Saturday, September 06, 2008

They call him King...

I don't play many games these days. FIFA and the occasional First Person Shooter. The latest Call of Duty was the last one. I don't have the patience for campaigns or story modes. I don't have the time, really. I tried GTA4 and was bored quickly. I wanted instantly to be performing rooftop sniper hits, not going on bowling dates with cardboard cutout girls and working my way up through this silly criminal underworld filled with broad humour and crappy dialogue. FIFA never disappoints in this manner, because its a football simulation and I love football, and I turn it on and within 30 seconds I'm Boca Juniors playing Juventus and all is right with the world.

But I do still have a stack of some of my old games. I revisit one just occasionally. Halo or Rocky, say. Recently I've been playing Red Dead Revolver again. its not the greatest game ever, but its an entertaining Spaghetti Western pastiche, and in terms of atmosphere and detail, its fantastic. Some scenes feel just like they've wandered out of a bad Italo-western and the actors replaced with some dodgily-rendered computer generated figures. The landscapes and architecture are all spot on, the farmhouse and mining towns and abandoned forts.

But whats most perfect and what I've found most rewarding this time is the Soundtrack. RockStar pay a lot of attention to the soundtracks on their games, and that in turn pays dividends. The GTA series makes inspired use of pop music - particularly Vice City - resulting in healthy cd sales when they release the official compilations. For Red Dead Revolver, somebody at RockStar - a chap called Patrick Whitaker, to be precise - has trawled the Spaghetti Western genre and selected a fistful of amazing themes and cues by the likes of Francesco De Masi, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, Piero Piccioni, Daniele Patucchi and Gianni Ferrio. Theres also, strangely, some of Nino Rota's music from Fellini's "Casanova" and, not so strangely, a couple of pieces by Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov.

I know and love the work of both these gentlemen, but the Bacalov theme most prominently used in Red Dead Revolver was unknown to me before I encountered it here. And its great, easily the equal of his work in "A Bullet for the General" and even "Django". Bacalov is an Argentinean composer, possibly best known today for winning an Oscar for his score for "Il Postino" or for the couple of his tracks selected by Quentin Tarantino for the "Kill Bill" soundtracks despite the fact that he has scored well over a hundred features stretching back to 1960. His Spaghetti scores are all awesome - the creativity of the work already done in that genre by other hands seemingly brought out the best in Bacalov. Anyway, the theme used as the Main Title theme in Red Dead Revolver is from an obscure Klaus Kinski Spaghetti from 1971, "Lo Chiamavano King" directed by one Giancarlo Romitelli. A theme of such cool and beauty deserves better than to languish in semi-obscurity, so RockStar should be thanked for rehabilitating it, together with its amazing bassline and that great guitar burn at the very end:

Red Dead Revolver Theme (Lo Chiamavano King) - Luis Bacalov

The version used over the credits in the movie itself has a female vocal - I don't know the singer though - over the top, telling us just how bad a bad-ass this King chap actually is. Its pretty good too:

The only downside to all this is the fact that there never was a Red Dead Revolver Soundtrack cd, and a lot of Spaghetti Western stuff is devilishly hard to track down. Thank God for the internet.

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Blogger Ross said...

You're writing about games!
Admittedly as an avenue toward writing about films and film scores, but games still.
I thought you'd hung up that cap apart form the yearly FIFA/PES revisions?
Clearly the bug is there, even if it small and lazy, with a tiny voice like a miniature puppy trapped in a thimble.

7:04 pm  
Blogger David N said...

Someday I'll write a mammoth piece about why FIFA is sooooo much better than PES, contrary to the prevailing wisdom.

I bet you, for one, can't wait.

10:31 pm  
Blogger Ross said...

I hear that it is now generally accepted that FIFA has pipped PES to be the football junky's videogame of choice, since last year's game, I think?
So if you're going to write it, you'll have to fling in some historical context.

I don't even like games about football.

11:26 pm  
Blogger Beezer B said...

I briefly flirted with the idea of playing Football Manager a month ago. Played it for a day and then realised that I have neither the football knowledge to succeed at it or the patience to sit through endless screens of stats without any pretty pictures. I stopped. I did though take a second to think "I bet David plays this and is good at it". Clearly I was wrong.

I also want to comment about Spaghetti scores but that will have to be another comment. If I don't get round to it, it was going to say mainly Bacalov is the shit, etc.

8:27 pm  
Blogger David N said...

Bacalov is the shit, etc, indeed. I'm sure you have a clutch of his albums on vinyl but its hard to source otherwise.

I've never played any Football Management sim. I fear a heroin-style addiction would be the only result...

11:27 pm  
Blogger Beezer B said...

But just think, you could manage Sunderland and wear a coat...

I have but one Bacalov soundtrack on vinyl. They really don't come around much. I'm not even sure how many had full release soundtracks at the time to be honest. The internet is definitely your friend when it comes to soundtracks. I'll never get a copy of Shogun Assassin on vinyl but the internet sorted me out. That said I've got a bunch of soundtracks on vinyl in the last few years that I never thought I would. Seven Samurai on Toho records, El Topo on Apple. Good shit. I wish I remembered to listen to soundtracks more often. Should put them on iTunes is what.

1:23 pm  

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