Latest reviews of new albums:
  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • EMI / 59m

A 1965 spy comedy, Slalom sees a pair of men go on a skiing trip with their wives. When they dump them in order to flirt with the pretty girls, they inadvertently get mixed up in some espionage fun and games, and before long find themselves in Egypt (as you do), a country not renowned for its ski resorts.

Ennio Morricone scored countless comedy capers during this phase of his career. I think Slalom is probably my favourite score in this vein. It was one of seven films he did for director Luciano Salce, an important collaboration because it actually included what is usually taken to be the great composer’s very first film, Il Federale.

Ennio Morricone

This score has one truly magnificent feature and that is its main theme. It is totally bonkers – Alessandro Alessandroni is there whistling away, I Cantore Moderni di Alessandroni are on hand to shriek “Slalom!” every now and again, there’s a driving electric guitar and drums – it’s pure genius, so creative and so memorable.

The secondary theme “Sestriere” is a romantic piece of light music, a sunny picture of the Euro jetset of the time. The lounge source piece “Un cafè sulla banchina” is a delight. But then just as it’s disarmed you, the score takes a left turn and gets (a bit) more serious – there’s no mistaking the locale as we move into “Un agente in Egitto” and then we hear a kind of Morricone version of John Barry Bond music in “Incontro magico”. “Assassinio nella sciovia” is deadly serious – kind of tribal percussion interjected by occasional, offsetting organ.

We’re back to light source music in the lovely “Una sera in albergo” with piano, bass and Hammond organ; then “Marcette grottesche” is a silly piece of slapstick comedy music. “Sul treno” is another piece of source music, lounge jazz this time. The lengthy “Sperduto a El Cairo” is Egyptian source music, with a snake charmer-style flute over percussion… for eight minutes.

The rest of the album is variations on those pieces. As with many Morricone scores, it has been released on disc numerous times (though at the time of the film there was only a single release of the fabulous main title on one side and “Sestriere” on the other); it’s widely available for download. The whole thing is entertaining; the main theme is essential.

Rating: **** | |

Tags: ,

  1. Rory (Reply) on Tuesday 28 July, 2020 at 22:25

    That main theme is so cheerfully bonkers. Great fun.

    Did you cover his score for “The Hellbenders” at some point? I feel like I remember reading a review for it but can’t find it now…

    • James Southall (Reply) on Tuesday 28 July, 2020 at 23:13

      I think I wrote a review of that for Soundtrack magazine back in the day. A very, very long time ago!