Monday, November 10, 2014

Once Upon a Time In the West: Monday Maestro Madness

video
It's Monday and it's Il Maestro's masterpieces at the movies! Today's post is one I've been waiting for the right day to share, and that day is today.
The guy in the picture, maybe you don't know him by face or even name. But he is the most prolific film composer in human history, with upwards of 1000 movies scored in the last 60 years. Music he has created has become iconic and in the case of today's fare, the start of a whole genre. 
I thought about it and when you think about the far-reaching, pervasive culture of cinema and how so many people who express little interest in music have themselves seen countless films... I was thinking that this man has reached more people with his compositions than any musician or composer of our lifetimes. That is to say, more people have heard him than any other, simply because of his ubiquity in the world of film soundtracking.
Of course, in the man's oeuvre, one area stands out. When you think of Westerns -- particularly the modern, post-John Ford variety --  there is the world before Ennio Morricone and the world after him. Beginning in the early 1960s and peaking in the latter part of that decade with his music for Sergio Leone's famed cornerstone Trilogy of Italian Westerns -- A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, and proceeding through Leone's masterful Once Upon a Time In the West, which is as close to painting at 24 frames a second as any film ever made -- Morricone created a template upon which almost all future cinematic notions of the American West would be predicated. And neither he or Leone had, at the time, ever even been to America.
To celebrate and commemorate, today I am going to share an epic compilation I worked on for many, many years... one which focuses on the Italian Western genre that Il Maestro essentially birthed, but with contributions from all manner of seminal modern Italian composers. 
This compilation started life as a single 110-minute cassette way back in 1997, when I first happened upon the music of Il Maestro Ennio Morricone and began to delve into these films and scores with some intensity of interest. The original cassette was given to a friend -- who was going out on a tour around the desert Southwest with the band he was in -- as an appropriate soundtrack to their adventures; when he returned from the tour he told me how much they had enjoyed the music and even went so far to refer to it as "The Greatest Mixtape of All Time," which -- while perhaps not entirely accurate -- certainly was flattering and confirmed my own obsessive appreciation for this timeless and hugely influential music.
Over the intervening 15 years I began to collect digital reissues of the scores and expand the original concept with other cues and songs I felt needed to be included, finally settling on 3 CDs worth of material in 2007 or so. There was one problem: I didn't have the original tracklist for the tape and some of the CDs I used for the original mix had been lost, never to return. This was resolved on Christmas morning of 2007, when my aforementioned friend supplied me with the names of the tracks I could no longer identify with certainty, via the original cassette's tracklist... which he still somehow had in his possession after a decade. So a big thanks in all of this goes out to Doug for keeping alive the hope that this compilation -- which I hope at least in some way can bear the adjective "definitive" -- would continue on its unique and long, dusty trail to fruition.
Once I had the tracklist, I began to think of songs I had heard over the years that I felt bore the imprimatur or influence of the Italian Western musical aesthetic, despite not being from the films themselves or composed by the master musicians -- such as Morricone, Francesco De Masi, Bruno Nicolai and so many others -- commonly associated with the genre.  This led to the idea of a 4th disc, included here, to assume the role of a kind of "fantasy score"... a soundtrack for a film that never existed. Of course, the identification and inclusion of such tracks is an entirely subjective process and there are undoubtedly ones that could or should be mentioned in such a discussion that I have failed to think of or include, and for this I ask your forgiveness in advance. The tracks selected for the 4th CD may reflect my own personal, unconscious biases, but after careful consideration I feel they all are worthy inclusions that make a good deal of sense when taken in this context. I wanted to make something worthy of the content of the core 3CD set, and despite the inevitable disagreements that might arise I think I did a good job and the thing has a really nice flow to it and creates, in its own way, something of a narrative. In doing so, I tried to choose a majority of artists that might not be commonly known to the general population, so the dual function of entertainment and education could be fulfilled and perhaps someone might get turned on to a band or musician they never heard of before.
Kill to Live & Pray to Die
(Italian Westerns, 1964-1975)
 

