THE BEST OF 2017 - VINYL EDITION!
As I announced a couple of weeks ago, here is the presentation of the most significant vinyl soundtrack releases of the year according to ITSCOREZ. You will notice that it comprises mostly of European exploitation soundtracks from the 70s. Thankfully some forgotten or hidden gems are released by good people in Europe even only on vinyl. Let’s hope that there will be some equally significant releases in the USA or Japan in 2018 that will really blow our minds.
After decades of waiting for a decent re-release on vinyl, Milan Records offered us the ultimate treatment of a modern masterpiece of film music, the score Geinoh Yamashirogumi composed and performed for the landmark post apocalyptic Japanese animation AKIRA by director Katsuhiro Otomo. The amazing movie had two vinyl soundtrack releases in Japan formerly, the one of the Symphonic Suite by Invitation label and the other by Victor that contained excerpts of music and dialogue from the film. Both releases had their value escalated to three digit numbers up until now, as the only existing vinyl releases with music from the movie. The Milan release I’m writing about is the Symphonic Suite, that actually presents the complete music Geinoh Yamashirogumi composed for the movie, but was not used in its entirety in it. It was Katsuhiro Otomo who approached Shoji Yamashiro, the man behind the Geinoh Yamashirogumi performing project, and shared his idea of AKIRA asking him to create two principal compositions having in mind the first bike duel scene and the epic finale in order to build the film upon them. Milan presentation includes the complete music that was composed for the movie in two records of outstanding sonic quality, in Hypersonic High-Resolution sound. There were three different releases in three different vinyl color variants. The one in black, the other in grey as an exclusive through the Newbury Comics site (in 500 copies) and the final in clear vinyl with red splatter (limited edition of 1000 copies). All variants sound terrific, the overall production is top notch and truly worthy of the 30th anniversary from this masterpiece’s release.
To be honest I have many arguments regarding the overall value for money evaluation of the “Mondo” label recordings and service, but I cannot ignore the exquisite quality and austere beauty of their recent ALIEN box set release. “Mondo” announced and offered for pre-order for one month only this four LP box set in mid April, and the first boxes arrived at their owners early October. This waiting time was outrageous of course but – I can’t believe that I’m finally writing that – this box worth the wait. Sound quality is as superb as this eternal masterpiece of film music deserves, “Mondo” offers an awesome heavy cardboard packaging and four different color variants for the four discs and includes a unique handbill specially drawn by Tyler Stout to every packaging. The real deal comes with the score, and “Mondo” offers the identical content with the 2009 Intrada complete score double cd issue. That means that they included the complete score as it was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, alternates and unused tracks plus the original 20th Century Fox LP contents. This release is a monumental tribute to one of the most distinguished film scores of all time, both for its aesthetic excellence and the inclusion of the complete Jerry Goldsmith score.
LES CHEMINS DE KATMANDOU
ITSCOREZ presented in detail this surprising November release by “Finders Keepers” label. Serge Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Vannier’s lost for decades score for the cult French movie was found in an unexpected way and finally released on vinyl only, by a label that always offers its productions the best possible aesthetic and sonic values. The score is what you would like to experience from a Vannier-Gainsbourg collaboration. A 60s European psycho-pop masterwork with exotic instrumentation that stands as one of the most elaborate and inspired achievement of the legendary duo. Finders Keepers released the score in black vinyl in an paper jacket with an embossed psychedelic drawing specially designed for this release. They also included a leaflet with lengthy liner notes about the movie, the music and the production. The story of the recording alone is enough to declare this issue one of the most significant vinyl releases of the year. Adding the music to the overall valuation, surely awards it one of the top position on the list of the best.
THE CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TALE
Death Waltz label welcomed 2017 with a release of a classic giallo score, Bruno Nicolai’s LA CODA DELLO SCORPIONE (aka THE CASE OF THE SCORPION’S TALE) that Sergio Martino directed in 1971. It is really satisfying to see currently unavailable titles like this one receive such an amazing treatment. In fact Bruno Nicolai’s score was formerly released on cd by Digitmovies label in 2004 but sold out very quickly thus becoming a very desirable and expensive edition. “Death Waltz”’s release definitely covered a part of the demand with its double LP set that is stored in a gatefold, heavy cardboard album. The vinyl was also colored in two different variants as it usually happens with the label’s releases. The most important thing with this release however, is the fact that the complete cd contents were included in astonishing sound quality. Bruno Nicolai provided an intense and colorful score for this Italian thriller, with a very beautiful and catchy main theme. Nicolai’s music for the Italian thrillers of the era known internationally as gialli, was really the musical voice of the genre, since his works clearly developed Ennio Morricone’s archetypal style (from L’UCCELLO DALLE PIUME DI CRISTALO in 1970) providing the dominating musical form of the genre, together with Stelvio Cipriani. LA CODA DELLO SCOPRIONE is one of the most distinguished samples of this music form, released at last in the proper format, the one that should have been released back in 1971 when it first came out.
