Press Release from Beat:
De-Luxe 3 discs box set, co-produced by Claudio Fuiano and Daniele De Gemini for CFsoundtracks and Beat Records Company S.r.l., with the complete soundtrack by Piero Piccioni for the iconic comedy “Fumo di Londra” (alias “Thank You Very Much!”), directorial debut of popular Italian actor Alberto Sordi. Up to his death in 2003, when asked his favorite movie of his long and successful career, Sordi always replied, “Fumo di Londra.” In 1966, Sordi won the prestigious David di Donatello award for best actor for his role in the film. In the cast besides Alberto Sordi, Fiona Lewis, Amy Dalby, Alfredo Marchetti and Clara Bindi. Alberto Sordi plays Dante Fontana, an antique dealer from Perugia who is an authentic admirer of British culture, leaving for London due to the auctioning of an Etruscan statue in England. As soon as he arrives in town, the antique dealer goes to the most famous shops to buy a complete “London smoke”, with bowler hat, Lobb shoes, umbrella and pipe, and crosses the city, imagining himself taking part in the horse races at Ascot, stopping reading the “Times” in Piccadilly Circus, and even trying to eat typical English dishes, then giving up and going to an Italian restaurant. Fontana, however, at auction is forced to leave the Etruscan fragment to a Duchess of which, however, accepts with pleasure the invitation to the castle for a fox hunt. With some satisfaction and some gaffes, the antiquarian, in the course of that permanence, comes into contact, through the granddaughter of the Duchess, of the English youth. He has the opportunity to visit a college and take part in all kinds of revolutions with groups of young non-conformists and is also involved in a frightful brawl in a meadow with a band of rockers. Fontana discovers—at his own expense—the reality of an England rapidly changing and the myth of a London now on the verge of its sunset. Arrested by police, he is escorted to the airport to be repatriated. As he prepares to board the flight home, Dante turns to look one last time at the land he loves so much. Has your ideal “England” vanished forever? Maybe not. Dante Fontana boards the plane, and while the aircraft is taking off, he watches London, and with great affection he dedicates his regard: “Goodbye, my London town!” For Alberto Sordi’s directorial debut, Piero Piccioni was chosen to write what is undoubtedly one of the best scores of his long and lucky career. Although Maestro Piccioni had previously scored various motion pictures starring Alberto Sordi, enough to mention his remarkable soundtracks for “Mafioso” (1962), “Il diavolo” (1963), “Il boom” (1963) and “Il disco volante” (1964), the great directormusician association was truly born with “Fumo di Londra,” and since then, Piero Piccioni has never musically abandoned his great actor/director friend. The main theme, “You never told me,” features a fabulous arrangement, the orchestra conducted by Ennio Morricone and accompanied by the choir I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni. The theme is introduced in the opening titles during the scene in which the Alitalia plane is ferrying the film’s protagonist to London. The film version is sung by the very beautiful voice of Julie Rogers (one year later, she recorded an unused theme song by John Barry for the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”, only to be replaced by Nancy Sinatra performing a totally different song.) Rogers also sings the secondary theme called “Richmond Bridge,” used for the sequence when Dante Fontana is walking on the Richmond Bridge frequented by couples engaged in various activities. The album versions of “You Never Told Me” and “Richmond Bridge” were performed by the sophisticated voice of the Scottish singer Lydia MacDonald, a frequent collaborator of the composer. With great talent, Piero Piccioni was able to reprise “You Never Told Me” in fascinating orchestral versions, especially that for the “Magic Castle” sequence where Dante Fontana—almost with the eyes of a child—admires a castle as if it were inside a fairy tale, and all this emotion is generated by the superb performance of Edda Dell’Orso and I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, the vocalists and orchestra reaching pure synergy. Piccioni’s diverse score accompanies Dante Fontana on his journey as he discovers London and its various traditions. One classic scene from the movie (called “Mr. Dante Fontana” on the album) is when he goes to buy the classic London men’s suit, with bowler hat, gloves and umbrella. For that scene, Piccioni wrote a very cheerful motif played by the harpsichord and piano with shake tempo, with the female members of I Cantori Moderni screaming “Mr. Dante Fontana” and Alberto Sordi answering “Yes, chi mi chiama? Chi mi chiama? Chi mi chiama?” (Yes, who is calling me? Who is calling me? Who is calling me?). The girls’ choir replies “Nobody, nobody calls you,” followed by a bossa-tempo bridge vocalized by Lydia MacDonald, who at the end of the theme sings a song describing all the purchases of the protagonist. Dante Fontana’s London excursion continues accompanied by every type of music, including marches, jazz, blues and a lot of Beat music, very much in vogue at that time with the young generation. For the fox hunting sequences at the Duches’ castle, Piero Piccioni used a large symphony orchestra, highlighting French horns and percussion when poor Dante is in the middle of the hunt, about to make the fox meet its end!
For this special 3-disc box set release, we were able to use the complete mono and stereo master tapes from the original recording sessions. We finally understood just how much music Piero Piccioni wrote and recorded, brilliantly conducted by Bruno Nicolai, a lot of which was never used in the final cut of the film. Here the listener will find every note, as proof of the composer’s extraordinary talent. The three-disc set was conceived in this way: Disc one contains the original Parade album as prepared by the composer in 1966, but it comes from a first generation stereo tape also including six stereo mixes only recently discovered, in particular, “You Never Told Me” sung by Lydia Mac Donald (in mono on all previous CD incarnations), “Mr. Dante Fontana” with a terrific wide stereo separation and “Drag Beat,” originally with a prominent groovy organ track that was removed from the final mono mix for the 1966 Parade album, plus alternate takes and film versions. Discs 2 and 3 contain lots of alternate takes and film versions, with many previously-unreleased tracks including the extremely rare short beat version of “You Never Told Me” sung by Lydia MacDonald’s dubbing actress Fiona Lewis for the Soho night club scene, for the pleasure of all Piero Piccioni fans around the world. Out of respect for the original 1966 Parade album, we also included the same program in mono (as issued at that time) at the beginning of the disc 3. Among the rarities are two stereo recordings of “You Never Told Me” and “Richmond Bridge,” beautifully performed by I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, included here for the first time on CD and previously available only on a Piero Piccioni vinyl compilation. It was a titanic enterprise to assemble 226’30” for this triple-CD definitive edition of an iconic soundtrack for an iconic film of Italian Cinema (the “Breve Amore” cover versions sung by Mina and Mia Martini could be not included here for legal/contractual reasons). With pure love and gratitude, we celebrate the Musical Art of Piero Piccioni and the Cinematic Art of Alberto Sordi.
The three CD box comes in a jewel case with a 20-page booklet designed by Claudio Fuiano and Daniele De Gemini, assembly/mastering and liner notes by Claudio Fuiano.