By Nicolas Ragonneau from http://www.parisdjs.com
In the end, we had to wait until November for 2011's funniest record. 'Return Of Gringo' is a faux soundtrack in which dub, ska and surf meet spaghetti western in the tradition of maestro Ennio Morricone. Dub and spaghetti have always been good bedmates - just lend an ear to Swiss duo Trance Hill and Dub Spencer to understand why. But here we're not dealing with some low-rent Trinita series but a bigger budget altogether. The result? A genuine blockbuster with first-class actors Starring famed Brighton producer and retro-futurist dub wizard Mike 'Prince Fatty' Pelanconi (Hollie Cook, The Pharcyde, Lilly Allen) and his pal Nick 'Mutant Hifi' Coplowe (multi-instrumentalist and producer for Asian Dub Foundation, Little Axe, Adrian Sherwood et al.), Return of Gringo is catchy from track 1 to 12. It's short enough to make a killer party album but long enough to mesmerize the audience. Nick Coplowe plays guitar (adding tons of spring reverb), glockenspiel, bass, keyboards and melodica. Prince Fatty runs the mix and the special effects, loading fun and frenzied sounds such as a mule braying itself to death, horses neighing, gunshots and, of course, echo throughout. There's also a classy backing band with a rich horn section that captures the Arabic and Mexican sounds to a T (for the full line-up, read below). The accomplices are joined by a guest star, the legendary Alessandro Alessandroni. And it's a brilliant idea. For newbies and dummies, Alessandroni is the unforgettable whistler from the Sergio Leone/ Ennio Morricone westerns (Fistful of Dollars, Once Upon a Time in the West, etc.) as well as being a highly respected multi instrumentalist and composer. Adding Alessandroni's mellow whistling to the project not only gives Return of Gringo an unexpected touch of beauty and a melancholic tinge; it also shows Prince Fatty's and Mutant Hifi's respect and love and respect for their predecessors. That's why it's a major achievement, one the best-ever parodies yet sincerest tributes to Leone/Morricone - along with Australian act The Western Spaghetti Orchestra.
The last word goes to cheeky Nick 'Mutant Hifi' Coplowe, who styles himself as a 'musical pervert'. He was a bit slow to write, so I threatened to send both Lee Van Cleef and Henry Fonda over to pay him a visit.
So Nick says:
"Hi Paris DJs! Prince Fatty and I are old friends, former flatmates. We've talked about a surf/ska collaboration for years, laughed about it, plotted, planned, come up with concepts - some of which may yet see the light of day in future releases. A mutual love of spaghetti, and westerns led us to Return Of Gringo!, marrying the arab/hispanic/sephardic influences on our favourite surf instrumental music to our love of Jamaican ska. Being an instrumental project, a theme is very important in order not to disappear up our own creeks and give guidance. Return of Gringo! came about after a long session of watching the original Italian versions of the great Sergio Leone movies (originally the album was to be Dub for Victory - themed after the various boys' WWII comics popular from the 50s-70s). The influences (and titles) came thick and fast, and tied in with our new found love of cumbia music (we watched Butch Cassidy) and so we went with the cowboy theme. Although the album took nearly 2 years from conception to release, being inspired, we worked fast, and spent most of that time making other records. Both of us have long experience of working with people who take forever agonising over their records, killing the vibes and boring everyone stupid and blowing budgets, and we didn't want to do that for ourselves. Return of Gringo! is an album made strictly our way, with no compromises - even the deal wasn't sought until the album was near completion to avoid the kind of unconstructive interference experienced on other projects. Above all, it was a labour not only of love, but of fun, which I think comes out in the general irreverence of the end result, and is the only way to make music for yourself. No donkeys were harmed in the making of the album, even while performing tricks..."
01. Transistor Cowboy
02. Balck Powder
03. Plague of Locusts
04. Wear The Black Hat (If The Black Hat Fits)
05. Way Back to Town
06. Across The Border
07. Up The Creek
08. Moscow Mule
09. Son of a Thousand Fathers
10. The Good, The Vlad and The Ugly
11. Blondes have more Guns
12. Hava Nagila