“Four Flies” label has two entries in the list of the best vinyl soundtrack releases of 2017. The release of the original soundtrack from the Franco Prosperi 1970 comedy DEBITO CONJUGALE stands as one of the best, not only for the perfectly amusing score but also for the reason that it was formerly released on LP in 1970 as a library record and a very very desirable one! A common practice at that time (as you will also read in one of the following entries of the list), the score from the film was released by Ricordi label in 1970 as an entry to the discography of the Italian band I MARC 4, a formation of four musicians that focused mostly on instrumental pop/funk music and worked in many film scores of great Italian composers, most notably Armando Trovajoli. DEBITO CONJUGALE is a standard and a bit crude Italian satire about the morals of rural Italians and I could say that it is interesting for two main reasons. The charms of the incredibly beautiful and sexy Barbara Bouchet and the hilarious and exciting score by Pepino De Luca and Carlo Pes, that was – as I wrote above – performed by I MARC 4. The score is really a treat for the fans of European exploitation film music, full of rhythmic percussion, funky riffs, Hammond layers, and an unusual and very inventive instrumentation (mouth harp!!). For the ones who want to make a dive to the rhythmic surprises of Italian film music of the early 70s this is a proper start. For the initiated just enjoy this rare treasure.
L’OCCHIO NEL LABIRINTO
The second release by “Four Flies” label that is included in our list of the best 2017 vinyl soundtrack releases is L’OCCHIO NEL LABIRINTO, the soundtrack Roberto Nicolosi composed for the Italian thriller directed in 1972 by Mario Caiano. Until recently, very few film music fans knew that the insanely rare Ricordi label library record ATMOSFERA with music by Roberto Nicolosi was actually the original score of the obscure giallo. Both the Ricordi label record and the movie were hidden gems until the mid 00s, when it became clear that the experimental jazz masterpiece in the Ricordi LP was actually a film score. Psychedelic jazz is an odd choice to score a thriller with lots of murders in a remote villa, but Giovanni Tommaso’s bass and Cicci Santucci’s trumpet provide an eerie and appropriate sound for the unusual storyline and direction. It was about time this rare masterpiece finds a new and broader audience and “Four Flies” offers an exquisite production with a cover inspired by the movie (the ATMOSFERA LP had a bizarre red cover completely distracting from the source of the composer’s inspiration), a gatefold jacket with very interesting notes by Margherita Martini a nephew of the composer, and outstanding sound quality.
THE RIGHT STUFF
Varese Sarabande entered the vinyl market very actively almost 30 years after their final vinyl soundtrack release and 2017 was a very distinguished year for their vinyl outcome. Among the various excellent vinyl soundtrack releases they produced, the blue vinyl with the original Bill Conti score from the 1983 Philip Kaufman movie THE RIGHT STUFF is the most remarkable. It’s not only the landmark score by Bill Conti and the beautiful sky-blue color of the vinyl, but it’s also the fact that the Varese Sarabande cd club edition of 3000 copies that became sold out and now changes hands for very high amounts found a reissue, albeit on vinyl, but still a reissue and a stunningly beautiful one. Big kudos for this release for the label which hasn’t stop bringing us soundtrack treasures for the last 40 years.
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE
A lavish production for one of the indisputable masterpieces of film music and we owe to pay our respect to La-la Land for this release. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, the 1979 attempt to adapt a very successful and cult tv series into a feature film, has risen lots of controversy over the years for many reasons, however the one of the few elements that is positively acknowledged for is undeniably Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent music. The original vinyl release was a pretty decent release that contained around 40 minutes of the score. Too brief a program for such a masterpiece me thinks. La-la Land’s good lads with Mike Matessino in front line, prepared one of the most beautiful vinyl soundtrack presentations of all time, a double album with blue with black and white marbling vinyls, a thick gatefold cover and a 12 pages 12 inch booklet with text about the film and the score and an unsurpassed sonic quality. The album is limited to 1500 copies and contains the complete score, around 85 minutes of music, that actually is identical to the contents of the first of the three cds that La-la Land released in its 3CD monumental box set in 2012. Definitely the BEST vinyl soundtrack release of 2017 (together with AKIRA).
RACCONTI DEL MARE
Stunning reissue of one of the most sought after vinyl soundtracks by “Sonor Music Editions”. I have no words to describe the positive feeling this score evokes on me. An amazing versatility of rhythms, instruments and melodies that maestro Bruno Zambrini conceived for the 1970 tv documentary series about the sea. This aquatic music – if I’m allowed to use this term – is reminiscent of another masterpiece score of the era, Sven Libaek’s music for Ron and Val Taylor’s documentary series about the sea world, INNER SPACE. The original RCA Italiana 1970 LP has become an object of desire for hundreds of collectors and film music fans around the world, and this is totally understandable considering the wealth of inventiveness Zambrini reveals and the overwhelming satisfaction the listening of this album generates. Thousands of kudos to “Sonor Music” for this limited in 500 copies reissue, that not only offers the original RCA album program, but also a cd with additional music. Perhaps many of film music fans won’t find interest in an edition like this, due to the obscurity of the film and the music style, but I suggest to give it a try. It will make your day.
THOMAS E GLI INDEMONIATI
Another lost gem was the first 2017 release by “Sonor Music Editions”, Amedeo Tommasi’s score for Pupi Avati’s equally obscure movie, THOMAS E GLI INDEMONIATI which he directed in 1970. The album presentation is a straight reissue of the original and insanely rare Gemelli first LP, and is produced in 500 copies. Tommasi is mostly known for the immensely popular library LPs that he released during the late 60s early 70s. He also worked for the movies sparsely but leaving an impressive outcome. One of his brilliant works is for this Pupi Avati strange movie - I could label it a creepy horror film - about a bunch of theatre actors who get into serious trouble after a very creepy séance that ends with the advent of a mysterious boy. Tommasi’s score is highlighted by a fabulous main theme but it really shines on record. The original Gemelli LP is one of the most valuable and hard to find soundtrack albums and “Sonor Music” deserves a second place in the year’s best vinyl releases with this.