Category Archives: Reviews

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY SEVEN.

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.

KINO MUSIC.

It is not often that I write about a non-film music release, because the idea of MMI is to promote music from film and TV. But, I do at times make an exception. Someone recommended the album I am going to discuss a few days ago, and said that the style and sound within the collection of tracks was strikingly evocative of Ennio Morricone, Well, this is frequently said, and I invariably get the album and listen to it and think, which track sounds like Morricone?  But this album is certainly a different scenario. Kino Music by Pierre Daven-Keller is a very wonderful homage to the style and the sound of not just the sixties and seventies music of Ennio Morricone, but I think it pays tribute to the sound of Italian cinema as a whole from that period. The composer, performer and producer has put together a collection of great thematic pieces, which do remind one of the furtive music periods of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is I suppose a cinematic themed album as in the music could very well be from any number of movies, it is also a lounge or easy listening album, but I have to say here and now please do not pass up the chance of hearing this, it’s a perfectly retro listening experience. In fact, I would also say that the composer manages to bring into play the shake and pop orientated style that was employed by German composers such as Peter Thomas that comes complete with that groovy sounding organ we heard so much of in both Italian and German scores, there are also hints of a style not dissimilar to that of French Maestro Francis Lai and some of the sophistication of Michel Legrand, The composer combines these with sounds that are similar to that of cherished composers such as Piero Piccioni, Gianni Ferrio, and their like, combining a jazzy funky sound with that of a romantic and sensual atmosphere. There is just something about this recording that I know will make people want to hear more of this artists work. In these strange days of semi lockdown and also of caution and avoiding others, this is a much appreciated and highly welcomed collection a respite from what has been a depressing time. It’s a collection that one can sit and listen to with no pressures whatsoever, the varied collection of rich and vibrant material washing over the listener and creating an atmosphere that is comfortable and warming , as well as being entertaining. It not only includes atmospheric wordless female vocals in the style of Edda Dell Orso, but there is a stunning whistling performance on the cue Sirocco, that is remarkable and brought memories flooding back of so many of those flawless Alessandroni performances.

Pierre Daven-Keller – Sirocco – YouTube

Then we are treated to samba like cues and also a vocal or two, which are inventive, It’s a recording that does one good, it is good for the soul and makes the heart swell, it also brings back memories of discovering the unique sound of Italian music and seeking out the latest Cipriani, Nicolai, Umiliani, etc in all those shops that we foraged through in London over four decades ago. One word to describe this release is Stunning, just that, so please do not hesitate to buy now. Available on digital platforms and there is a vinyl edition available. Check it out as soon as you can. This is highly recommended.  

SUPERINTELLIGENCE.

Cast your minds back to 2018, and to a movie entitled The Titan, probably not a film that made much of impression, but the score by Fil Eisler did make its mark upon me at least . Glad to say the composer has recently scored a movie which many are raving about because it is just so funny and let’s face it we need a bit of a lift these days don’t we. Superintelligence, was released in 2020, remember 2020?  The movies storyline focuses upon an all-powerful Superintelligence that chooses to study the very average human Carol Peters, the fate of the world suddenly hangs in the balance. As the A.I. decides to enslave, save, or destroy humanity, it’s up to Carol to prove that people are worth saving, but are they? The film directed by Ben Falcone stars Melissa McCarthy as Carol Peters. It is listed as a Sci Fi movie but to be honest its more of a rom-com. But this does not mean its not worth a watch. The score by Fil Eisler is excellent, it does its job admirably and the composer manages to get the mix exactly right with a fusion of both the romantic and the mysterious throughout. Its for the most part fully symphonic from what I can make out at least, but there are little inserts of electronic support here and there. It has that comedic and quirky sound that is appealing and alluring. At times when the score does become more developed in its thematic properties, one is reminded somewhat of the music of the late James Horner. The string section swelling and being punctuated by both brass and percussion. It is at times wonderfully grand but also filled with a sensitivity and a more intimate and personal sound. The composer creating inspiring musical moments and crafting beautiful tone poems that are filled with an air of melancholy and become affecting and magical. The end track New Digital Overlord (finale) is a like an overture of sorts but at the end of the score instead of acting as an introduction, the composer wows us with some awesome sounding pieces within the cue, and it is kind of like a showcase for the entire score. Booming, percussion, proud and soaring strings are laced with wistful and flyaway woods that are all underlined with various snippets of themes from the score. It is this cue that reminded me of Horner, maybe shades of both Star Trek and even Cocoon are present, it’s a warm and pleasant sound that is fashioned here, and also one that I am sure will be appealing to you and many others.

