This compilation boasts several unforgettable highs and a few forgettable lows, but the highs include tracks that, by themselves, still make this worthwhile -- perhaps even mandatory for a serious fan of the western-movie music genre. This is the only CD that includes the decades-out-of-print original recordings of Jerome Moross's benchmark masterpieces, The Big Country and oft-overlooked The Welcoming. Although a number of conductors and orchestras recorded The Big Country over the years, no one duplicated the signature tension Moross created between the brass and strings, a tension unaccountably and completely lost in all other renditions. The differences are as striking as the gulf between Ennio Morricone's offbeat and edgy "spaghetti Western" scores and Hugo Montenegro's comparatively tame makeovers. Best of the West also seems to be the only CD to include Elmer Bernstein's playful and thematically schizophrenic title track for The Hallelujah Trail, a romp that well reflects the film's equally rambunctious and schizophrenic plot. Bernstein's kicky Hallelujah Trail grows on you. Dominic Frontiere's derivative but distinctive theme for Hang 'Em High is a welcome addition in its own right (if one declines a natural temptation to compare it with Ennio Morricone's wellspring scores for other early Clint Eastwood Westerns). So is Bonnie Blue Flag, a nostalgic echo from The Horse Soldiers likely to summon up haunting imagery for anyone who saw the film. Lesser-known scores populate the rest of the CD, which concludes on a high note with Elmer Bernstein's classic The Magnificent Seven Theme, from The Return of the Magnificent Seven. Excellent for beginner and collector’s alike.
1. Main Title - Moross, Jerome 2. The Welcoming - Moross, Jerome
3. Acorss the Texas Panhandle (The Unforgiven) - Tiomkin, Dimitri
4. Main Title from "The Wonderful Country" - North, Alex
5. Acorss the Rio Grande (The Wonderful Country) - North, Alex
6. Square Dancers for Loco Horses - Bernstein, Elmer
7. Forced March - Bernstein, Elmer 8. The Buffalo Hunt - Rosenthal, Laurence
9. Overture - Bernstein, Elmer 10. The Hour of the Gun - Goldsmith, Jerry
11. Whose Cattle (Hour of the Gun) - Goldsmith, Jerry
12. The Train (Pup Tent) (Young Billy Young) - Manne, Shelly
13. Main Title - Frontiere, Dominic 14. Bonnie Blue Flag - Buttolph, David
15. El Toro - Bernstein, Elmer 16. The Magnificent Seven - Bernstein, Elmer
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