Yet another important and much requested soundtrack release from the now famed Digit movies label . This is the first ever compact disc release for Bruno Nicolai’s powerful soundtrack; the original vinyl release was on the Gemelli label, founded by the composer himself during the 1960’s. Long deleted, this latest version of the score not only includes the original LP cues but also has tracks from the films masters, all of which have been re-mastered to a high standard and sound excellent.
It’s all fairly typical of the style and sound of composer Nicolai, with a driving, forceful, martial-sounding theme featured throughout in various guises and arrangements. Upon closer examination, the central theme does have certain similarities to Morricone’s For a Few Dollars More, albeit with a slower tempo and performed on traditional instruments rather than whistled
However this observation does not in any way detract anything from Nicolai’s work, as it is without doubt one of the Maestro’s most accomplished soundtracks. Performed by full orchestra, it’s compelling and highly listen-able and is more than capable of standing on its own two feet as an entertaining and vibrant collection of themes away from the images that it was intended to enhance.
The score also contains a number of quieter and lighter moments as in track number nine, Nancy, which is a particularly melodic and charming Spanish guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Spaghetti western soundtrack. Track number seventeen, a jazzy, almost sleazy sounding version of Red Blues, features on the CD twice. Nicolai wrote a number of cues for the score which were utilised as source music, which are completely different from the style of his main score but – surprisingly – don‘t sound at all out of place. So another triumph for Digit Movies, and another great Italian film score saved from obscurity. Highly recommended.
Two spaghetti western scores on one compact disc, both by the same composer Bruno Nicolai, yet both original and individual in their style and sound.
Anda muchacha spara (Dead Men Ride) is a western soundtrack from 1971 which most definitely belongs to the Morricone-esque school of western scoring, with plentiful use of choir solo trumpet, piano, organ and racing chase music. Django spara primo (Django Shoots First) from 1966 is more Americanised in style, displaying hardly any signs or musical trademarks that are normally associated with the spaghetti western, save for the central theme performed on solo trumpet. The remainder of the work is quite low key and fully orchestral, rather than utilising theelectric guitar as in other western scores that Nicolai worked on during this period.
Anda muchacha spara is the star score on this cd, containing all the stock sounds and attributes now associated with the western all’italiana: solo female voice, showdown music, tense riding themes and Mexican sounding mariachis. There is even a cue (track 5) that resembles Morricone’s ‘Addio Cheyenne’ track from Once Upon a Time in the West, a clumsy sounding but faintly attractive and entertaining piece employing a lazy sounding piano accompanied by a laid back banjo solo.
Track number eight is one of the compact discs highlights, with Nicolai utilising to great effect the flawless vocals of Edda Dell Orso (supported by underlying strings and the wonderful harmonising of IL CANTORI MODERNI). Nicolai produced an entertaining and highly accomplished scores for both of these movies, and excelled in his orchestration and composing on ANDA MUCHACHA SPARA..
The tracks on the compact disc do not actually have titles. Anda muchacha spara has a running time of just 24 mins 49 secs and takes up tracks 1 to 15 on the compact disc. Django spara primo is slightly longer in duration, at 25 mins 04 secs, and is numbered from track 16 through to track 28. So, a running time of just under 50 mins; but well worth the money even if its for the first score alone. Packaged adequately by CAM with descent art work, info on both movies and a short piece on Bruno Nicolai. Recommended.
Released in 1973, Jesus Franco’s version of COUNT DRACULA or IL CONTE DRACULA is in my opinion very underrated. I love the way in which the director stays with the original storyline as created by Bram Stoker, and although there are a number of mistakes or short fallings within the production, these in no way spoil the overall impact of the picture, this for me anyway outstrips any of the Hammer Dracula movies and to a degree is even more entertaining than Coppola’s high budget version of the story. Christopher Lee is excellent as the infamous Count and has to be congratulated for portraying the character in a completely different way to what he had done in previous productions from the Hammer studio. This version of the story not only adheres to the original novel but also has about it a greater atmospheric quality than any production before or after its release, in some scenes I was reminded of the Mario Bava approach to horror movies, dark, eerie and no dialogue, but affecting. Lee appears exactly how Dracula is described in the novel complete with moustache and as the movie or story progress’s and he preys on more victims he turns from an old man into a handsome younger version of himself (an idea explored in Hammers COUNTESS DRACULA). Klaus Kinsky is deserving of a special mention for his role as the manic and raving Reinfield, this is an accomplished performance that had me convinced. Herbert Lom also makes an appearance as Professor Van Helsing and there are a number of Franco’s usual cast members in the form of Maria Rohm, Soledad Miranda and Jack Taylor, the director also appears as a servant of Van Helsing. The highly original sounding soundtrack by composer Bruno Nicolai too adds a greater atmosphere and impact to the movie, the composer utilising cimbalom and eerie sounding woodwind underlined with strings to create a sense of foreboding and a mood that is somewhat apprehensive and oppressive in a number of cues, but saying this Nicolai also utilises a grand lush sounding waltz motive which first makes a brief entrance in the opening credits music or PROCESSO on the compact disc release. Track two is in the first instance rather low key and gloomy but this is short lived as the composer introduces a secondary theme performed by strings that is strikingly lush and lavish, but this too melts away as the piece returns to the cimbalom led theme that opened the score. Track number three PENOMBRE is I have to say fairly typical of Nicolai, again strings take the lions share of the performance punctuated by jagged near frantic sounding trills from woods creating a sense of urgency and fear. He also makes effective use of brass for the scenes which are more action orientated and muted brass combined with woods and deliberately placed bass and piano are also highly effective.
