Film scores

Soundtrack review: Sabata 1 (Marcello Giombini and Bruno Nicolai – 1969)

sabata

I was watching a Quentin Tarantino movie and I got in the mood to hear a good western score. I knew I had gone through most of the Morricone stuff but luckily 2015 has already seen the reissue of some major spaghetti western scores and one of the most famous is the Sabata trilogy. These movies involved a main hero of few words and almost superhuman powers in dealing with bad guys (as usual) and he was played by Lee van Cleef and Yul Brinner. The first movie is called “Ehi amico…c’e Sabata…hai chiuso” and tells the story of a loner gunman who foils a plan by some leaders of a small Texas town to rob their own bank and sell the town to the railroad. The music of the trilogy was written by Marcello Giombini and Bruno Nicolai.

I was expecting fireworks from the beginning but I couldn’t complain when I heard the tense and rich “L’atessa”. If I had one problem with the Moriconne spaghetti scores it was precisely these tense cues which felt as if they were lacking something. It’s not the case here as the composers give these moments all the attention and instrumentation they demand. Usually this type of scores are light and mostly fun but this time I stumbled upon a serious and complex composition which can’t be kept only in the background.

There aren’t the usual whistles and even if the name of the main antagonist is Banjo there’s nothing of that sort either. Instead we get a score that rolls at a steady and menacing pace. It moves like a snake in the desert sand, a snake which doesn’t try to hide because it knows the pray has nowhere to go. There is a motif that first appears in “Nel covo di Sengel” which serves as the backbone of the score.

That’s not to say that the saloon pieces or desert strings are missing; they are here in all their glory and I especially like the theme for “Banjo”. For me it actually sounds like the theme for a hero, not a villain. It’s full of hope and inspiration. The vocal theme which rests on that motif I identified earlier is ridiculously fun and just what I was in the mood for. The voices that threaten the bad guy (in English, the movie title translates to “Hey buddy…Sabata is coming, you’re done!” make me laugh and the instrumental part is pure, gorgeous western music.

The score of this first Sabata movie was a very nice surprise for me. I went into it hoping I would find just that western vibe and not too many boring cues and instead I had the pleasure of listening to one of the most pleasant western scores out there. Can’t wait to hear the next two.

Cue rating: 95 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 40 / 54

Album excellence: 74%

Highlights:

Titoli

L’Attesa

Nel covo di Sengel

Verso Los Saloe

Banjo

Vocal

Auira Banjo

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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