Various Artists

Beretta 70: Themes from Italian Police Films

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After Dirty Harry became a worldwide hit, filmmakers all over the globe sought to get in on the "tough cop" movie sweepstakes. Italy was one of the foremost proponents of this style of filmmaking, refashioning it into a genre called Poliziotteschi that focused on tough cops, vicious criminals, and tons of brutal action. These films were also notable for their scores, which replaced traditional orchestrated film music with a driving, beat-oriented sound that drew in equal measure from rock, funk, and jazz. This unique sound gets a much-deserved showcase in Beretta 70, a compilation that includes tracks from 12 Italian Poliziotteschi films released between 1971 and 1980. In the tradition of Crippled Dick Hot Wax's other soundtrack comps Vampyros Lesbos and Schulmadchen Report, a listener can fully enjoy Beretta 70 without being familiar with any of the films. The focus is mainly on rhythmic instrumental tracks, yet the styles of the composers varies so much from track to track that Beretta 70 never feels like it is repeating itself: for instance, Franco Micalizzi's "Folk & Violence" updates mandolin-oriented Italian folk sounds with a pounding bas sline and a huge, jazzy brass section while Paolo Vasile's "Escape" goes for a streamlined, electronic minimalist approach that uses subtle rhythm guitar scratches to flesh out a languid synthesizer soundscape. Sprinkled in amongst these instrumental are a handful of vocals-oriented numbers that are just as varied as the non-vocal excursions: "Mark" by Sammy Barbot is a funky, up-tempo tune with exuberantly soulful vocals that sounds like the great lost '70s cop show theme song, while "Man Before Your Time," from Bullfrog, is a moody, tragic power ballad that features a dazzling guitar solo reminiscent of David Gilmour's best work with Pink Floyd. All in all, Beretta 70 is a solid, positively addictive collection that holds up easily to repeated listens. Anyone who enjoyed the Easy Tempo compilations or Ennio Morricone's pop-oriented scores will definitely want to give this compilation a spin.

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