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Sunday 17 May 2020

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/is 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 really 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!'


Anonymous said...

Another excellent selection. I'd almost forgotten how prevalent the cowboy genre still was, growing up in the 1970s, given that the TV shows were mostly re-runs of 1950s and 1960s shows. The Lone Ranger was another big favourite in our household. I'm not sure that the TV shows have stood up well, but I still enjoy the Sergio Leone Westerns. And Ennio Morricone has remained a lasting source of musical delight. Thanks for Big Audio Dynamite, too. I was a little too late for The Clash, so it was Medicine Show, E=MC2 and BAD's first album that really got me in and from there back to The Clash.

Cheers, Khayem

Dubrobots said...

Any day that starts with the Medicine Show 12" is a good day

drew said...

I've got a great covers album of the Morricone Westerns music by Croatian Surf Rock bands called For A Few Guitars More

Nick L said...

The dollars trilogy is still a cinematic high point isn't it?
And BAD were incredibly sussed at using all these cultural references weren't they? They deployed them all with such style as well, which is probably why they're still such a lot of fun to listen to now.

Swiss Adam said...

Yes to The Lone Ranger Khayem. And ditto B.A.D. too. The samples and songs packed with references to films made my ears prick up as a teenager.

Jake Sniper said...

I'm big fan of B.A.D. there use of samples are generally excellent.i can still recite the "Wanted in... sample of by heart and often do when anything triggers that memory. Seeing The Good... on a bug screen is highly recommended, the soundtrack blew me away when I heard it on a large cinema sound system.

Artog said...

I'm sure one of the charges on Tuco's indictment was "outraging a virgin of the white race"?