Released in 1966,RINGO AND HIS GOLDEN PISTOL or JOHNNY ORO to give it the original Italian title, was directed by Sergio Corbucci. The main protagonist and also the character in the title was played by actor Mark Damon, the movie was re-tilted simply to cash in on the success of the RINGO movies which had been directed by Duccio Tessari and starred iconic Italian western actor Giuliano Gemma. The plot focuses upon a bounty hunter Johnny Oro who kills for money and treats his way of life as a business so much so that he refuses to take his golden gun out of its holster unless he is assured he will make money for doing so. He decides to let a man (Juanito Perez) live because he sees no reason to end his life if there is no price on his head; this proves to be something that the bounty hunter will later on regret. After killing the mans brothers who do have a bounty on them Perez swears vengeance and forms an alliance with a local tribe of Indians who aid him in a battle against the town and also the sheriff who are protecting the bounty hunter. The musical score is the work of Italian Maestro Carlo Savina, who of course will be a familiar name to collectors acquainted not only with the Italian western but with Italian film music overall, Savina composed numerous film scores for a plethora of genres and also acted as conductor on a handful of scores for Miklos Rozsa and Nino Rota. In fact Savina was credited as the composer of the score for EL CID on Italian prints of the movie back in the early 1960,s. Of course we know this is no so as Rozsa is the true composer of the work. Savina was quite active in the Italian or Spaghetti western genre and penned some of the most memorable scores for some of the lesser known movies. His COMIN AT YA soundtrack for example still remains one of the genres most haunting and popular non Morricone score. JOHNNY OROIS A TYPICAL Italian western score, but when I say typical I do not say this because it is mediocre or indeed predictable, it is typical simply because it contains many of the standard sounds that are nowadays so readily associated with the spaghetti score. Solo trumpet, whistling, solo harmonica electric and classical guitar and echoing percussive passages. In many ways the style that Savina employed was not that dissimilar from Francesco De Masi when he worked on westerns, the sound achieved being a fusion of the Hollywood western soundtrack with brass flourishes and also thrilling and melodic strings that were integrated with the more inventive and original sounds of the spaghetti western. JOHNNY ORO contains numerous themes and relies mainly upon the distinctive whistling of Alessandro Alessandroni to accompany the central character there are also strong trumpet cues within the score that simply oozes class and charisma. This release also includes Italian and English versions of the title song performed by Il Cantori Moderni. This is certainly one of the best Italian western scores written, and listening to it now nearly 50 years after its composition it still grabs ones attention and remains original and fresh. Released on the GDM/Hillside series it is one that you should own. nice clear sound and attractive art work with a number of colour stills and various reproductions of the poster for the movie inside the liner.
This is an interview that was conducted with Producer Lionel Woodman in 2006.
When did you become interested in film music ?
This would have been around 1965, when I first went to see A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS.
What was your first soundtrack purchase as a collector?
My first LP was A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS AND FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, these were on one record, on the RCA Camden label.
You began in business as a mail order company, when did you decide to branch out and move into production ?
I had been selling LP,s etc via a mail order company for a while, but did not decide to go into the production side of things till 1990.
Why did you decide to focus all your efforts upon Italian film music ?
Because that was the music I liked the best, I also love Italy, and when I met the Zamori family for the first time, it was always an excuse for me too go back for the wonderful cuisine of Paola (Roberto’s wife)
How do you begin the process of releasing a soundtrack ?
It was quite simple, once I had produced my first CD I offered it to my mail order customers, this sold well and after that it all just came easily.
You have released a number of soundtracks now, are there any that you have wanted to issue that have not been available, either because the tapes were lost or maybe they were in such awful condition ?
There have been plenty that have been in awful condition, especially by Marcello Giombini, There are also a number of Morricone scores that are in pretty bad condition, ROME COME CHICAGO for example.
Out of all the scores on your label which would you say you liked the most ?
Without a doubt, INDIO BLACK by Bruno Nicolai so far.
Have you a favourite composer, or a composer that you give preference to at all ?
Purely for commercial purposes, I have to say Morricone, but I also like the works of Gianni Marchetti, Sante Maria Romitelli, Stelvio Cipriani and Giacamo Dell Orso, and would give these composers preference over others.
You always restrict your CD releases to a run of 500 or 1,000 why is this ?
It’s very difficult to sell more, it is sometimes difficult to sell 500,but this really depends on the title,the composer and also the genre of film.
You work very closely at times with Roberto Zamori, how did you first come into contact with the Professor ?
It was through the mail, I think Roberto had seen one of my adverts in FILMS AND FILMING, I used to advertise there in the early 1970,s. But we did not meet in person until 1981.
You also have a good friendship with Alessandro Alessandroni, is he still writing music ?
