Music from two Italian Peplums, Digit movies have again managed to amaze me with this marvelous double compact disc set. The music from HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED released for the first time in its entirety. Both scores have been issued before on the CAM- Phoenix label, and some music from HERCULES made it onto a RCA LP which also included dialogue and sound effects. Both scores are the work of composer Enzo Masetti and conducted by Italian film music stalwart Carlo Savina. I remember when I was a kid going to what we used to call Saturday morning pictures, this was a thing for kids during the 1960,s and was always a bit of an experience, at times it was hard to hear the movie for the noise being generated in the cinema. It was at these Saturday morning sessions that I became familiar with characters such as HERCULES in the form of Steve Reeves plus many other characters from Greek mythology, this was via a huge amount of Italian peplums that were screened at these Saturday morning outings. Of course I was not at that time aware that the films were of Italian origin, I just enjoyed them. As we all know some of the Italian peplums were re-scored for U.S. and U.K. audiences, but I honestly think that the films I watched all those years ago contained the original scores by Masetti, I might be wrong so don’t all write to me and tell me I was imagining it. With this release in particular I think Digit movies has managed to convince me that they are probably the best soundtrack label in the world. With each release this dedicated label brighten my listening experiences. This magnificent 2 cd set. Is a must have item. I was a little apprehensive when it was announced as an up and coming release, but my fears of sub standard music and poor sound quality because of it’s age were totally unfounded. The sound quality is in a word wonderful, the music is superb and the presentation of the compact disc by Digit Movies is excellent. I thought that maybe the music would not be that interesting, simply because British scores from the same period were no more than a continuous musical wallpaper on the film, with no real purpose or character. But this collection of themes are thoughtfully composed, meticulously orchestrated and performed to perfection. The level of sound quality achieved here is stunning. Enzo Masetti has penned some exquisite and wonderfully lyrical compositions for both of these movies, with the first compact disc HERCULES standing out just slightly from Disc number 2, HERCULES UNCHAINED. There is just so much music here, a total of 79 cues in total. It is true to say that many of the cues are somewhat short-lived, but this does not in any way detract anything from them in the quality stakes, and are a vital component within a score that is varied and rich in its overall sound.
The style that Masetti utilized for both of these movies is a fusion of romantic, dramatic and epic, and somewhat akin to the style utilized by Eastern European composer Dasan Radic during the 1960,s on his LONG SHIPS and GENGHIS KHAN scores, I only mention this to give you a basic idea of what to expect. Track number 21 on disc one of the set is a good example of the sound and the flavour of the scores, URANGANO contains brass, strings wistful woods and an almost heavenly choir. The compact discs contain numerous previously un-released cues and Digit movies have taken much time and also a lot of care in restoring and releasing these soundtracks, and this time and care has certainly paid off, and we as collectors are the ones to reap the benefits of their labours. The art work is stunning and the notes by Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog are well written and extremely interesting. The booklet contains various examples of posters from the movies, and also lobby cards and even the original art work of the RCA album. It also has a fascinating spread of black and white photographs taken on the sets of both movies, one in particular caught my eye, which is of Mario Bava who was F/X photographer. I cannot recommend this release enough, it is one to buy play enjoy and cherish.