself is a gas. Both are beautiful, but a different experience”.

The differences between the Hollywood western and the Italian western, were vast, and the same can also be said for the musical scores, although a handful of Italian composers have said that they attempted to emulate the likes of Dimitri Tiomkin and Alfred Newman within their scores. As Finnish composer and pianist Pessi Levanto (Oma Maa) mentioned.

“For me there is a clear difference between the American and the Italian western soundtrack. This is in the innovation of the instrumentation of the Italian western. Hollywood westerns such as The Magnificent Seven relied upon the style and the expansive sound of Aaron Copland, whereas the Italian western score had this fresh approach, this was also probably due to financial restrictions, but the colourful and inventive instrument choices are what sets them apart. Morricone had a daring and fearless approach in choosing sound colours and was not afraid to experiment heavily. Luckily, his explorations were not curtailed but mostly embraced by the directors and producers of the movies he scored. By the end of the sixties, his status was so big that on many of the posters for Italian westerns only the names of the directors and composers appeared, even leading actors being omitted.”

Composer, recording artist and producer Pierre-Daven Keller (Juis suis un No Man,s Land, and the recent brilliant album Kino Music), recollects his memories of the Italian western films and scores.

“The first Italian western I saw was The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I think i was 6 or 7 at this time but I have never forgotten the music and the impression it had upon me. I still love this movie and Morricone’s soundtrack is one of my favourites.  It was the first time I heard the name of Morricone and I never forgot his name after this movie. The story and the characters are interesting but without Morricone’s music we can be sure that this movie had been very different. I don’t know many Italian westerns apart from the Sergio Leone movies.  It is true that all these movies and especially all Morricone’s western music had a big influence on me. Once upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly etc, are all interesting.

There were a lot of amazing movies composers in the 60’s or 70’s not all for the western movies but also for the thrillers or romantic movies too. I’m thinking about Bernard Herrmann, Michel Colombier, Jean Claude Vannier, François de Roubaix… All of them are interesting in their own way of composing… but it is right that Morricone is for me the one who explored most the link between music and movies.

I think that Morricone changed forever the way of thinking and the way in which music was composed and placed in a film. He understood that paradoxically, movie music had to be independent from the movie itself. For him, there is the movie on one side and the music on the other side but they “meet” each other at one moment by his genius in musical composition and experimentations with sounds”.

My own personal experience of the Italian western was Ithinkin the firstinstant The Big Gundown, followed by Death Rides a Horse, then A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More which were late on release at some cinemas and being shown as a double bill, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, I got the soundtrack first then went to see the movie. But I also experienced the Italian western via the Zapata western which was a successful sub-genre of the spaghetti western collective, I think it was A Professional Gun that was the movie that made me fully appreciate the combination of images and music in a movie. This is without a doubt, at least in my mind one of the best Italian westerns produced and it is one that I can watch repeatedly without ever becoming bored.

The musical score by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai is also one of the top ten Spaghetti western soundtracks, is just everything that the Italian western score is expected to be and some more. From the energetic and vibrant strings and choir of Bamba Vivace or Paco’s theme to the dark and ominous sounding guitar rift for the villain of the piece Curly entitled Ricciolo, which also contained organ, underlying strings, woodwinds, percussive elements and castanets punctuating proceedings. The character of Curly was portrayed wonderfully in a camp filled performance by Jack Palance. Then there is also the haunting whistling theme performed flawlessly by Alessandro Alessandroni, that acts as an accompaniment for Franco Nero’s character The Pollack and is heard at various stages of the films development either when he is on screen or about to appear. Released in 1968, and produced by Alberto Grimaldi, it is a great movie.

Set in Mexico in 1915, the films storyline takes place during the Mexican revolution which was happening whilst the so-called superior nations such as Germany, England and France fought each other in Europe. It has a similar foundation in its storyline to that of Bullet for The General or Quien Sabe? With foreign Mercenaries planting the seed of revolution into the mind of an ordinary peon or a bandit to achieve their own goal.

These Zapata westerns were just as popular as the actual quirky but violent Italian western movies, and elements of the political western manifested in films such as the aforementioned, Quien Sabe? and A Professional Gun, and also came to fruitionin Duck You Sucker, The Five Man Army, Companeros, Tepepa, Once Upon a time a Revolution, and to a degree in examples suchas Quintana:Dead or Alive.

Composer Gautte Storaas (Halvden Viking, A Man called Ove, Birkebeinerne) who is a self-confessed fan of Ennio Morricone, also contributed his thoughts on the influences of the Italian western to both cinema and film music.

“I remember going to the theatres screening older films in my hometown back in the seventies. Loved the coolness of Clint Eastwood, but at that time, I did not fully appreciate Morricone´s iconic work for those films. Or the whole genre, for that matter. I thought the whole concept was too much comedy and was way more attracted to Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy sonic universe of the Dirty Harry-movies. I have always noticed music in films since my early childhood. After seeing the Jungle Book when I was around nine years old. I became aware that composers were not only dead old men in my father’s record collection. Maybe I even then started dreaming of becoming one? But I am afraid that I do not have any strong memories of Italian westerns from that time. However, the work of Leone/Morricone is just on another level. Both in the westerns and “Once upon a time in America”. I have not much knowledge of the rest of the Spaghetti Western production. Morricone’s western music most definitely changed film music. His unexcused boldness and fresh ideas, use of non-traditional elements, breaking ideas down to small elements and nurturing them, like the now iconic coyote call has been used for inspiration, or downright been ripped off, ever since.  But to really have impact, a film composer is dependent on a director who really lets the music shine.

Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone

In his recent book, “In his own words”, Morricone spoke very warmly about the collaboration with Leone, and the room he made for the music. He stated that “Once upon a time in the West” is probably the best mixed film in the history of cinema. After reading, I saw the film again, and I have to agree. He is letting both the music and sound effects shine, just not at the same time. And of course, the very sparse dialogue helps. That film is a stroke of genius.

Lionel Woodman with Alessandro Alessandroni.

Lionel Woodman was a record producer and responsible for releasing so many Italian westerns on his Hillside label, he still operates a mail order soundtrack business, which also goes under the name of Hillside in the U.K. where he caters for the discerning tastes of many Italian film music fans. He has for many years been more than a fan of the music from Italian cinema, but also has met and become friends with so many of the composers who were responsible for creating the sound of the Italian western. “For me it was A Fistful of Dollars that first alerted me to the genre and the music. I went to see it because my Brother said that it had strange music. After this I discovered so many other composers, such as Bruno Nicolai, Gianni Marchetti, Stelvio Cipriani, and Alessandro Alessandroni”.

Film music critic Randall D. Larson also recalled his encounter with the Italian western.

“For me it was Once Upon a Time in the West in 1972 (restored version broadcast on TV). That was my watershed moment for a lot of things having to do with cinema and film music. I’d missed the opportunity to see other Italian Westerns in theatres during the ’60s, and by the time I “woke” to the style of the Italian Westerns these films were no longer playing in theaters in the suburbs where I lived. So, it was not until later that I caught up with Leone’s previous Westerns, and later still, with the advent of home video, that the opportunity came to immerse myself in many, many more. The impact these films had, from the first to continued experiences, was the immersion into the drama and the striking dynamic of the storyline, the iconic nature of the characters, and the role played by the music in being a partner to the storytelling and the vivid emotional drama of all of it. These films were immediately uniquely dynamic—again I can only describe it was iconic—more than anything else I had seen up to that point.

In rough order of personal discovery, I’d say: Bruno Nicolai, Luis Enriquez Bacalov, Francesco De Masi, Nico Fidenco, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, Nora Orlandi, Marcello Giombini. Each of them continued to develop the unique style that had become the sound of the Italian Westerns, while each often brought their own unique style and voice to the genre. There are others, certainly, that followed along, furthering the musical trend, but these composers were the ones whose music spoke to me most significantly in developing the tradition of Italian Western music from the early days”.

From its beginnings to it’s falling out of favour and ultimate demise and also the aftermath of its hey-day the genre of the Italian western was for the most part musically consistent. Although there were certain examples of scores quirky even by the standards of the spaghetti western soundtrack. These examples occurred during the height of the genre’s popularity and towards its end.

Gianni Ferrio.

A reliance of songs in some movies seemed to overtake the originality of certain scores as in Alive but Preferably Dead, Which, had a score by Gianni Ferrio, but the instrumental parts were overwhelmed by the songs or at least it seemed that way when watching the movie and also listening to the original CAM LP record and subsequent CAM compact disc release, however, there was an expanded version of the score issued onto compact disc a few years ago on the Digit Movies label which did contain more score tracks, the songs which were a parody of the old western sounds that we might have heard in the Roy Rogers or Hop-a-long Cassidy films from Hollywood, with crooning cowboys etc, were performed by John Ireson and Wayne Parham, and although they told a story as the film progressed, they could be somewhat annoying.


Ferrio’s score too contained a certain cliched sound, and it was a combination of the Hollywood sound and the Spaghetti western sound, which was mixed with dixie land band styles, that were themselves fused with music that was more like it was an American TV western such as F Troop. For me the combination of the songs, the score and the trad jazz sounds were a nightmare, and I still think of it as one of the worst spaghetti western scores written, even with the extra score tracks, Ferrio even enlisting kazoo within it.  

Keoma- The Violent Breed, too contained songs that told stories as the films plot unfolded, but these were songs that were performed in an incredibly unique way, so unique in fact that many Italian western fans cannot listen to them. The uniqueness of the songs was mainly attributed to the performance of the vocal artist was unique. Music was by De Angelis Brothers, with the vocals being the work of Sybil and Guy the pair sounding like a combination Buffy Saint Marie on acid and a warbling Leonard Cohen.

But many fans love the songs, and when you look at other scores by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, most of them contain at least one song, and in many cases more. They Still Call Me Trinity for example, has its brilliant title song Trinity Stand Tall and another good song entitled Remember both of which stand out within the movie.

Guido and Maurizio de Angelis.

