Tag Archives: CAM

ADIOS GRINGO.

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I have been collecting Italian soundtracks for what seems to be forever now, the Italian or spaghetti western being one of the main genres that I sought out on my regular trips to London and to see Michael Jones in various retail outlets. So as you can imagine I purchased many of the soundtracks on LP record all those years back and the majority of these recordings were on the CAM label, CAM was I think one of the first if not the very first film music speciality labels that concentrated 99 percent of its efforts into releasing film music. One its early releases was from the western ADIOS GRINGO, with an atmospheric and highly innovative score by composer Benedetto Ghiglia. Innovative because it seemed to be an original sounding work within a number of original sounding works, but it was just slightly different the soundtrack contained no strings, it relied heavily upon the utilisation of percussion or at least percussive elements which created a sound and a style which was all on its own.

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The score was re-issued on the CAM label on CD which was a straight lifting of the sixteen tracks that were on the original album, this had a running time of around 30 mins or just over, but for this re-issue Digit movies uncovered the mono tapes which yielded a further 30 mins of music including the song GRINGO performed by Fred Bongusto, so in total the re-issue contains over an hour of music from the score and this includes two previously unreleased stereo mixes of one of which is the title song. The composers use of percussion, guitar, choir and castanets creates a driving and infectious sound and although it is from a spaghetti western it has very few musical connections with the rest of the scores from the genre from that period, the style employed is at times similar to that of Gianni Ferrio and to a degree does contain certain rhythms and quirks of orchestration that can be found within scores by Cipriani, but that is where the similarities end as Ghiglia is certainly inventive and original, this inventive use of instruments can also be found within his score for FOR A DOLLAR IN THE TEETH which appeared on the CAM CD.

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Released in 1965, ADIOS GRINGO is a Giuliano Gemma western that was directed by Giorgio Stegani and although not one of the genres finest or glittering examples it still manages to hold ones attention throughout and entertain at the same time. Ghiglia’s score adds much to the impact of certain scenes within the film and also stands alone as a separate entity to be savoured and enjoyed as just music. There are no saloon cues here no tender little western ditties in fact Ghiglia’s score is quite harsh and brash in places, it oozes a rawness and also has a simplicity to it but it works both on screen and off. Another one for the collection.

IL MAGNIFICO TONY CARRERA.

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As a film music collector that has always been interested in music from Italian movies the name of Gianni Marchetti is one that has always been in mind when discussing or listening to scores from Italian productions, Marchetti was up until recently more or less ignored by many of the recording labels both in Italy and outside of that country. Yes a number of his soundtracks had been available on original LP records from the 1960,s and 1970,s but with the furious re-issue programme undertaken by certain labels I was surprised that we did not see more of this composers music out on the shiny little discs. However over the past four years or so Gianni Marchetti’s soundtracks have at last received the attention form labels such as KRONOS, HILLSIDE,BEAT and QUARTET amongst others. One score by the composer that I thought would be at the top of the list to be released was IL MAGNIFICO TONY CARREA, but alas no, I had to make do with my original CAM vinyl long playing record up until just a few weeks ago when Quartet records announced they would release it.

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Marchetti is in my opinion still vastly underrated and never seems to get the credit that he so richly deserves, but with this release and the handful of others that have been issued I think that now collectors are beginning to realise just what a great talent he was as a composer, arranger, orchestrator etc. The problem with Marchetti was he was somewhat overshadowed by the great success of composers such as Piero Piccioni, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai and Ennio Morricone, it was not that Marchetti’s music was in any way inferior to his fellow Maestro’s but it was the films he scored rather than anything to do with the actual music as many of his projects were not released outside of Italy. This release on the Quartet label includes the 12 original tracks from the CAM LP release plus it also contains another 23 cues which are listed as Film Versions or Alternatives. Many of the composers infectious themes for the movie make more than one appearance on the recording, or at least we get to hear varying versions of them, with the composer arranging or orchestrating them differently, keeping them fresh and vibrant on each outing. The composer utilises the unique vocal sounds of Nora Orlandi’s 4+4 on the score and I may be wrong but I am sure that the Sitar solo’s are the work of Alessandro Alessandroni, but don’t quote me.

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IL MAGNIFICO TONY CARRERA is an infectiously rhythmic work, the composer bringing into the musical equation up beat percussion, light and subdued harpsichord, electric guitar, hip sounding organ, fuzzy sounding guitar, acoustic guitar, solo female wordless vocals, woodwind and a scattering of strings all of which produce lilting and haunting themes of the romantic and nostalgic variety plus a number of fast paced pop orientated funky sounding compositions that delight and get ones foot tapping. There are also just a few cues that I suppose can be categorized as being comedic music, with a group whistling a jaunty little theme whilst being accompanied on banjo and percussion, which adds a certain variety to the work. I love the way that Marchetti utilises the choir within the score adding it either as a punctuation to the music or as the main stay of a particular cue, either way it is wonderfully effective. Presented well by Quartet with striking cover art and a handful of images from the movie within the CD liner, also has some informative and enjoyable notes by Gergely Hubai, sound quality is of a high standard also, in fact I cannot recommend this release enough, so don’t think about it just buy it now.

