Ennio Morricone

I’ve posted music by Ennio Morricone recently, back in May as part of a tribute to his Spaghetti Western soundtracks and the sampling of them by various bands (which you can find here) and also as part of at least two of my Isolation mixes. His death was announced yesterday. Ennio died aged 91 in hospital following a fall a few days earlier. It’s fair to say that his soundtrack scores for Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name trilogy redefined what a composer could do in cinema and Morricone went on to score over 500 films. In a lot of ways, for people around my age, his work was one of the sounds of our youth- the whip cracks, the whistling, the twangy guitars, the sweeping strings and the chanting. The songs stand alone too, as pieces of music to listen to away from the brilliance of Leone’s films. A pioneer. RIP Ennio.

Watch Chimes  (From For A Few Dollars More)

Isolation Mix Twelve

I’m not sure that the title of these mixes holds true any more but onward we go. This week’s hour of music is coming from the punk and post- punk world and the long tail that snakes from the plugging of a guitar into an amplifier and someone with something to say stepping up to the microphone. Some Spaghetti Western as an intro, some friendship, some politics, some anger, some exhilaration, some questions, some disillusionment, some psychedelic exploration and some optimism to end with.

In History Lesson Part 2 D. Boon explains his friendship with Mike Watt, the importance of punk in changing their lives, the singers and players in the bands that inspired him and, in the first line, the essence of punk as he experienced it.

‘Our band could be your life
Real names’d be proof
Me and Mike Watt played for years
Punk rock changed our lives

We learned punk rock in Hollywood
Drove up from Pedro
We were fucking corn dogs
We’d go drink and pogo

Mr. Narrator
This is Bob Dylan to me
My story could be his songs
I’m his soldier child

Our band is scientist rock
But I was E. Bloom and Richard Hell
Joe Strummer and John Doe
Me and Mike Watt, playing guitar’

Ennio Morricone: For A Few Dollars More

Minutemen: History Lesson Part 2

Joe Strummer/Electric Dog House: Generations

X: In This House That I Call Home

The Replacements: Can’t Hardly Wait (Tim Outtake Version)

Husker Du: Keep Hanging On

The Redskins: Kick Over The Statues

The Woodentops: Why (Live)

The Vacant Lots: Bells

The Third Sound: For A While

Spacemen 3: Revolution

Poltergeist: Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)

Echo And The Bunnymen: Ocean Rain (Alt Version)

Pete Wylie: Sinful

Carbon/Silicon: Big Surprise

Get Three Coffins Ready

One of the defining features of popular culture for those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s was the Western. My Mum was a Western obsessive, a huge fan of Bonanza, The High Chaparral and the whole gamut of Western films. The theme tunes to those TV shows are some of my earliest musical memories and the actors from those shows singing country ‘n’ western songs ran through my Mum’s record collection (along with The Beatles and Nancy Sinatra). Musically, Lorne Greene singing cowboy songs hasn’t rea lly stuck with me but the partnership between Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone has. The Spaghetti Western films, especially the core Dollar trilogy films made in the 1960s- A Fistful Of Dollars (1964), For A few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)- were late night BBC2 films, taped and re-watched. The style of the films, hard boiled anti- heroic, Clint Eastwood’s poncho wearing Man With No Name, Mexicans, feuds over gold, bounty hunters, Lee van Cleef, changed the popular view of the Western completely, from the clean living, homespun, family oriented shows to something grittier and ambiguous. The music, scored by composer Ennio Morricone, was something else as well, no rousing orchestral fanfares or campfire singalongs but sparse, dramatic, low budget tunes with whipcracks, gunshots, chanting voices and whistling.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The Ecstasy Of Gold

The various Morricone songs from the soundtracks have re-appeared throughout pop culture ever since. The Clash used it as their walk on theme and the Ramones as their walk off stage music. They’ve been sampled by widely including by Bomb The Bass, Cameo, various hip hop artists and Big Audio Dynamite. Two lesser known versions of Medicine Show for you…

Medicine Show (UK Remix)

Medicine Show (New York Remix)

‘Wanted in fourteen counties of this state, the condemned is found guilty of the crimes of murder; armed robbery of citizens, state banks, and post offices; the theft of sacred objects; arson in a state prison; perjury; bigamy; deserting his wife and children; inciting prostitution; kidnapping; extortion; receiving stolen goods; selling stolen goods; passing counterfeit money; and, contrary to the laws of this state, the condemned is guilty of using marked cards and loaded dice. Therefore, according to the power invested in us, we sentence the accused here before us, Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez…”
“…known as the Rat…”
“…and any other aliases he might have, to hang by the neck until dead. May God have mercy on his soul. Proceed!’