This is I think one of Nicolai’s most accomplished scores for film, it bares no resemblance to his western soundtracks whatsoever and more to the point there are no traces of any influences from Morricone, IL CONTE DRACULA is an inspired work that is Nicolai through and through, in fact thinking about it I can only recall one other score that might be slightly similar to this and that is THRONE OF FIRE by the composer which is another movie directed by Franco and starring Christopher Lee. If this is a soundtrack that you have for some reason missed then it is time to rectify your obvious mistake.
Another great release from the ever industrious Godwin Borg at Kronos records. DON GIOVANNI IN SICILIA is the score from the RAI TV series that was aired in three episodes in 1977, Nicolai provided the series with a haunting and accomplished soundtrack, penning a simple but infectious central theme that featured the whistling talents of Alessandro Alessandroni. The music is I suppose a mix of both dramatic and folk sounding colours with the composer fusing both of these styles seamlessly and perfectly. The score is filled to overflowing with affecting and uplifting themes, Nicolai utilising mandolin, harpsichord, accordion, guitar and subtle strings and woodwind. It is a score that is in no way grandiose or overpowering, in fact it is rather low key in places but because it is delicate and somewhat fragile in its sound and style the music works so well within the context of the series and is also a rewarding and pleasant listening experience away from the images on screen. In may ways similar to a handful of other Nicolai scores simply because of its orchestration DON GIOVANNI IN SICILIA I think will be a popular release with collectors and also fans of the composer, in my humble opinion Nicolai was unfairly neglected during the 1960,s and also the 1970,s when he was at his busiest as a composer, conductor and arranger. He contributed so much to world of Italian film music and on many occasions was not given credit for his involvement. He was a gifted conductor but let us not also forget he was a great composer, a music smith of incredible originality who sadly was on so many occasions overshadowed by the success of his peers. This is a welcome addition to the at last growing catalogue of Nicolai soundtracks that are being released, let us hope it is not the last. Well worth investing in.
Originally released on a long playing record back in 1970 which was on the famed Italian soundtrack label ARIETE (ARLP 2006), FEMMINE INSAZIABILI or INSATIABLE WOMEN or just THE INSATIABLES is probably one of Bruno Nicolai’s finest soundtracks. It was also probably this particular soundtrack that made me realise that Nicolai was a talent all on his own and also brought it home that he possessed a unique and vibrant musical style away from the shadow of composers such as Morricone, Rustichelli and Rota all of which Nicolai collaborated with as conductor or arranger. This score in particular contains numerous styles and is a theme laden work. The composer utilising the unmistakable aural talents of Edda Dell Orso who’s marvellous vocalising is used throughout the score giving it an even more attractive and haunting quality. Yes it is true to say that one can make comparisons between the work of Nicolai and also the work of Morricone and it has to be said that both composers were particularly busy and creative at this time in their respective careers, but FEMMINE INSAZIABLI has to it an aura and a musical presence that to be truthful is far superior to much of what Morricone penned at this time, Nicolai’s themes seem to be more developed and a lot more melodic, the composer arranging and orchestrating the core themes from the score differently throughout to create a veritable smorgasbord of rich and attractive compositions that combine to create a soundtrack which when listened to away from the images still remains entertaining. The movie was released in 1969 and was directed by Alberto De Martino, it starred John Ireland, Frank Wolf, Dorothy Malone and Robert Hoffman. A journalist meets up with an old lady friend in the United States when he is visiting there, but shortly after meeting her she is murdered, the journalist decides to find her murderer and in doing so discovers that many of her so called friends did not like her at all and further discovers that in the years she has been in America she has become corrupt. Nicolai’s score opens with the driving and vivacious sounding title song I WANT IT ALL, performed by Lara Saint Paul with backing vocals by Edda and driving melodic strings that are melodic but upbeat. “THE GOOD THINGS THE BAD THINGS THE THRILLS THE SORROWS AND THE JOYS, I WANT IT ALL, ALL LIFE CAN GIVE ME, WITH EVERY PART OF ME I WANT TO LIVE”. are the opening lines, Sounds good to me, performed wonderfully with beautifully orchestrated backing by Nicolai, this opening melody carries on through the remainder of the score and pop’s up here and there in various musical guises and permutations. The remainder of Nicolai’s score is fairly upbeat and has to it a busy almost big band sound in places, with brass and percussion creating luxurious sounding themes and motifs. Then there is the softer and far more easy listening side to the work, with strings and light percussion combining with organ and Edda exquisite voice the composer adding to this interesting and original sounds and trills etc that accompany and embellish the central thematic material. This for me personally is brought to a fuller fruition in track number four which is just one of the instrumental variations of the I WANT IT ALL theme. The soundtrack is released on EASY TEMPO records which was a label that was very active a few years back releasing various scores and also putting out a series of compilation discs that were entitled simply EASY TEMPO 1 to 10. The score for FEMMINE INSAZIABILI is simply glorious, it is an essential purchase and a MUST HAVE Bruno Nicolai soundtrack, your collection will be lacking and incomplete without this gem of a soundtrack, seek it out and add it straight away. It was also released on a double LP record by the same label. To say certain cues are stand out or highlights of the work would be impossible as every cue is magnificent, my own favourites being the title song, INTIMITA , NOSTALGIA DI UN INCONTRO,AUTOSTRADA PER LOS ANGELES and AUTOSTOP. Buy it and check these and the other fantastic 18 tracks out.