ENNIO MORRICONE RARITIES ON CD
The great composer and maestro Ennio Morricone, was perhaps the most prolific and busy composer of film music during his productive years.
He is probably the only film composer that retains even after his passing such a dedicated club of collectors of his music. Since the late 60s, the search for his soundtracks attract an interest on the verge of obsession among collectors and his fan club is so dedicated that every new release has a huge potential of becoming a collector’s item.
There are of course other film composers that attract similar volumes of dedicated followers, but Ennio Morricone stands as a unique case because his popularity exceeds the boundaries of film music and places him as in a high position as a pop idol.
I remember the vinyl years until the end of the 80s, when Morricone had established a name as the most prolific composer of those years, that there were specific titles like the early 60s RCA Italiana editions (SVEGLIATI E UCCIDI, L’AVVENTURIERO, AD OGNI COSTO), the CAM titles and mostly the Japanese editions, that were soundtrack collector’s dreams and of course among the rarest soundtrack vinyls of the era.
Huge amounts, many times three digit, were changing hands for a copy of the Japanese edition of QUEIMADA, or the first Italian promo edition of LA BATTAGLIA DI ALGERI.
Ennio Morricone had hundreds of vinyl editions of his scores around the market, and many of them still retain a high value among soundtrack collectors.
After 1989, when the first cd releases came out in Italy, the first hard to find cd soundtracks of the maestro begun surfacing in the various record shops around the globe, mostly in auctions, and started fetching high amounts mostly due to the reason that they were extremely limited releases. Among the first soundtracks of the maestro that were released on cd and attained high collectible status were I PROMESSI SPOSI, TRE COLONE IN CRONACA, A TIME OF DESTINY, DIMENTICARE PALERMO, CACCIATORI DI NAVI and TEMPO DI UCCIDERE.
During the 90s, the excellent Japanese label Soundtrack Listeners Club – a legendary label created by the late Hiro Wada - released many Morricone titles for the first time on cd. SLC released 25 Morricone albums in a 10 year span and all of them vanished from the market very quickly, and became top collectibles. Some of the SLC titles lost a part of their collectible impact after the release of more complete editions or reissues in other countries, but all of them retain a very special value, both sentimental and - in a lesser extent – monetary.
During the 90s there were various releases of Morricone scores on cd, most of them reissues of previous LP releases. The advent of the first Italian soundtrack labels like GDM in the market, brought the first expanded releases.
The last 15 years – since 2005 – were a revelation regarding Morricone soundtrack releases. Since today, almost every note the great composer ever composed for the cinema has been released on cd, with very little exceptions like the legendary score for Mario Bava’s DIABOLIK. Even obscure titles like ROMA COME CHICAGO that were lost in oblivion for decades, finally are available for film music fans and soundtrack collectors to enjoy not only on cd but also on vinyl.
Since the cd release of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA in 1984, hundreds of Ennio Morricone scores have been released on cd.
Below you may find the most sought after and collectible Morricone soundtrack releases on cd as of March 2021. Among them you will find old and obscure cds that desperately need a remastered and – why not – expanded reissue and also more recent excellent reissues that were so limited that quickly vanished from the market. Feel free to express your opinion and leave your comment.
I PROMESSI SPOSI (1989)
Fonit Cetra CDL 245 (1989) released in Italy
JBR JBRCD3695 (1991) released in Belgium
The score from the 450 minute RAI mini series based in Alessandro Manzoni’s book was released in 1989 by Fonit in Italy and two years later by JBR in Belgium. Both releases are equally hard to find. Ennio Morricone’s score is one of his best, composed for a full symphonic orchestra and corus with solo viola and flute. An amazing piece of work that had a seemingly complete release, so it is unlikely that it will ever have any expanded edition. I remember about 10 years ago a reissue was scheduled but never materialized. I’m not sure what is the reason such a wonderful and sought after score remains unavailable for more than 30 years, but it probably has to do with licensing and legal rights. The cd first appeared in collectors want lists a couple of years after its first release. The renowned soundtrack specialty shop Soundtracks Unlimited included it in its "A LIST" of top collectible soundtracks in 1995 and since then its value has remained high, in many occasions reaching and surpassing the limit of 100$.
AL CUORE SI COMANDA (2003)
GDM 2039 (2003) released in Italy
Three members of the Morricone family collaborated in this romantic comedy, daddy Ennio and sons Andrea – who co-composed the score with his father – and Giovanni who directed the movie. A beautiful score with very unique orchestrations, unusual for this kind of movie that could have a score full of tiresome musical mannerisms. GDM released the cd in very limited quantities that did not match the demand. A few years after its release, the cd vanished from the market and its value increased gradually, reaching three digit numbers. It is very hard to find a copy of the cd, and perhaps GDM should consider a second printing as we approach the 20 year anniversary of the movies’ release.
