The Days Are Numbers Podcast presents: Hello everybody and welcome to the start of our own little Django Unchained special themed tribute! With the eagerly anticipated release of Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, we thought that we should put together some features that would get you in the Django mood. We’ve roped in some old friends, made some lists and put together some sounds for you to enjoy. Kicking off the proceedings is our very good friend Lovely Jon, the man we likes so much that we’ve only got him back to tell us about his favourite Spaghetti Western soundtracks. Over to you, LJ!
“What Kind of a Son of a Bitch puts a snake in a man’s food?” – Blindman (1971)
When Aneet asked me to do this it was a curse and blessing as there are so many wicked scores to choose from collating 10 of the best seemed an impossible task. On the plus side this is a very personal genre to me that, like horror and kung fu I have been obsessed with since a young boy. I have also been lucky to have longstanding friendships with some of the most respected experts in this field – including Hillside Releasing impresario Lionel Woodman (who continues to release quality Euro soundtrack remasters via GDM) and super brainiac old school master James Hoy (not to mention the esteemed Italian soundtrack legend Alessandro Alessandroni, a dear friend and hero). So I guess I could say Spaghetti’s are a ‘way of life’ for me, a true ‘grass root’s genre that I have grown up beside. With Tarantino’s Django Unchained just around the corner – there will, for the next few months be a deluge of interest in these wild, anarchic, amoral movies (it’s just a shame that the interest will dip real quick once everyone ‘moves on to the next thing’ – as is the case in todays ADHD lemming society). That said, for the true fans (and there are many especially in the blue collar regions of Spain and South Africa) – these timeless movies will always resonate and shine beyond the shifting hipster zeitgeist.
So here are my favourite top 10 Spaghetti soundtracks – rated for overall consistency (there are many great themes/songs but the scores don’t always match up to those opening credits!)) and diversity. As stated, these are all non-Morricone (man, he’d need a list all to himself with seminal scores for the Dollars Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Silence, Duck You Sucker!, The Mercenary, and Death Rides a Horse to mention a few). ~ Lovely Jon
10. GIANNI MARCHETTI – COWARDS DON’T PRAY
Here’s another criminally underrated talent who really deserves more props. Turning to any genre with ease, Marchetti turns in an exquisite beauty here – soft, tranquil and emotionally powerful (with the ever present assistance from I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni). COWARDS DON’T PRAY was an early outing for Sartana himself Gianni ‘John’ Garko – telling the haunting tale of a gunfighter’s psychological decline in to madness and criminality.
9. GIANNI FERRIO – A MAN CALLED SLEDGE
Cool jazzer Ferrio brings some serious groove to this immoral Euro/US co-production starring Jim Rockford himself James Garner. The breaks on this impossible to find score are rock solid (alongside swirling organs and sweet, deep Budd-seque strings). I’ve been banging on to Lionel Woodman about releasing this evasive hitter for some time now – a remastered CD issue NOW please.
8. BERTO PISANO/FRED BONGUSTO – ONE AFTER ANOTHER
The rousing theme song to this nihilistic Spaghetti is an absolute corker – a tormented, staggered vocal from Bongusto booms on about killing a man whilst a reverb soaked Stratocaster twangs huge, shimmering riffs. For years, Bongusto (in effect a singer not a composer) was credited with soundtrack duties, however, we have the criminally underrated Pisano to thank for the intense arrangements here (recently corrected on the recent CD issue from GDM and Lionel Woodman). Whilst we’re on the subject – there is a common, long running misconception about Nico Fidenco’s contribution to Euro soundtracks (which even those ‘experts’ at The Wire and Mojo have failed to pick up on). Fidenco was a popular singer in the 60′s and a big draw in Italy. The mighty Gianni Dell’Orso (husband of Edda) was Fidenco’s chief arranger. Despite being the main composer, it was to be Fidenco’s name that graced Dell’ Orso’s compositions (including the Black Emmanuelle series and electro horror classic ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST).
7. BRUNO NICOLAI – DEAD MEN RIDE
Alongside Morricone and Alessandro Alessandroni, Bruno Nicolai is the name most associated with the Euro Western. This was a tough call but Nicolai’s emotive aria makes the list – by Spaghetti standards this is a gentle but powerfully lingering score that climbs to a beautiful choral crescendo (courtesy of I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni of course).
6. FRANCESCO DE MASI – GO KILL AND COME BACK
De Masi weighs in with a rousing, reggae-style score to Enzo G Castellari’s early Euro Western hitter. It’s well known that De Masi came from a more staid ‘classical’ background – therefore the score really hums from Alessandro Alessandroni’s (significant) contribution. De Masi would continue to ask Alessandro to ‘help out’ many times (for ARIZONA COLT and the Chuck Norris actioner LONE WOLF McQUADE).
5. MARCELLO GIOMBINI – SABATA
One of the catchiest Euro Western scores out there – a heavy Mariachi beat drives the rhythms in to overdrive whilst I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni bring it on big time. This is another favourite of Spaghetti aficionados – with Gun Shot Eyes (again) dropping the bad guys amongst a deluge of wild gadgets.
4. STELVIO CIPRIANI – BLINDMAN
For my money the best Spaghetti score from maestro Cipriani (whose first soundtrack gig was for 1966′s early Tomas Milian rebel Euro Western THE BOUNTY HUNTER). Distorted Voices spit out raw arias whilst a cool as fuck sitar slides in from the rear. As for the movie – it’s a subversive counter culture classic of the genre that was made with Beatles money (even Ringo has a part as psychotic Bandido Candy). “Do you know a man called Skunk?……”
3. ROBERTO PREGADIO – FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO
Here’s another huge sounding score from the underrated Pregadio that revolves around Alessandro Alessandroni’s haunting whistle whilst a clanging staccato riff stops/re-starts to powerful effect.
2. LUIS BACALOV – THE BIG SHOWDOWN
A HUGE score from Django composer Bacalov whose main theme kicks off with sinister Harmonica wafts (courtesy of Beat label boss Franco De Gemini) to full-on orchestral overdrive from the legendary Edda Dell ‘Orso belting it out in style. The movie is a cracker too – a ‘Giallo-esque’ Spaghetti written by Ernesto Gastaldi starring ‘The Man with the Gunshot Eyes’ himself Lee Van Cleef.
1. MARIO MIGLIARDI – MATALO! (KILL HIM)
Migliardi turns in a noisy, powerful psyche score for this unhinged oater featuring an OD of slo-mo set pieces and crazy gadgets (our hero ditches the usual six shooters for a boomerang!).