Composer Harry Robinson or Robertson as he is credited on this particular release was very active and at home scoring horror movies such as LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF,HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK and THE GHOUL. His vibrant and inventive music for films such as DEMONS OF THE MIND, TWINS OF EVIL, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, COUNTESS DRACULA and VAMPIRE LOVERS for Hammer are now considered classics among soundtrack aficionados and his music for AIP‘s THE OBLONG BOX is also a popular work with collectors. He had also worked on numerous Children’s film foundation films both as a composer and a writer/producer because Robertson was not just a talented and versatile composer he also wrote screenplays and acted as a producer on numerous films and TV productions. HAWK THE SLAYER was one such movie, he co-produced the film with Terry Marcel and also took a hand in its story and screenplay. I remember a TV programme called CINEMA presented by Chris Kelly which was aired many years ago and there was a special on HAWK THE SLAYER where the programme went onto location to film the crew actually shooting HAWK and Robertson told the presenter that he was trying to create a style that was akin to that of the spaghetti western in HAWK and hoped to emulate the famous director Sergio Leone, which I think that he certainly did in some of the scenes, plus there is also some of the elements that were originally used in films such as THE SEVEN SAMURAI by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Kurosawa that occasionally manifested themselves within the movies storyline., in essence Robertson created a fantasy that had Italian western influences with more than a gentle nod in the direction of the swordplay and code of honour displayed by the ancient Samurai. Robertson’s upbeat and infectious score also echoed elements of the spaghetti western the composer employing trills and strange sounding noises to punctuate proceedings and also act as a motif or accompaniment for the central characters of the story, either underlining their time on screen or heralding their appearance. The central theme is very much like the main thematic material for WAR OF THE WORLDS by Jeff Wayne, composer Robertson utilizing a five note motif that is repeated and performed on synthesizer over the top of an upbeat backing that is carried along by strings and punctuated by the use of electronic drum beats that enhance and embellish proceedings.



Cover of "Hawk the Slayer"
Cover of Hawk the Slayer

At one point strings becoming more dominant and taking the lead elevating the theme and allowing it to become a more lush and romantic sounding piece. This core theme makes several appearances throughout the score, either in a more expanded structure or expansive sounding rendition and also at times it appears in a more intimate form or indeed as a variation or fragmented version of the theme, the composer making excellent use of the composition underlining and supporting action scenes with its more robust incarnation and then utilizing it in a different arrangement and with varying instrumentation to underscore lighter or more subdued interludes within the movie, as in track number 4, ELIANE. Or turning the piece into a darker entity making it a brooding, dramatic and sinister composition for scenes that involved the villain of the piece Voltan and his evil offspring Drogo. Robertson effectively uses themes or motifs within the score for the films central characters the Elf, the Giant etc etc. The music included on this latest compact disc release is the same as the original CHIPS records release, apart from one bonus cue which is a version of the HAWK THE SLAYER theme performed by Dominik Hauser which I think we could have done without, I personally would have been happy with just the original 11 tracks. The disc is presented well with the original art work from the LP record on the front cover and a number of stills from the movie inside the liner accompanied by informative notes by Randall D. Larson. An entertaining release and one I am pleased which has at last made it to compact disc. Recommended.

Wojciech Kilar has died.


Polish pianist and composer Wojciech Kilar, who was Bafta-nominated for his score to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist, has died aged 81.


He passed away in his hometown Katowice in  Southern Poland, following a prolonged illness.


“The power and the message of his music… will stay in my memory forever,” said Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers.




Although he cited his first love as writing symphonies and concertos, he won worldwide attention as a film composer, writing scores for more than 130 films and working with celebrity directors such as Jane Campion (Portrait of a Lady) and Francis Ford Coppola on Dracula. Bram Stoker’s Dracula won him the best score composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1992. He was a powerhouse of a composer and one that enhanced many films with his distinct and original music, but that music also had a life of its own away from the images it was intended to support, he will be sadly missed.




