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Sep 06

HUGO MONTENEGRO AND HIS ORCHESTRA – “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”

FT + Popular19 comments • 4,411 views

#261, 16th November 1968

 

Even though I’ve never actually seen TGTBATU I’ve heard the original score often enough, dry empty and ragged where Montenegro’s is polished and full of incident. In the days before film soundtrack releases the shops were full of “…and His Orchestra” cash-ins, usually themes themed along Western, Spy, Love Song lines. Montenegro, with a pedigree in space-age exotica, was probably at the classy end of this spectrum but it would be easy to criticise his version for perceived inauthenticity.

Easy yes, fair no. The purpose of a film score and a pop version of a theme are very different: the former is setting a scene, helping you go in deep to a set experience. With the latter, the scene it’s setting is your own listening space – a living or bedroom in 1968 most likely. Sure you want to be reminded of the film, but maybe you also want to be in the film. So Montenegro’s smoothing out of the tune, his poppification of it, his greater emphasis on the beat and his nonsense vocals are partly tactics to make it easier for you to involve yourself, strike a pose like Clint.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Nonsense vocals (which are also in the Morricone original) notwithstanding, the first instrumental number one since “Foot Tapper” if I’m not mistaken.

  2. 2
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 1 Sep 2006 #

    You haven’t seen the “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” or “Bonnie and Clyde”? Very odd…

  3. 3
    Tom on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Marcello – yeah, I was going to talk a bit about instrumentals but I decided to wait a few #1s.

    Dadaismus – I don’t watch many films! I have a DVD of TGTBATU which I got in an HMV sale for 2 quid, so this is one I will watch eventually.

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Its my job to watch the films round here, a job I take seriously.

  5. 5
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Yes, but they’ve both been on the telly about a million times each!

  6. 6
    rosie on 1 Sep 2006 #

    I’ve seen TGTBATU twice, I think, but not for a long time. Actually the first time it was more like LBLBLT (Le Bon, Le Brut, Le Truand, I the dialogue was in Italian with French subtitles. Not that it mattered all that much as the dialogue was terse and spare, as were the snippets of Morricone’s score. I was familiar with this recording when I first saw the film so I was a little taken aback by the fragmentary nature of the score. The score, of course, fits the film perfectly but you’s hardly sit and listen to such minimalism in isolation, so Montenegro made a good fist of it.

    That doesn’t make it any more than lift music for me though.

  7. 7
    DV on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Tom, if you like music you should see the film. It probably has the best marrying of music to visual images of any film ever made.

  8. 8
    Doctor Mod on 1 Sep 2006 #

    This is possibly the most interesting musical example of Italian exoticization of the American frontier since Puccini’s La fanciulla del West.

  9. 9
    Milan on 29 Jan 2007 #

    Does anybody know is Montenegro his real or artistic name?

  10. 10
    Larry Alex on 2 Jul 2009 #

    It’s actually not nonsense vocals. Listen carefully. The band members are shouting out HU – GO – MONT – EN – EGRO, the composer’s name.

  11. 11
    Jonathan Bogart on 2 Jul 2009 #

    Composer’s?

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 2 Jul 2009 #

    Montenegro, home to the tallest people in Europe. He was possibly born Hugo Titograd. Or possibly not.

  13. 13
    Erithian on 2 Jul 2009 #

    Doesn’t take long on Wiki. He was born Hugo Mario Montenegro in New York City in 1925, composed various scores (and the theme tune to “I Dream of Jeannie”) under contract to Columbia, but of course TGTB&TU is an Ennio Morricone composition.

  14. 14
    grimley on 28 Sep 2009 #

    In my youth I bought the Top of the Pops lp’s which was mostly covers. I had the first three (Where was Now 487 when you needed it). Anyway TGTBATU was the only original which must have been something around copywright

  15. 15
    Waldo on 27 Oct 2009 #

    I distinctly remember TOTP showing snippets of old black and white silents when they played this. It precipitated Whistle Test’s trick of showing cartoons from the same ere when playing tracks from non-live bands. It was probably therefore a while before it dawned on me that TGTBATU was actually a film score. I have indeed seen the film (in which Lee Van Kleef is particularly nasty) more than once since and would opine that good though it is, it bears no comparison with the second movie in the series “For A Few Dollars More”, in which Lee and Clint reluctantly team up to go after an evil specimen called Indio. The final showdown scene with the famous chiming watch has passed into legend and appears today as a ringtone for many a washed-up pieboy of my generation and older. I think the score for FAFDM appeared as the B-side to TGTBATU as well and imho is a much classier piece, though TGTBATU is, I think, certainly not lift music as was suggested upthread.

  16. 16
    James Elliot on 17 Sep 2011 #

    You make some excellent points. As much as I love The Maestro, Hugo’s versions of TGTB&TU, FAFDM and The Vice of Killing are dynamite, more involving, to me. Titoli from A Fistful of Dollars not so much.

  17. 17
    Lena on 15 Dec 2011 #

    Wild Love: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/12/kind-of-seizure-barry-ryan-eloise.html Merci tout le monde for reading!

  18. 18
    lonepilgrim on 3 Nov 2016 #

    I was vaguely aware of this at the time – I don’t think it registered as pop in my young mind although it sounds like it now. It has a lot in common to my ears with The Shadows and their ventures into exotica-lite like ‘Kon-Tiki’. This sounds a bit more raw and all the better for it

  19. 19
    Phil on 4 Nov 2016 #

    I’ve got a vivid memory of Pan’s People dancing to this in a decidedly memorable cape-and-bikini outfit. I’m a bit surprised to realise it was as early as this – I was only 8.

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