Today’s song of the day comes from Ennio Morricone’s score for Sergio Leone’s 1971 film, Duck, You Sucker! Also known as A Fistful of Dynamite, this is probably Leone’s most underrated film and Morricone’s excellent score seems to be a bit underrated as well.
Though it may have been dismissed when originally released, many critics have recently discovered that the film actually holds up surprisingly well. So does Morricone’s score.
Continuing our tribute to Ennio Morricone, today’s song of the day is the main theme from 1965’s For A Few Dollars More. If Sergio Leone’s version of the old west was as a mythological landscape, Morricone’s music was always the perfect soundtrack.
“We were trying to do Motown with this one. Lee Thompson’s sister had a baby with a black man and it caused consternation in his family. It’s a great lyric – really sensational. You couldn’t believe such sensitivity could come from such a rough diamond, but Lee is one of the best lyricists of his time. We were having trouble with people associating us with the NF, so it was nice to establish once and for all that we weren’t.”
— Suggs on Embarrassment
The NF that Madness’s frontman refers to was the National Front, a fascist British political party that was at the height of its prominence when Embarrassment was recorded. Because Madness was a ska band and because many of the skinheads who supported the National Front were also into ska music, Madness had to spend a good deal of their early career just assuring people that they were not themselves supporters of the National Front. (Today, of course, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could listen to any of Madness’s songs and mistake them for supporters of the NF.) This song, which sympathetically tells the story of a woman who has been rejected by her racist family because she’s having a black man’s baby, is not only a repudiation of everything the NF stood for but it’s also one of Madness’s rare “serious” songs.
Our tribute to Ennio Morricone will be coming to a close at the end of this week. We’ve shared a lot of unforgettable music from Morricone and hopefully, we’ve encouraged you to track down a few of the films that he scored. Obviously, there’s no way that we could do a tribute to Morricone without including the main theme from Sergio Leone’s first Spaghetti western, A Fistful of Dollars.
Though it may not be as well known as Morricone’s scores for The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West, it’s just as epic. The real old west may not have featured Morricone’s music playing in the background but it definitely should have.
Jon Bon Jovi has said that the inspiration for Wanted Dead or Alive came to him one morning while he struggling to sleep on a tour bus. It occurred to him that being in a rock band was much like being an old west outlaw. As Bon Jovi described it, a rock band was “a young band of thieves, riding into town, stealing the money, the girls, and the booze before the sun came up.” I’m not sure that every rock band would agree with that description but, judging from the deathless success of this song, it worked for Bon Jovi.
(I’m also not sure how many old west outlaws came out of New Jersey.)
The video was directed by Wayne Isham and the black-and-white cinematography is courtesy of Derek M. Allen. It was shot over the course of Bon Jovi’s 1987 world tour and it features scenes that were shot at venues all over the United States. The theme of the video is that life on the road is hard and Bon Jovi works really hard. Looking at other music videos that were released around the same time as this one, I’ve noticed that hard work is a recurring theme in many of them. Bands, especially ones that were often dismissed as being “hair bands,” really wanted to make sure people knew that a tremendous amount of work into their performances.
You have to give Bon Jovi some credit. Their music not only epitomized an era but, as a band and with the exception of Richie Sambora, they’re largely stuck together and continued to rock. That’s more than you can say for Winger.
Well, we’re starting in on the final week of our tribute to Ennio Morricone so today, I want to share one of his most important compositions.
The 1970 film, Investigation Of A Citizen About Suspicion, was a dark satire about police corruption and murder in Italy. It was not only critically acclaimed but it also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. (That award is now known as Best International Film.) The success of this film showed that Morricone was more than just a composer of epic Western themes and it also introduced his music to a whole new group of filmgoers.
Here is Morricone’s Main Theme From Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion:
Remember when we used to drive around Liberty City listening to this song?
Even though Rush Rush may be best known to some for its use in Grand Theft Auto III, it was actually first recorded for the soundtrack of Scarface. This was Debbie Harry’s second collaboration with producer Giorgio Moroder. Their first collaboration was Call Me, which shot to number one on the charts. Rush Rush was slightly less popular, peaking at #105 in the U.S.
The video features people watching and reacting to footage of Debbie Harry. Interestingly enough, this video came out around the same time as David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, which featured James Woods doing the same thing.
The 1975 film Autopsy is a great giallo, one that definitely deserves to be better known than it is. Another thing that deserves to be better known is Ennio Morricone’s wonderful score for this film. Hence, today’s song of the day: Ennio Morricone’s Main Theme From Autopsy!
There are so many stories about the careers of British musicians Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty that it would probably take several posts to tell them all.
Drummond’s musical career began in 1977 when he formed a punk band called Big in Japan. After Big In Japan broke up, Drummond was one of the co-founders of Zoo Records and he worked as a manger and producer for several post-punk bands, including Echo and the Bunnymen. He also worked with a band called Brilliant, which had been formed by former Killing Joke bassist, Jimmy Cauty.
Drummond and Cauty must have hit it off because they went on to start their own musical project. Originally known as the The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMs), the project also recorded under the name The Time Lords and, eventually, the KLF. Among their first hits (as The Time Lords) was Doctorin’ The Tardis. After Doctorin’ The Tardis hit number one despite being intentionally designed to have no musical value whatsoever, Drummond published a book called The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way), a semi-satirical how-to book about how to write a song vapid enough to become a hit. Drummond promised that anyone who read the book would have a hit song or they would get their money book. Drummond later admitted that some readers did subsequently contact him, asking for a refund.
As the KLF, their biggest hit was 3 A.M. Eternal. 3 A.M. Eternal was originally recorded in 1988 and was subsequently re-recorded in 1991, this time with the addition of rapper Ricardo Da Force and vocalist Maxine Harvey. This video feature Da Force rapping while playing with a very big phone while Maxine Harvey sings in what appears to be a pyramid. Meanwhile, the members of the KLF drive around at three in the morning. The car from the driving scenes also appeared in the video for Doctorin’ The Tardis.
When the KLF performed this song at the 1992 Brit Awards, they fired machine guns at the audience. Though the machine guns were full of blanks, no one had informed the audience of that fact and there was quite a panic as a result. After the show, the KLF announced that they were retiring from the music business and then deleted their back catalog. They also had a dead sheep sent to the after party.