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FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
Morricone/Leone genius evident throughout magnificent film, music
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2004 BMG; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
The middle part of Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" is the one that's most often forgotten, but like the two either side it is a startling film, absolutely full of dynamite cinematic moments, directed with Leone's trademark flair. Style over substance? No way - oceans of style, but substance too. Clint Eastwood's back, of course - Lee Van Cleef joins him for the first time - the hilariously-dubbed Italian bit-part players are out in full force - and every iconic on-screen moment is accompanied by an iconic off-screen one, courtesy of Ennio Morricone's music.
In my mind, Morricone's music for Leone represents the most outlandishly creative and brilliant film music ever written. The remarkable thing is how well it works - both with the operatic excesses of the films, and on albums for music fans to enjoy. And enjoy them, they have - that the music from low-budget, Italian-produced westerns should be amongst the most famous written for films is testimony to the remarkable ability this composer had to capture a mood and provide the soundtrack to a generation. (Don't worry, there'll be another cliche coming in a few moments.)
"La Resa Dei Conti" opens things up - the iconic xylophone, electric guitar, drums - so atmospheric - then the choir - the humungous church organ - finally, that trumpet solo - when it's over, I feel like having a post-coital cigarette. Such a perfect combination of disparate elements, coming together as if it's entirely natural for music to be made this way - but nobody other than Morricone ever has, which is what is truly the most incredible thing.
Suspense is up next, in the poetically-titled "Osservatori Osservati" (only Morricone...) - screeching strings, stings from sax (or maybe it's a clarinet); then the lilting "Il Vizio d'Uccidere", the electric guitar now being used to provide gorgeous melody before oboe and choir take it over. Then, it soars - simply heavenly. Then... enter Edda dell'Orso - not for long - but certainly long enough for another of those iconic moments. "Il Colpo" follows... in a different score, in a different time, this would seem like interminable suspense - but somehow Morricone makes the simple percussion rhythms so damn stylish, and surrounds it with music of such wonder, even this seems like a little masterpiece.
"Addio Colonnello" is the most yearning and beautiful of the themes - you can almost see the hand reaching out towards hope (told you another cliche wouldn't be far around the corner) as you listen. Stirring, stunning. All this, and the pièce de résistance hasn't even arrived yet. The title cue "Per Qualche Dollario in Piu" is that pièce, that objet d'art - a man whistling, a bouncing boinging noise, a fluttering bass flute, a male choir popping up to grunt gutturally for a few bars, the electric guitar... only Morricone... It's every bit as good as its more celebrated counterpart in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the sort of piece I could place on "repeat" and listen to for 24 hours straight.
No Morricone western score would be complete without a ridiculous piece of honky-tonk piano source music, and "Poker d'Assi" is that piece here; you can't keep a straight face, but you can't fail to love it, either. "Carillon" closes things out - a reprise of the opening melody, this time with an even grander sound. For a Few Dollars More is a work of genius, an undoubted five-star masterpiece, simply vintage, classic Morricone. As with all his other Leone scores, it has been released in about sixty-five million different versions on CD, with the most common being this eight-track CD which mirrors the original album and lasts, startlingly, for only 17 minutes (even I somehow failed to notice when the expanded versions came - and went). But what 17 mintues they are.