So, songs can work in a positive way for the genre, and composers would also utilise the melody of the song within their scores, Francesco De Masi for example also utilized the title song for a number of his western scores, Quella Sporca Storia Nel West and Arizona Colt being two of the more prominent works, the track Find a Man from Quella Sporca Storia Nel West having a powerful vocal and a haunting guitar rift by Alessandroni and The Man From Nowhere from Arizona Colt containing a vocal by Raoul another popular singer on western soundtracks from Italy who was accompanied by Alessandroni on guitar and whistle, with Il Cantori Moderni providing the backing vocalizing.

At the time of the Italian western and as it became more popular it was not unusual for many of the title songs to get a release on a 45rpm single, with the vocal artist on the cover often in cowboy outfit, or a scene from the movie, which not only promoted the vocalist but the movie that the song was from.

So, was the title song something that the composers decided upon or were they asked to provide a vocal title song or song within the fabric of the score?  They Still Call Me Trinity for example by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis as they recalled.

“The director on They Still Call me Trinity wanted a vocal theme for the opening credits, so we figured a song with a country atmosphere. We were incredibly happy we could use the acoustic style we liked so much”.

And on They Call me Trinity which composer Franco Micalizzi spoke of.

” In the case of Trinity, it was a joint decision between the director, E.B.Clutcher (Enzo Barboni), the producer and myself. We discussed the possibility of a song on the titles, and it was decided that a vocal would possibly attract more attention to the movie. There was at that time in Italy an opinion that if American or English actors were in leading roles in Italian made westerns that the film would stand a better chance of success when and if it was released outside of Europe, and this opinion also applied to the music in films, so a song that was sung in English was thought to be much more advantageous to the film’s success.

I suppose that to a degree this was true, and the single 45rpm release of the Trinity song sold very well in Italy, and many copies were exported to America and England. An incredibly good friend of mine in England Lally Stott wrote the lyrics, he understood perfectly what I wanted, and what I wanted to achieve. Sadly, Lally died a few years later in a boating accident in Liverpool, the song is a send up of all other western songs, as the film itself was a parody of other westerns, both American and Italian”.

Composer Nico Fidenco, said, “It was not always something that the director or even I would think was required, but if I was asked to have a title song it was not something out of my way to do.

A western I did work on was a Spanish-Italian co-production entitled In the Shadow of the Colt. It was an extremely low budget film, nothing like the films of Leone, but nevertheless it was popular in Italy and Spain of course. I do not think it got released anywhere else, so I’m glad it was popular in these two countries, the theme was recorded on a 45rpm single record and to my surprise, sold over ten thousand copies in Italy, which at that time in the early 1960’s was exceptionally good indeed”.

Composer, Bartosz Chajdeki (Time of Honour, Bikini Blue, The Disappearance) added his thoughts on the Italian western film and score.

“I don’t remember watching any Italian western movies, but when I was a kid many of Morricone’s soundtracks were my favourites. This was because my parents were always listening to his music. I had a classical music education, which meant no songs, just instrumental music which included classical music and film soundtracks. As for other composers who wrote for the Italian western, I do not recall any, but I was at the time listening to many things by Nino Rota, but as far as I know he never scored any westerns.

What Morricone was doing in this genre had a huge impact on film music in general. I believe that there were two main figures at that time which shaped the entire landscape – one was Williams with his very classical an orchestral approach, and the second was Morricone with Italian westerns, which went into direction of experimenting with different kinds of non-classical sounds and arrangements. The latter led to using folk, ethnic voices and instruments and mixing vastly different genres on the field of film music. Which became a major area of progress for the entire industry”. 

It is evident that the Italian western film and its score or scores have had a profound effect upon both composers, collectors, and composers. Love it or hate it the music for the spaghetti western genre will forever be with us and still today manifests itself in some form or another in films, television projects and even adverts. It’s a genre of film and also of music that is instantly recognisable, and when elements of the styles and sounds of this genre do pop up in contemporary movie’s we spot them straight away. To the haters I say watch and listen again, to the faithful followers I say watch and listen again and again. This is a genre of film we will never see again in the way it was originally presented, savour it, appreciate it and celebrate it.  

My thanks to everyone who were eager to add their comments to this article.


As you all know Movie Music International attempts to encompass film music from all corners of the globe, and hopefully we achieve this with the reviews and also the articles and interviews that are published here. Even in the midst of this what seems to be a never-ending pandemic the soundtrack market expands daily it seems and in this edition of soundtrack supplement we have for you new releases and also scores that have been re-issued. The first score this time around is Soul Catcher. This is a Chinese production and a live action fantasy adventure. The story focuses upon a Fox spirit, who is intent on becoming immortal and plans to take the soul and life of a naïve scholar. After the Fox spirit and the scholar have their first meeting the Fox Spirit persuades the scholar to accompany him on an adventure and together, they begin to travel through the historic Chinese countryside. Whilst doing this the Fox Spirit is determined to get the scholar into as much hot water as he can, and I have to say succeeds in doing this. This type of movie or at least its storyline suits perfectly the style and sound of the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi who has written a superbly atmospheric and wonderfully melodic score for the movie.

The composer combines both a more traditional sound with that of electronic support and fashions a work that is gracious, comedic sounding and filled with mysterious and action themed interludes. The score is I think one of the longest that Hisaishi has written and has a healthy running time of an hour and twenty minutes, which is always good news for collectors. The soundtrack is also available on digital platforms, but with this composer I do make a point of trying to purchase the compact disc.

I will not analyze each and every track as we do have a few other soundtracks to look at in edition thirty-eight of soundtrack supplement.  But there are a few that stand out more than others, but this does not mean in any way that there are inferior cues included, because each track holds something that is attractive and alluring in its own way. The opening cue entitled A Fox and a Scholar, is an interesting and dramatic sounding piece, performed predominantly by the string section, the composer also enlists rumbles of percussion and a delicate and low-key sprinkling from the vibraphone which are further augmented by further use of timpani and woodwind as the composition develops and progresses.

This opening piece sets the scene perfectly for most of what is to follow with the composer further developing this sound and style throughout the remainder of the score. With the theme which we hear in track one being revisited within the cue Providence.  The composer also treats us to some inventive action music in the form of The Furious Showdown, in which he employs numerous percussive elements giving the cue a daunting and fearsome persona, Hisaishi, adds to this a strong string presence and weaves a fast-paced theme of sorts through the wild drumming making this a exhilarating and exciting piece. The score also contains so many poignant and emotive sounding interludes, with a stunning clarinet solo underlined and supported by piano being outstanding in the cue entitled Yinglian, the composer achieving a lush and romantic sound that is edged with melancholy. At times there are also tracks within the score for Soul Catcher that contain an almost martial sound and the soundtrack also yields a wonderfully light and easy atmosphere. In fact, it is a score that for me has everything, recommended, yes of course it is.

Varese Sarabande announced two CD club releases this week Along Came a Spider by the great Jerry Goldsmith which for this expanded edition contains twenty-seven cues. The label has also given Brad Fiedel’s highly atmospheric work for the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, a de-luxe edition make-over which contains no less than fifty-two tracks, which are released over two compact discs. A vast improvement on the original release which had just eighteen cues. The Serpent and the Rainbow I have always thought is a good movie and the score was vital to creating the movies overall atmosphere and gave the storyline more weight.  I remember buying the original compact disc release after hearing about the movie and thinking it sounded like an interesting movie and am pleased to say I still own it. For me it was one of those occasions when I got the music before I saw the movie, but on seeing the film realized just what a great job the composer had done in creating such an innovative work. This 2-disc de-luxe edition has the film mixes on disc one and the Original soundtrack on disc two, also included on disc two are some additional music cues courtesy of Nigerian born drummer Michael Babatunde Olatunji. This score in my opinion was one of the composers best from this period and that’s saying something because he was incredibly busy and in demand in the mid to late 1980’s. The score is chilling and at the same time alluring, with the composer utilizing various unsettling, synthesized sounds to bring to fruition music and sounds that are filled with a virulence and also convey a sense of the fearsome, and foreboding.

The movie too is an entertaining one, directed by Wes Craven and starring Bill Pullman as a doctor sent to Haiti to investigate a possible drug that is being used in Haitian Vodoo to create Zombie’s. The movie was shot on location in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the film has been praised for its authentic settings, grounded take on the use of Vodoo in these locations and its take on the myth of the Zombie that is rife still to this day in the Caribbean. Craven as always was wonderfully creative, fashioning effective horror atmospherics for the movie, in fact I think I might just re-visit the film tonight. As for the score you should own it.

The same can be said for Along Came A Spider, this is a classic Jerry Goldsmith, and this is evident from the opening bars of the first track, this was one of the composers final scores, released in 2001 it was the sequel to Kiss the Girls. Goldsmithcreated a brooding and at the same time dramatic and dark score that I always thought evoked the era of the film noir soundtracks, as with most of his scores from this period it contained a fusion of both conventional instrumentation and electronic enhancement, the work was filled with the trademark sounds of Goldsmith, the composer employing booming percussion, suspenseful strings and rasping brass flourishes at key moments. This is as everyone knows a score that is overflowing with a tense and nervous atmosphere, and evokes past triumphs penned by Goldsmith for movies such as Basic Instinct, The Omen and Capricorn One.

 If you already own the original Varese CD which contained just thirty-five minutes of score, then this is a must have purchase for you, with its twenty-seven cues and running time of one hour six minutes. The score too is sequenced into how it appeared in the movie. Recommended?  What do you think!

News now on an up-and-coming release, Godzilla Vs Kong Battle of the Beasts, there is mixed feeling about the movie as I see already people are questioning why Godzilla would want to have a rumble with King Kong, well when you go back in cinematic history, we can see that Godzilla did start off as an evil monster, so maybe the giant lizard has now decided its time to stop be so nice? The score for the new movie is by Junkie XL or Tom Holkenborg, and before you start dissing it already just wait. I have heard snatches of the score and in my opinion, it is incredibly good, the tracks I heard displayed a real sense of the dramatic and also the melodic, yes, the melodic. All I can say is I am looking forward to hearing the entire score. Which brings us to the next release for Zack Snyders Justice League, again music is by Holkenborg under his Junkie XL persona. And again, it’s a good score and it’s a long one too, over four hours in fact.