Cover of "The Pianist"
Cover of The Pianist







Released on May 15th 1979, ZULU DAWN, was the prequel to the classic British war movie ZULU which had taken cinema box offices by storm some 15 years earlier. ZULU DAWN tells the story of actual events that took place on January 22nd 1879 at the start of the Anglo-Zulu war when Zulu King Cetawayo,s fearsome and formidable warrior regiments called impi’s attacked part of the British column that was encamped upon the slopes of the mountain of Isandlwana. The British had basically acted illegally and invaded Zulu land on the pre-text that the Zulu’s were about to invade Natal colony, but of course this was not true at all as the Zulu’s were more intent on harvesting their crops at the time to feed their people than crossing the buffalo river into Natal to start a war, so the British more or less forced the Zulu’s into a conflict. But things went horribly wrong for Lord Chelmsford who was in command of the British force he made the mistake of
underestimating his enemy thinking that as they were not a European foe they would be dis-organized and weak and would easily bow to the superior British redcoats with their firepower and supposed military might. Chelmsford split his force leaving 1,500 regulars and 300 native troops at Isandalwana whilst he moved forward to Ulundi where the Zulu’s main encampment or Kraal was situated, the British commander was looking for a quick and decisive victory and an action that would bring to an end the Zulu nation. The Zulu’s who were far from dis-organized and undisciplined seized the opportunity and attacked the British pouring over 20,000 warriors into action, catching the British by surprise and ill prepared on the morning of January 22nd,leaving nearly of all the column including the native troops massacred. Chelmsford had not taken into account the history of the Zulu people and the power of its armies that had been schooled in the art of warfare by a long line of King’s which started with Shaka in 1816. ZULU DAWN was far more historically accurate than its predecessor ZULU, it paid far more attention to the details of the event and the politics that led to it and also looked at the battle through the eyes of both the British and the Zulu’s and also included some stunning cinematography and realistic battle scenes. The only odd bit of casting for me personally was the role of Colonel Durnford who was portrayed by Burt Lancaster it was a performance that I think did not quite gel. The film however contained some wonderful performances by Sir John Mills, Peter O Toole, Simon Ward, Denholm Elliot, and Bob Hoskins to name but a handful and I think was unfairly dismissed by critics of the day, but there again it was up against ZULU which was after all a classic and had become a part of British film making history and of course comparisons would have been made.


The music for ZULU DAWN was the work of Hollywood stalwart Elmer Bernstein, at the time of the announcement that he would score the movie it came as somewhat of a surprise as many thought that John Barry would be assigned, but Bernstein produced a gloriously patriotic and proud sounding soundtrack that was filled to overflowing with pomp, circumstance and literally brimming with imperialistic fervour. As soon as I saw the movie I began to look for the soundtrack album, which was at the time not available, and it did not appear for a number of years after the movie was originally released, finally Cerebus records in the United States made it available on vinyl and then later a CD was released, the score was also issued as a re-release on LA LA LAND RECORDS and now we are given the wonderful music again by BSX records, which comes complete with some stunning new art work courtesy of Mark banning and interesting liner notes by Randall Larson. There is no doubt at all that Bernstein’s vibrant and epic sounding score is one that will live in collectors minds forever, who after all can forget the RIVER CROSSING scene where the British make the crossing of the buffalo river accompanied by Bernstein’s richly patriotic and inspiring music or the oncoming Zulu imp’s driven forward by the composers pulsating and urgent percussive beats laced with male voices and foreboding brass flourishes as they sweep across the grasslands and drive their enemies back and eventually overpower them or indeed the romantic and also sad strings that accompany the British colours as they fall from the grasp of a Zulu warrior into the fast flowing waters of a river and are carried down stream marking the end of an era in British history. The score as one would expect is built upon a strong martial sounding foundation, Bernstein bringing into play timpani, piccolo trills and military band flourishes to add authenticity to his work, with the string section at times supporting the martial instrumentation along with brass and elevating them into a full blown symphonic piece as in GLORY which verges on something that could be the work of either Walton or Elgar. The Zulu’s are also musically represented the composer utilizing a strong percussive led theme that is a strong footing for ominous sounding brass and baritone voices that accompanies Zulu scouts as they peruse the British from afar and this strong thematic material is also engaged when we see the Zulu on the move towards the British encampment and again the composer underlines the Zulu attack effectively with variations of the same theme, the music ever present but never overbearing, in many ways Bernstein’s musical accompaniment to the Zulu army reminded me vaguely of the style that Max Steiner employed in THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, where as it is heard each and every time the Zulu’s make an appearance or when they are about to, of course the composition is not the same as Steiner’s but the music is used in the same way. The score is most definitely an epic one and is regarded as a classic among collectors of film music and was one of the last opportunities that Bernstein had to employ this type of scoring as film scores were evolving so it is said and not necessarily for the better.



