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Music

Johnny Marr recommends his favourite Ennio Morricone records

Few film composers have had the same cultural impact as the late Ennio Morricone. Everyone from Radiohead to Can has cited the Italian composer as a major influence on their work, with countless others unknowingly absorbing his iconic Western scores from an early age. It would be wrong, of course, to limit Morricone’s legacy to his admittedly long-running and fruitful collaboration with Sergio Leone, however. In his lifetime, the composer wrote somewhere between 450 and 500 film scores, only a tiny fraction of which have retained mainstream listenership. It is Morricone’s lesser-known works that former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr discussed when he took part in the Amoeba Records feature ‘What’s In My Bag’ back in 2011.

Marr has been a familiar face in British music since the 1980s when his band, The Smiths, shot to fame. After the Morrissey-fronted group disbanded in 1987, Marr went in search of new sonic pastures, collaborating with a diverse range of artists, including Modest Mouse, The Cribs, The The, and The Pretenders. That’s not to mention his work as a session musician for the likes of Talking Heads, Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Ferry and film composer Hanz Zimmer.

Marr has had the opportunity to compose film scores of his own. Speaking to Ameoba during an ongoing film project, Marr said: “I’ve been listening to some movie soundtracks, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Morricone, sort of mid-60s stuff that he was doing in Italy. And I’ve been looking for stuff, but I’ve just been coming across a lot of lounge collections, which I don’t really like.”

Marr seems to prefer Morricone’s more “tripped out stuff”, albums like Crime and Dissonance, a 2005 compilation of the composer’s more obscure film work from the 1970s, which features several cues from Giallo films like Una Lucertola Con La Pelle di Donna (A lizard With Woman’s Skin).

Marr also selected Ennio Morricone: Happening, which features cuts of experimental, psych-tinged material from 1968 to 1973. Described as a “psychedelic montage” of the composer’s work on films such as The Serpent, Bluebeard, and Burn!, the latter of which features one of Marlon Brando’s very best performances, the compilation is a deep dive into the murkier side of Morricone. So, whether you’re a long-time fan of Ennio Morricone or a new listener, be sure to check out Marr’s recommendations.

Get started with Crime and Dissonance below.