The only things I jumped over were the songs as I was not a fame of them in the film, so thought I would just concentrate on the actual score, but then on the second listen I left them to play, and you know they are not bad either. I particularly was drawn to Song to the Siren by Rosie Betts. But it is the score I listened too more, and over a week or so re-visited it a number of times, for me its inventive and also exciting to listen to and then when one sits and watches the movie it is plain to hear just how effective this music is in the context of the film.

Supporting, punctuating, and underlining moments of action, it becomes part of the many exhilarating fight sequences, and gives an identity to the various characters that we are introduced to both good and bad throughout the movie. It also works as a kind of glue that holds the whole thing together.  OK I, and I know many of you may not be a fan of this type of film score, but I have to say that the music does what it supposed to, it not only just supports but it lifts the action scenes to another height. The music also adds heart and purveys various levels of emotion to the proceedings. This is after all FILM MUSIC and not music to be listened to on its own, although I have listened to this score with no images and its still a fresh and interesting work. There is just something about this score that I cannot help but like and enjoy. Available on digital platforms, Recommended.

To a movie now that was released in the United States earlier in March this year and is due for release in the U.K. in May of this year. The Courier is a spy thriller, directed by Dominic Cooke and stars Benedict Cumberbatch. The movie premiered in 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival under its original title Ironbark. The musical score is the work of Abel Korzeniowski (Penny Dreadful, The Nun, Nocturnal Animals, and Romeo and Juliet). Like his other works for film and TV The Courier contains a haunting and appealing score. The composer inventing elegant and apprehensive musical poems that entice and at the same time create an uneasiness. I love the way in which the composer employs the dark and tense sounding piano within the work and laces it further with ominous strings that elevate and bring attention to its richly dark persona and heightens its sense of danger. Again, a score I whole heartedly recommend.

Anne Nikitin is a composer I have admired for a while now and her score for the British TV drama Mrs Wilson is one that you should check out, for me this is the best of Nikitin, it is scored with sensitivity and has to it a fragility that seeps through into the overall sound and atmosphere of the score, the composer has a talent for creating slight but effective themes which she does here to wonderfully. Released by Movie Score Media this is a worthy addition to any film music collection. Available on the likes of Spotify and Apple. 

The United States vs Billie Holliday is a movie that has been shown recently on Sky TV, and one of the striking things about it was its original score composed by Kris Bowers (Bad Hair, Mrs America, and Bridgerton). This is a delicate and for the most part an understated work in which the composer relies upon piano and strings to create his lilting and eloquent themes. Its shall we say a nice score, but also one that does its job so well, supporting and punctuating without being intrusive, but also adding emotion and poignancy to the movie and its storyline. Recommended, and on digital platforms.

To British TV next and The Unforgotten, which has a score by Michael Price, I do have to say that this music is so effective within the series which airs on ITV, it’s a rather low-key affair but this seems to be the way TV scores are going at this time, there are no big themes or catchy little hooks around it seems, instead the music is minimalist as in series being sparingly scored.

The Unforgotten however does contain some beautiful melodies, and the way in which the series is scored one hardly notices these because the composer is so in tune with the drama unfolding on screen, it’s not until one listens to the soundtrack recording that you actually realize that there are some truly haunting pieces here. As in the tracks Evicted, My Mistake and Desperately Sad to name but three, the latter being particularly heartfelt and consuming. If you are going to buy just two or three TV scores this year The Unforgotten should be one of them.


It’s a funny thing but sometimes when I read reviews of film scores some, and I say only some reviewers seem to lose their way a little and start to judge the music upon how it sounds as just music or a stand-alone collection of tracks, but what we have to remember is that this is film music, that we are reviewing here. Music specifically written to support enhance and also to ingratiate images on screen. The job of music in film is quite clear or at least I suppose it’s there to back up the storyline and the images, and also to make action scenes more thrilling and other scenes more emotive, scary or downright more heart breaking. So, when I hear a score that is filled with action cues, I do not just judge it on this, I do try and see the movie, but this is not always possible, so maybe view the trailer or read the synopsis, or even talk to the composer. Insight is the latest score from composer Sid De La Cruz, ( available via-Plaza Mayor Music Company) and what a great score this is, ok its predominantly an action soundtrack, but saying that there are some really poignant sections within it and also there are so many sections of the score that are upbeat but have to them a real thematic sound. Proving that a composer can be both full throttle and dramatic and still retain a melodic content.

The composer has obviously created a work that will support and punctuate the action within the movie, but at the same time he has probably unconsciously fashioned some nice rhythmic and infectious passages of music that can easily be listened to away from the movie they were written for. I remember going to the scoring sessions of a movie a few years back and the composer saying you will probably not like this because the score is an action laced one and has a lot of stabs and crashes and crescendos, on the contrary I love stuff like this, and Insight is a score that I certainly do love, it’s a tense and edgy affair with some great percussive elements that act as foreground and also background to brass, electric guitar and driving strings, what more could one ask for from an action score but Action pure and undiluted, simple. The music is relentless and consuming, it never seems to let up a mix of synth and symphonic I am guessing, but if this is a totally synth score, I did not realize or notice because it sounds as if the majority of it’s performed by conventional instruments. This is a score that kind of teeters on the edge all the time, it builds and builds but at times never reaches the apex that you think its going to, thus it creates tension it oozes drama and purveys a vibrant and powerful persona. The edginess of the work reminded me somewhat of the music of Jerry Goldsmith, which is something I also noticed on the composers Hell on the Border score, I am not saying it is a copy of any specific Goldsmith score, just the opposite as it is an inventive and original sounding work, it just has that quality and the presence that maybe Goldsmith would have also fashioned, being dramatic, and thematic at the same time. The score also contains two brief cues from composer Holly Amber Church, which are credited in the track listing, So two quality composers for the price of one, not bad. Highly recommended.


Many composers who are now considered as ultimate film music Maestros began their careers in the 1960.s or before and from there, they would go on to write scores that are now a part of cinematic history. Composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, Elmer Bernstein, Lalo Schifrin, John Barry, Francis Lai, Maurice Jarre, Nino Rota, and John Williams worked on numerous movies throughout their careers and established themselves as music smiths of the highest caliber, being much in demand to score movies and TV shows. In my opinion it was in the latter part of the 1960’s and the decade of the 1970’s that we saw these composers build on the body of work that they had already created in previous decades and further established themselves, their sound and their trademark stylizations, quirks of orchestration and thematic presence and quality, imprinting their names upon the cinema going public’s mind all over the world.



It is true to say that John Williams is probably the most well-known composer of music for film. He has written so many iconic soundtracks and is for many the musical voice of the Hollywood blockbuster. A great number of his now classic scores were composed in the 1970’s. It seemed that every new movie to come out of tinsel town in that decade had a score by the esteemed Maestro. And for a period in film scoring that was somewhat hit and miss his style and also his re-introduction of the symphonic score to the cinema after producers and directors had opted in many cases for song scores was for the majority of cinema goers a welcome sound. The first big movie that I remember the name of John Williams on was Star Wars but of course he worked on so many movies that we now refer to as classics. So, it was a fruitful time for the composer, the 1970’s also marked the start of the composer’s collaboration and friendship with filmmaker Steven Spielberg when he worked on Sugarland Express in 1973, the partnership which still endures to this day has cultivated numerous projects and has inspired both the composer and the director in their respective careers.

It’s something to note that this partnership might not have happened, because the director originally asked Jerry Goldsmith to score Sugarland Express, if that had happened maybe the films as directed by Spielberg may have taken a different route both musically and artistically, because there is no doubt whatsoever that Williams had just as much influence upon the filmmaker as the director inspired the composer.

John Williams was born in 1932 and began his film scoring career back in 1954 when he wrote the music for the promotional movie You Are Welcome, which was made by the Newfoundland office of tourism. This was followed four years later by the composers feature film debut, when in 1958 Williams wrote the music for the Lou Place movie Daddy-O, under the name of Johnny Williams. During the 1960’s Williams worked on no less than twenty-two feature films mostly under Johnny Williams and created themes and scores for numerous TV shows including, Checkmate, The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants, and Lost in Space all of which contained the composers now familiar musical trademarks. (The Time Tunnel music soon to be released by La La Land records on a 3, disc set). As well as his original scores during the 1970.s the composer also worked on adapting and arranging music for movies such as Fiddler on The Roof in 1971, which was something he had done before in 1969 for Goodbye Mr. Chips winning an Oscar on both for his work. But let us focus on the decade of disco, flares, studio 54, and also the ten years of deliciously romantic and dramatic film music that was penned by the ultimate American Maestro, John Towner Williams, music that became the other sound of the 1970’s. A decade that was filled with space sagas, westerns, disaster movies, horrors, romances and tales of war.  I suppose the obvious place to start with John Williams is in a Galaxy Far Far Away….. because it is Star Wars more than any other music for film that many do associate him with and rightly so. The ultimate space adventure, Star Wars was and still is one of the most popular series of movies ever produced, and Williams has been onboard since day one. His majestic opening fanfare is now a piece of cinema history and is as iconic as the 20th Century Fox fanfare penned by Alfred Newman which also opens the Star Wars movies. Williams’s powerful and driving theme having the qualities of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s rousing music from The Sea Hawk and The Adventures of Robin Hood and the brooding power and tense drama of Gustav Holst’s Mars the Bringer of War from The Planets, with the unmistakable stamp of Williams inventiveness, wistfulness and sheer romanticism imprinted firmly within the music acting as a bridge between the styles of classical, golden age cinema and the then contemporary sound of film scoring.

To try and describe the thrill each time this music plays is almost impossible, all one knows is when those words appear A Long time ago In a Galaxy Far Far Away, you know to get ready for that stupendous blast of brass, the soaring strings, and the booming percussion, that carry the now familiar opening theme along and sets the scene perfectly for tense and fast paced action that is unrivaled by anything else. This is epic film music, classy film music and the dramatic, tense, exhilarating, and romantic all rolled into one. I remember the album being released on a two LP set on the 20th Century label in the UK.

