The Legendary Italian Westerns

Artist: Ennio Morricone
Released by: BMG / RCA
Release Year: 1990

When it comes to film composers, very few people are as prolific and as popular as Ennio Morricone. And as popular and as diverse as Morricone is, his most successful soundtracks are his scores to countless Spaghetti Westerns. This compilation CD collects the cream of the crop and whacks them on one very enjoyable CD.

The opening track, ‘A Gringo Like Me’ has to be one of the toughest drinking songs ever written. It extols all the virtues and requirements it takes to be a man in this rough old world. How’s this for lyrics:

Keep your hand on your gun.
Don’t you trust any one.
Be the first one to fire.
Every man is a liar.

Don’t be a fool for a smile or a kiss,
or your bullet might miss…
keep your eye on your goal.

There’s one thing that’ll save you your life,
It’s your hand on your knife…
and the Devil in your soul.

I know, I know…it’s pure poetry. But in their defence, the liner notes state: “They were often written by lyricists whose command of the English language was at best primitive…” But the lyrics don’t really matter. It’s the tunes underneath, and what great tunes they are!

After ‘A Gringo Like Me’, which is from the movie Gunfight At Red Sands there are three tracks from Guns Don’t Argue. One of the three, ‘Lonesome Billy’ is from the same lyrical school as ‘A Gringo Like Me’.

Then we’re into the big guns (if you’ll pardon the clumsy western analogy). Next we’re treated to seven tracks from A Fistful Of Dollars. If that doesn’t get you whistling, nothing else will.

The next four tracks are lifted from the film, A Gun For Ringo which starred Giuliano Gemma. Following this, we return to Eastwood territory with a fine selection of cuts from the For A Few Dollars More soundtrack. Here you get a bit of everything, from the twangy title tune, the showdown and even the musical pocket watch.

After that there are a few short brackets. First one number from Ringo Rides Again and then two tracks from 7 Guns For The MacGregors.

Next is the song ‘From Man To Man’ from Death Rides A Horse, which starred John Philip Law. Despite all the different roles that Law played, Sinbad, Pygar (the angel in Barbarella) – to me, he’ll always be Diabolik.

The CD closes out with four tracks from Once Upon A time In The West. I really love the track, ‘Man With A Harmonica’. If I could have a theme played every time I walked into a room, this would be it. But I guess it could get a bit annoying after a while…but I think it would impress people that don’t know you. Whoa…let’s not mess with this guy. He’s one tough hombre. Listen to his theme music!

I guess the big gaping hole on this compilation is that there are no tracks from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but that’s not to denigrate the tracks on this album. They are all pretty good, but the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is probably Morricone’s most recognised musical work, and as such, it seems like a strange omission. (It’s not on Volume 1 of this series either – that’s dedicated to American Western Themes) If you’re a Morricone lover, but you don’t want to buy all the soundtrack albums individually, then this compilation isn’t a bad fall back position.

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