Originally released on a CAM long playing record in the latter part of 1969, Gianni Marchetti
ís SEVEN RED BERETS was released as a double soundtrack package which was something that CAM did back in those days, SEVEN RED BERETS took up the B side of the album with Marchetti,s classic Spaghetti western score COWARDS DONíT PRAY occupying the A side. Of course neither of the editions included on the LP were anywhere near complete versions of the soundtracks and were merely representations of the scores. The soundtrack to SEVEN RED BERETS had a running time of less than 20 minutes and consisted of 8 tracks on the LP, this new edition on Kronos records contains a stunning 31 tracks which have a combined running time of nearly 51 minutes, and the sound quality is staggeringly clear and crisp. The original album was issued in Mono with a few stereo versions being made available. The movie was released in 1969 and was to be fair a moderate success in Italy and also in certain parts of Europe. It took most of its inspiration from DARK OF THE SUN which also saw a group of mercenaries given a task to recover something valuable from bloodthirsty Simba revolutionaries in the middle of the Belgium Congo. DARK OF THE SUN was certainly the better film with SEVEN RED BERETS borrowing heavily from its higher budgeted and bigger star cast predecessor. Marchetti,s vibrant and pulsating music was in my opinion one of the films highlights, it is a mix of African sounding music and also has touches of jazz with a martial undercurrent, in short it is an inventive and original sounding work, that away from the movie remains entertaining and also fulfilling for the listener. I am very pleased with Godwin Borg of Kronos who took this project on with much enthusiasm and also affection, which I think has made it such a resounding success, who would have thought all those years ago when listening to the short soundtrack on CAM that one day fans of Marchetti would be able to buy the complete score. In fact thanks to all the new cues that are now available it is like discovering the soundtrack for the very first time, the opening cue alone is dramatic and infectious, AFRICAN DRUMS is a great opening for the compact disc and it sets the scene perfectly for much of what that follows, up tempo throbbing African sounding drums are supported by choir and punctuated by piano and strumming guitar, the drums stop suddenly and then re-start with a more pronounced an forceful persona, underlined by organ and African sounding voices, Marchetti seems then to go up a gear again and increases the tempo and whilst doing so adds more voices and the odd brass flourish. It is a driving and exciting piece which is relentless in its percussive and powerful three minute running time.
Track number 2, VERSO IL DESERTO, again relies upon the deployment of percussive elements and indeed the composition is built upon a foundation of African shakers that are further embellished by pounding drums, over which the composer places a harmonica solo, which performs a seven note motif that will feature throughout the score. Marchetti creates an ethnic and almost easy listening sound by combining the percussion and harmonica. Track number 3, DUNE MAGICHE opens with pulsating drums very much akin to the opening percussion flourishes from Jarreís LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, these are interspersed and punctuated by use of shrill sounding flute, and a quirky almost comical guitar, and harpsichord. Drums then take the lead and are underlined by a feint choral support which is short lived but effective. Track number 4, is for me one of the highlights of the score, it begins with a pleasant slightly up-tempo sounding piano solo which takes on the seven note motif that the composer introduced in track number 2, he adds to this a low sounding harmonica that purrs in unison with the piano, and then introduces slightly urgent sounding strings with martial sounding timpani and as these fade he stirs a soulful choral sound that is punctuated by short but sweet sounding, harpsichord and continues to purvey an urgent atmosphere by employing the strings as a background to the proceedings. The seven note theme is heard throughout the score but pops up in various manifestations, Marchetti adding a freshness and vibrancy to it via his arrangement of the piece. Track number 6, SOLO NELLA GIUNGLE, could be from a spaghetti western, a fuzzy sounding guitar rift being the foundation of the composition, choir and also tense sounding percussion adding an atmosphere that is filled with a nervous sense of apprehension. Track number 7, AFRICAN SOUND, is again a variation of the scores central thematic material, again Marchetti adding vitality and originality to this because of his imaginative arranging skills. Track number 9, which is listed as SERENO, is a pleasantly calming guitar solo, in fact I have to point out that it is very similar to Marchetti,s COWARDS DONíT PRAY theme, if one was not aware it could easily be mistaken for a western theme or minor cue from the aforementioned Marchetti western score, it is an easy going and very simple piece, but affecting and pleasing. This for me is a landmark release, and definitely a Golden Italian soundtrack. Highly Recommended.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light