CD1
01 Once Upon a Time In the West (main title) - Ennio Morricone
02 L'Arena - Ennio Morricone (Il Mercenario)
03 Quanto Costa Morire? (main title) (Raoul vocal) - Francesco De Masi
04 After the End (Gianna Spagnuolo vocal) - Ennio Morricone (Navajo Joe)
05 Navajo Joe (main title) - Ennio Morricone
06 Se Sei Qualcuno E' Colpa Mia - Ennio Morricone (Il Mio Nome e Nessuno)
07 Duck! You Sucker (Edda Dell'Orso vocal) (main title) - Ennio Morricone
08 Find a Man (Maurizio Graf vocal) - Francesco De Masi (Quella Sporca Storia Nel West)
09 Let It Rain, Let It Pour (Stefan Grossman vocal) - Gianni Ferrio (Ben & Charlie)
10 King for a Day (A. Martelli vocal) - Augusto Martelli (Sartana in the Valley of the Vultures)
11 A Man Called King (Ann Collin vocal, lyrics by Ennio Morricone) - Luis Bacalov
12 Deserti Di Fuoco (Edda Dell'Orso vocal) - Franco Bixio & Roberto Pregadio
13 Face to Face - Ennio Morricone
14 Bamba Vivace - Ennio Morricone (Il Mercenario)
15 Quien Sabe? (main title) - Luis Bacalov
16 For a Few Dollars More (main title) - Ennio Morricone
17 La Carrozza Dei Fantasmi - Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
18 The Ecstasy of Gold (Edda Dell'Orso vocal) - Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
19 Black Jack - Claudio Simonetti (Black Jack, Kid of the West)
20 Django, l'Ultimo Killer (main title) - Roberto Pregadio
21 60 Seconds to What? - Ennio Morricone (For a Few Dollars More)
22 An Eye for An Eye (Maurizio Graf vocal) - Ennio Morricone (For a Few Dollars More)
23 Per Un Pugno di Dollari - Ennio Morricone (A Fistful of Dollars)
24 Per Un Pugno di Dollari (Peter Tevis vocal) - Ennio Morricone (A Fistful of Dollars)
25 Il Grande Silenzio (main title: "Restless") - Ennio Morricone
26 Eden and the Killer - Stelvio Cipriani (The Bounty Killer)
27 The Man with the Harmonica (Franco De Gemini, harmonica) - Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time In the West)
28 Tema di Clayton - Pino Donaggio (Amore Piombo e Furore)

CD2
29 Agguato In Dallas - Luis Bacalov (Il Prezzo de Potere)
30 Gold (Raoul vocal) - Francesco De Masi (Ammazzalli Tutti e Torna Solo)
31 Vento E Whisky - Francesco De Masi (Vado... L'Ammazzo e Torno)
32 Fargo's Gang - Vasco Vassil Kojucharov & Elsio Mancuso (Una Lunga Fila di Croci)
33 Arizona Colt (main title) (Raoul vocal) - Francesco De Masi
34 Johnny Yuma - Nora Orlandi
35 Django (Roberto Fia vocal) - Luis Bacalov
36 La Partenza (The Departure) - Bruno Nicolai (Il Mio Nome e Shanghai Joe)
37 Have a Good Funeral, My Friend... Sartana Will Pay - Bruno Nicolai
38 Ricciolo - Ennio Morricone (Il Mercenario)
39 L'Agguato - Armando Travaoli (I Lunghi Giorni Della Vendetta)
40 I Lunghi Giorni Della Vendetta - Armando Travaoli
41 Un Monumento - Ennio Morricone (I Crudeli, aka The Hellbenders)
42 I Crudeli (main title) - Ennio Morricone
43 The Slaughter - Ennio Morricone (A Gun for Ringo)
44 My Name Is Nobody (main title) - Ennio Morricone
45 A Gringo Like Me (Peter Tevis vocal) - Ennio Morricone (Gunfight at Red Sands)
46 Run, Man, Run (Christy vocal) - Ennio Morricone (The Big Gundown)
47 Challenge of the McKennas, sequence 7 - Francesco De Masi
48 Angel Face (Maurizio Graf vocal) - Ennio Morricone (A Gun for Ringo)
49 The Return of Ringo (Maurizio Graf vocal) - Ennio Morricone
50 Il Grande Duello (main title) - Luis Bacalov
51 A Man Called Apocalyse Joe, sequence 1 - Bruno Nicolai
52 Farewell to Cheyenne - Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time In the West)
53 Canto a Mi Tierra - Ennio Morricone (Il Mercenario)
54 Muccho Selvaggio - Ennio Morricone (Il Mio Nome e Nessuno)
55 Quattro Dell'Ave Maria - Carlo Rusticelli (Ace High)
56 Mexico Western - Gianni Ferrio (For a Few Bullets More)
57 Messico Che Vorrei (Christy vocal) - Ennio Morricone (Tepepa)
58 L'Oro Dei Bravados (main title) - L.Bacalov
59 Stranger (Raoul vocal) - Francesco De Masi (Vado... L'Ammazzo e Torno)

