Sunday, February 09, 2014

PUTTING ON THE RIZ - One"MORE" Look at Ortolani

If you're the type that actually looks at the songwriter credits on a 45 rpm, or pays attention when movie credits tell you the composer of the soundtrack, then you instantly knew the name Riz Ortalani when you saw it on the obit page: "He's a composer. I've heard that guy's stuff, haven't I?"

Sure you have. Ortolani scored a variety of films in the 60's. These included: 7th Dawn (1964), Yellow Rolls Royce (1964), Old Shatterhand (1964), Castle of Blood (1964), The Glory Guys (1965), The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966), Africa Addio (1966), The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968) and Anzio (1968).

He was active in the 70's and 80's, but mostly with exploitation films and obscure Italian horror movies and westerns…one of his most beloved being the immortal "Cannibal Holocaust." A song from "Madron" (1970) got some attention: "Till Love Touches Your Life," and Placido Domingo performed Riz's music for the 1985 film "Christopher Columbus." While not particularly well known, as a celebrity, in comparison to Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein or even Jerry Goldsmith, the maestro was revered in his native Italy and seen often on TV there, conducting his great music.

Actually, his first film score turned out to be his most famous internationally, and the one yielding a Top Ten single. This was for "Mondo Cane," and the title track was "More." What you'll hear below, is Riziero Ortolani's own preferred version, conducted by him (and that may be Riz on the piano, too). It's the version I remember best, having gotten it on a United Artists movie theme compilation album, one that featured many now-deceased masters of movie music. So, no ridiculous schmaltzy English lyrics for this version. The album cover is to your right...

Probably The Rizman's second best-known song, which turned up in "The Yellow Rolls Royce" is the irritating, almost stereotypically Italian "Let's Forget About Tomorrow (for tomorrow never comes)" which may have been more tolerable in its original form as "Forget Domani."

It's always nice to have a little of Riz Orolani (March 25 1926-January 23, 2014) on the iPod, "More" or less. I know this is a short obit for him, but you didn't want any more "More"-onic puns, did you? And no jokes about Riz winning some awards in the shape of effeminate naked boys.

Put On the Riz: MORE as conducted by the composer himself.

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