The composer also employs haunting solo piano at certain points within the score, which are enhanced and given depth by strings. It’s a great fun score, with equal amounts of darkness, impish and mischievous interludes that are heard alongside sweeping and martial sounding sections, so something here for everyone I think. Certainly, a score that you must check out, available on digital platforms, and while you are there take a listen to Proud Mary and The Titan by the composer well worth a listen.  

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY SIX.

Soundtrack supplement this time opens with three very entertaining releases from the ever industrious Dragons Domain, in no particular order because all are releases that you should own the label have released Vampirella by Joel Goldsmith, Adventures in Dinosaur City by Frederic Ensign Teetsal and the third instalment of the Mark Snow collection.  So I am going to start with Joel Goldsmith’s atmospheric score for the movie Vampirella.

The score has never been released before and it is one that I know many fans were craving. The movie which was released in 1996 was directed by Jim Wynorski, and starred Talisa Soto in the title role. The film also featured the Who rock band front man Roger Daltrey, as well as Richard Joseph Paul, Brian Bloom, Corinna Harney, Rusty Meyers, Lee de Broux, Tom Deters, Lenny Juliano, Angus Scrimm along with John Landis and John Terlesky. The story of Vampirella was already well established before the movie made it to the screen in fact the character made her first appearance in the late 1960.’s in a magazine. She hailed from a distant planet named Drakulon and wore a rather fetching if not racy looking blood red costume that shall we say did not leave a lot to the imagination. The on-screen incarnation of the character was brought to life by Roger Corman who had worked alongside Wynorski previously and as far back as 1981.

The score by Joel Goldsmith seems to be a mix or fusion of both electronic components and a scattering of more conventional instrumentation. The composer has fashioned a score that is filled with a rich and vibrant air and also contains a number of themes. At times I did find myself thinking of past Goldsmith scores such as Moon 44, as the score for Vampirella did evoke this same sound and style on occasion. The opening theme also kind of reminded me of a western flavoured sound, but sometimes you know I hear western music in everything.

It’s a good score and I have to say it kept me interested throughout, I was waiting to hear the next cue at times but was loathed to move it forward in case I missed out on anything in the track I was listening to. Its certainly an inventive and varied score, yes, it is filled with eerie sounds and also laced with dark and affecting atmospherics, but the innovative and inventiveness of the composer make this a soundtrack that you will want to add to your collection. Recommended.

Next up is Adventures in Dinosaur City, I have to say not familiar with this at all, which is a good thing, because hearing something new is always great. The movie was released in 1991 and was a mix of both live action and animation, A group of youngsters are magically sent back into prehistory and meet the real-life counterparts to their favourite cartoon characters: who just happen to be a group of friendly dinosaurs. The kids team up with the creatures and start solving crimes, so a children’s movie but one I am sure appealed to kids of all ages. The mood and sound of the music straight away purveys a sound of urgency and is in the same ilk as music from a vintage horror from the Universal studio, but after its initial opening flourishes the music alters becoming less urgent and taking on the musical persona or style of Danny Elfman, with a jaunty piano (shades of Beetlejuice) providing the foundation of the piece, whilst strings and brass are added and enhanced with percussive elements to make it sound grand in one way and also having to it a comedic quality at the same time. It is a score that I enjoyed, and there are some nice little nuances and interludes where the composer creates several themes that re-occur along the way.

The last score I heard from this composer was also released on Dragons Domain, The Haunting of Morella is excellent, and if you have not already purchased it you should as soon as possible. Adventures in Dinosaur City is a lighter sounding score, but this obviously reflects the subject matter of the project. It is a fun score, and one I think you will enjoy.  

The Mark Snow collection-volume three is entitled Southern Gothic and contains two scores from the composer. The first which runs from track one through to track twelve is from the 1994 TV movie Murder between Friends, the score contains some dark and sinister sounding cues that are at times scattered with bluesy or folk orientated nuances, but the overall mood of the score focuses upon the apprehensive and it is filled with a tense and foreboding atmosphere.  Mainly electronic in its sound but this I think adds to the dark and threatening mood, the composer adding here and there an unexpected sound or a underlying percussive rumbling. The second score is taken from Shadows of Desire which was shown on the CBS channel in 1994, this score is lighter than the first, with the composer employing solo piano and harmonica on occasion to create a more subdued and calming style, the composer also brings into play some nice string arrangements that compliment and support both piano and harmonica.

The composer is in my opinion highly underrated and maybe the success of his theme and scores for the X Files series and movie have slightly hidden his ample talents from many collectors who just see him as the composer of that series. This is a nice pairing of scores as it displays Snow’s versatility and his ability to create music to suit differing storylines. Again recommended.  

