CD. Beat. CDX 1008.
Halloween night, 2013 and Islington’s atmospheric Union Chapel proved the perfect time and place for Fabio Frizzi to kick off the UK leg of his ongoing Frizzi 2 Fulci tour, in which the maestro conducted the F2F band and Alauda Quartet through his sublime sonic accompaniments to the dark cinematic world of Lucio Fulci. This stuff rules on record but can Frizzi kick ass with it in a concert hall context? You bet your kicked ass he can! The maestro eases his thousand seat sold-out audience in gently with a short suite of his contributions to a couple of Fulci’s Westerns, the sentimental Silver Saddle and significantly tougher Four Of The Apocalypse (Chaco’s theme, with Classical Gas chord sequence overlaid by whooping Emersonian moog.) Frizzi himself croons through these to pleasing effect… he’s no Jose Carreras but, at least in vocal terms, he’s no Burt Bacharach, either. It’s clear that his Western scores have been massively influenced by those of Ennio Morricone but that’s about as surprising as the fact that a lot of bands owe a debt The Beatles. The Morricone influence is also apparent in the next selection, Frizzi’s Manhattan Baby suite, the epic, cod orientalism of which really brings the proceedings to life. Here and in subsequent tracks, the established soundtrack versions are supplemented by Edda Dell’Orso-esque vocal lines, courtesy of Giulietta Zanardi, highlighting furthermore connections to Frizzi’s scoring of the climactic scene in The Beyond, in addition to the more familiar echoes of Zombie Flesh Eaters and City Of The Living Dead. The title theme from Sette Note In Nero (Fulci’s scandalously under acknowledged suspense masterpiece) showcases those emotive seven black notes in a range of settings, setting up another predictable highlight, the Zombie Flesh Eaters suite. From the steel drums ’n’ stylophone Caribbean opener through the “Day In The Life”-inspired eye-puncturing cue (there’s those Mop Tops again and, while we’re at it, it’s worth pointing out that this album was mastered at Abbey Road) to the quasi-Carpentery of the zombie v shark music (with Zanardi’s voice taking one of the synthesiser parts), this is certified crowd pleasing staff, as witnessed by the audience’s hyperenthusiastic response at its conclusion. To chill them out, Frizzi follows up with a collection of short cues, again mostly culled from Fulci’s Westerns (culminating in a Silver Saddle reprise) but most notable for a two minute snatch of With You, the gorgeous “love theme from Sette Note In Nero”, wherein La Zanardi demonstrates that she’s as at home with lush ballads as she is with the more operatic stuff. Wish that could have gone on longer.
A further frisson of excitement kicks off CD 2 as the audience recognises the guitar picking intro to the City Of The Living Dead suite. After the macabre march which climaxes that, Frizzi throws in selections from his scores to two more recent spaghetti horror efforts Beylard and Rafighi’s Beware Of Darkness and Mark Steensland’s The Weeping Woman, neither of which left me particularly inclined to seek out the movies in question. Things are back on track with Frizzi’s action blockbuster / disco styled contributions to Contraband (in which Roberto Fasciani steps out on slap bass) before the stylistically similarly title theme to A Cat In The Brain (it has to be said that the best music in that film was recycled from Fulci’s earlier zombie triumphs.) At this point Frizzi takes an eccentric detour into Nino Rota’s circus themed music for Fellini’s Amarcord. I’m not quite sure why… perhaps to cleanse the blood drenched palate for what is to come? Whatever, Frizzi hits a home run with his final offering, the inevitable suite of themes from The Beyond (noisily received by the Union Chapel punters before a note of it is played, due to the visual promptings of the giant screen behind the band)… well, he was never going to close the show with excerpts from Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, was he? From the establishing cue of Suono Aperto, through the sinuous / staccato funk of Oltre La Soglia and the creepy Verso L’Ignoto onto the infernal chorus of Voci Dal Nulla… it sounds like the Chapel roof is struggling to contain the crowd’s ovation as the album fades out. Wish I’d been there. And now I can pretend I was.
It’s a no brainer that mega budget epics like Star Wars: The Farce Awakens are going to pack cinemas with people with no brains… all the more remarkable that the flame is still burning brightly for a handful of modestly resourced Italian B Movies from the ’70s and ’80’s. God bless Fabio Frizzi for playing his part in this. The double CD set comes with a 16 page booklet containing Frizzi’s track-by-track liner notes. We’re still waiting for the promised DVD, but if you want a preview of how that might look, check out Youtube and all therein that may be explored.