Italy’s prog-rocking macabre composers of choice, were featured in my ‘Brought To Your Attention’ series. Read a review and background piece on their funked-up brooding, and sometimes surprising, soundtrack for George A Romeras’s 1978 horror flick – ‘Dawn Of The Dead’.

‘Dawn Of The Dead/ Zombi’ soundtrack of to the movie by Goblin in collaboration with Dario Argento

Originally released 1978, re-released in 2000/2003/2008

Format: Available on both limited edition red vinyl and normal vinyl / CD / Download.

Dagored Label

Recorded by Giorgio Agazzi at Trafalgar Recording Studios, Rome

Goblin – ‘Dawn Of The Dead / Zombi’ soundtrack 1978

Track List:-

Side A.

1.    L’Alba Del Morti Viventi

2.    Zombi

3.    Safari

4.    Torte In Faccia

5.    Al Margini Della Folla

Side B.

1.    Zaratozom

2.    La Caccia

3.    Tirassengo

4.    Oblio

5.    Risveglio

6.    Zombi (Sexy)


Claudio Simoneti – Keyboards

Massimo Morante – Guitars

Fabio Pignatelli – Bass

Agostino Marangolo – Drums

Antonio Marangolo – Saxophone

Let me be straight with you. I’ve been waiting ages for this record to end up in the reduced bargain bucket section of my local music store.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great slice of seventies pulp horror but there’s no way that anyone should pay good money for the privilege of listening to eleven tracks of shock kitsch and trashy horror core schlock.

Right that’s the proverbial kicking out the way I promise. From now on it’s all purely knock-about humour and friendly banter.

Dawn Of The Dead, the shopping mall based zombie flick, was the second in the ‘Living Dead’ series of ghoulish films from American director George A Romeras, though it wasn’t strictly a continuation, as it shares no characters or settings from the first movie.

At the time it was a real video nasty with the effects cranked up to the maximum, though there were plenty of tongue firmly held in cheek moments and some scenes of dubious quality.

Romeras received plenty of critical acclaim and financial rewards, shooting for the relatively small budget of $650,000, it went onto make $55 million at the box office. Not bad for a story based in the suffocating confines of a middle America shopping complex that becomes one of the last refuges for our band of survivors to repel the continuous onslaught of consumerism, sorry I mean of course zombies (Oh yes, there are plenty of undercurrents and analogies to be found within the films context).

The soundtrack itself was originally made up of both already pre-cleared stock library music and tunes by random groups – The Pretty Things ‘Cause I’m A Man’ off their Electric Banana LP, ends up being used in one scene. Maybe as a consequence of cost cutting, most of the soundtrack is a collage of samples, which on some occasions have had some new authentic moans and groans supplemented.

Entering stage right was the Italian cult director Dario Argento, whose Giallo infused thrillers and horrors had also met with some success both critically and in the money stakes; one of his most notable claims to fame was his collaboration on Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West script.

He lent his time and skills to Romeras and was paid in kind by being allowed to re-cut Dawn Of The Dead for the European market, which he duly undertook with gusto adding some extra gore and gaudy parts.

Argento decided to also re-score the film and called in his long time collaborators Goblin, an Italian progressive rock band with a heavy use of synths much in the vain of bands like Yes, Genesis and King Crimson.

Goblin had first come to the public’s attention in 1975 when they were drafted in to collaborate with the composer Giorgio Gaslin on Argento’s Profondo Rosso slasher  (also known as ‘Deep Red’).

Our intrepid prog-rockers were at first given time to show what they were made of before Argento asked them to try their hand at composing themselves, he gave them a night to write something and a day to record.

The results proved very fruitful as the eventual soundtrack album went onto sell over a million copies – they also had their debut album out at the same time under their original band name Cherry Five. To save confusion they released ‘Profondo Rosso’ under the new moniker of Goblin; which they ended up using for all their records in the end.

They went on to score most of Argento’s films including the classics Suspiria.

The sessions for Dawn Of The Dead or ‘Zombi’ as it was known in the territories outside the UK and US, threw up an entire album’s worth of material yet only three-tracks actually made it onto the film itself. Later on the music would also appear on the low budget schlock ‘Hell Of The Living Dead’, a B-movie take on the popular zombie genre made by the Italian director Bruno Mattei.

Goblins soundtrack is in parts almost surreal, in others unadulterated pleasure bordering on the sublime. A heady mix of late seventies Moroder and eerie sounding mist bound atmospherics that supply the perfect backing for the impending zombie holocaust.

On the opening eulogy ‘L’Alba Del Morti Viventi’, a slow deep bass line sets the pace as what sounds like the Tangerine Dream on beta-blockers, oozes its way over the restrained melody.

Ominous voice like effects add to the prevailing brooding mix as chimes go off and the drums lumber; almost running out of stem as they languidly and menacingly reach the end.

Following the signature introduction is the up-tempo news flash pre-annunciations of ‘Zombi’, which hurtles in with continuous rolling toms and deep bass drum gloom. We are soon treated to a living dead version of Shaft as the track switches to some cool proto funk groove.

A chorus of messianic chanting soon sends the shivers up your spine as the rhythms reach a crescendo.

Next up is ‘Safari’ a brief interlude piece built round some African tribal beats of intoxicating fervour. Maybe this slice of ethnic diversity is used as a reminder that the so-called zombie virus supposedly started in some part of the Dark Continent.

The intonations of the opening track are repeated in the main melody running through ‘All Margini Della Foilla’ but an added cognition of bubbling swamps and test tubes adds a more frightening atmosphere. This tune is all about hearing footsteps that aren’t there or are they?

This record isn’t just about running for the hills; no there are plenty of more romantic and camaraderie moments to be found amongst the menace and doom.

‘Torte In Faccia’ has a strange honky tonk piano accompaniment that conjures up sepia images of Redford and Newman larking around in The Sting. This jaunty old saloon number is like a high-octane throwback to the silent pictures era or a perfect piece of music set to a montage of Americans before the great depression.

We are treated to the sultry tones of ‘Oblio’, an emotive seductive saxophone led tune that beckons soft focus and a solitary teary caresses.

Sustained guitars as favoured on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ help to create a moment of reminiscing over more joyous times.

Along with the closing ‘Zombi (Sexy)’, a soothing mix of piano and sax made for sophisticated porn or a touching set of scenes in Hill Street Blues, these are the more tender examples amongst the gore.

For sheer bravado ‘La Caccia’ connects some of the more heavily frenzied drumming into a disco led take on what can only be described as restoration harpsichord electro. A stab is also made at Wendy Carlos’s Switched On Bach before this jolly treat is broken up and resumes its more ghoulish attentions.

Even more peculiar, in a good way, is the Blondie ‘Call On Me’ stomp of ‘Zaratozom’. This passes through new wave, Moroder and even involves the dubious guitar work of ZZ Top.

Goblin have crafted a pretty tight album, all the musicianship on display is of a high standard and bears witness to the fact that these guys gel together.

Simoneti’s keyboard work is defiantly the highlight, though at times his sounds bring to mind various spoofs including, as one commentator mentioned, the pastiche of music found on Garth Marenghi’s Dark Places by the factious composer Stig Baasvik.

This is a heady mix of both progressive electronica, richly mined by groups like Air and some of the Ed Banger label crew, and high concept funk/rock that will inevitably bring a smile to your face.

Dominic Valvona

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