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Released in 1983, the action drama, LE RUFFIAN was directed by Jose Giovanni, and had in its principal roles Lino Ventura,(Aldo) Claudia Cardinale, (La Baronne), Bernard Girardeau (Gerard), Pierre Frag (John) and Beatrix Van Til (Elenore). Aldo works along with a handful of other workers in a Canadian gold mine which is situated in a remote area of the countryside. The mine is attacked by a band of vicious bandits who kill all of the workers at the mine with the exception of Aldo and two native American workers who are Brothers. Aldo and the two Brothers go after the bandits and manage to kill them off and relieve them of the gold that they have stolen. The three then decide to split the gold into equal shares, but Aldo soon realizes that his two so called allies intend to keep the gold for them selves. Aldo escapes with the two large trunks of gold and whilst transporting it down river in a canoe runs into some rapids and to his dismay looses his prize to the rivers turbulent waters. Unperturbed by this set back Aldo enlists the assistance of friend and his wife and also a third friend with the aim of retrieving the gold from the fast running waters of the river. He also has the help of La Baronne (Claudia Cardinale) who also provides a welcome slice of love interest, the unlikely group of adventurers then set about salvaging the gold but after eventually doing so are faced with more problems in the form of the two native American Indians who have returned to claim what they say is theirs, plus by this time there is another party involved who is making a claim to the gold. LE RUFFIAN is an interesting and entertaining movie, and although its plot is far from original and at times seems to be long winded in getting to its point it is still worth watching, even if it is only for the incredible scenery photographed by Jean Paul Schwartz which acts as a backdrop for the films story line. At times one can see certain similarities between LE RUFFIAN and films such as THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE plus at times it has a look and also a feel to it that is not dissimilar to DELIVERANCE and although it is an effective adventure/drama it is more a movie about friendship and explores the theory about there being honour amongst thieves. It posses strong Italian Western flavours within its storyline which is a genre of movies that director Giovanni has been influenced by throughout his career and this style has manifested itself in a number of the directors projects.
 LE RUFFIAN contained an excellent musical score by Italian film music Master Ennio Morricone, the soundtrack was released originally on a ten track long playing record and then in 2004 an expanded edition of the score was issued by GDM on compact disc, this version however very soon became out of print and deleted from the catalogue. The music that the Maestro composed for the movie is in many ways fairly typical of the music he was providing for soundtracks during this period of his career, however LE RUFFIAN contains certain affiliations and connections with Morricone’s western scores from the late 1960,s through to the 1970,s there are a number of references to his past works from the western genre within the score and in particular manifest themselves within the track entitled WESTERN, the composer utilizing aggressive strumming guitars in the same fashion as he did in DEATH RIDES A HORSE and to a degree OCCHIO ALLA PENNA. The uneasy sounding guitars creating an atmosphere that is tense and unpredictable. Plus we can hear a sinister sounding banjo that is underlined by piano which acts as support to the guitars and also at the same time become a background for a fairly wild violin solo, the Maestro adds to the mix pipes which although melodic attach a greater depth and urgency to the proceedings. Again the Maestro had previously put this style of scoring to effective use within movies such as  A SKYFUL OF STARS FOR A ROOF and to a lesser extent in his music for LIFES TOUGH THAT’S PROVIDENCE and TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, the style achieved being both melodic and aggressive and having a certain rawness in its overall impact.  But above all there is the stylish and distinct harmonica performance of Franco De Gemini, which is present throughout the work itself and again this is more prevailing in the track WESTERN, although this is an obvious parody of previous Morricone themes the effect as well as being nostalgic is stunning and highly effective. The opening theme for the movie is played over the scene of an aeroplane coming into land on a lake and even at this stage the western score influence can also be heard, (or at least what we now perceive as western music because of the immense influence of Ennio Morricone). The theme although rather upbeat and even jaunty is a caricature of the THEY CALL ME NOBODY theme and also has a number of quirks of orchestration that Morricone had first demonstrated in scores such as THE GENIUS for example.
Musical genius, talented performer and fellow Maestro Franco De Gemini features predominately within the score and his unique and highly original harmonica performances are at the core of the soundtrack, Morricone building the remainder of the score around this central and unifying component, effectively making De Gemini‘s flawless performances the foundation on which the remainder of the score rests and takes its lead from. The score for LE RUFFIAN consists of a sprinkling of low key jazz influenced interludes and also includes its fair share of dramatic undertones that are complimented and enhanced by a scattering of easy listening styled flourishes, these fundamentals are all woven together by the ingenious musical dexterity of Morricone. This latest edition of the LE RUFFIAN soundtrack is a fitting tribute to the artistry of Franco De Gemini and also a salute to the influential musical expertise and enormous talent of Ennio Morricone.


