The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Friday Feature: A Discful of “Dollars”

with one comment

Blame the continuing heat in the Northeast. Blame the recent release of video game Red Dead Redemption. But it’s just a good time for some great music from the “spaghetti Westerns,” that subgenre of film where the Italian film community emulated and built upon the traditions of the American Western picture. Ask any film scholar and they’ll likely tell you that few directors contributed more for the genre than Sergio Leone – and futhermore, that his best works had Ennio Morricone providing a musical score.

Leone and Morricone would become a team not unlike Hitchcock and Hermann or Spielberg and Williams, although their first meeting would never have tipped you off. In 1964, Leone’s producers asked him to consider Morricone, an avant-garde composer who also did many Italian pop arrangements, to score his newest film, Per Un Pugni di Dollari. Leone was reluctant (he wasn’t a fan of Morricone’s few other film scores), but ultimately the two hit it off, especially after Morricone’s realization that the two had attended the same elementary school.

Morricone’s contributions to the film were heavy. Both men were tired of the typical sweeping orchestral score that augmented such Westerns, so Morricone decided to sweeten it with some unorthodox arrangements and instruments, including wood flute, harmonica, solo and choral voices (sometimes providing deliberately atonal sounds) and a lone Fender Stratocaster. The style of the music enhanced the film greatly (it already had a lot going for it, with a plot borrowing heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, a unique, close-up-oriented cinematographical style and a relatively unknown American actor, Clint Eastwood, as the antiheroic “Man with No Name”), and A Fistful of Dollars (as it would ultimately be known in America) was a rousing success.

After the jump, read about the style of the other films in the so-called “Dollars” trilogy and the many albums they spawned.

The initial Dollars soundtrack was a mostly brief affair, save for the nearly-14-minute ending suite. It was released alongside the film when it came to American theatres a good three years after it was made.

Ennio Morricone, A Fistful of Dollars: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCA Victor LSO-1135, 1967)

  1. Titoli – 2:57
  2. Almost Dead – 1:42
  3. Square Dance – 1:35
  4. The Chase – 2:25
  5. The Result – 2:46
  6. Without Pity – 2:09
  7. Theme from “A Fistful of Dollars” – 1:08
  8. “A Fistful of Dollars” Suite – 13:42

The record enjoyed its premiere American CD release in 1998 (Razor & Tie 79301 82171-2).

Leone’s next film, Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (1965), had Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” (often referred to in this film as “Monco,” Italian for “one-armed”) and a disgraced bounty hunter (Lee Van Cleef) pursuing a ruthless thief known as “El Indio” (Gian Maria Volonte, who was the antagonist in Fistful as well). Morricone’s score followed the same stylistic twists and turns as the first, with some great motifs and cues present (the chiming tune for El Indio’s musical pocket-watch, the urgent “Sixty Seconds to What?”).

Unfortunately, the release history of For a Few Dollars More is convoluted. While a single LP sequence seems to have been assembled (more on that later), the only album definitively released in either the U.K. or U.S. was a compilation that took most of that proposed LP sequence and most of the Fistful LP and put them on a single platter. That album sequence is shown below. (Note: some pressings – notably a French one on RCA Camden 900036, dated 1968 – actually have three additional tracks: “Aces High” and “The Musical Pocket Watch” on Side 1 (where the For a Few Dollars More music is pressed) and the Fistful theme from the original LP on Side 2. To ease confusion we present the original U.S. track listing below.)

Ennio Morricone, Music from the Original Sound Tracks of “A Fistful of Dollars” & “For a Few Dollars More” (RCA Camden CDS 1052, 1968 – released in U.S. in 1970)

  1. Titoli – 2:57
  2. Almost Dead – 1:42
  3. Square Dance – 1:35
  4. (The Chase) – 2:25
  5. The Result – 2:46
  6. Without Pity – 2:09
  7. Sixty Seconds to What? – 3:06
  8. The Watcher Watched – 2:01
  9. The Vice of Killing – 2:24
  10. The Showdown – 2:21
  11. Goodbye Colonel – 1:44
  12. For a Few Dollars More – 2:50

It’s also worth pointing out a bit of a novelty tied to the score of For a Few Dollars More: a single, entitled “Eye for an Eye,” performed by Maurizio Graf to the tune of the cue “Sixty Seconds to What?” It was released on ARC Records (AN 4083, 1967) with a stereo version in English and a mono version in Italian, but unsurprisingly didn’t go much of anywhere.

