The first Italian western score I ever heard by composer Daniele Patucchi
was DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS or LOS AMIGOS as it was called in Italy, I remember thinking that the music was not pure Spaghetti in its style and overall sound, but was a fusion of that type of scoring and also a more conventional approach that harkened back to the days of the traditional western all’a Hollywood. Patucchi, is a composer that worked steadily in film during the late 1960,s through the 1970,s and also the 1980,s his music although containing a number of original references was not as popular as other composers that were active at around the same time, but this however does not mean that Patucchi’s style and approach to scoring movies did not find some favour with soundtrack collectors and aficionados of music from Italian cinema. BLACK KILLER was released in 1971 which was two years before LOS AMIGOS and although the master tapes of the score were the property of CAM dischi in Rome the soundtrack never got a release on Long Playing record at the time of the films release, which is a surprising fact as the composers DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS did get an album release and was even issued in the United Kingdom on EMI records. His has to be something to do with Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero being in the aforementioned movie and BLACK KILLER starred Klaus Kinski who was little known in the UK etc at that time, and audiences probably remember him as the hunchback in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Patucchi,s score for BLACK KILLER was a little more spaghetti sounding than LOS AMIGOS, as it did contain a number of references to the then already established sound of the Italian produced western, the composer utilizing a rasping electronic sound within the music and also instrumentation that clearly had connections with other scores by other composers from the genre, i.e. banjo played in unison with a saloon type piano, fiddle (which is reminiscent of Morricone’s Five Man army), Spanish guitar solo’s and a fairly light and up-tempo central theme which again is reminiscent of the style employed by Morricone is films such as BANDA J AND S, THEY CALL ME NOBODY and THE GENIUS. Of course there are a number of darker and more sinister or dramatic interludes within the score, where Patucchi calls upon electric bass guitar, percussion and tense sounding woods to create a taught and edgy atmosphere. Plus there are a number of cues that include variations upon the core theme from the work, the composer orchestrating and arranging these so that they remain fresh and vibrant on each outing, harpsichord, guitar and Celeste are utilised throughout the score to create some nice low key moments which I suppose can be labelled as romantic in their overall sound. This is demonstrated fully in track number seven, which includes all of the instrumentation I have already mentioned plus lush strings that underline and embellish the composition. In track number nine the composer utilizes percussive elements to purvey the mood of tension and he underlines these with bass guitar that punctuates and supports, plus he integrates woodwind into the piece and further builds the tension by introducing electric guitar stabs and noises, which although are not exactly musical add much to the composition. Overall I found BLACK KILLER to be an entertaining score, maybe not as grandeur as the works of Morricone and De Masi when they scored westerns but definitely in the same league as Nicolai, Romitelli, Fidenco etc… Well presented with an eye catching front cover, and five colourful stills from the movie inside the liner, but sadly no notes. If you like Spaghetti western scores then I suggest you add this to your collection, “dannatamente veloce”.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light