Isolation Mix Seven

An hour and a minute of stitched together songs for Saturday. This one caused me a bit of a headache at times. It was an attempt I think at first to try to join some dots together in terms of feel or sounds, with a nod to Kraftwerk following Florian Schneider’s death last week. There was an earlier version that went quite techno/dance for the last twenty minutes but I then went back and did the end section again. I’m still not sure I got it quite right, and think I may have tried to cover too many bases stylistically, but my self imposed deadline was approaching so ‘publish and be damned’, as the Duke of Wellington said. Although he wasn’t dealing with the business of trying to get spaghetti westerns, indie dance, shoegaze and leftfield electronic music to sit together in one mix was he?

Ennio Morricone: Watch Chimes (From ‘For A Few Dollars More’)

David Sylvian and Robert Fripp: Endgame

Talk Talk: Life’s What You Make It

Saint Etienne: Kiss And Make Up (Midsummer Madness Mix)

Spacemen 3: Big City (Everyone I Know Can Be Found Here)

Beyond The Wizards Sleeve: Diagram Girl (Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Re- Animation)

My Bloody Valentine: Don’t Ask Why

Jon Hopkins and Kelly Lee Owens: Luminous Spaces

Kraftwerk: Numbers

Death In Vegas: Consequences Of Love (Chris and Cosey Remix)

Chris Carter: Moonlight

Simple Minds: Theme For Great Cities

Durutti Column: It’s Wonderful

I have a significant birthday fast approaching. A few months ago we had planned that today would be a day of celebrating with anyone who wanted to join us, starting with lunch and few beers in town and then a tram pub crawl southbound out of the city centre towards Sale, stopping off in Old Trafford (maybe) and Stretford (definitely) before some drinks locally in the evening. That obviously isn’t happening. I’ll have to re-schedule for my 51st.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Johnny Marr and Billy Duffy were mates from Wythenshawe, south Manchester before either of them got famous. Billy, a few years older, sold Johnny his first amp and gave him a pink shirt stuffed in the back of the amp that Johnny had been pestering him about. Marr formed The Smiths (Duffy having introduced him a couple of years earlier to Morrissey at a Patti Smith gig at the Apollo). Duffy became guitar-slinger in The Cult. The picture above shows the pair reunited in 1990 backstage at a Depeche Mode gig at a baseball stadium in L.A. Electronic were about to play support, despite not having worked out how all the songs went. The pair recorded a cover version of Ennio Morricone’s famous spaghetti western theme in 1992 for an NME cassette celebrating the music paper’s 40th birthday, the two duelling it out over a drum machine.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sacco e Vanzetti

I love a rummage in a good charity shop vinyl box. In an Oxfam record and book shop the other day (Nantwich as it happens, visiting family) I found an album which intrigued me- a Spanish pressing of an Italian film soundtrack, Sacco e Vanzetti, by Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez. At £6.99 I couldn’t resist and a bit of research on Discogs and elsewhere shows mint copies selling for upwards of £30. Mine isn’t mint but apart from some crackle on the first song plays really well and the sleeve’s in good condition too.

Sacco and Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants executed in the USA in 1925 for murder, on flimsy, politically and racially motivated evidence. One witness said he could tell the pair were foreign ‘by the way they ran’. Neither man spoke English and the judge was well known for anti-Communist, anti-anarchist, anti-foreigner prejudices. I think I may have typed these exact words before in a different post.

The soundtrack is rather nice, understated in parts, dramatic and filmic in others with some typically Morricone touches and flourishes, and Joan Baez’s cut glass voice on half the songs. I find her an acquired taste to be honest but Morricone’s music carries the whole thing off regardless. Try this one…

La Ballatta Di Sacco E Vanzetti II Parte (Italian grammar corrected, grazie Luca)