CD3
60 Two Mules for Sister Sara (main title) - Ennio Morricone
61 A Fistful of Dollars (main title) - Ennio Morricone
62 Ya Me Voy - Luis Bacalov (Quien Sabe?)
63 Una Ragione per Vivere e Una per Morire (main title) - Riz Ortolani
64 Prega Il Morto e Ammazza Il Vivo (main title) - Mario Migliardi
65 Death Rides a Horse (main title) (chorus: I Cantori Moderni di Allessandro Allessandroni) - Ennio Morricone
66 C'e Sartana...Vendi La Pistola e Comprati la Bara (main title) - Francesco De Masi
67 Texas, Addio (main title) (Robert Widmark vocal) - Luis Bacalov
68 La Collera del Vento - Augusto Martelli (The Revenge of Trinity)
69 Jeff Bloom - Gianfranco DiStefani (Shango)
70 Santana's Theme - Piero Piccioni (If You Run Into Sartana, Pray for Your Death)
71 Can Be Done (Rocky Roberts vocal) - Luis Bacalov (Si Puo Fare... Amigo)
72 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (main title) - Ennio Morricone
73 Seven Men (Raoul vocal) - Francesco De Masi (Seven Guns for a Killing)
74 Whisky Tango - Ettore Ballotta (unused score, not from any film)
75 Gold and Power - Bruno Nicolai (Gentleman Jo...Uccidi)
76 A Colt In the Fist of the Devil, sequence 2 - Gian Piero Reverberi
77 Lo Chiamavano Trinita (Annibale vocal) - Franco Micalizzi
78 Professionisti per Un Massacro (main title) - Carlos Pes
79 Lonesome Billy (Peter Tevis vocal) - Ennio Morricone (Guns Don't Argue)
80 Prologue/The Chase - Ennio Morricone (Guns for San Sebastian)
81 Requiem for a Gringo (main title) - Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
82 Nel Nome del Padre, Del Figlio e Della Colt (main title) - Nicola Piovani (In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Gun)
83 Killer, Adios! (main title) (Laurie Amat vocal) - Claudio Tallino
84 Buckaroo, sequence 1 - Lallo Gori
85 I'm Not Your Pony (Ann Collin vocal) - Mario Migliardi (Prega Il Morto e Ammazza Il Vivo)
86 Roy Colt & Winchester Jack (suite) - Piero Umiliani
87 Ringo Came to Fight (Bobby Solo vocal) - Bruno Nicolai ($100,000 for Ringo)
88 Don't Lose Control (Gene Roman vocal) - Guido & Maurizio De Angelis (Man of the East)

CD4

Fettucine Fantasia (Score for an Imaginary Western)
01 Angelitos Negros - Roberta Flack
02 To Kill a Dead Man - Portishead
03 Here In Silence - Sandy Denny
04 The Desert Is a Circle - Shades of Joy
05 Lawbreaker - Gordon Haskell
06 Fideo Del Oeste (Mexican Spaghetti Western) - Chingon
07 Theme for an Imaginary Western - Colosseum
08 Un Uomo - Panna Fredda
09 Tulsa County - Byrds
10 Fanfare - Tuxedomoon
11 Spaghetti Western - Abecedarians
12 From the Same Hill - Brian Eno
13 Which Way the Wind Blows - Anthony Phillips
14 Music for a Spaghetti Western, Scene 3 - Zoviet France
15 Into the West - Mermen
16 Buenas Tardes Amigo - Ween


Total time: 5:18:37

1.72 GB FLAC here
720 MB 320K mp3s here
So here it is. I'm pretty proud of it and I hope you enjoy this seminal music as much as I have -- and that you'll pass it along to the next unsuspecting person so that they too may get into the Italian Western genre. And of course, we should all take a moment or ten to appreciate the man who invented the entire style of music on offer here... born this day way back in 1928 and still wielding the baton 86 years later: Il Maestro Ennio Morricone.--J.