Haymaker is a movie that follows a retired Muay Thai fighter who is working as a doorman, one night he rescues an attractive transgender performer from a thug, which leads him to eventually become her bodyguard, and after a while a trusted friend. The relationship between them leads the bodyguard character to make an unexpected return to fighting, risking not only his relationship, but his life. It’s a story that contains elements that look at both human dignity and love. The music is by composer Christopher Thomas, (Woman Rebel, Lost and Don’t Look Back) who has provided the movie with a surprisingly rich melodic and sensitive sounding score. Its one of those soundtracks that one would probably look at and think well this will be all synth tracks and maybe filled with hip hop influenced tracks, but no, check it out, this is an accomplished score and one that is affecting and highly emotive, the use of solo cello and violin at times is quite breath-taking and oozes poignancy. The composers use of percussion in track The Fight/Finale is also inventive and effective.  Please check this score out it is wonderful. Available on digital platforms.

Now for something completely different as they say, Barb and Star go to the Vista Del Mar, I did say it was different. Music for this complete nonsense movie is the work of Christopher Lennertz, and although the movie is a complete nonsensical 1 hour and fifty minutes of 100 jokes a minute with approx 99 of them falling flat on their face, the score is well….. the score is Excellent. The composer pulls out all the stops and throws everything and anything he can lay his hands into this mixing pot underlining and supporting chases, madcap scenarios, and other such like unpredictable and outlandish situations. Just listen to the cue Jet Ski Battle if you don’t believe me. The soundtrack is as entertaining as the movie and I mean that in a good way as I have to say the movie was fun, the music is brilliantly well done and because at times its over the top and as mental as the script of the film it works so well, complimenting, enhancing and at times becoming part of the lunacy. Check it out everyone, fantastic stuff. Also wanted to mention the composers score for the new Tom and Jerry movie, again entertaining stuff.  Deany Bean is Dead was released in 2018, but the soundtrack by Cindy O’Connor (who shared a credit with Mark Isham on the Once Upon a Time TV series) appeared this week on digital platforms, and as we were talking of a little off beat story line, how about this one.  A down-on-her-luck woman tries to win back her ex-boyfriend at his engagement party without revealing that her recently strangled boss is in the trunk of her car. Yep, I did warn you. The score for this movie is brilliantly done, entirely engrossing and totally irreverent. It has cheeky little passages that are filled with apprehension but also tinged with a quirky comedic element.

Lots of pizzicato strings, and fleeting woodwind lines, but there is just something about the music that is appealing and draws the listener in. Once heard I am sure you will be captivated by it and will be returning to it again and again. Check it out…

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols’ task to launch a national blitz for NASA, recruiting 8,000 of the nation’s best and brightest, including the trailblazing astronauts who became the first African American, Asian and Latino men and women to fly in space. Ids the subject of this excellent documentary Woman in Motion.  Which covers the importance of her role in Star Trek TV series and movies and goes into great depth about her efforts to spearhead STEM in which she dedicated herself to persuading NASA to diversify in the selection of candidates who would become astronauts.  The score for the documentary is epic at times and provided by composer Colin O’Malley. It is a smorgasbord of sounds and styles and all I am going to say is just listen to it. Emotive, inspiring, rich, and thematic as well as being filled to overflowing with a sense of hope and integrity. Please do not pass this one by.  

There are atmospheric and disturbing sounds galore within the next score, composer Gavin Keese serves up a liberal helping of edgy and predominantly unsettling sounds for the movie What Lies Below, which is released by Movie Score Media. In fact, the composer does not take his foot off the sinister or tense button for most of his score for the movie. Its not one for the faint-hearted listener or indeed the collector who leans more towards the melodic and romantic sounding score, it is a relentless collection of sounds that are jagged, startling, and effective. So be warned available on digital platforms.

 The same can be said for Vigil which has a score by  Michael Yezerski, the music or musical sounds employed here in my opinion are not entertaining but grating, it is a score that I listened to from start to finish, but I have to be honest ad say I wont be returning to it, its certainly atmospheric, but is this music, no I think not, it’s a soundscape a collection of sounds that are mostly jarring and had me reaching for the volume control. Not for me. 

But Blood of Zeus is, this is an excellent soundtrack by composer Paul Edward Francis. And is filled to the brim with proud and epic sounding themes, choir, full on strings, thundering percussion, brass the works, if you like your film music big, grand and richly theme led this is for you, enough said go get it. It is an animated Netflix production, so why not tune in too.

Also worthy of mention is Sam Dinley’s score for Romeo and Juliet. Stunning is the word best used to describe it, again available on digital platforms find it and enjoy.

ROMA COME CHICAGO -aka BANDITS IN ROME.

