Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Thursday, 13 January 2011


So, as usual, I'm browsing through some pretty dire records in a charity shop. This time I'm in North London, not very far from where I used to live.
At the back of the box I see this little baby.

Spaghetti Western soundtracks done in a steel guitar style by a Japanese band called the Blue Hawaiians.

Wow, what an amazing car crash of influences - music written in Italy for films influenced by America, played by a Japanese band on an instrument that has become synonymous with country and western music. The influence of America filtered through Italy being played by a Japanese band using instruments that again were filtered from Hawaii through America. Wow!
So a pound changes hands and the interesting record is mine.

I take it home with little expectation. I mean, after all, what can the music be like after my post-modern, cross cultural, multi-layered expectations?

The answer is it can be quite good!

Of course not all the tracks on here are from Westerns. Most are from other movies of the time but that's not a problem.

I guess that this record comes from the eleki period of Japanese music - slightly before the Group Sounds era. There is something slightly like the Ventures In Space - probably the eerie sounds of the steel guitar.
Yes its cheesy - particularly when the Blue Hawaiians tackle Strangers in the Night. But the steel guitar seems to fit perfectly with the windswept, hard man with no name, devil take the hindmost atmosphere of the best Westerns.

So when they get into the Western tunes - Django from the wonderful film of the same name, Johnny Guitar, from the film of the same name that was a huge influence on Lione's Westerns, Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu - For a Few Dollars More and A Man ..A Story from the rather obscure Blood For A Silver Dollar the music takes off into another space. The kind of space that you doesn't make any sense on paper but when you listen to it, seems to make the kind of sense that you know is right.

Try it for yourselves:

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