WEST AND SODA was a well made and slightly satirical animated feature that was brought to the screen by Italian film maker, Bruno Bozzetto. The movie has a pretty down to earth and basic plot which involves a villain who’s greed gets the better of him and attempts to make a widow marry him so he then has access to her land and other property. But a stranger who ambles into town has other ideas and becomes intent on taking the villain and his associates down. I think this animated movie was probably aimed more towards the adult market as opposed to the kids, as it’s storyline is based upon and includes a number of references and nods in the direction of various westerns to extent that it at times mocks the western genre as a whole. So, one would have to have some knowledge of western films to be able to understand the humour that the director employs as he over-exposes the WESTERN stereotypes that we have been seeing for many years. In my opinion the film is probably an acquired taste, you will I think either loathe it or love it, I loved it and especially the score by composer Giampiero Boneschi, who manages to capture the essence of the western score from both American and European examples of the genre. But of course, being an Italian production there are an abundance of musical references to the Spaghetti western or at least Homages to the composers that scored those quirky and entertaining sagebrush sagas. The opening cue WEST AND SODA begins with harmonica (performed by the great Franco De Gemini) which could be straight out of Luis Bacalov’s THE PRICE OF POWER, a vastly underatted work for the genre and one that seems to be overlooked by fans.
But then when you stop and think about the cue, maybe Bacalov took inspiration from Boneschi because WEST AND SODA was released four years previous to THE PRICE OF POWER, so maybe I am looking at the score from the wrong prospective and it is not influenced by the likes of Morricone, Nicolai, Ferrio, Cipriani etc but was a pre cursor to a number of their scores and the composer was just as much as an innovator and responsible for the creation and the development of the Italian western sound as the aforementioned and many others. The score also includes some interesting choral work that sounds very similar to Morricone’s THE HILLS RUN RED and also like the IL CANTORI MODERNI,(thats because it is them performing). There are certainly familiar sounds within the score from American or Hollywood westerns with the composer utilising romantic sounding strings and writing in such a way that it purveys a huge expansive vista such as monument valley or the rich and lush prairies of the old west. Which every so often builds and heads into a more Wagnerian sound or even Rossini in the a slightly less rousing version of THE WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE. But for much of the time there are definite Italian or Spaghetti western sounds present, these at times being emphasised maybe because it is an animated feature?
Track 4 for example contains solo trumpet and driving percussion to which is added horn as the cue builds and then shortly afterwards stops, this is a sound that I have heard in a number of other Spaghetti western scores, Fidenco’s excellent JOHN IL BASTARDO for example in the instrumental version of the THE BALLAD OF JOHN. So, it’s a question now of who influenced who? WEST AND SODA is not spaghetti through and through as the composer also creates dramatic and tense musical environments via a sound that is not dissimilar to some of the early western scores of Dimitri Tiomkin or for that matter Alfred Newman, Max Steiner et al. There is even the obligatory clip clopping sounds to mimic a horse which act as the background to a lilting string arrangement and syrupy sounding harmonica solo which is even more easy than easy listening. The score has a TANGO influenced piece which is also in my opinion a kind of homage this time to the silent film era, as it sounds very comedic and fast paced with over the top flourishes. But that is just a personal feeling.
There is of course the mandatory saloon track, and a square dance type track, but every Italian western score has its fair share of those. Overall WEST AND SODA is a rewarding listen, it is like a musical who’s who or what is what from the Western score, soft and also tense and expansive representing those Hollywood productions and quirky and thematic highlighting the sound of or at least the sound that would become associated with the Euro-western from Italia. An interesting and as it turns out an innovative score, originally released on Carosello records, its thanks to BEAT RECORDS that this is at last on CD with great art work and pristine sound.
RELEASED ON BEAT RECORDS SEPTEMBER 2014.