You know that most of us as film music collectors have what is often referred to as a wants list and there are a few titles that are our holy grails, well one score that was mine I managed to get about eleven years ago on a CDR. Yes, it was a bootleg, and I am sorry I even thought about buying it but buy it I did.  But, before you all rush to the police station to report me the score was not so they told us ever going to be released, even though a handful of reputable record labels did try and get it an official issue. In fact, I was involved in talking to a publisher for an English label who were very keen to release it, the score in question is Roma Come Chicago or Bandits in Rome, this is a hard hitting and highly dramatic score from two of the most important music Maestro’s in Italian film scoring, Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. A few tracks did appear on a compilation and 1 or 2 made an appearance on the B side of the Poo records label LP of Hornets Nest, which was like a carrot being dangled in front of collectors, because if there was one track or even two there were surely more around somewhere. As I say the bootleg had around twenty three tracks, and the sound quality was very, very good. The score has now been given an official release, its on the Spanish label Quartet, who these days seem to be very industrious. Fantastic I thought an official release of this iconic score, but stop, wait a minute, let check the time of the boot and the tracks.  Ummm, more tracks on the bootleg, five more tracks in fact. Sound, well I don’t, know, I think the boot has the edge, its sharper on many of the cues, whereas the Quartet edition although official is dull sounding in places. Right before anyone shouts witch hunt, this is a review (which is a personal opinion of the reviewer) I am a film music critic and I do not just analyze the score but also the quality of the release as in sound and presentation.

This latest quartet release is in a word disappointing, it’s a score many have been craving, and this is in no way a salute to the great Ennio Morricone, it is not a tribute but in many ways a travesty. I am sure if he were still alive, he would have stopped this release. Like he did so many others that he felt were not his best or reflected his talent.

The opening cue sounded promising, with its rather chaotic sounding percussion, that evokes several other Morricone cues from the same period, this upbeat percussive onslaught is the Main Title, but on looking at the movie, I don’t think it is, this cue is not even on the old bootleg at least not in this form? You all know I am a great admirer of Ennio Morricone and Italian film music in general I have been since I was ten years of age and that was a very long time ago. So, I do get annoyed when a score of his is released and the record label does not do it justice, and there is a lot of examples of those I can tell you.

So, Roma Comme Chicago is added to that list for me it just does not cut it, the sound is at times distorted, this is especially noticeable on tracks number 4 and number 8 which are variations of the dramatic theme, its like it has been recorded at a volume that is far too loud and the meter has gone off the scale, and yes I am aware that in Italy a lot of soundtracks had quite poor quality sound when they were recorded or first released on LP record, one only has to listen to things like Find A Place to Die  by Gianni Ferrio and also other releases  such as releases on Ariete records back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. But saying this when Find a Place to Die was issued on compact disc the sound quality was superb. On listening again and again Roma Come Chicago suffers from a distortion or a chatter on the more delicate sounding cues aswell as in I Like My Life lll which is track number eleven.

Look! I am not going to say to you this is a fantastic release, and it has superb sound, because it clearly does not, and if I were to say to you it was flawless then I would not be doing a credible job as a critic, would I? If I said go buy it and you did, you would then hear the obvious flawed sound and think, well I won’t be reading his reviews again, would you not?  The score without a doubt is excellent, so for that and that only it is desirable from a Morricone/Nicolai fans point of view, but the audio on this is no better than listening to a bad bootleg, thankfully many already have the boot that was doing the rounds. However, I wont say stick with that, because any official release MUST be supported, especially when its Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, and I in no way support the bootleggers that are around, but don’t expect this to be crystal clear and fully restored, because it is not, they can say it is but come on just take a listen guys. The annoying thing is that this is a million miles away from the sound quality on other Quartet releases, such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Midnight Cowboy so why?  Roma Come Chicago also suffers along the way from a few volume drops throughout the discs duration, again this seems to occur in the more dramatic cues or the various arrangements of that theme, which again makes me think the problem is in the original recording or mix and maybe could not be improved upon, there are also sections of these cues that speed up, and begin to sound as if they are trying to get to the end of the cue before the tape runs out, sorry for being flippant but that’s it, Rome Come Chicago or Rome like Chicago, or Bandits in Rome, whatever it is called where you are, deserves much better.

My opinion, for what its worth after this review is that this was a rushed release, it became available and the label wanted it out there asap, there’s a saying isn’t there, more haste less speed, in this case it’s more haste less sound quality. The cover art too is wishy washy, but thankfully one can flip it to show a much better cover art.  As a Morricone/Nicolai fan of over fifty years, I feel let down, and disappointed, as a critic I am just being honest, I don’t think there is a law against that is there?  CD available now, and an LP version is on its way. I wonder whats next on the Morricone front. Looking into my crystal ball i see a western.. no two westerns. Both with same characters and a number 7 involved. If I am right cross my palm with dollars….

Quartet Records | Specializes in the release of soundtracks