Last year, I was fortunate enough to have guitarist Lou Pecci send me a copy of his excellent Spaghetti Western Themes for Nylon String Guitar for review, which you can read here. It was a fresh take on the genre tunes, with an emphais on Morricone compositions. Well, Pecci has returned to the genre for another go at more reinterpretations of spaghetti music, with an effort that is every bit as good as the first.
Like his first outing, Pecci has picked a fair amount of tunes from the Maestro, this time with six Morricone pieces, as well as five from other composers, and also like his first outing, a track of his own composition to close out the album.
The album opens up with the theme from The Forgotten Pistolero, a piece that slowly works its dynamic up to a very powerful piece built around a familiar theme. As with most of Pecci's tracks, it is multitracked with a rhythm guitar providing the pace and what appears to sound like a double-tracked or slightly chorused guitar playing the lead melodies. It's a great opener.
It then moves on to the briskly-paced Capriani composition, No Mercy, from The Bounty Killer, which, although I can't remember what scene this composition was used over, evokes the imagery of one of those great, quickly-paced horseback rides through the Almerian desert. The dynamic shifts to the theme from Tepepa, which evokes images of the Mexican countryide in which the film is set. The pace quickly picks back up with the next track, Morricone's main theme from The Hellbenders.
Keeping with the Morricone repertoire, the next one is one is the somewhat airy Intermezzo, from Face to Face, followed by another Morricone composition, the upbeat theme from Sollima's Run Man Run. It has a great vibe to it, propelled by the rhythm guitar, up to a good melodic climax.
The pace again shifts to the more mellow, introspective Morricone piece, Liberta, from A Professional Gun. This is a good time to bring up the assembly of the album -Pecci's put them in a very good order, in terms of dynamics, with the next piece usually offering a very different dynamic than the one before it.
Switching gears away from Morricone and again to another dynamic, it goes to the Nicolai-penned theme from Have a Good Funeral, Sartana Will Pay, one of my favorite tracks on the album. The tune is almost frantic at times, but never overbearing, and Pecci displays some incredibly agile fretwork throughout the song. It kicks ass. The dynamic again shifts with the humble Serene Night, from Day of Anger, evoking a still, nighttime image in my mind.
This is followed by what is probably the most well-known tune on the album, the rousing main theme from Corbucci's Compañeros. I've always loved this theme, for various reasons. It's very sweeping and triumphant. I've always thought the vocals in the song were a bit humourous in tone (if not intent), due to the mix of sometimes odd voices. It's often reminded me of another one of Morricone's great tunes, Libertad, from His Name is Holy Ghost (do this on your next one, Lou!) Pecci's interpretation loses none of the majesty or power of the original, including the little tensions that occur in between the sweeping choruses. This is another one of my favorite tracks.
After this, we get a brisk interpretation of the theme from My Name is Nobody. It's an interesting contrast to the original. The original had light and airy vocals, as well as a whistle, which made it sound almost humorous at times (like the movie it was from). Pecci's interpretation conveys the light-hearted nature of the original, but all without the humorous elements, and has some rather rippin' fretwork towards the end. Fantastic.
As with the first volume, Pecci closes with an original composition, this time with the electric The Drifter. As with the closer on the first album, I have mixed feelings about it. This is a high-energy number with electric guitar, but it is much more in the surf-rock guitar vein (which, admitedly, does have some similarities to the spaghetti music). It comes in rather jarringly, with some drum programming. That's probably the biggest drawback to the tune, as it takes away from the very organic feel that permeates the rest of the album. It would have sounded much better and somewhat less mechanical with a real drummer. I like drum programming in electronic music, but I'm not so much a fan of it in more conventionally-played music. The composition itself is excellent, and Pecci could undoubtedly do an entire album in this vein which would be stellar... it's just with the electronic drums, it takes away the human quality a little bit that is such a part of what makes the rest of this album so good and enjoyable.
Aside from that small quibble - get this album. Pecci's got the chops, but most importantly and most apparent, he has a reverence and respect for the music, as well as a great artistic sensiblity that enables him to create masterful interpretations of these songs that add to them, immensely. I hope that Pecci continues with this; a volume three would be most welcome, especially if it had the main theme to Day of Anger on it (Lou: hint, hint).
Highly recommended. You can listen to excerpts from this, as well as the frst volume, below.
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