A Great collection. Atmospheric and emotional
Reviewed in the United States on 16 August 2004
Regardless of whether or not you think you have, everyone has heard some, probably lots of Morricone's western music in their day.(or at least a parody and/or knock off of it) If you haven't heard of him, just try and imagine some western movie music you've heard. There's a very good chance that his is what you're thinking of. If you like that, you definitely want this.
This collection has over 70 minutes on 31 tracks and is quite compelling from beginning to end. There are a few excessively atmospheric tracks here and there, but they work well in the context of the album, and it never goes too long with out having something a bit more direct. Stylistically, it's got over the top and cheesy but still enjoyable gunfighter ballads, epic main themes, minimalistic, tension-building pieces and, my personal favorite, grandiose, showdown themes, usually driven by a solo trumpet.(And some stuff that doesn't quite fit in any of those categories) The only song that I actively dislike is March of the MacGregors, which I find rather annoying. Everything else is at least decent and listenable, and far more often than not in the very good to excellent range.
Stand out tracks are hard to pick, as it is so consistent. Of the ballads, Lonesome Billy is my favorite. Very schmaltzy and over the top, but fun in it's own way.(Angel Face probably comes in second in that category) Overture, from A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More are quite similar, and the best of the classic western main themes. Great whistling in each of them, and they each have a very distinct mood and atmosphere. As I said before, my very favorite tracks are the ones with the lead trumpet, typically backed by acoustic guitar and choir. For A Fistful of Dollars is simply astounding, and is perhaps the most archetypal of the bunch. It has absolutely staggering emotional power as does The Massacre, a similar piece which nearly equals it. Sixty Second to What? perhaps surpasses either of them, combining the powerful trumpet solo with an extremely eerie, minimalist introduction and a rather unexpected Organ interlude. Another brilliant piece, perhaps the single best on the album. From Man to Man is another standout, largely because it is a fairly unique piece, with odd chanting and sorta native feel to it. Man with a Harmonica is excellent as well. Another extremely powerful piece, with great use of the electric guitar and some of the most frightening, desolate harmonica you're likely to hear. I'll cut my self off now, and suffice to say I could go on about the specific tracks like this for some time.
I don't know what else to say about this. It's hard to describe, so if you really haven't heard anything like it I'm probably not gonna be of any help. The only conceivable flaw in this compilation is that it hasn't got anything from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, so it doesn't quite give a full overview of Morricone's best known western film music. But that is, of course, readily available, unlike mush of the music here, so it's not a total loss. (Obviously, you should pick up that soundtrack as well.) Anyway, that's it. Great music here. Get it.
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