A foldout or gatefold as it was often called, which too was unusual, because many labels would release just a one LP album of selections of music but there was so much music in the movie, it warranted two albums, and as we found out later there was much more to come with subsequent compact disc releases and recordings by the likes of Charles Gerhart and the National Philharmonic. The excitement that that opening theme stirs within many is unbelievable, and each time I hear it I am transported back to the first time I heard it and the moment when I stood in HMV holding that black covered double LP set. With Star Wars Williams, went back in time and re-introduced the full-blown symphonic score to cinema, the symphonic score as we know was at that time becoming a little underused, mainly due to budgets and also a new generation of film director/producer and it was a period in which the so called musical supervisor began to appear on credits of movies and pop stars and artists were starting to become involved in the writing of scores, but scores that were filled with songs some of which bared very little relevance to the films content.

So, it is thanks to the likes of John Williams and filmmaker George Lucas that audiences once again got to hear a fully symphonic soundtrack, that underlined, enhanced, and elevated the scenes and scenarios on screen as well as giving central characters their own personalized musical themes and motifs that would follow them throughout the entire series. But it was not just Star Wars that drew attention to composer John Williams, because this was a score that came towards the end of the 1970’s in 1977, in the same year the composer fashioned a dramatic and at times quite complex and Avant Gard score for Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the score became an integral part of the movies storyline with the composer creating the now famous five tones motif that played such an important part of the films storyline. It was in the 1970’s that audiences began to see the name of John Williams more and more on credits, and he was soon to become associated with the major blockbusters and in particular disaster movies as in The Towering Inferno (1974) Earthquake (1974) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

All three were issued separately but more recently a box set, The Disaster Movie Collection was issued by La La Land Records and soon sold out and after a short period of time has become a collector’s item. The single albums too are rare finds with the set including expanded versions of all three scores. The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure were both produced by Irwin Allen who was also behind the early TV shows that Williams worked on such as Land of the Giants.

Williams also worked on The Eiger Sanction in 1975 for director Clint Eastwood and followed this with his classic score with an iconic theme Jaws which was the second collaboration with Spielberg. The composer returned to the shark tale in 1978, with director Jeannot Shzwarc helming Jaws 2.

It was also in 1978, that audiences were told that they would believe a man could fly, when actor Christopher Reeve donned the red cape in Superman the Movie, directed by Richard Donner with Williams once again stepping up to the podium to create a stirring and memorable anthem like theme for the man of steel. But let us also not forget movies such as The Cowboys, Cinderella Liberty, Images, Jane Eyre, Pete n Tillie, The Long Goodbye, The Man who loved Cat Dancing, The Paper Chase, Missouri Breaks, Black Sunday, Family Plot, The Fury, and the composers only foreign language movie Story of a Woman directed by Leonardo Bercovici in 1970, and his adaption of music for the Don Taylor directed Tom Sawyer as well as his original score for the same movie in 1972. 1978 also brought a darker and more ominously wistful and romantic sounding Williams in the form of his score for John Badham’s rich and deliciously gothic version of Dracula, which starred Frank Langella as the infamous Count.

Although I have to admit that shades of this style of scoring had already manifested itself in scores such as Jane Eyre a few years earlier. It had to it a rich gothic sound and also contained a style and overall audio presence that just oozed a quintessential English flavour a windswept romanticism filled the soundtrack for Dracula, and it was an integral component of the movie, adding atmospherics and creating moods both dark and light. 

It was certainly in the seventies that Williams established his distinct and distinguished sound and style more widely, a style that has endured and still graces movies of all genres today, via the composers continued scoring prowess and also because of other composers that are following his lead.



Think of the name Lalo Schifrin and what comes to mind, well I suppose that is probably depending on the era you discovered his music in. For me it was the 1960’s as soon as I heard that infectious beat from Mission Impossible, I was hooked, along with other great works from that decade that had the unmistakable musical stamp of Schifrin on them such as The Cincinnati Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Che, The Fox, Bullitt, Murderers Row and let’s not forget his TV scores such as The Man from Uncle and Mannix plus numerous others. But the 1970’s were also a furtive and fruitful period for this much in demand Maestro.

With films such as those in The Dirty Harry franchise, The Concorde Airport 79, Enter the dragon, Kelly’s Heroes, Voyage of the Damned, The Eagle Has Landed, The Amityville Horror, and Clint Eastwood western, Joe Kidd, all benefitting from the composer’s unique style of scoring. He also worked on The Planet of the Apes TV series which aired in 1974, providing the series with its theme.

However his music for the affecting horror movie The Exorcist (1973) was rejected, the movies director William Friedkin, was said to have thrown the music tapes out of a window after audiences were sent packing on seeing the trailer for the movie with a music track by Schifrin underscoring it, Warner Brothers put a lot of stock in reactions from audiences when a trailer was shown, and it was deemed that is was the music that was too scary (but that was the idea surely). Friedkin replaced the composers original score with tracks from classical composers and a short excerpt from Tubular Bells by British artist Mike Oldfield, with that piece of music now being forever associated with the film. 

Schifrin spoke of his experiences on the movie.

What happened is that the director, William Friedkin, hired me to write the music for the trailer, six minutes were recorded for the Warner’s edition of the trailer. The people who saw the trailer reacted against the film, because the scenes were heavy and frightening, so most of them went to the toilet to vomit. The trailer was terrific, but the mix of those frightening scenes and my music, which was also an exceedingly difficult and heavy score, scared the audiences away. So, the Warner Brothers executives said for Friedkin to tell me that I must write less dramatic and a softer work for the movie. I could have easily and perfectly done what they wanted because it was way too simple in relevance to what I had previously written, but Friedkin did not tell me what they said. I´m sure he did it deliberately. In the past we had an incident, caused by other reasons, and I think he wanted vengeance. This is my theory”.

But when the rejected work was issued finally on to a recording, it became apparent to many that this was a complicated, innovative, and complex, soundtrack and maybe the film’s director and the Warner Brothers studio did not understand fully how this wonderfully atmospheric and virulent sounding score would have made the already powerful film even more impacting. When, listening to it as just music it does have the ability to make one feel uneasy and unsettled.

It is said that the composer re-used some of the music in The Amityville Horror which was released in 1979 another shocking horror for which the composer received an Oscar nomination for best original score.  Schifrin was and still is an inventive and highly original Maestro and a polished pianist, his style crossing over so many boundaries and verging on the experimental at times. He has scored a varied collection of movies adding to each one an outstanding and highly creative musical background. It was Schifrin amongst others who expanded the use of jazz influenced music within movies going forward from where the likes of Elmer Bernstein, Quincy Jones and others had started and like those Schifrin combined those jazz vibes successfully with dramatic and action led compositions that not only enhanced and supported on screen scenarios but heightened the effect of these upon audiences in both movies and Television productions. 

As well as his film scores the composer and performer also released several studio albums during the 1970.s which were not film music but jazz and Latin and even a fusion of jazz and funk. His arrangement of the Jaws theme by John Williams, which was taken from the album Black Widow, being a massive disco hit in both the U.S. A. and the U.K. and also being one of the first 12-inch singles to be released in the UK. Another movie that drew attention to the composer was Kelly’s Heroes, originally titled Kelly’s Warriors, this comedy/war drama starred Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas, who were supported superbly by Donald Sutherland and Don Rickles and Carrol O Connor. Schifrin’s score acted as a bridge and a background between the ever-changing scenarios within the movie that shifted from comedy to drama, the music being as swift altering as the film’s storyline. Thus, one moment we would here martial sounding music and in the next instant there were sitar-based cues and also French sounding interludes, the score even featured Hank Williams jnr and an up-beat song Burning Bridges performed by the Mike Curb Congregation which was popular away from the movie and achieved chart success in both the U.S. and the U.K. The stand-out score tracks for me personally within the movie were Tiger Tank which was a daunting and ominously lumbering sounding piece for percussion, brass, and strings, filled with tension and apprehension to accompany the German Tiger Tanks in the movie and also being utilised by the composer for some of the action scenes within the film. Then there was the opening March like composition, which in the movie was performed by woodwind or pipes, but on the first release of the soundtrack which was a re-recording was performed by whistling as in a Colonel Bogey type composition.

This was later remedied when the original score was finally released on the FSM label, a recording that contained the film score and a remastered version of the original album recording. Then there was Quick Draw Kelly, which was the music that accompanied Eastwood, Savalas and Sutherland as they walked down the street of a small French town towards a Tiger Tank that is guarding the bank which just happens to contain gold bars. The music that the composer provided for this Italian western influenced scene, was also Spaghetti western flavoured with Schifrin producing a Morricone-esque sounding piece complete with fuzzy electric guitar, racing timpani, strumming guitars and strange shrieks and sounds and brass flourishes. It worked wonderfully and the film is probably remembered for this scene above all others. There was also a serious side to the film and the score too mirrored this in places, most notably when the American soldiers are getting into position in the town prior to attacking the German forces that are stationed there.

Schifrin’s, largely atonal Commando Opus, heightens the tension and increases the level of drama within the scene.

The 1970.s also saw the composer score several TV series, providing the theme for The Planet of the Apes, Starsky and Hutch, The Partners, Most Wanted, Sanford and Son, and Petrocelli as well as others. He also continued to work on TV shows such as Medical Centre, Mission Impossible, and Mannix which he had been associated with from the 1960’s. Dirty Harry, Magnum Force and movies such as Voyage of the Damned and The Beguiled were also given the unmistakable musical identity of Lalo Schifrin.