Music Box MBR-111 (2017) released in France
Certainly one of the most popular scores of the maestro, it is really peculiar that this title had only two releases on cd, the one of which was withdrawn almost immediately after its release. I’m writing about the Music Box label edition of course that has already claimed its own place on the pantheon of collectible soundtrack releases. The album was available on March 2017 in a limited edition of 500 copies and contained not only Morricone’s wonderful orchestral score but also the song “My Love, We are One” that was heard during the finale of the movie. The inclusion of the movie’s song might be the main reason for the cancellation of the release. The music was by Morricone but the lyrics and performance was by Carol Connor. The soundtrack of the movie was released on LP only in Japan. Not Italy nor any other country in the world. There was only a French and a Japanese 45rpm single that included two instrumental themes from the movie. The song was included only on the Japanese LP. The first release of the score on cd was out in the market by Legend label in Italy and did not include the song. The reason was of course the rights that the Italian label could not acquire at the time. Regarding the Music Box issue, the label issued a disclaimer a little after the cd's withdrawal from the market, that invoked legal issues for the cancellation of the distribution. Consequently, the cd escalated in value rapidly - reaching amounts near 200$ - a high value that it still retains.
MIO CARO ASSASSINO (1972)
Digitmovies CDDM141 (2009) released in Italy
Ennio Morricone composed music for 15 giallos. The very popular Italian thrillers with the very distinctive plot elements and aesthetic structure. The story begun with Dario Argento’s masterpiece L’UCCELLO DALLE PIUME DI CRISTALO in 1970, and during a period of two years Morricone composed for 13 movies of the newly found sub-genre. One of his numerous credits during 1971, was the score for Tonino Valerii’s MIO CARO ASSASSINO. Morricone’s score for this movie is a study in atonality and his music is not easy for the ears. This was perhaps the reason the score never found a vinyl release in its time, not even as a single 45rpm record. Surprisingly, the cd era introduced the score to the soundtrack collectors and film music fans, not once but twice, the first by CAM and the second by Digitmovies label. The Digitmovies edition that was released in 2009 included the full score the maestro composed for the film for the first time. This complete edition, that considerably expanded the CAM program, has acquired a high value after it sold out. The cd is usually changing hands for amounts more than 100$ when it is available of course, since it is not only very sought after but also scarcely available.
UNA PISTOLA PER RINGO (1965)/ IL RITORNO DI RINGO (1965)
GDM 2044 (2004) released in Italy
UNA PISTOLA PER RINGO (1965)
GDM 4134 (2010) released in Italy
In 1965, director Duccio Tessari directed back-to-back the legendary Ringo movies, that became hugely successful and catapulted Giuliano Gemma’s celebrity to its highest peaks. Together with Gemma, the name of Ennio Morricone became a sensation not only due to his superb scores for the movies, but mostly with the songs he composed for them, "Angel Face" and "Il Ritorno di Ringo", that were sung by one of the most beautiful voices in the history of the European pop song, Maurizio Graf. Due to their immense popularity, the scores from the two movies had various releases on LP, CD or single records, but among all these releases two stand as the most complete, and for that reason, hard to find.
Firstly, the GDM edition of the two scores together in 2004 presented them in their most complete form, and unfortunately were never reissued. The cd changes hands for amounts near 100$ whenever it appears – very rarely – for sale.
The 2010 GDM edition presents a shorter version of the two scores, but also offers a rare gem, the contents of the ultra rare 1965 LP "IL RITORNO DI RINGO: La Storia, I Dialoghi, Le Canzoni di Il Ritorno Di Ringo" that contained extended music parts from the film plus the story narrated by Riccardo Gucciola. This cd was reissued in the excellent GDM series "Ennio Morricone Original Soundtracks" in 2014 together with the complete score from LE FOTO PROIBITE DI UNA SIGNORA PER BENE, however the initial 2010 release retains its high value.
PER QUALCHE DOLLARO IN PIU (1964)
GDM 2038 released in Italy
It is hard to believe that one of the dozens of the releases of such a popular title is regarded as one of the rarest and most sought after cd soundtracks of our time, but this is a fact. Specifically, the GDM release that was out in the market in 2003 and contained around 45 minutes of music, is fetching prices that exceed most of the times the 200$ limit. This is due to the fact that this release is the most complete presentation of the score on cd, and probably due to the fact that this specific album program may never appear again as a reissue. The album contains parts that are taken directly from the movie (with sound effects etc) and there is, I assume, a legal restriction that puts a halt to its reissue. The cd is very hard to find since 2011 and after 10 years of scarcity, it would be great to have a release worthy of such a legendary score, as Quartet did with THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
I CANNIBALI (1970)
Digitmovies CDDM128 (2009) released in Italy
Among the many Digitmovies releases of Ennio Morricone scores, this one stands as one of the most impressive. It presents the outstanding score the maestro composed for the unconventional political allegory directed by Liliana Cavani, in a period of heavy sociopolitical turbulence not only in Italy but all around the world.
