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Goblin: Roller (1976)

If you’re a fan of horror movies and seen films such as Dawn of the Dead (aka Zombi) or Suspiria, chanches are you’ve heard some music from Goblin, one of the top Italian prog bands. While bands like PFM, Banco, Le Orme, Il Balletto di Bronzo, Museo Rosenbach, and the likes are mostly known to just avid prog rock fans (those who want more than just Yes, ELP, Genesis, etc. in their collection), many people just watching such films were exposed to the music of Goblin and they don’t even know it. In 1974-75, guitarist Massimo Moranti, bassist Fabio Pignatelli, and keyboardist Claudio Simonetti were members of a prog rock band called Cherry Five. That band also consisted of vocalist Toni Tartarini and drummer Carlo Bordini. They released a self-entitled album in 1975, basically their music was in the Yes/ELP/Genesis vein (so orginality wasn’t on Cherry Five’s side, but if you like that kind of music, get that album). But then when Tartarini and Bordini left, the band added a new drummer and became Goblin and decided to be an instrumental band. They went to work right away scoring the soundtrack to Dario Argento’s flick Profondo Rosso (1975) (also known as Deep Red – don’t confuse it with a 1994 movie with the same name). While that album does have some decent material, I felt the music probably fit better on the movie than on the album (although I can easily describe the music as something like Pink Floyd plays Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells). But Goblin’s next album, Roller, a non-soundtrack album, is quite an improvement over Profondo Rosso. This album came to prove that these guys was able to create great music without some gruesome Argento flick to back it up (although some of the material on this album did surface on later Argento flicks). The production has quite improved, the keyboard work had quite improved as well. The album opens up with the title track, which features a repeating bass line and a sinister sounding pipe-organ that’s perfect for horror flicks. The next song is “Aquaman”, one of my very favorites, I just love the use of electric piano. The music is a bit Floyd-ish as well. “Snip Snap” goes the more funky route, so I can’t help but be reminded of Il Volo (a rather underrated Italian prog band that played funk-influenced prog rock). “Goblin” (the song, that is), is highly regarded as the album’s high point, and I have no argument about that. At 11 minutes, this song has plenty of variety, including some great, fusion-y passages, some funky passages, and just plain great prog. The only mediocre cut is “Dr. Frankenstein” which seems to go nowhere, with only electronic effects keeping it interesting. But aside from that, this album is simply amazing, and if you like instrumental prog rock, this album should be in your collection.
– Massimo Morante: guitars
– Fabio Pignatelli: bass
– Claudio Simonetti: clavinet, organ, piano, Minimoog, Logan string machine
– Maurizio Guarini: Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hohner pianet, Moog, clarinet, piano
– Agostino Marangolo: drums

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