As we said goodbye to the 1960’s, and the decade of the seventies dawned, things did not alter that much, but it seemed that composers such as Ennio Morricone were becoming more prominent and maybe more acceptable to the more traditional film music collector.  Morricone showed little signs of slowing in his musical output, an output that has to be recognised as the work of a genius, there is no other terminology for it.   Although the composer would probably have disagreed with anyone calling him a genius. Referring to the likes of Mozart and Bach and their prolific compositions as the true meaning of the word genius. 1970, was a relatively quiet year for the composer as he worked on just ten movies and providing the already popular American TV series The VirginianThe men from Shilo with a new opening and closing theme. Films that the Maestro worked on in 1970. Included La Califfa, City of Violence, Hornet’s Nest, The Nicest Wife and Two Mules for Sister Sara, an American produced western starring Clint Eastwood.

The latter title was at the end of 2020 re-issued by American label La La Land records, on a double compact disc, that includes the film score and the original LP record edition but remastered. But the composer was during this period still working predominantly in Italy for Italian filmmakers, and although the first year of the decade was relatively quiet compared with the 1960’s Morricone fans were to be treated to a veritable landslide of music that was inventive innovative and varied. The composer scored nearly one hundred and fifty films from 1970 through to 1979 and began to work with non-Italian directors and producers as the decade moved forward.

The composer also re-united with several Italian filmmakers such as Sergio Leone, Sergio Sollima, Sergio Corbucci, Elio Petri, Damiano Damiani, Duccio Tessari and Bernardo Bertolucci, to name but a few. His flawless soundtracks often supporting movies and television projects that to be honest were not worthy of his attention or focus. But there were just as many examples of film and TV productions that were inspired filmmaking and a source of entertainment for many. As I briefly mentioned the titles that were key works for the Maestro in 1970, I will move to 1971, and the unique Italian genre of the Giallo film, these were

a rich vein for the composer to work upon and would become a genre of film that he would become associated with via scores such as The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Il Gatto Nova Coda, and Four Flies of Grey Velvet, all of which were the work of the now esteemed Italian filmmaker and the master of the macabre, Dario Argento the two latter titles both released in 1971. Plus, there was always the ever present western such as Companeros (1970), and in 1971 we heard a slightly less raw sounding Morricone western soundtrack within his score for Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker. Which in a way mirrored and extended the style he had employed upon in his score for Once Upon a time in the West. Morricone also continued to work on lower budget movies in his native Italy including Forza G, Veruschka, Oceano, Sacco and Vanzetti which were all to become key works in the composers growing body of work for the cinema. Le Casse, Incontro, Maddelena, My Dear Assassin and many more were movies that contained the distinct sound that Morricone had created all benefitting from the composers lilting melodies and often experimental approach. The 1970’s was also the decade when we were gifted such scores as Days of Heaven, The Heretic (shame about the movie), Orca Killer Whale, Devil in the Brain, Novecento, Moses the Lawgiver (for TV), Lizard in Woman’s Skin, If there was work What Would I do, Oceano, and La Califfa to name but a handful. I have literally just touched upon the 1970’s film music of Ennio Morricone, because there is so much more.  



Like so many film music composers John Barry created numerous memorable scores and iconic themes within his career, many of these were fashioned in the 1960’s but just as many adorned and enhanced movies that were produced during the 1970’s. In fact, in the seventies Barry scored over twenty feature films and also worked on at least a dozen TV series and shows. Everyone surely remembers The Persuaders, The Adventurer, Orson Welles- Great Mysteries etc for the small screen, these themes were to become the staple diet of Barry fans in the 1970’s just as Vendetta had done in the 1960’s. The impressive list of movies he scored in the seventies included two Bond films, Diamonds are Forever (1971) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and although in my opinion these were not the best of Barry or Bond because I think the composer peaked for this series in 1969 with On Her Majestys Secret Service, they still served the movies well containing just the right amount of bombastic and action packed musical content, but he never returned to Bond till 1983 when he scored Octopussy.

I think one of the big Barry scores of the seventies must be The Last Valley, and although the movie did not achieve the box office returns it should have done the score was superb with the composer returning to a similar style to which he had created in his Award-winning score for The Lion in Winter in 1968. The Last Valley was and still is a wonderfully entertaining movie, with Michael Caine, Omar Sharif, Nigel Davenport and Florinda Bolkan, and yes maybe it is not the best film ever made, but it certainly looks good and held my attention. Barry’s atmospheric, highly charged, and melodic score aiding the production greatly, with the Latin choruses of The Lion in Winter being substituted for a mix of both German and Latin phrases alongside lilting and haunting melodies that underline the beauty of the Last valley which is a last haven of peace in a world gone mad with war and plague during the thirty years war in the 17th Century where religions fought each other, and countries and Kingdoms switched sides to whichever side seemed to be winning at the time. It was a brutal and miserable time filled with murderous acts and atrocities carried out in the name of God whether he be a Catholic or Protestant one. The soundtrack was issued on to LP record at the time of the movies release, and then later a bootleg pressing appeared on a compact disc which was issued by tickertape in Germany. There was then thankfully an official release on Intrada and a re-recording on Silva Screen by the Prague Philharmonic under the baton of Nic Raine, which was a very faithful recreation of the Barry score and contained bonus cues and unreleased material.

Barry produced such a variety of music during the 1970’s and worked on a diverse collection of movies, but throughout it all he still retained his trademark thematic strings and faraway sounding horns that at times elevated and eloquently enhanced many a scene or scenario. He worked on the re-boot of King Kong, The White Buffalo, Monte Walsh, Starcrash, First Love, The Black Hole, The Deep, Walkabout, Love Among the Ruins, The Tamarind Seed, Robin and Marian, The Dove, The Day of the Locust and the infamous Howard the Duck, which for some reason does not appear in his list of credits on IMDB.



Bernstein west was how many referred to Elmer Bernstein, with Leonard Bernstein being called Bernstein East, which I always found confusing because Leonard wrote West Side Story, but we won’t go there as it gets too complicated. Elmer Bernstein is one of the few composers of film music that began his career writing film scores in the early 1950’s and was still composing music for films in the 2000’s. Born in New York in 1922, he studied piano at the Juilliard School of music and he also began to study composition under the tutelage of Roger Sessions, Israel Citkowitz and Stepan Wolpe. During the second world war, Bernstein served in the American Air force and it whilst there he began to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Band. Working on these arrangements led Bernstein to writing his own music for radio. After the war Bernstein spent several years as a concert pianist, but he decided that this was not musical route he wanted to pursue, he was more interested in composing and was attracted to the idea of writing for film and television. He scored his first motion picture in 1950 which was a film entitled Saturday Hero. It was in 1955 that Bernstein got his break into the big time when he was asked to provide the score for The Man with the Golden Arm which was directed by esteemed filmmaker Otto Preminger. This was Bernstein’s landmark score, and he received much acclaim and admiration from his peers for the inventive use of jazz on the soundtrack. In the 1960’s the composer was responsible for creating so many classic themes which included The Comancheros, The Great Escape, and The Magnificent Seven.

During the 1970’s the composer established his own record label, and in the series of releases Film Music Collection he re-recorded many of the classic scores as written by Steiner, Rosza, Herrmann and Waxman, bringing many classic scores from the golden age to new film music collectors. As well as re-recording these classic soundtracks Bernstein continued to write his own scores and worked on several successful movies which included, The Amazing Mr Blunden, Gold, See No Evil, and Zulu Dawn. It was also in the 1970’s that the composer penned the rousing theme for the Harlech TV series Arthur of the Britons. Bernstein scored his final movie in 2002, which was Far from Heaven a score that earned him a nomination for best original score.



From one musical icon to another, Jerry Goldsmith, without a doubt he was and still after his passing remains one of the most popular film music composers of all time and in the 1970’s he was probably the most active and productive of many of the composers. Like Lalo Schifrin and John Williams, Goldsmith worked a vast variety of film genres and excelled in everyone of them. He scored some big box office hits and worked on a few turkeys, but no matter what the budget or the quality of the movie Goldsmith’s music always shone above it all. The Omen I think was the most ominous and virulent sounding score to be created in the seventies, just listen to the cue The Dogs Attack from the score if you have any doubts. Goldsmith won the Oscar for best original score in 1976 for his satanic sounding work. But there were many other Goldsmith soundtracks that were worthy of the golden statue in the decade of the seventies, Damien Omen ll for example, which although not as atmospheric still contained wonderfully dark and sinister passages. Goldsmith composed the scores to over thirty movies during the seventies and worked on numerous TV projects. Patton: Lust for Glory was a big score for the composer, with Goldsmith once again collaborating with Franklin J. Schaffner who he had worked with on films such The Planet of the Apes in the 1960’s.

Goldsmith’s credits in the seventies were so varied and diverse, he worked on sci-fi sagas such as Star Trek the Motion Picture, Coma, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, and Logans Run. The composer also scored epic adventure movies such as The Wind and The Lion, war movies such as McArthur, and Tora Tora Tora. Intimate tales like Players and westerns as in Rio Lobo, The Wild Rovers, Take a hard Ride, and Break heart Pass as well as tense dramas, in the form of The Cassandra Crossing, Papillion, Islands in the Stream, The Last Run, Contract on Cherry Street, Chinatown, Capricorn One, The Boys From Brazil, and horror movies such as Mephisto Waltz, The Swarm and The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. Plus, The Man, The Other, and Shamus. Goldsmith was probably the busiest composer in Hollywood during the seventies. He had an uncanny knack of creating a score that would undoubtedly enhance the movie it was written for, but the composer also managed to make the music highly listenable away from the images on screen and fashioned themes and musical passages that were rewarding when listened to just as music. Jerry Goldsmith was born in the February of 1929 in Los Angeles. At the age of twelve he began to study piano under Jacob Gimpel, for the best part of the 1940’s he continued to study composition under Mario Castelnuovo-Tedasco. Towards the end of the forties Goldsmith attended Los Angeles, City College, and whilst there did a year of extra studies at the University of Southern California. It was whilst studying at U.S.C. that he was tutored by Miklos Rosza in the film music class. In the early part of the 1950’s Goldsmith joined the music department at CBS he was initially an assistant, but soon moved up to become a composer for live radio and TV shows. He scored his first motion picture in 1957, which was a movie entitled Black Patch. His last scoring assignment was Timeline in 2004, with his score being replaced by another composed by Brian Tyler.



