Magnet & Paul Giovanni: The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man is a magnificent 1973 horror movie set on a fictional remote Scottish island, and starring Christopher Lee in the unforgettable role as Lord Summerisle. He is the leader of the island, where Sgt. Howie, a devoted Christian policeman, is being lured from the mainland in search of a missing girl, just to be dragged deeper and deeper into a bizarre and mysterious world of Celtic pagan secrets.
It is a thrilling story, but the soundtrack, closely interwoven as an integral part of the film and finally resurfaced in 2002, is not only crucial to the whole experience, it functions as an astonishing album in its own right. The Wicker Man arrived amid the fruitful British folk revival, but the music was actually created by American composer Paul Giovanni and a one-off band entitled Magnet, with performances from various cast members. The story goes that the songs were written in just a couple weeks, but they manage to capture the essence of British folklore with a combination of new and traditional songs, on what turned out to be a stunning record revolving around pre-Christian mythology and traditions.
Listening to the album gives an immediate urge to put on a mask and dance around a maypole while chanting creepy nursery rhymes. Highlights include “Willow’s Song,” later remade by Sneaker Pimps and epitomized in the movie by the landlord’s seductive siren daughter (Britt Ekland), the ballad “Gently Johnny,” the child-sung “Maypole” and a chilling version of “Sumer Is Icumen In.” The movie is still disturbing and scary as hell, and the soundtrack is hypnotic, creepy and beautiful at the same time.
Make sure to watch it – not the lousy remake with Nicholas Cage – and enjoy to this spellbinding soundtrack.