Carlo Savina had already made a name for himself in film music long before the Italian western came into being, it was Savina who on many occasions conducted for the great Miklos Rozsa when he recorded his Biblical scores such as BEN HUR, in Rome. But, Savina was as we all are aware not just a Musical director, he was a composer in his own right and contributed numerous scores to Italian cinema and came up with interesting and also original soundtracks within numerous genre’s of film. Savina also acted as a conductor for a number of Italian composers, Nino Rota to name one and it was Savina who took up the baton to direct the orchestra on Rota’s THE GODFATHER soundtrack. But it is Savina as a composer I am here to now review, or at least this particular foray into the world of the Italian produced western by Savina. Originally released in 1971, EHI AMIGO...SEI MORTO! or HEY AMIGO REST IN PEACE, was a fairly low key western which starred one, Wayde Preston, and although it was produced at a time when the Spaghetti western had already firmly established it self with critics and cinema audiences, it contained a more Hollywood approach it even had the look as in the way it was dressed and photographed of a Hollywood produced western yarn. Savina’s score is also not as Spaghetti sounding as one would like, it just did not seem to have much content and sounded lack-lustre. Although saying this the composer does utilize a fuzzy sounding guitar at certain points within the score which are similar to Morricone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST guitar flourishes. But please note I do say the utilization is similar and nowhere near as operatic or impressive and again being candid I did find this western soundtrack a little repetitive, it seems to me that the composer found something in the way of a theme or even of a sound and then decided to fill time with it, repeating the phrase or passage of music until it became annoying,(just my opinion) and although it does contain a handful of themes, these themes are almost instantly forgettable, by this I mean they are not tunes that stick in ones head or themes that you find yourself humming or whistling, or even thinking whilst listening “that’s good” a number of the cues are more or less nondescript in there thematic content and in essence are just musical sounds strung together with a whisper of a theme raising its head momentarily, performed by guitar or trumpet.
The title song is performed by Don Powell, who also contributed the lyrics and collaborated with Savina on a number of songs for films, is included twice on the disc, although this is a fairly serviceable western ditty, the lyrics are a little dull and banal with Powell shouting EHI AMIGO YOUR DEAD, as a type of chorus for the song bridging the verses, his shouts being underlined and supported by trumpet and mid tempo harpsichord. The composer also utilizes a mournful sounding saxophone within the score, which for me is a little out of place within a score for a western. When one compares this soundtrack to VENGEANCE or COMIN AT YA by Savina, it pales in the light of their originality, appeal and substance, even the vocal performance on VENGEANCE by Powell again, is head and shoulders above this one. I know that film soundtracks are not written by composers to create nice themes and melodic sounding music, they have to score the music to the action, but within the Spaghetti western genre in particular, we have been spoilt with so many themes and so many great sounding songs, which stand up on their own away from the images. I suppose every so often we have to accept that not all Italian western were good and also that the musical scores also could be a little under par. Savina’s music for the cinema has as I have already stated in most cases been very good, but his scores for the western genre I think are maybe a little hit and miss in the quality department, AND GOD SAID TO CAIN for example and VIVO PER LA TUA MORTE, these two titles were not exactly shining beacons (musically that is) from a genre that spawned so many memorable soundtracks. The compact disc is well presented with a nice front cover illustration, good stereo sound also. Unfortunately it will probably never again see the light of day in my household.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Erika
, Il Plenilunio delle Vergini
, Le Altre