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Monday, December 10, 2007


Navajo Joe
Music by Ennio Morricone
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.14 (US)
35 Tracks 55:26 mins

Composed the same year as Morricone's Italian Western classic The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Navajo Joe may not be as well-known or loved as that score, but it's still a cracker. Starring a youngBurt Reynolds and directed by that other great Italian Western director, Sergio Corbucci, the former plays an Indian who comes to the aid of a town under threat and boasts a harsh, but nevertheless excellent score, making full use of Alessandroni's I Cantori Moderni, both singing and also screaming primally, as in the very opening track, and especially the amazing vocals of Gianna Spagnulo, who may not be as well-known as her fellow choir member Edda Dell'Orso, but whom Morricone turned to when he was seeking that more harsher sound.
There are some excellent themes on display here, not least the main theme, an infectious, timpani-driven number, which may not be any great shakes lyrically, but which will nevertheless leave you singing "Navajo Joe, Navajo Joe." Allied to this is a spectacular, dramatic cue for the more powerful moments in the film, a threatening 5-note theme for the baddies of the piece and a moving, guitars, strings and woodwind theme for the more poignant moments. These themes dominate the score and appear in variations throughout, supplemented by some atonal suspense, brief harmonica solos and the obligatory saloon piano track.
Sound quality is very good, considering this release is cobbled together from the original mono LP tracks, three stereo cues and previously unreleased material, again in mono. That original LP release, interestingly credited to Leo Nicholls, one of Morricone's early pseudonyms, was filled with misleading track titles, and here these are given more representative titles and rearranged in film order. Six bonus tracks include alternate takes and album arrangements, plus brief unreleased pieces.
Accompanying the disc is the usual colourful booklet, with stills from the film and informative notes by album producers Lukas Kendall and one of the kings of B-movie directing, Jim Wynorsk, including the valuable cue-by-cue guide.
Go to for samples and more information, as well as to order your copy.


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