Neither Leone nor Morricone probably knew of the confusing release history of this iconic music in the States. But with their final entry in the Dollars series, you’d think they did. Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (1966) was the most grandiose of the three, where Eastwood’s Man with No Name (The Good), Van Cleef’s ruthless bounty hunter “Angel Eyes” Sentenza (The Bad) and Eli Wallach’s greedy outlaw Tuco Ramirez (The Ugly) square off to find a golden reward in the height of the Civil War. Morricone built strong themes for this film that defined the accompanying images (in fact, Morricone recorded demos of much of his score in pre-production, and Leone used those demos to score the action as he filmed). The classic title theme (propelled by a coyote-like whistling howl counterbalanced by three other notes) is arguably the defining musical moment of any spaghetti Western. But there’s plenty to enjoy here, from the mournful theme of the Civil War soldiers to the epic, mariachi-trumpet-and-piano-driven finale where all three men square off in a graveyard.

Thankfully, the meatiest of the three Dollars scores got the best soundtrack release. It was also a major hit, entering the Billboard Top 10 and staying on the charts for over a year, eventually going gold.

Ennio Morricone, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (United Artists Records UAS-5172, 1967)

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Main Title) – 2:38
  2. The Sunset – 1:12
  3. The Fort – 2:20
  4. The Desert – 5:15
  5. The Carriage of the Spirits – 2:04
  6. March – 2:46
  7. The Story of a Soldier – 3:50
  8. March Without Hope – 1:47
  9. Death of a Soldier – 3:05
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold – 3:20
  11. The Trio – 4:54

Re-Recordings

As was common in the ’60s orchestral/pop/soundtrack scene, re-recordings were commissioned of some of Morricone’s work for more mainstream audiences. They’re serviceable enough, to be sure, but nowhere near as masterfully done as the originals. Leroy Moore and His Orchestra released an LP, For a Few Dollars More and Other Motion Picture Themes (United Artists Records UAS-6608, 1967), which featured a good chunk of the released score plus themes from some other UA pictures (most notably Zorba the Greek). Far better known was Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra’s take on all three Dollars films on an LP that received a higher chart placement than the originals (though it sold far less). That LP (RCA Victor LSP-3927, 1968) is rather easily found on CD as well.

Reissues

In the past decade, as the Dollars trilogy earned additional acclaim thanks to DVD, the holders of the soundtrack rights decided to remaster and reissue the classic scores for new audiences to discover. Fistful got a premiere release of the original album on CD in the U.K. (BMG 82876 58996-2), and For a Few Dollars More finally got that proper LP sequence presented on CD, too, with “Aces High” and “The Musical Pocket Watch” added for good measure.

 Ennio Morricone, For a Few Dollars More: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (BMG 82876 58997-2, 2004)

  1. La Resa dei Conti – 3:06
  2. Osservatori Osservati – 2:01
  3. Il Vizio D’Uccidure – 2:24
  4. Il Colpo – 2:21
  5. Addio Colonnello – 1:44
  6. Per Qualche Dolari in Piu – 2:50
  7. Poker d’Assi – 1:15
  8. Carillon – 1:10

Of the major label attention, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly received the best expansion to time with its deluxe reissue on DVD. Ten tracks were added to the original LP program, presenting nearly the complete score (although those bonus tracks were in mono, despite the reinstatement of the original stereo distinction on the CD cover). It should be noted that, on all Capitol’s releases, both “The Story of a Soldier” and “The Trio” are presented in versions different from what appeared in the film.

