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Morricone Segreto
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Decca / 69m

One of the most remarkable things about the great Ennio Morricone was his extraordinary versatility as a composer – able to move effortlessly between virtually all conceivable musical styles. In the mainstream he is and will always be best-remembered for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Mission but there’s such a massive range of music to explore.

I can attest that this can be a rather expensive business. Even collecting Morricone compilations may require you to remortgage your house given how many there are, but it’s a great way to start (but you quickly realise that they do tend to keep recycling the same stuff). The concept of Morricone Segreto is to present the “secret” side of the composer – described in the press release as “the hidden, dark-tinged and psychedelic side of the maestro” – and while it won’t be a particular secret to those who know Morricone well, the producers have done a great job of basing it almost entirely around really rather obscure material. Much has been released before but there are a few tracks that haven’t.

Ennio Morricone

It’s worth saying that nothing on this album genuinely gets all that close to the composer’s most genuinely experimental music (which to me is a bit of a relief – that sort of thing can be extraordinarily challenging to listen to). It focuses on a 15 year period of Morricone’s career, from the late 1960s to early 80s, when he was at the peak of his creative powers.

There is some fantastic music here, the majority drawn from very obscure films. Much of it is essentially lounge music, with that promised-psychedelia only really coming in fairly small doses alongside some touches of acid jazz, and yes, certainly some experimental touches. The opening “Vie-Ni” from Quando l’Amore e Sensualita (in common with many of the album’s tracks, an alternative take) gets things off to a great start before the more orchestral “Fantasmi Grotteschi” from Stark System.

I absolutely love the characteristic dark humour in “Vita e Malavita” from Storie di Vita e Malavita. “Psychedelic Mood” is one of a few tracks drawn from Lui per Lei and is another great one, with its slightly twisted rock feel (a wonderful guitar solo). “Jukebox Psychédélique” from Peur Sur la Ville lives up to its name with all its Indian colouring (and the connotations that brings).

Perhaps the most “out there” cut is the single version of the theme from Eat It, with its bizarre vocalisations – and of course vocals figure prominently throughout, whether the unmistakable sounds of Edda dell’Orso or gloriously creative (and diverse) uses of I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni.

“Dramma su di Noi” from Spogliati, Protesta, Uccidi is a completely bonkers track, perhaps possible to describe as driving rock music but certainly not like anyone else’s driving rock music. What is described as “Theme No. 5” from The Sicilian Clan – probably the most well-known score on the album – is a very different sound from what we’re used to from the score – quite trippy, dynamic, hugely satisfying. That’s followed by the exceptionally catchy and gloriously silly theme from René La Canne, which I already know I’m going to listen to a thousand times before the year’s out. The final treat is the single version of “The Victim” from Macchie Solari, the album’s most heavenly melody.

This is an unusually well-curated compilation. I know that the genuine cognoscenti will already be familiar with what’s here, but I have to say I don’t consider myself a slouch when it comes to Morricone – I really need to build an annex just to store all the albums in – and yet virtually all of it was unfamiliar to me beforehand. It’s not just the selection of tracks that’s been done so well (all 27 of them are really great), but also the sequencing – there are the briefest of pauses between them and they flow so well through the album (to the extent that it can be hard to believe there were years in between some of them having been recorded). It’s superb.

Rating: ***** | |

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  1. Underfire35 (Reply) on Sunday 8 November, 2020 at 20:28

    This album is a perfect doorway into a lesser known body of work by the Maestro. I’m familiar with a majority of the material represented here and everything still feels fresh due to the sequencing and edits (reducing ‘Ore 22’ down from it’s original thirteen minute length was a solid choice). The inclusion of several unreleased and deep cut rare tracks keeps even the seasoned Morricone fan listening. There’s always going to be some favorites missing – for me “Veruschka,” “Escalation” and “Crescete E Moltiplicatevi” come to mind – but it’s hard to argue the presentation isn’t near flawless based on the selections they made. On it’s own this is a essential listen and throughly deserving of the high rating given above!!

  2. filmtrax (Reply) on Sunday 18 July, 2021 at 19:50

    I totally agree with the first review.
    I bought the boxed edition with 7” single and yellow jazz vinyl. What has not been noted is the superb pressing from Decca which on my 2 LP’s was totally silent. I even love the visual joy of seeing the vinyl spin with the dancing of the zany patterns that were created when revolving so much so it briefly made me think my record players speed was erratic and fluctuating. A nice intended touch by the manufacturers adding to the ”acid tinged” label attached to this release.
    The remastering of the original tapes sounds like a labour of love by the technicians involved in this lively and ageless sounding revision. The quality of the recordings has stepped right up matching sound wise the same leaps of newly mastered films visually achieved on Twilight Time blu-ray releases.
    Overall I was greatly surprised with the whole package and well thought out sequencing with a much better listen experience than what I was expecting having a large existing collection of the Maestro….. and that extra clean vibrant detail held in the tracks. The only mystifying thing for me was the one sided single which was a wasted opportunity. It’s nice to hear recording booth comments and out takes from the recording stage, but it was a once played, unlikely to be revisited track.

  3. Rory (Reply) on Tuesday 31 August, 2021 at 22:09

    Picked this up yesterday– remembered you’d reviewed it, but not your ultimate evaluation.

    As someone who genuinely wouldn’t have minded an album of his most out-there and experimental music, still a knockout compilation. If Decca’s going to do more with Morricone deep cuts at this level of presentation, I certainly have the appetite for it.