That is a question I often ask myself when writing about film music composers. So, Francis Lai, where to start with the 1970’s well Love Story I suppose. And Love Means Never Having to say you’re Sorry, which was the tag line for this rather low budget movie that took cinemas by storm in 1970. It was not only the film but also the music for the movie that became popular and placed French composer Francis Lai once again in the public eye, I say again because Lai had already established himself during the 1960’s with scores for films such as Hannibal Brook, A Man and A Woman, Live for Life, The Bobo, I’ll never forget what’s’is name, Mayerling, 13 Days in France, Three into two wont go, etc.

But with Love Story Lai produced a theme that seemed to resonate with everyone and a theme that had lyrics added to it after it had become popular as an instrumental which gave it extra appeal outside of the film music collecting fraternity. Which had also happened with his scores or central themes for A Man and a Woman and Live for Life. Lai began the 1970.s strongly with scores for movies such as Rider on the Rain, The Games, Hello-Goodbye, The Crook, and of course Love Story, all written in 1970. The composer was certainly not one to rest on his laurels and continued into 1971 with memorable scores for Smic Smac Smoc, Le Petit Matin, and The Legend of Frenchie King. Although the second year of the decade was not as frantically busy for Lai scoring feature films, he still produced memorable and lasting thematic material for the movies he did work on and also penned the music for the French TV series Os Deuses Estão Mortos, scoring over 240 episodes as well as working on the documentary Iran. The composer remained busy throughout the 1970.s but often worked on movies that were sometimes made on a lower budget thus some did not get the distribution and were often limited to small theatres rather than the chains of cinemas that were beginning to take hold during this period. Films such as Visit to a Chiefs Son, Merry go Round, Tom Thumb and Dust in the Sun, it would not be until the latter part of the decade that the composer scored movies that provoked some interest from cinema going audiences as in Emmanuelle ll, Bilitis, International Velvet, Another Man Another Chance, Anima Persa, and such like.

Like John Barry, Francis Lai was responsible for creating the musical soundtrack to many peoples lives in the 1960.s and he also continued to do this in the seventies and carried on working prolifically in film and TV until his death in 2018, he passed away on November 7th in that year in Paris, France, he was 86.



Maurice Alexis Jarre was born on September 13th 1924 in Lyon France, and commenced his musical training at the age of sixteen. The young Jarre had originally set out to become a radio engineer which was at the request of his Father, who was at the time a technical director for the French broadcasting corporation. But Maurice decided that this was not the career he wanted and soon decided to go to Paris to study music and whilst doing so made the decision that he would not just be a musician but would study to become a composer and a conductor. He began by studying Solfeggio which is an exercise for voice, he also studied harmony and percussion at the Paris Conservatory of Music.

After a period of three year’s he became an accomplished performer and one of the featured timpanists within leading Paris orchestras performing under the batons of numerous distinguished conductors, Pierre Monteux and Charles Munch amongst them. Jarre began to write music for film in 1951, and after nearly a decade of working in France and scoring over forty movies, he scored his first American motion picture which was The Mirror Cracked (1960). A year later he returned to collaborate with the same director Richard Fleischer on The Big Gamble. In 1962 the composer wrote the score for the epic war movie The Longest Day. In the same year saw Jarre catapulted into the spotlight when he scored another wartime epic Lawrence of Arabia for filmmaker David Lean. Lawrence of Arabia, was not only Jarre’s first major motion picture but also garnered the composer an Academy Award, which was to be the first of three Oscars that he would receive for his work in film, the others being for Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India, both of which were directed by David Lean. Jarre like the other composers I have mentioned thus far excelled in the 1960’s with soundtracks for films such as The Train, The Professionals, Behold a Pale Horse, The Damned, The Collector, The Night of the Generals, Topaz, Is Paris Burning? And many more. Night of the Generals being a much-undervalued film and score.  But I suppose it was hard to do anything else but be inspired in that wonderful decade.

The 1970’s were also a furtive period for the composer, and it saw Jarre gradually integrating more and more the use of electronics within his works for cinema and television, which was something he experimented with all the way through his career.  His innovative use of percussion too drew attention to his compositions and became something of a trademark within his scores for cinema and television.

He worked on over thirty-five projects during the seventies including another collaboration with David Lean in the form of the charming but not as well received Ryan’s Daughter in the first year of the decade. His output was phenomenal and also varied as were the movies he worked upon, The Man Who Would be King, The Mackintosh Man, The Life and times of Judge Roy Bean, Red Sun, El Condor, Shout at the Devil, The Message, The Last Tycoon, The Island at the top of the World, are just a handful of motion pictures that benefitted from Jarre’s Midas musical touch.  He also worked with esteemed Italian director Franco Zeffirelli on the epic TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth in 1977 and in the same year composed the music for March or Die and Crossed Swords. He died in the March of 2009.



We all know that Nino Rota worked on many films but is remembered mostly for his score to The Godfather which was released in 1972. Rota was in my opinion the “Godfather” of film music in Italy, and it was Rota that many of the more classically slanted composers such as Rustichelli and to a certain degree Angelo Francesco Lavagnino seemed to attempt to emulate in their compositions for film and television. Rota began his involvement with film scoring in 1933 with his work on Treno Popolare, he was 22 years of age, since that first assignment the composer was to work on literally hundreds of film and TV projects and was responsible in my opinion for placing Italian film music on the map and paved the way for the likes of Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai and their like. Rota was able to create numerous themes and scores that had to them a haunting and lasting appeal, they were also appealing because of their simplicity and their ability to mesmerize and attract both in the context of the music and image working in unison and as melodic and alluring music away from those images. And although he was much in demand during the 1940’s, 1950’s and the 1960’s when he created memorable themes and scores such as Romeo and Juliet, The Leopard, The Taming of the Shrew and Juliet of the Spirits to mention but a few. He continued to fashion quirky but at the same time classically laced works for the silver screen into the 1970’s.

Scoring many movies for the respected and esteemed filmmaker Federico Fellini and working on blockbusters that included Waterloo, and box office draws such as Death on The Nile. Rota had a distinct style of scoring, at times his music was an integral component of the storytelling, on other occasions it was a background to the action, but it lent much to every movie that he was involved with. What would Amacord be without its haunting theme, just as a single example of his expertise in scoring. The score for Romeo and Juliet contained that lilting and fragile sounding love theme, but there is so much more to the score than this, the composer fashioning a handful of themes all of which revolved and were based upon the love theme, but each having to them their own unique sound and containing a quality of melodious excellence that was emotive and haunting. The score ingratiated Zeffirelli’s sensitive storytelling and the gracious and wonderful images and also complimented the films emotive and tragic storyline. Rota also worked on The Godfather ll, in 1974 and scored another 27 films and TV productions during the seventies period. His last motion picture score was for The Hurricane in 1979. He died relatively young at the age of 67, in Rome on April 10th, 1979.

There were of course so many other composers who further established themselves in the decade of the seventies, Michel Legrand for example with his jazz influenced compositions and romantic and affecting tone poems for movies like, Wuthering Heights, The Summer of 42, The Happy Ending, and The Go Between which entranced audiences. His gracious and baroque laced music that was at the same time riotous and exciting for Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeers which added touches of comedy and drama in equal helpings was also a major hit for the composer. Again, Legrand was busy in the 1960’s and created so many themes and scores that are considered classics, the composer continued his near frantic schedule in the seventies, his prowess as a composer and arranger many other composers and filmmakers looked to him for inspiration. The Thomas Crown Affair and Ice Station Zebra were two major success for him in the previous decade. The Thomas Crown Affair I think being one of the top ten scores for cinema and one that still today remains fresh and vibrant, and having that touch of eloquence and class.


Jerry Fielding to was another composer that worked steadily in the 1970’s. He had become what is commonly known as an overnight success with his score for the Sam Peckinpah directed The Wild Bunch in 1969, and after this he became an in-demand composer at the age of 47. But fielding was a known jazz arranger and composer before scoring movies, Fielding was nominated three times for an Oscar and was among the boldest and most experimental of all Hollywood composers of film music.

His music typically utilized advanced compositional methods, often producing closely compacted, dissonant or inharmonious orchestral colours and textures which were sometimes seasoned augmented with touches of jazz and laced with an almost Avant Garde style. His scores for films such as Straw Dogs, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Lawman being applauded by critics and peers alike. For their striking and stand out sound, and also the innovative and inventive way in which the composer deployed his scores. Fielding’s film music career was filled with friendships and enduring cinematic collaborations with the likes of Sam PeckinpahMichael Winner and Clint Eastwood.

His score for the Michael Winner directed Chato’s Land too is a triumph of inventiveness, at times the music being used quite sparingly but still giving the desired support and adding much to the proceedings. His soundtrack for The Getaway, is a stunning piece of work, sadly the score was rejected due to pressure from the studio and replaced by another from composer Quincy Jones. Another of the composer’s seventies scores that deserves a mention is the 1979 western biography Mr Horn, which starred David Carradine in the title role. Fielding’s score again elevated certain scenes and added a great deal to key moments within the movie, it does bare many similarities to his scores for The Wild Bunch and The Outlaw Josey Wales. In 1974 the composer worked on Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia, which contained what I think is probably Fielding’s most accomplished score, the Maestro’s approach to the subject matter being just the opposite of what many expected.  The composer died from a heart attack in 1980.


Another composer who was active during the seventies was Gil Melle, he was a performer, and arranger, as well as a gifted and inventive composer, but is very rarely spoken of, which is a great pity. During the seventies Melle scored over fifty projects for TV and cinema, his musical output was predominantly focused upon TV movies and long running popular series such as Columbo, Kolchak-The Night Stalker, the TV movie of Dynasty and two episodes of the series The Questor Tapes.

