REVIEW: COLLECTED - ENNIO MORRICONE / COMPOSER: ENNIO MORRICONE / PUBLISHER: MUSIC ON VINYL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The latest compendium to repackage Ennio Morricone's music comes as a lovely double LP from Music on Vinyl. Packaged as it is in a gatefold jacket and on 180-gram vinyl with lovely poly-lined sleeves, you'd think that it was something amazing. It's certainly nice, but it's not necessarily the best purchase you can make of the maestro's music.
The track listing is focused pretty heavily on Morricone's work in spaghetti westerns. It's nice the way it reaches all the way back to Morricone's first work on The Fascist and comes all the way up to his latest composition for Tarantino's Django Unchained, but the picture presented here is very one-dimensional. Everything's very much in the vein of what he did for Sergio Leone or in the vocal ballad style. There's very little in between.
It's always a little shabby to decry an album for what it's left off, rather than what it includes, but one could argue that a double LP set claiming to be an “anthology” of Morricone's work could never fully succeed. At best, you could put together a “spaghetti western” anthology or something such as that. When featuring multiple pieces from many of the movies, each additional track from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly means that a movie like The Exorcist II or The Cat's propulsive progressive rock will be completely looked over.
Kudos to Music on Vinyl for utilizing the original takes of the pieces included herein, however. This could have easily been a cheap utilization of re-recordings, but it's not. Granted, the transfer comes off a bit thin. At various times, I was pulling the original recordings from my shelf to compare. On cuts like “The Ecstasy of Gold,” you can hear the chorus isn't quite as bright, nor do the strings glisten quite so much. I'm guessing these are digital masters, rather than from the original analogue tapes – always a mistake when releasing vinyl, in my mind. Mastering for digital doesn't always translate so well to vinyl.
The cover art's a tad generic, too, and when you look at the movie posters in the film strip that adorns it, you realize that the art designer's opted for imagery from the various DVD releases of the films, rather than the amazing poster art from the original theatrical run. It's just another sign of the less than superb attention that's been paid to this release.
If you're looking for an introduction to the basics of Ennio Morricone, this isn't a bad place to start, but given that there have been several dozen packages of his various scores over the decades, you could easily do better. However, if you're looking for a quick and easy compilation of the “hits,” you could do far worse.