WATERLOO.

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I was prompted to write a review of this score because the movie was screened on the BBC this week, the sprawling epic about the monumental battle that took place between the British forces under the command of Wellington and the French under the leadership of their Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte did come in for some criticism at the time of its release but has since become an epic film in every sense of the word. Filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis assembled an all star cast which was headlined by Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer as a rather pompous but at the same time caring Wellington both actors produced believable performances and for me personally it was Plummer who stole the movie in his portrayal of the iconic British commander. The cast which was a truly international one also included a number of well know actors Orson Welles for example played Louis Xvlll, whilst Virginia McKenna, Ian Ogilvy, Jack Hawkins, Rupert Davies, Michael Wilding, Gianni Garko, Ivo Garrani, Andrea Checchi, Dan O Herlihy and Oleg Vidov all put in credible performances. The battle scenes were spectacular with Director Sergei Bondarchuk utilising a number of Russian army divisions as extras. The musical score was the work of Italian Maestro Nino Rota, who was no stranger to scoring a Napoleonic war drama as he worked on WAR AND PEACE some years earlier in fact the composer utilised and reworked some thematic material from his WAR AND PEACE score and wove it into the fabric of the score for WATERLOO, this being transformed into THE WATERLOO WALTZ, which is heard before the mayhem begins. Rota’s music was a crucial and also an important component of the movie, the opening in particular is highly dramatic with brass and strings giving it an urgent and imposing feel setting the scene for much of what is to follow. Rota’s music is highly effective within the battle scenes his score underlining, heightening and supporting the aggressive action that is taking place on screen.

The score accompanying the somewhat jolly and ram shackle British, Scottish and Irish and giving even more pomp and majesty to the opposing French forces, his score also purveys a sense of futility and creates an atmosphere that seems to shout why do wars and battles such as this have to be fought? The music that Rota composed to accompany the SCOTS GREYS as they charge headlong towards the French lines is masterful, it conjures up the adrenaline rush that the troopers must be feeling as they hurtle towards an unknown fate, but then as the film goes into a slow motion sequence Rota too slows the music and underlines the impressive sequence with an almost celestial and romantic piece performed on organ and strings that momentarily create a mood that is calm and serene.
The remainder of the charge is not scored the SCOTS GREYS being countered by the infamous French lancers who despatch most of the British as they become bogged down in heavy muddy ground.

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The battle scene where we see an Ariel view of a number of British squares being attacked by French cavalry is impressive enough but the drama and sheer senselessness of the action by the French is heightened by Rota’s aggressive, sharp and jagged sounding soundtrack, where the composer utilises brass and percussion aided by strings to create a highly agitated and chaotic atmosphere as we see the British unleashing hails of bullets against a cavalry that has no infantry or cannon to support it, the French sustain heavy losses and as the scene comes to its conclusion Rota returns to an arrangement of the central theme that is performed on solo violin depicting again the waste and the senseless act of war and the madness and carnage of battle. The final battle scene is scored in three sections, it begins with the proud and bombastic march that accompanies THE OLD GUARD (LA VIELLE GARDE) as they go in to finish off the British, the strident drums the piccolos and the brass convince us that yes the French have beaten Wellington, in fact the British too are resigned to the fact that all is lost, until a rider informs Napoleon that the Prussians are in the woods,(I PRUSSIANI) the mood suddenly alters as we hear the strains of the Prussian theme the commander telling his children “To fly the black flags high and show no mercy”.

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The music also conveys Napoleons despair and disbelief that victory has been taken from him, then the music slips into the theme for the British forces (WELLINGTON-NOW ITS YOUR TIME!) as they take advantage of the support from the Prussians and advance towards the oncoming French. Napoleon is man handled away from his troops as the battle reaches its climax and the French are beaten, surrounded by the British and the Prussians the French are given the option of surrender but refuse this and are finished off by cannon. IL CAMPO DI MORTI is a sombre and low key piece that is played as Wellington peruses the field of the dead, it gradually builds from its low and sombre beginnings and the composer transforms into an ominous sounding version of the scores central theme. This is truly an epic score, my only reservation about this particular release is the sound quality, released on LEGEND records(Italy) it consists of the same track listing as the original CAM and Paramount long playing records, and I cannot be sure but am pretty certain that no restoration or re-mastering took place for this edition, I just hope that one day soon a re-mastered version will make it to compact disc, so that we may sample the delights of this magnificent score without the distortion and sound fluctuation and also some of the additional music that was provided by Wilfred Josephs, the score is conducted by Italian maestro Bruno Nicolai.