The Italian western was and still is a popular genre of film, my own personal theory of the Italian westerns success is that the movies worked on more than one level, by this I mean they entertained via their quirky and gimmicky plots and also attracted because of their inventive story lines and scenarios that unfolded within each individual movie. Then there was the appeal of the actors involved, i.e. Clint Eastwood
, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Franco Nero, Bud Spencer and Terence Hill plus there were some appearances by actors which were surprising in roles that one would never have thought of them undertaking and of course bit parts taken on by Hollywood actors who had been associated with American film makers versions of westerns. Then we have the appearance of the movies the camera shots and angles etc etc. But of course one of the most prominent and popular components associated with the Spaghetti Western
was the musical score or soundtracks. These were as original, quirky and inventive as the movies that they were composed for and in fact many of these soundtracks have outlived and outshone the movies that they were intended to support and enhance. There were many composers associated with the Italian western genre, but the most prominent of course has to be Ennio Morricone
, this gifted and versatile composer who came from the Italian popular music scene and worked originally as an arranger is credited with inventing the SOUND that is the Italian western, mainly because of his scores for the Italian director Sergio Leone, but we have to look at the bigger picture with the Spaghetti score, and I am of the opinion that “yes” Morricone was responsible for creating the benchmark on which all subsequent works for the genre took their lead from, but we have to acknowledge that other composers who worked within the genre should be credited for at times building on this Morricone musical blue print and expanding it and on occasion even improving on it, and although this does not necessarily apply to the composing duo of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis
, this partnership of sibling music smith’s were responsible for assisting in the establishment of what is now referred to as THE ITALIAN WESTERN SOUND. THEY STILL CALL ME TRINITY (1971) is probably of the best examples of a western score from the Brothers De Angelis, and surprisingly enough it was their very first film score it contains so many infectious themes and compositions, plus it has a great opening theme song, TRINITY STAND TALL and an even more attractive second vocal cue within the score in the form of REMEMBER. Guido and Maurizio De Angelis
have what I call a sound that I suppose appeals to an acquired taste, a little bit like Marmite you either love it or loath it. Their style which is granted, highly original can I suppose be described as a fusion symphonic that contains a pop orientated folksy sound with a lazy country vibe giving it a slightly intimate, laid back and warm atmosphere. It’s a haunting and interesting concoction which at times can be bluesy but also has a grand and imposing resonance, the combination of these very different styles actually works in 99 percent of cases, although there are a few scores by the Brothers where one finds yourself thinking “WHY”. This I think can be applied to the songs in KEOMA, because although the actual music works well, the songs at times distract the audience from what is happening on screen, but this I think is because of the performance of them rather than the actual composition. I was pleased when Digit Movies announced the release off THEY STILL CALL ME TRINITY on compact disc for the first time, as I have hinted this is one of the better scores by De Angelis, and ranks alongside numerous other Italian western scores as being a classic work from the genre. The music was issued at the time of the films release on a long playing record on RCA, but like so many releases at this time it was only a representation of the score containing a selection of tracks from the soundtrack a number of cues were missing from the recording simply because they would not fit onto one album, this has at last been rectified with this outstanding edition of the score, which is not only expanded and sequenced so the music plays as it runs in the movie, but it also has wonderful clear sound quality and great art work, the cover being the original art from the album release. Lovingly restored and released by those lovely people at Digit movies who are more than just another soundtrack label, they are passionate about their releases and this is reflected in the quality and also the titles that they choose to release., this must be one of the best releases of the year for fans of the genre and aficionados of the music from that genre. The CD opens with a previously unreleased cue, that although is short lived (0:30 secs) conjures up an atmosphere of tension, performed by strings it is basically one note that is held for half a minute, this leads nicely into track number two which is the theme song for the movie TRINITY STAND TALL. “Again we must travel onto nowhere, even when we were kids we stood alone, all the things that we tried just never mattered, they all shattered, so we packed up and moved on“. are the now familiar opening lines of this infectious vocal, which is performed by Gene Roman, supported by guitar, subdued percussion, pleasant and melodic sounding strings and the distinctive 4+4 Coro of Nora Orlandi
