Though there are plenty of composers who've made a name for themselves by crafting the soundtracks to horror films, Italian progressive rock group Goblin stands as one of the few legitimate bands known more or less exclusively for their work in this field. A revolving door-type project built around guitarist Massimo Morante, keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, and bassist Fabio Pignatelli, Goblin's big break came when they were asked to compose a few songs for the soundtrack to Dario Argento's 1975 Profondo Rosso, a.k.a. Deep Red, after the original composer left the project. Goblin's score (thrown together hastily over the course of a few days) was highly-praised and became one of the best selling horror soundtracks of its day, leading to other soundtrack work, most notably Argento's 1977 Suspiria and George Romero's Dawn of the Dead from the following year. Since the late '70s, the various members of Goblin have pursued other projects, yet the group's legacy has only grown as their work reaches new generations of fans, mostly through home video releases of various, previously obscure films.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Goblin's original players have attempted to cash in on this enduring popularity, with the credibility of their respective projects (and the Goblin name in general) suffering as a result. As of 2015, no less than four separate incarnations of the group (each with different lineups) are in existence, a situation I find more laughable even than the current version of The Misfits. Claudio Simonetti's Goblin has proven to be one of the more ambitious of the modern-day Goblin incarnations, embarking on a quest to re-record various classic Goblin scores. Hence, we have the Rustblade Label's 2015 release of the Profondo Rosso/Deep Red Original Soundtrack, an album that combines four newly recorded versions of the film's original soundtrack cues, along with three live tracks and two alternate versions.
The album starts with Profondo Rosso's mysterious main title. Operating at a moderate pace, the track alternates between generally quiet stanzas in which tinkling keyboard arpeggios create a sense of unease, and pounding prog rock sections pushed along by sinister organ and crashing drums. It's certainly a memorable piece of music, one used to maximum effect in the film its pulled from, but I almost think the slickness of this new recording takes away from its overall impact. “Death Dies” has a more urgent flavor to it, with burping bass, stammering piano, and a more driving rhythm creating a foundation for loud, distorted guitar to solo over. Continuing in much the same manner, “Mad Puppet” starts off with an intro of droning, almost mechanical bass gurgle and swirling electronic sound effects before settling into a simplistic but grungy Euro jazz groove. A solitary repeating and almost monotonous bass is backed up by ethereal, chiming synthesizer, and the intrusion of heartbeat-like thumping provides some scary movie ambiance. “Deep Shadows” marks the final soundtrack cue: existing first as a rhythmically-diverse straight-up prog track, morphs into a noticeably quieter, extended keyboard feature with bass and guitar accompaniment later on.
Immediately following these reworked versions, the listener is presented with live renditions of the Deep Red main title, “Mad Puppet,” and “School at Night.” The last of these is probably the most interesting (if only because it isn't heard elsewhere on the album): a quiet piece built around a child's wordless vocal that sounds somewhat like a warped Christmas carol. Nicely-performed though they are, there's nothing particularly exciting about these live tracks, though the “Simonetti Horror Project Version” of “Death Dies” is kind of interesting. Modernized to the point of sounding almost synthetic, the track includes intermittent sound collage elements and seems more immediate than the version heard previously on the disc. Things conclude with a “Rock Version” of Profondo Rosso's main (self-titled) theme. More dramatic than any of the other versions, this finale works into a furious, shredding guitar solo by its midway point and features some Keith Emerson-like synth tinkerings as it winds down.
All things considered, the 2015 Rustblade disc isn't terrible: the instrumental performances here are nicely done and no matter how one looks at them, the Profondo Rosso compositions are outstanding. Still, it's impossible to get around the fact that this particular release's main objective seems to be to lighten the wallets of music fans. The soundtrack already got the special edition treatment in 2005: supervised by Simonetti himself, the release expanded the original seven-track LP to a whopping 28 tracks. Rustblade's release pales in comparison, and not simply due to the relative lack of material. The bigger problem is that the 2015 release feels entirely redundant: does anyone really need three different versions of Profondo Rosso's main title on an album that only features a total of nine tracks? The live versions here are decent enough to listen to, but they don't have enough going for them to warrant being included on a disc that markets itself as straight film soundtrack. Additionally, the overall cleanliness (some might even say sterility) of these recordings didn't suit my fancy: Goblin's themes seem to work better in their original, down'n'dirty recordings from the '70s. I can't in good faith recommend this release - especially not when one can easily acquire the original original soundtrack online.
5.0 / 10
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