.$_80Composer Gianni Marchetti is in a word UNDERRATED. He is possibly one of the most talented composers that was working in Italy during the 1960,s through to the early eighties, writing music for film and television as well as acting as a musical arranger and director for numerous popular artists of the day. His musical output was considerable and consistently very good. He like many other Italian composers during this period wrote a number of scores for the spaghetti western genre which kept composers and musicians in gainful employment as it enjoyed a surge of interest and popularity all around the world. Marchetti was also a very versatile composer who was able to easily adapt his musical prowess to any genre of film, he wrote rhythmic, infectious and vibrant sounding themes that graced and enhanced not only westerns but also worked wonderfully within love stories, gangster films, adventure romps, war and action films and comedy capers. It is somewhat surprising that Marchetti never attained the status that he so richly deserved on a more global scale, his contributions to film etc often being overshadowed by the vast output of other fellow Italian Maestro’s such as Morricone, Rota and Ortolani, the latter attaining recognition outside of his native Italy early on in his career via the scoring of non Euro-productions. Marchetti is I suppose very much like fellow composers, Fidenco, Romitelli, Cipriani, Ferrio,Orlandi, Lacarenza, Alessandroni, Giombini, Patucchi and to a degree De Masi, because he like his peers always produced great scores that matched the pictures they were intended for perfectly and also at the same time had a life away from the images, standing alone as just music that could be listened to and enjoyed without having to go to the cinema.  In recent months there have been a number of Marchetti soundtracks released on compact disc, many being expanded releases and others being first time issues much to the delight of collectors old and new. One of the most recent releases comes from the UK based independent label helmed by Lionel Woodman Hillside CD production, who in association with GDM music and the ever guiding hand and boundless knowledge and expertise of Proffessor Roberto Zamori have been responsible for releasing so many landmark Italian soundtracks, a number of these being by Marchetti i.e. DIE SLOWLY YOU WILL ENJOY IT MORE, COWARDS DON’T PRAY, TOP CRACK and ONE STEP TO HELL. The film COLPO DI MANO or EXPLOSION was released in 1968 and the soundtrack was issued on a 16 track CAM long playing record in the same year. This latest edition of the score boasts the original album and also a further 8 bonus tracks taken from the master tapes. Many of the additional tracks are similar to the original content of the album but there are slight variations in the orchestration and arrangement of the music.


Marchetti’s score is made up of a handful of principal themes, the composer utilising these as a foundation and building upon there simple but effective content and developing and expanding them further as the work progresses. Given the subject matter of the movie, which is an action/war film set during the Spanish civil war and tells the story of a group of soldiers who have been given a dangerous mission to blow up a bridge over the river Ebro the score contains a number of references to martial music although these never develop into what is full blown or bombastic sounding marches, Marchetti creating the atmosphere by more subtle and subdued instrumentation which hints at a militaristic style. It also has within its make up Hispanic sounding nuances and sounds which add a certain authenticity to the proceedings. Castanets and solo guitar being utilized at key points within the score. Choir also plays a major role within the work, and on this particular score we have the vocalising of two, I Cantori di Basilliche Roma and Nora Orlandi’s excellent and distinctive 4+4 Coro, the style employed by Marchetti with the choral writing is very reminiscent of some of the early works of Ennio Morricone.

39568 Marchetti also adds little trills and musical punctuation marks along the way in the form of jaws harp, strummed guitar, plaintive woodwind solos and an almost eerie sounding female vocal which although is not a solo or centre stage performance adds great atmosphere and depth to the soundtrack. There are also performances from the stock instrumentation of the Italian film score, ie, racing snare drums, chimes, tubular bells, bass guitar, piano, electric guitar and harpsichord which all at some point within the score make their contribution and leave their mark, and if all this great music is not enough then we have the added presence of another Italian Maestro, Stelvio Cipriani who conducts the score. This is again another formidable release from GDM/HILLSIDE and one that should be in every Italian film music fans collection, great music and great presentation; (apart from the lack of liner notes) all I can say is More Marchetti please…..and go an get this now.