Forty years after its debut, Stella Edizioni Musicali — one of the many sub-labels of Berlin’s Private Records — has unearthed another gem of a score by Italian composer Detto Mariano. This one’s for the soft-core international intrigue film, La Principessa Nuda, aka Black Magic. The score features music by both Mariano and Dallaglio — also known as Gianni Dall’Aglio — who played together in the early half of the ‘70s as part of the Rebels, an Italian beat combo, with Mariano on keys and Dallaglio on drums.
The first LP features the music as it was heard in the film, and it’s a collection of cues, rather than full cuts, for the most part. The first track, “A Beautiful Lady,” sounds way off. I know it’s just the warble on the singer’s vocals, but she sounds like someone pitch-shifted her singing way up, while leaving the music sounding normal. It’s extraordinarily disconcerting, and I had to come back to the first LP after a considerable break, just in order to process the sound and take it in properly.
I’m kind of into the complete cue albums Private’s been releasing, although it’s a little more of a historical listen than anything I’d ever spin on a regular basis. The abrupt fades and endings are jarring, while the inclusion of dialogue bits make absolutely no sense, thanks to an unfamiliarity with the adult film in question, as well as total ignorance of Italian.
However, I can’t imagine how fortuitous these LPs end up being for DJs and beat makers. There are some really groovy synth lines and drums breaks to be found on the first LP, and I can’t help but hope some copies of La Principessa Nuda find their way into the hands of some really creative musical types. Cue M_04, in particular, rocks handclaps, synth, and acoustic guitar in a manner which would readily liven up any soul night.
The second LP is the real standout, as has become the standard for these Private Records double album releasess. Per the label’s description, the tracks on this disc “are the uncut long versions of the best tracks as produced in the studio in 1976.” The first couple play on the African background of the film’s Princess Miriam, and while featuring some really excellent drumming, the vocal exhortations are a little uncomfortable — an Italian putting together tracks which imitate African tribal chants is definitely something which doesn’t sit as well 40 years later.
It’s Dallaglio’s library cuts on the first side which really kick things into gear. The drumming and synth work — which we heard briefly on Cue M_04 — really shine. Mariano’s work is a little cheesy, especially on the “Dance Radio” cuts on the second side of the second LP. They’re kind of glorious, though, especially if you’re a fan of oddball Italian music that’s halfway in a nebulous realm between disco and muzak.
Both LPs sound fantastic, although they’re just a little on the hazy side. Things aren’t quite as crisp or robust as on previous releases from the label, and they’d likely be superb on any other reissue label. However, given the high bar which the folks in Berlin have set, the slightly muddy nature of some tracks is an unfortunate issue. However, the more Mariano releases the label puts out, the closer we get to a version of the composer’s Alien Killer (aka Miami Golem / Cosmos Killer / Miami Horror) score.
The double LP is pressed on transparent vinyl, although you could probably call it crystal, if you’re feeling fun. It’s a standard sleeve, featuring the usual reproduction cover and array of film stills on the back. It’s nothing fancy, but I appreciate Private’s devotion to identity. No poster in this release, though, which is a little surprising.
La Principessa Nuda is available on vinyl from Private Records.