I think along with FIND A MAN from Quella Sporca Storia Nell West, DJANGO and RUN MAN RUN from The Big Gundown
, this vocal has stood the test of time and is probably one of the iconic vocal performances from the western all’Italiana genre (that’s a personal opinion). Track number three, TRINITY E BAMBINO A SAN JOSE, is another short but affecting cue, soft guitar picks out the TRINITY STAND TALL theme, giving it a brief but pleasant variation. Track number four, ASSALTO ALLA DILIGENZA, is the first time we hear guitar and harmonica combined on the score, again a short cue at just 33 secs it is over far too soon not really being given adequate time to develop, but the combination of that almost bluesy sounding harmonica and bluegrass influenced guitar is a real treat. Track number five, RANCH DI PARKER, is performed by low key guitar that is laid back and easy on the ear. Track number six, TRINITY E BAMBINO A SAN JOSE is an expanded version of track number three, the composing duo adding piano, which reminded me of the style employed Roy Budd
in movies such as SOLDIER BLUE etc, they add to this smooth underlying string layers that introduce us to the secondary central theme from the score which is an instrumental version of the song REMEMBER which makes a brief appearance performed on subtle woods supported by solo guitar, but this is soon upstaged by a jaunty sounding guitar solo, that takes the cue to its conclusion. Tracks seven and also eight are entitled TRINITY E BAMBINO IN CITTA, again we are treated to yet another theme to represent the two central characters of the movie, brass is on this occasion added to the mix with slightly upbeat percussion and little choral nuances backed by harmonica and guitar with elusive and easy going flute work. Both tracks give this theme a work out but each track is different the composers employing different instrumentation to a degree in track number eight, choir being omitted in favour of guitar and brass being given a more prominent part to play, piano which has a jazz sound to it is also utilised again evoking memories of Roy Budd
, and it is the piano supported by lightly played guitar and brass punctuation that becomes the main component of the cue as it progresses. The theme is also utilised in track number nine, TRINITY E BAMBINO AL RISTORANTE, which if my memory serves me correctly is an hilarious scene from the movie. Track number ten, is an up-tempo variation of the TRINITY STAND TALL theme, performed on just guitar which again is just a fleeting piece at 40 seconds. The compact disc contains a number of cues which are at first given a short work out but later are expanded upon and fleshed out by the composers.
One of the highlights of the score for me is track number twelve IL CARRO AL FIUME, which was track number two on the original album, it begins with a lazy bluesy sounding guitar which is supported by strumming from a second guitar, the lead guitar performs a version of the TRINITY STAND TALL theme, which segues into a beautiful rendition of the theme performed on strings which act as support to a faraway sounding horn and choral flourishes that together conjure up visions of a vastness of the old west. Track number thirteen is a fuller arrangement of REMEMBER again instrumental, performed by a small string section that is embellished by guitar and plaintive sounding woods. The vocal REMEMBER does not appear in the running order until track number, nineteen, but this is shortened version of the song, the original and unedited version of the vocal making an appearance at the end of the disc, but its worth waiting for. Performed by Gene Roman and also an un-credited female vocalist, the composition and lyrics are mesmerizing. “ I want to loose myself and free my mind again as fading leaves fall to the ground,(remember in lonely times the love we had found). Young woman tell me if you can what makes you fight to tame this wonder-lust in me, to calm a sea even when you know the ships could never sail. Though it may be right it somehow it just don’t work though it may be right”. So not your typical spaghetti western lyrics but still stunning, with effective support from, strings, guitar and woods, giving it a tinge of melancholy and adding a highly emotive dimension to it. This is a brilliant score, an iconic work within a collection of scores from a genre that was and still is original, popular and at times a little manic.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light