IL DIARIO SEGRETO DI UNA MINORENNE (E’ NATA UNA DONNE) 1968, is a film that contains a Gianni Marchetti score that is a veritable gem from what many collectors consider to be the sparkling age of Italian film music. It was during this period in Italian cinema history that composers such as Marchetti, Morricone, Nicolai, De Masi, Cipriani and many others made their mark upon the film music community and created highly original, rhythmically contagious and atmospheric soundtracks for a tidal wave of movies that just seemed to flood out of the gates of Cinecitta. It was a particularly furtive and productive time for the Italian film industry and it was also a period in which cinema audiences and critics alike began to notice the innovative and haunting music that was being composed by Italian Maestro’s to enhance and support motion pictures. IL DIARIO SEGRETO DI UNA MINORENNE aka- SECRET DIARY OF A MINOR, was the first in a series of three movies that starred the debonair heart-throb Rossano Brazzi, the film which was directed by Oscar Brazzi (Rossano’s Brother) and contained a screenplay that the siblings collaborated on. The film which is regarded as being within the genre of comedy but also has been referred to as a soft porn flick also starred Mimma Biscardi, Walter Trequattrini, Donatella Fossi, Renzo Petretto and Arduino Sacco. The central character is a young girl named Betty whose parents are always arguing, because of their constant bickering and disagreements that often blow up into major disputes Betty is often left alone to and for the majority of the time has to either care for herself or is left to do as she pleases. She feels that she is stuck in the middle of an awkward and at times unpleasant situation, She considers herself to no longer be a child (but is treated like one by her Mother and Father), but feels she is now a woman. Along with a good friend Lalla, she makes a discovery that men are highly attracted and aroused by the female form and along with Lalla the pair begin to experiment with make up and clothes with the intention of catching the eye of the opposite sex, plus are also attracted to each other. Amongst the girls new found group of admirers is the shy and unassuming Walter who becomes infatuated with Betty and at one point in the storyline stands in the doorway of her house for hours hoping that she will see him. Eventually Walter’s persistence pays off and Betty too becomes attracted to him. Their friendship soon blossoms into love for one another. Walter becomes intent on marrying Betty but he has no job and very few prospects to offer thus has no money.
He invites Betty on a date but to finance this he decides to turn to crime and plans a robbery. This does not go well for him and he is pursued by the police, the chase ends in disaster when Walter is killed in an automobile accident, this leaves Betty contemplating what has happened and why it has happened but also returns her to the situation of being treated like a child by her warring parents.
The score for the movie or at least selections from Marchetti’s soundtrack were originally released on a CAM records long playing record, it was the B side on a double feature soundtrack release (SAG 9024) it included just eight cues from the soundtrack and the A side included selections from another Marchetti score VITA SEGRETA DI UNA DICIOTTENE (also available on BEAT RECORDS on CD). Marchetti penned an infectious and hauntingly mesmerising score for IL DIARIO SEGRETO DI UNA MINORENNE and utilised what can I suppose be categorised as an easy listening/jazz orientated style throughout as in the track, GIOVANE E BEAT. The composers work for the cinema was at times highly original as Marchetti was not afraid of experimenting with sounds and styles, but at the same time his “sound” evoked and echoed the works of his contemporaries such as Trovaioli and even more so Morricone. Marchetti employing a pop slanted approach that was laced with romantic and dramatic backgrounds and themes. I suppose if I was to try and describe the style of Marchetti, I would have to say it has the inventiveness of Morricone combined with the infectious up beat persona of Berto Pisano, in other words compelling and entertaining. Marchetti’s sound was also down to the fact that he would often use the soaring female vocals of Edda dell Orso and the distinct sound of Alessandro Allessandroni’s IL CANTORI MODERNI, who were after all both great contributors in their own right to the world of Italian film music. Symphonic and pop colours were both employed within his film scores when they called for it and the composer fused both of these styles with consummate ease producing consistently attractive works that not only supported the movies but stood alone as music that could be listened to and enjoyed. Marchetti to this day still remains underrated and often is ignored or side stepped by record labels, but his out put during the 1960,s and 1970,s was considerable but like so many other composers who were scoring movies during this period he was overshadowed by the sheer weight of Morricone’s musical productivity, during his career Marchetti worked on over 40 motion pictures, he was born in Rome on September 7th 1933, his music graced a plethora of genres that included, police drama’s, westerns, sex/comedies, erotic stories and romantic tales, as well as being particularly active working on documentaries. He died in Rome on April 11th 2012 after battling with a long illness.