Ennio Morricone, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Expanded Edition) (Capitol 72435 98621 2 6, 2004)

  1. Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (Main Title) – 2:38
  2. Il Tramonto – 1:12
  3. Sentenza – 1:41
  4. Fuga a Cavallo – 1:07
  5. Il Ponte de Corde – 1:51
  6. Il Forte – 2:20
  7. Inseguimento – 2:25
  8. Il Deserto – 5:15
  9. La Carrozza dei Fantasmi – 2:04
  10. La Missione San Antonio – 2:15
  11. Padre Ramirez – 2:36
  12. Marcetta – 2:46
  13. La Storia de Un Soldato – 3:50
  14. Il Treno Militare – 1:25
  15. Fine de Una Spia – 1:16
  16. Il Bandito Monco – 2:45
  17. Due Contro Cinque – 3:46
  18. Marcetta Senza Speranza – 1:47
  19. Morte di Un Soldato – 3:05
  20. L’Estasi dell’Oro – 3:20
  21. Il Triello – 4:54

For the most devoted Leone fans, there were some other reissues carried out, too: in the past decade, Italian label GDM Music has released the original scores of the Dollars trilogy as originally heard in the films. They’re obviously a little harder to find (all of them having been pressed in extremely limited quantities) but well worth it.

Ennio Morricone, Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo: The Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (GDM 7001, 2001)

  1. Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (Titoli) – 2:38
  2. Il Tramonto – 1:12
  3. Sentenza – 1:41
  4. Fuga a Cavallo – 1:07
  5. Il Ponte de Corde – 1:51
  6. Il Forte – 2:20
  7. Inseguimento – 2:25
  8. Il Deserto – 5:15
  9. La Carrozza dei Fantasmi – 2:04
  10. La Missione San Antonio – 2:15
  11. Padre Ramirez – 2:36
  12. Marcetta – 2:46
  13. La Storia de Un Soldato – 5:30
  14. Il Treno Militare – 1:25
  15. Fine de Una Spia – 1:16
  16. Il Bandito Monco – 2:45
  17. Due Contro Cinque – 3:46
  18. Marcetta Senza Speranza – 1:47
  19. Morte di Un Soldato – 3:05
  20. L’Estasi dell’Oro – 3:20
  21. Il Triello – 7:14

Ennio Morricone, Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu: The Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (GDM 2038, 2003)

  1. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu – 3:50 * +
  2. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 2) – 1:13 *
  3. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 3) – 2:53
  4. Osservatori Osservati – 2:05
  5. Poker d’Assi – 1:22
  6. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 6) – 2:41 * +
  7. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 7) – 0:46 *
  8. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 8) – 2:16 * +
  9. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 9) – 2:25 *
  10. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 10) – 1:16 *
  11. La Resa dei Conti – 3:08
  12. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 12) – 1:58 *
  13. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 13) – 1:20 * +
  14. Carillon – 1:10
  15. Il Vizio D’Uccidere – 2:28
  16. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 16) – 2:11 *
  17. Il Colpo – 2:26
  18. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 18) – 0:53 * +
  19. Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (Sequence 19) – 1:15 *
  20. Addio Colonnello – 1:45
  21. Maurizio Graf – Occhio per Occhio – 3:01 *
  22. Maurizio Graf – Eye for an Eye – 3:01

* denotes mono track. + denotes track with sound effects.

Ennio Morricone, Per Un Pugni di Dollari: The Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (GDM 2066, 2006)

  1. Titoli – 2:58
  2. Quasi Morto – 1:40
  3. Musica Sosfesa – 1:02
  4. Square Dance – 1:36
  5. Ramon – 1:05
  6. Consuelo Baxter – 1:18
  7. Doppi Giochi – 1:41
  8. Per Un Pugno di Dollari – 1:26
  9. Scambio di Prigionieri – 0:55
  10. Cavalgata – 3:29
  11. L’Inseguimento – 2:25
  12. Tortura – 9:31
  13. Alla Ricerca dell’Evaso – 1:22
  14. Sensa Pieta’ – 2:08
  15. La Reazione – 2:36
  16. Per Un Pugno di Dolari (#2) – 1:49
  17. Per Un Pugno di Dolari (Finale) – 1:09

Written by Mike Duquette

May 28, 2010 at 13:44

Posted in Features, Reissues, Soundtracks

Tagged with

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Yes, exactly! Perfect soundtracks for the films and for hot summer days. These are my wonderful! Few Dollars More has my favorite theme, but Ecstasy of Gold cannot be beat!

    If you’re into Spaghetti Westerns and their soundtracks, you should check out my Spaghetti Western Concept Rap album, called “Showdown at the BK Corral.” It’s basically an epic Spaghetti Western over 9 tracks – very influenced by Morricone. I’d love to hear what you think of it! You can download it for free at sunsetparkriders.com

    Dave

    June 1, 2010 at 17:32


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: