Piero Piccioni Mafioso

Piero Piccioni Mafioso
8
While so many reissues are content to simply repress and repackage copies of the past, Camille 3000's new presentation of Piero Piccioni's Mafioso is not one of them. In many ways, in fact, this feels like the record's first-ever release — even if it was originally recorded almost 60 years ago.
 
Late, great Italian maestro Piccioni crafted Mafioso back in 1962, soundtracking the film of the same name by his frequent on-screen collaborator, Alberto Sordi. Yet the soundtrack has only ever appeared as a mono-only seven-inch, collecting just six tracks and leaving Piccioni's Mafioso work to descend into obscurity over the decades.
 
It's impressive then that Camille 3000 and the Piccioni Estate have managed to dig up a whopping 27 tracks for this sprawling reissue, with many compositions never before seeing the light of day in any way. What's more, the project has been restored and remastered in full stereo by Piccioni's son Jason and famed Italian soundtrack archivist Claudio Fuiano.
 
Among these unearthed tracks are many that stand tall among some of Piccioni's best '60s work, showcasing the stunning reach of his sonic abilities. Mafioso includes everything from grooving bubblegum teen pop ("Motorbike Surf"), to hooky Latin dance pieces ("Mambo"), to hauntingly spiritual organ-and-choir works ("Madrigale") to blaring spy-jazz numbers ("Americana").
 
At its core, though, there is the main theme from Mafioso — a grandiose waltz-like piece that stirs up a wave of emotion. Throughout its multiple variations, the theme is both romantic and graceful, while also being oddly unsettling, with an almost circus-like feel pulling the listener in all sorts of directions. It's heady piece, to be sure, but also one of Piccioni's most ambitious, reaching some true heights of splendour.
 
As a whole, Camille 3000's Mafioso reissue is not only impressively varied, but one that very much plays like a proper album experience. This is largely thanks to not only the skilful track sequencing, but the depth of the material at hand. Rarely do tracks feel like throwaways — and yet only a small handful were ever fortunate enough to be plucked for release back in 1962. For comparison's sake, the original mono tracks even appear at the end of the reissue.
 
Like early '60s highlights Una Vita Violenta, Un Tentativo Sentimentale and Il Boom, Mafioso shows Piccioni at the height of his creative powers, going far and beyond simple "film music" and rewriting its framework in the process. (Camille 3000)