Ennio Morricone Box Set Mania!

Ennio Morricone: Fear, Maestro & Crime

Lately, I have been stocking up on Ennio Morricone movie soundtracks from the late sixties and early seventies. This been a pretty easy task since Dagored records has released a trio of great 3-disc Morricone boxed sets. Each filled with wonderful packaging and liner notes, and is well worth the $25 price tag.

Like most people, my introduction to Morricone was in his scores for the Sergio Leone Dollars movies. Those soundtracks are known for their sinister baritone guitar sounds, howls, operatic vocalization, percussive bursts, and other genre defying/redefining motifs. Morricone, it turns out, has an extremely wide stylistic range. From his pop roots to his experimental soundscapes, these box sets showcase much of the diversity of his style.

Maestro leans towards his pop side. The soundtracks included here are La Donna Invisible (The Invisible Woman), Le Foto Proibite di una Signora per Bene (Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion ), and Slalom. La Donna is pure pop bliss, with a melody that is repeated throughout most of the disc. There are a few tracks that come close to sounding like the Theme from the Love Boat, but the vast majority of the disc is more e-z than cheesy. Le Foto is a bit more experimental, and Slalom is a solid space-age bachelor pad disc very reminiscent of another disc I have by The Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra.

Crime contains the soundtracks for Revolver (AKA: Blood in the Streets), Gli Intoccabili (AKA: Machine Gun McCain), and Giornata Nera per L'Arete (AKA: The Fifth Cord). These soundtracks have a lot more variety within each disc and are therefore not as consistently good as the other discs in this series, but they are very fine nonetheless. Gli Intoccabili has nearly the same feel as Morricone's western soundtracks with several great vocal numbers about a man called "McCain." I think it's the same fellow who sings "Lonesome Billy" if you are familiar with that song by Morricone.

Fear is my favorite of the three sets. It contains Una Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna (AKA: Lizard In A Woman's Skin), Il Gatto a Nove Code (AKA: The Cat O' Nine Tails), and Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura (AKA: Cold Eyes of Fear). These discs are filled with erie soundscapes and experimental improvisations. Many of the tracks would not be out-of-place on an early Cabaret Voltaire, Can or Kraftwerk album, except that these sounds are being created with traditional acoustic instruments. Great stuff.

These are the first CDs I have bought in a long time, and are worth every penny. Viva Morricone!