His first scoring assignment for a made for TV movie in the seventies was My Sweet Charlie, which was a somewhat controversial piece dealing with a mixed-race relationship and the ever-present racism in the U.S.  This was followed by an episode of Then Came Bronson, a short series which the composer had worked on previously scoring an episode in 1969, after scoring an episode of Ironside which he was not credited for. In my opinion Melle is an underrated composer and even now a relatively undiscovered talent by collectors of film and TV scores.

His music for both television and feature films is diverse and filled with variety, he was a composer who was obviously not afraid to experiment as we heard in his innovative score for The Sentinel (1977) was in my opinion one of the most frightening occult-based films to come out of Hollywood during the 1970’s. I found it more disturbing and harrowing than both The Exorcist and The Omen. The Michael Winner movie boasted a strong cast, Eli Wallach, Ava Gardener, Martin Balsam, Chris Sarandon and Christina Raines all giving great performances. I always felt that the movie had the appearance of a TV movie, but this I think added to the tension and overall darkness of the movie. Melle’s score for The Sentinel, is a ground-breaking one, and at times maybe falls into the same category or style as employed by composers such as Charles Gross, Jerry Fielding and to a degree Leonard Rosenman within the parameters of film scoring particularly in the decade of the seventies. It is a dense and at times claustrophobic work, but also one that is highly effective within the movie, creating greater atmospherics and fashioning moods and ambiences. I have to say that The Sentinel is not the easiest film score to listen to, but given the subject matter of the movie, I suppose the composer did not set out to create nice little tunes that would have life away from the film. Melle, utilises synthetically created choral colours that are certainly affecting, and purvey a chilling and foreboding persona that itself forms a tormenting and unnerving sound.

However, the score does contain snatches and examples of melodic compositions, and although these in no way are expanded to become full on lush or romantically laced thematic properties, the less taught interludes still manage to seep through at certain points giving glimmers of light amongst the atonal material and establish a brief respite within the stressful and ominous sounds that the composer fashioned for the score. Taking a closer listen to the score also reveals so many underlying sounds, solo performances, and nuances, which combine or fuse together to create a work that is unsettling and thickly fearsome, with nerve jangling stabs and dark and sinister undercurrents.

Other scores from the seventies by the composer included Frankenstein the true Story, another TV movie from 1973, this is possibly one of the composers best scores, directed by Jack Smight the film starred James Mason, Jane Seymour, David Mc Callum, Michael Sarrazin as the creature and Leonard Whiting as Dr Victor Frankenstein. Melle’s score was a work filled with an ominous and dark musical persona, but it also contained lighter and less fearsome interludes, the composer creating eloquent and lingering themes, that were orchestrated skillfully to purvey a sense of both the sinister and romantic. The score is at times epic in its overall sound and conveys both a sense of unease and melancholy, with solo instruments creating some outstanding moments, with the woods and piano being prominent in the more subdued cues from the score. Elle also produced excellent scores for movies such as the Canadian produced Starship Invasions in 1977 which was released in the UK under the title of Project Genocide and starred Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn. The score for this in my very humble opinion outshone the film which it was intended to enhance.  

In 1971 Melle scored the Robert Wise directed The Andromedia Strain, in which A team of renowned scientists pool their knowledge in a to collaborate and work feverishly in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how the deadly virus can be halted before getting out of hand completely. Melle’s score is a ground-breaking one, the composer shaping and creating sounds and atmospheric interludes via electronic means, fashioning a futuristic sounding work that was supportive and totally gripping.


Also, we must not forget composers who made a contribution to the sound of the seventies film score but were not elevated into the public gaze as much as those already discussed. Issac Hayes for example comes to mind with his innovative and funky upbeat score for Shaft, the composer/artist fused expressive grooves with furtive sounding flourishes alongside jazz vibes and blended them 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 as well as the film’s opening theme which won him an Oscar. But it was not film music that Hayes will be remembered for although he did score more than just Shaft, fans of Hayes recall his music for both dance floor and his albums, which contained his own particular brand of unique soul and funky sounds. But back to his music for Shaft and the enticing near easy listening piece Love Scene Ellie (Ellies Love theme) and I Cant, get over losin you (which had 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 it intrigued hardened film music devotees, who had up until that time been used to more conventional symphonic sounding soundtracks. Hayes worked on a few film scores during the seventies as well as releasing albums of non-film score music for his ever-growing fan base and writing and performing upbeat and infectious hits such as Disco Connection. Hayes was not the only composer who worked on the Shaft movies and subsequent TV series.

For the sequel entitled Shafts Big Score producers turned to composer Gordon Parks, many had 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 all the score was written by Gordon Parks who incidentally was the director of the original movie and 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 the first movie, but as Hayes was now not involved Parks negotiated with McIntosh to work with him on the score for the second installment. The music for the movie was very much inspired and influenced by Hayes’s original work 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 lyrics 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 singer 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” ,“He Sure Will” and “The Man’s Trouble He’s Been to my House”,Put a Hole In your Soul Honey” etc, 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 ballad 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.

Parks score also contained a near fifteen-minute cue which was featured on the B side of the original MGM LP record, which was entitled Symphony for Shafted Souls which in essence was a collection of all the major themes from the score and utilised over the climatic scenes of the movie. Since its release the score has become like the movie a cult item, with many now appreciating more Parks musical prowess and talent. The third in the Shaft series was released in 1973, Shaft in Africa is probably the weakest movie in the trilogy, the score on this occasion was by Johnny Pate, who produced a collection of themes and a score that far outshone the movie. an infectious and vibrant title song Are You Man Enough? performed by the legendary Motown group The Four Tops, featured on the soundtrack and Pate’s score was also an energetic and well-structured work with powerful themes and imaginative arrangements that were dramatic, and jazz/funk influenced with a strong and vibrant sounding foundation that was laced with an almost big band or swing sound. So, three composers that made their mark on the seventies within one series of movies, and although some might be hard pressed to remember the scores by Pate and Parks, the Hayes contribution however, became part of seventies music history and opened the doors for Hayes to work on more movies.

Marvin Gaye, 1970s portrait

The same can be said for artists turned composer for a handful of Blaxploitation movies, Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye, which is far better than the movie it was penned for and the expanded two-disc version of the soundtrack is a must have item. Superfly by Curtis Mayfield should also be mentioned and soundtracks such as Blacula by Gene Page, and even the music for its laughable sequel Scream Blacula Scream which was scored by Bill Marx of Count Yorga Vampire fame, not exactly Oscar material but all of them and the composers involved helped form the stylish, varied and at times pop/disco/funky sounds of seventies soundtracks that were yet another style linked to the decade.

 The 1970’s is looked upon with much affection by film music collectors, there was the Golden Age of film music and the Silver Age of film music, but does the seventies fall into the latter category? I am not sure, maybe it has a category which is all its own, but what that would be I am not sure. It was a decade of weirdness at times also a decade that yielded so many films and scores that can now be called iconic or classic. It was the decade where the song score did come into play even more than it had been utilised before, which some may think was a mistake by film companies and filmmakers, but the song score along with the actual original score shaped the film music of that decade and also influenced composers and songwriters of future generations with films such as Saturday Night Fever, Car Wash, and Thank God Its Friday, we did see an increasing use of popular songs in movies, studios could see that at last they might be able to increase revenue from a film via its soundtrack, there was still room for original scores even though at times these were relegated to additional music cues, the scoring process of having music specifically written for a movie was still intact and being used. The practise of placing songs on the soundtrack of a movie did at times overwhelm the use of the original score and did in the end become the more prominent musical force in the 1980.s, but the film score composer remained gainfully employed even if the musical supervisor did get a bigger credit. The subject of the music supervisor is a rather touchy one amongst film music fans, and I for one do get very perplexed when someone says a film has a great soundtrack and then straight away starts to list the songs rather than talk about the Original score.

But this is another story and is the norm for a new breed of so-called soundtrack collector, and here I will become controversial and say, that these are not soundtrack collectors, but soundtrack listeners, as many of them do not have a clue about the origins of movie scores and the composers of the Golden age such as Korngold, Steiner, and their like. Let alone silver age giants such as some of the names I have included in this article.  So maybe it is better left where it is. Film music has changed in the twenty first Century but is it for the better? Or is there a complacency attached to both composers and collectors, with certain composers cornering the market and flooding it with their scores that all seem to sound the same and a few collectors treating these composers as if they are indeed the only ones around and also giving them adulation that is in most cases undeserved, hailing them as the saviour of modern day movie scores and announcing to the world that these composers or this composer is indeed the second coming. Well, this also opens so many other questions, which I will explore, ponder, and hopefully discuss with many of you in the not-too-distant future.    


The release and re-issue of soundtracks continues it seems at an even greater pace and volume than ever before. The unreleased scores of Ennio Morricone seem also to be the target of many soundtrack labels. But of course, as we know the composer was whilst alive adamant that many of his soundtracks should not be released, this was for reasons only known to him and I won’t speculate as to the reasons. Last month we saw the release of Rome Come Chicago, a score by Morricone that had lone been on the wants lists of hundreds of soundtrack collector’s and Morricone devotees. However, although there is no question about the score being brilliant, the actual release as you know I thought was lacking in the sound quality department and also in my opinion was done quickly and with very little attention to detail or quality. Such a shame as a good release could have been an outstanding one, and a shame because Quartet the label that released it releases have always stood out and been instant purchases.

The label this month are releasing another Morricone score which has also been on collectors lists of desirables for a long time. However, I Due Evasi di Sing Sing or Two Escape From Sing Sing, (1964) has a sound and style that is not normally associated with that of Morricone, when listening to the score I have to admit I was more reminded of the sound of Piero Piccioni rather than Morricone, but saying that the music is not unpleasant at all, in fact its rather entertaining in a jazzy kind of way, and also interesting because it is slightly different from a Morricone soundtrack from this period of the 1960’s which was very fruitful for the composer. The movie which was a comedy was entertaining enough but there is always the way in which comedy from one country transfers to another, and maybe this is why the movie although as I say being entertaining was not that well received over ally outside of Italy and the more central countries of Europe. But it is great to see another Morricone out there, and thanks go to the Spanish label Quartet again. The only thing I worry about is that after the composer’s death the flood gates will open and scores either released or unreleased with literally flow out in large numbers, some companies maybe taking advantage and releasing soundtracks with just a few extra cues or even just a few more minutes of music on them. Which has as we all know happened so many times before, if you have not seen the movie, its focuses upon two work colleagues who are lavatory attendants in New York City, played by the comedy duo Franco and Ciccio, who went onto to star together in films such as A Fist in the Eye, For a Few Dollars Less, and The Handsome, The Ugly and the Cretinous, all of which spoofed the Leone dollar trilogy.