Morricone had a unique approach to sophisticated movies with strong sociopolitical and often allegorical orientation. These movies flooded the Italian cinema of the period and were created by the new wave of Italian movie directors like Cavani, Pasolini and Bertolucci. Maestro Morricone worked with all these directors, and had no problem at all creating a musical canvas that was perfectly adapted to the creative universe of these exceptional auteurs. The Morricone approach for this allegory, that was based on the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, was brilliant with modern and experimental instrumentation, organ, choir and electric guitars. No wonder the score is among the most popular of the composer, and the Digitmovies complete edition offers the most satisfying presentation. The limited edition release by the Italian label is now one of the most desirable cd soundtracks in the market and the price of 100$ is a common deal on the rare occasion this gem is available.
THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987)
La-la Land LLCD 1236 (2012) released in the USA
One of the most acclaimed and appraised score Ennio Morricone ever composed was for Brian De Palma’s THE UNTOUCHABLES. A year after the shocking denial of the Oscar to his score for THE MISSION in favor of an adapted score for the forgettable ROUND MIDNIGHT, the maestro delivered another landmark score for the De Palma blockbuster. Morricone lost the Oscar for a second year in a row, but the score was a big sensation winning the Grammy for the best score and the BAFTA.25 years after its release, La-la Land label offered an anniversary album of 2 cds, that contained not only the 1987 soundtrack album, but also the score as it was composed for the movie plus many bonus tracks. The 3500 copies that were printed lasted hardly for 4 years. Since then the 2cd set has become one of the top collectibles of the soundtrack market and a highly sought after item. The prices given for the cd easily surpass the 100$ limit and I am more than convinced that there are many film music fans and collectors out there that are ready to put the hand deep in their pocket to acquire it.
GDM 2022 (2001) released in Italy
Image IMG 499658 (2001) released in Italy
A very interesting topic of research for a film music aficionado, would be to search if there are many film music composers who worked on the same subject for a cinema or tv movie in different periods of their career. Ennio Morricone worked for two different adaptations of Emile Zola’s NANA, one for the cinema in 1982 and one for a tv mini series in 1999. What is really impressive with his work in these two productions on the same subject, is that Morricone composed entirely different music for each of them. Romantic scores on their basis but with different orientation and focus. Both scores were released on cd in 2001! Both are extremely hard to find and highly sought after by the collectors. The GDM release of the cinema adaptation was available widely for less than ten years before it vanish from the stores. The Image label release of the tv mini series was also available while the independent little label was operating. After it seized operations, almost every cd it produced has become top collectible and very hard to find. Both releases change hands for amounts that come close to 100$ or more in some cases.
LA DISUBBIDIENZA (1981)
GDM 7101 (2011) released in Italy
Another curiosity from Ennio Morricone discography, this expanded reissue that was released as an extremely limited edition in 2011 is perhaps the most hard to find Morricone cd soundtrack right now in the market.
The score’s first release on cd was by Prometheus label in 1996, a release that quickly became a top wanted item by film music collectors. The beauty of the maestro’s score – even if he borrowed parts of his score from REVOLVER to complete it – is undeniable, especially of the main theme. Beauty, romance and nostalgia prevail in this excellent score that obviously delivered an excellent soundtrack album.
As the Prometheus cd started increasing in value, the GDM expanded release – by approximately 14 minutes – became available but not for long. After a very short time the GDM cd vanished from the shops and, sincerely, it is the most difficult to be located Morricone soundtrack on cd according to my experience. I’ve only seen two copies being sold the last three years, for more than 100$ each.
Image 496873 2 (1999) released in Italy
Father and son, Ennio and Andrea collaborated a lot during the 90s, and in 1998 they begun composing for the very successful Italian tv movies ULTIMO, a production about ruthless cops who fight against The Camorra. Andrea and Ennio composed exceptionally good music for the four of the five movies of the series, a sad, nostalgic and suspenseful score that propels the drama and was a crucial element for the success of the production. The independent soundtrack specialist label Image Music released the soundtrack that contained excerpts of music from the first two movies that aired on Italian tv in 1998 and 1999. After the label seized operations the cd became an instant collectible and now it is very hard to find. Usually changes hands for huge amounts that exceed the limit of 100$, however copies available for sale surface very rarely.
I GUARDIANI DEL CIELO (1998)
RCA 74321 720502 (1998) released in Italy
Ennio Morricone delivered some of his most beautiful and haunting works for productions that had to do with vast landscapes and majestic locations. His creativity was literally taking off every time he composed for the desert. From IL DESERTO DEI TARTARI to THE SECRET OF THE SAHARA, the great maestro composed some of his most beautiful music, a blend of romance, awe and splendor for this magnificent wonder of nature. In 1998 Alberto Negrin called Morricone to compose the music for his new tv production, a very ambitious project with exotic background partially shot in the African desert. Morricone had previously worked with the director on the very successful THE SECRET OF THE SAHARA during the 80s. Even though the production did not match the expectations both artistically and commercially, Morricone’s score was superb, versatile with many musical ideas developed through the 3 hour duration of the series. RCA released a soundtrack on cd that had extremely limited circulation both in volume and time. There is a possibility – although not confirmed – that the cd was withdrawn quickly due to the failure of the series to attract interest. Anyhow, the cd is a top Morricone collectible and on the rare occasion that is available for sale it changes hands for three digit numbers, usually high above the 100$ limit.