Any soundtrack by Maestro Gianni Marchetti is always a welcome sight to me and I am sure to other collectors of Italian/European film music. Even in this instance when it is a re-release of a Marchetti score it is still one that is a must have purchase, even if you do already have the original compact disc release. L’OCCHIO SELVAGGIO (WILD EYE) was directed by Paolo Carvara in 1967 and has always been a work for film by the composer that many have cited as his best and ultimately the score that collectors and critics alike associate with the Maestro. Marchetti was very active during the mid 1960,s through to the end of the 1970,s and his music not only suited well the movies he worked on but had and still has the ability to stand on its own as just music purely to listen to and to be entertained by. Marchetti,s style of composition was in many ways akin to fellow Italian composers, Morricone, Nicolai, Fidenco and Ferrio but for some reason the composer never found recognition outside of his native Italy, always seeming to be overshadowed by the likes of Morricone. Marchetti employed a fusion of pop orientated catchy tunes with dramatic and energetic passages within many of his film scores and although the thrilling and hard hitting style and the lighter material at times seemed to be musically worlds apart they somehow still managed to compliment each other and work well for the picture, this was I think because of the composers obvious talent for orchestration and arranging and his ability to easily adapt to each and every scenario he was presented with. L’OCCHIO SELVAGGIO was released on long playing record on CAM in 1967,(sag9001) and is listed as a promo, the soundtrack was also issued on the RCA Victor label in 1968 in the United States and Canada, this version contained a song TWO LOVERS which was performed by Rufus Lumley and arranged and conducted by Marty Manning (which is not present on this latest release).The compact disc version appeared in 1991 and was originally part of the CAM original soundtracks encyclopaedia which was a set of 100 titles all classic Italian soundtracks that were released on CD for the first time. In 2007 the score received another release on The King Records/Seven Seas label in Japan which up until the release of this new recording was in my opinion the better version. As I have already stated it was a popular soundtrack and was quickly snapped up by collectors, the score is filled with tense and suspense filled cues that are accompanied by as many cues that lean towards steamy and Smokey jazz interludes, the Maestro flawlessly and seamlessly mixing the varying styles and sounds to create a rewarding and haunting work.
This particular edition of the soundtrack which is released on BEAT records contains 9 extra tracks that are previously unreleased and has been re-mastered to a high standard by Claudio Fuiano, it also contains some interesting liner notes by Fabio Babini and stills from the movie. This for me is Marchetti,s swansong, his tour de force and the score that I will always associate with the composer and affectionately look upon it as one of the great Italian film scores from the 1960,s and one that evokes many memories of my early days of collecting. A must have release even if you have the original, you still need to have this too.
FRATELLO MARE,(brother sea) is a documentary, filmed in Polynesia, and the score by Piero Piccioni is one of the latest releases from the BEAT stable in Rome. I have to admit that Piccioni is not one of the most listened composers in my household, at times I do find his style rather too jazz orientated, but of course there are the exceptions to the rule as in THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD( a reference to which is made within this work in track number 17) but saying this he is or was a composer that I would buy blind as it were in my early days of collecting with no knowledge of the movie or indeed of the music. FRATELLO MARE is I have to say one of the composers most pleasant sounding soundtracks, it is rather easy going and light in its overall style, and yes there are a number of jazz references within it but these are more of an easy listening nature rather than full blown statements from that genre of music and there are also a handful of cues that are percussive led and ethnically themed. The music here is however, gentle for the majority of the scores duration, with the composer utilizing piano, strings, woodwind and also a subtle and understated organ within certain sections of the work. This is probably Piccioni at his most laid back and also his most low key, the central theme being returned to a number of times and cropping up along the way in various guises and arrangements, the composer employing solo guitar on a number of occasions as the principal instrument which purveys the simple but haunting theme. So although I am probably not the most ardent fan of Piccioni I still think that this is a score well worth adding to your collection. Packaged well by BEAT with informative notes in Italian and also in English. Take a chance and have a dip in the tranquil and melodic waters that have been created by Piccioni on this one. This incidentally is the last in the BEAT series (which have numbered 8) of releases of Piccioni’s film music.
Originally issued on a CAM long playing record in 1967, this Gianni Ferrio soundtrack is if nothing else an ENTERTAINING one. It is a simple theme laden score that combines slightly dramatic musical styles with that of comedic and romantic. It has within its running time a number of haunting and infectious themes, performed in the main by strings, brass underlined by percussion and little wisps of woodwind that are at times enhanced and punctuated by harpsichord flourishes which are themselves supported and augmented by subtle use of harp, both of which add a certain periodic authenticity to the proceedings. Ferrio was certainly an inventive and at times highly original composer, for this assignment the Maestro created a work that included, epic sounding cues, and also embellished these with little nuances that were either romantically laced or others that at times verged upon the MICKEY MOUSING style employed by various composers when scoring animated shorts or comedy features, add to this a luxurious string soaked arrangement of the central theme and we have here something that is a little bit special. The score also includes a number of pop orientated themes, which are upbeat and certainly grab the listeners attention. In the liner notes it states that maybe this latest BEAT release will not instigate a revolution in ones collection, however I have to disagree because it is a score that hit’s the entertainment spots adequately therefore is a worthwhile addition to any Italian film music enthusiasts collection. Upbeat themes, lilting melodious tone poems, a richly lush arrangement of the scores principal theme which re-emerges on a number of occasions and fast paced chase music all go to make up an enjoyable listening experience and with one of the themes baring a striking resemblance to Ron Goodwin’s MISS MARPLES theme it’s a score that one does not really have to think about just merely pop it into the disc player and listen. Presented well by BEAT with nice art work and informative notes in both Italian and English, check it out.