They save the life of an important Mafia boss Attanasia, so he in turn catapults one of the pair into a successful boxer by fixing his matches and engages the other as his second in command. A gang war begins, and the unsuspecting pair are then accused of murders and are given a death sentence. But on the day of the execution, they refuse to leave the safety of their cell, and remain there even when they are proven innocent So tame and uncomplicated silliness. Which I think is mirrored by Morricone’s upbeat and at times cheesy sounding soundtrack. Directed by Lucio Fulci it’s a film and a score that one can just watch or listen to without really using any of one’s cerebral matter. I know it will sell well to Morricone collectors, and I do have to say it is already available on digital platforms and on an LP record on the Sonor music record label. The song from the score entitled Oh Little Birdy is performed by Maurizio Graf, who’s unique vocals have lent much to numerous soundtracks.

Another re-issue this past month or so is another Morricone Il Malamondo, or Funny World, which will need no introduction to any fan of Italian film music and more specifically Ennio Morricone. This is a classic score from Il Maestro which was also released in 1964, but unlike I Due Evasi di Sing Sing, this is a score that is filled to overflowing with so many instantly identifiable musical sounds, trademarks and quirks of instrumentation and orchestration that we now so readily associate with Ennio Morricone. This latest release is available on vinyl, compact disc and yes, it’s on digital platforms, this Decca records editiin if the score contains thirty-two-tracks and is something , aeveryone should own in one form or another, if you have heard this already then you will be knocked out by the extra cues and the wonderful clarity of its sound. If you have not heard this, may I ask where have you been? If you have it buy it again, if you do not have it now is your chance to own something that is most definitely classic Morricone. Hats off to Decca as this is how to do a re-issue. A 100% must have.

A BIT OF A RANT just a little one.

I always let you know when a soundtrack is available on digital platforms, simply because many nowadays are only released on the likes of Apple Music and Spotify etc, which prompts me to include a remark here from a film music collector who informs me if you use these places “You are NOT a collector, but a listener” but are we not all listeners? He also stated that anyone who uses digital platforms is robbing record companies of their revenues, well How? I thought this was a rather odd comment, as I use these platforms and also buy CDS and vinyl too, but if a score is not available on any format and solely streaming on these what do you do if you’re a collector just not bother, anyway stupid remark I think from someone who refuses to accept that technology has arrived and no matter where you get your music from you are a fan and in my eyes a collector also, his archaic observation left me thinking just how much he was missing out on and also maybe fans who use digital, vinyl and CD are more of a collector than him because he in my mind is a Selective Listener and not a collector.

From vintage Morricone to something contemporary and something that is not only different but alluring. Come True has a score by Electric Youth who are a Canadian band, or to be more specific a pop-synth duo from Toronto who are Bronwyn Griffin and Austin Garrick. Their style is quite unique and brings something that is fresh and innovative to film scores, they combine instrumentals with vocals and at times mix the two styles to create some stunning and mesmeric moments. The Sci-Fi/Horror movie Come True contains a score that I enjoyed immensely, there is a sound and an atmosphere projected from the music that is calming and unassuming. The themes are simple and at times understated, but always effective and ultimately affecting.  Listen to the cues, The Prologue, and The Seeker to encounter the tranquility and restful atmospherics that evoke the sounds and the style of Vangelis. The track Don’t Know Her too displays a certain Vangelis stylization, but is a little more edgy and darker than the previous cues. There is a tense but not over the top all out panic purveyed here, the music acting as a slow burner creating a taught mood. The score also contains a handful of vocal cues, but these to be honest are also well done.

The movie Come True is about a teenager who agrees to take part in a study on sleep patterns, but this ends up being a nightmarish and frightening encounter that shows how powerful dreams are or can be and a terrifying journey into the depths of her own mind.  I have not encountered any of Electric Youth’s music before now, but this score made me want to discover more and find out more about them. Check it out, you will I am certain be pleased you did. Guess what its on digital platforms, and compact disc so listen carefully.

Eagle Wings, is a 2021 Nollywood film that concentrates upon the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and its gallant fight against insurgency in defence of national peace and unity. The score is as one might expect patriotic sounding and filled to the brim with a proud and bristling vibrancy that is created by composer, Chuck Okudo. I was not sure on this at first but after listening to it through twice I found it a compelling and an entertaining listen, its highly thematic with the composer putting to effective use strings, brass and percussive elements, plus he weaves into the score ethnic sounding vocal performances that are truly stunning and stop one in your tracks when listening to the score. Its is a fusion of both symphonic and electronic, but its hard to decipher where one starts and the other ends etc. there are some beautiful passages within the score, which are emotive and poignant. But it’s the diversity of the music and the orchestration of the work that makes this such an interesting and ultimately enjoyable work. Take a listen, this is one for the collection. Recommended.  

There are more and more film scores that are predominantly performed via the use of electronics, synths and samples, and over the years the software that is needed by composers to score films using these tools have become more and more complex and polished, so much so that it is at times difficult to tell whether a score is symphonic or synthetic, however there are some that on listening to one can decipher straight away that they are electronic, which is not a bad thing because this is obviously the composer wanted to achieve, I find that this type of score invariably turns up in a low budget movie or in horror movies which do seem to rely more upon atmospherics rather than rich or luxurious thematic material. There are a few released this month that fit into that category, but please do not be put off listening to the following titles simply because they are not full-blown symphonic affairs as the music works well within each movie and after all film music is a medium or an art that is employed to enhance images and is not something that is written to produce hit tracks or songs.

Torn:Dark Bullets is the first I would like to give a mention too. It’s a dark and at times tense score and relies upon the use of synths and percussive effects and elements to create its dark and brooding musical persona. The composer, Ainz Brainz Prasad, has compiled an ominous and somewhat perplexing sounding work for the movie, which conveys a harrowing and unsettling atmosphere. Its probably not a score you will want to listen to on a summer evening or when chilling after a hard day as I am sure it would send those stress levels soaring, but as a film score and used to underline the action and various scenarios unfolding in the storyline, it works and works well. Again, it is the old thing, its film music and what is film music’s job? Exactly.

Same can be said for composer Alexander Taylor’s music in the movie The Dead of Night, although this does contain some conventional instrumentation at certain points, but largely is electronic and it can be said it is for the majority of its duration atonal. Affecting within the movie, but maybe not as striking or memorable away from it. Taylor has also scored Dreamcatcher, which again is largely electronic, but does have some inventive notions along the way, with the composer employing a haunting chiming motif and an electric guitar solo within what I would say is its central theme.

Benji Merrison, has produced a score that is upbeat and high octane for the movie SAS: Red Notice, it’s a mix of both symphonic and electronic by the sound of it, but do not quote me on that. There are some really good thematic foundations laid down within the score that the composer builds upon and fully develops as the score moves forward and progresses, the composer puts most of these into a suite which is track number thirty four on the recording, SAS The Suite, is a hard hitting piece, with brass flourishes, martial sounding percussion and driving string passages, it is a stirring and forthright cue that holds the listeners interest for the entire near six minutes that is runs.

It’s a score that I thought was not only inventive in its orchestration etc but also one that was for the majority of its duration entertaining. Certainly, worth investigating.

A soundtrack that you absolutely have to buy is James Newton Howard’s Raya and the Last Dragon, this is the latest from Disney, and we all know just how well Newton Howard scores animation don’t we. This is a fully symphonic work with the odd support here and there from the electronic. It’s a mysterious sounding work, with rich and lush musical moments that are filled with not just the mystical but the romantic and the comedic, a varied and vibrant work that is bursting to capacity with haunting and delectable sounding themes and edged with emotive and poignant tone poems. This is highly recommended.

I do honestly think that Newton Howard has written some of the most melodic film music over the past decade or so and in a way has taken over from where Jerry Goldsmith left off, I am not saying he is the new Goldsmith, but he seems to be scoring movies that Goldsmith probably would have worked on if he had been alive today. Raya and the Last Dragon is a score that is so varied and also contains so many vibrant and interesting performances, with the composer including a plethora of instrumentations in very much the same way he did with his score for Dinosaur. Its film music with heart, and movie music that has rhythm and appeal.

Another outstanding score has also been made available this month via Movie Score Media, The Camellia Sisters, which has an excellent score by Christopher Wong, Garret Crosby and Ian Rees, this is something really special and I say here and now I love it, the opening track From the Bridge alone just floors one emotionally, it is a anthemic and robust sounding theme that is performed by strings, brass and percussion plus there is female solo voice that makes the cue even more powerful and mesmerizing. The entire score is a commanding one and is crammed packed with so many themes its hard to believe that this all comes from just one score, but it does. I just adore the sound the composers have achieved here, its romantic yet action led, dramatic yet emotive, and at times fragile and yet apprehensive, there is only one thing to do I think, and that is to buy it now and see what you think, but I am confident you will love it as I do. Elegant, affecting and enriching. Recommended.

Other scores that are worth checking out include The Man in the Hat by Stephen Warbeck, which was released digitally a while ago and is now available on CD from Quartet records, also you may have missed Guy Farley’s delightfully enchanting score for Silver Skates which is from Movie Score Media and available on digital platforms.

And also on Spotify and other such digital dens of iniquity (lol) the unassuming but incredibly powerful music of Gary Yershon for the Mike Leigh movie Peterloo, which was released in 2018 there is just twelve minutes of the score available but it is a powerful work and well worth listening to, the movie too is worth a watch. Yershon also wrote the music for the movie Mr Turner in 2014, which is another innovative score of his to investigate. That’s all for this time.