Yes he is, he is also very active playing jazz and other types of music.
Have you ever considered releasing a non Italian score, or if you could do any English score what one would it be and why ?
Yes, I have considered doing this on a few occasions, I would have liked to have done something by either Ron Goodwin or Michael J Lewis, or both.
As the producer of the Cd’s do you have the final say on what the discs content will be?
Yes because I can always refuse the production if the music is not what I want.
There seems to be a lot of rivalry between record companies in Italy, does it worry you if another company releases a score that maybe you might have liked to have done, or do you see it as a good thing that so many CD,s are now being issued ?
It’s a good thing as far as I am concerned, there are so many scores available and many of them I would never produce, because I don’t think that they would sell for me. So I am very pleased when one of those is released.
.Composer Gianni Marchetti is in a word UNDERRATED. He is possibly one of the most talented composers that was working in Italy during the 1960,s through to the early eighties, writing music for film and television as well as acting as a musical arranger and director for numerous popular artists of the day. His musical output was considerable and consistently very good. He like many other Italian composers during this period wrote a number of scores for the spaghetti western genre which kept composers and musicians in gainful employment as it enjoyed a surge of interest and popularity all around the world. Marchetti was also a very versatile composer who was able to easily adapt his musical prowess to any genre of film, he wrote rhythmic, infectious and vibrant sounding themes that graced and enhanced not only westerns but also worked wonderfully within love stories, gangster films, adventure romps, war and action films and comedy capers. It is somewhat surprising that Marchetti never attained the status that he so richly deserved on a more global scale, his contributions to film etc often being overshadowed by the vast output of other fellow Italian Maestro’s such as Morricone, Rota and Ortolani, the latter attaining recognition outside of his native Italy early on in his career via the scoring of non Euro-productions. Marchetti is I suppose very much like fellow composers, Fidenco, Romitelli, Cipriani, Ferrio,Orlandi, Lacarenza, Alessandroni, Giombini, Patucchi and to a degree De Masi, because he like his peers always produced great scores that matched the pictures they were intended for perfectly and also at the same time had a life away from the images, standing alone as just music that could be listened to and enjoyed without having to go to the cinema. In recent months there have been a number of Marchetti soundtracks released on compact disc, many being expanded releases and others being first time issues much to the delight of collectors old and new. One of the most recent releases comes from the UK based independent label helmed by Lionel Woodman Hillside CD production, who in association with GDM music and the ever guiding hand and boundless knowledge and expertise of Proffessor Roberto Zamori have been responsible for releasing so many landmark Italian soundtracks, a number of these being by Marchetti i.e. DIE SLOWLY YOU WILL ENJOY IT MORE, COWARDS DON’T PRAY, TOP CRACK and ONE STEP TO HELL. The film COLPO DI MANO or EXPLOSION was released in 1968 and the soundtrack was issued on a 16 track CAM long playing record in the same year. This latest edition of the score boasts the original album and also a further 8 bonus tracks taken from the master tapes. Many of the additional tracks are similar to the original content of the album but there are slight variations in the orchestration and arrangement of the music.
Marchetti’s score is made up of a handful of principal themes, the composer utilising these as a foundation and building upon there simple but effective content and developing and expanding them further as the work progresses. Given the subject matter of the movie, which is an action/war film set during the Spanish civil war and tells the story of a group of soldiers who have been given a dangerous mission to blow up a bridge over the river Ebro the score contains a number of references to martial music although these never develop into what is full blown or bombastic sounding marches, Marchetti creating the atmosphere by more subtle and subdued instrumentation which hints at a militaristic style. It also has within its make up Hispanic sounding nuances and sounds which add a certain authenticity to the proceedings. Castanets and solo guitar being utilized at key points within the score. Choir also plays a major role within the work, and on this particular score we have the vocalising of two, I Cantori di Basilliche Roma and Nora Orlandi’s excellent and distinctive 4+4 Coro, the style employed by Marchetti with the choral writing is very reminiscent of some of the early works of Ennio Morricone.
Marchetti also adds little trills and musical punctuation marks along the way in the form of jaws harp, strummed guitar, plaintive woodwind solos and an almost eerie sounding female vocal which although is not a solo or centre stage performance adds great atmosphere and depth to the soundtrack. There are also performances from the stock instrumentation of the Italian film score, ie, racing snare drums, chimes, tubular bells, bass guitar, piano, electric guitar and harpsichord which all at some point within the score make their contribution and leave their mark, and if all this great music is not enough then we have the added presence of another Italian Maestro, Stelvio Cipriani who conducts the score. This is again another formidable release from GDM/HILLSIDE and one that should be in every Italian film music fans collection, great music and great presentation; (apart from the lack of liner notes) all I can say is More Marchetti please…..and go an get this now.