One Saturday morning, in the not so distant past, I was scrounging around the record bins at a local fete when I came across the Soundtrack to Zulu. Strangely, I wasn’t too familiar with the music. Why is this strange? For one, I am a huge fan of John Barry, and secondly, when I was at college, I shared a house with a bloke whose favourite film was Zulu. He’d drag out his old VHS copy at all hours. In the middle of the night, I’d wake up in terror, hearing strange chants emanating from the lounge room. To cut a long story short, I picked up a copy of the album. Hey, it was only two dollars!
Since that day, I have found out that there are all sorts of re-issues, and re-recordings of the Zulu Soundtrack. The one I am talking about here is the 1964 version, with narration by Richard Burton (well you’d want that, wouldn’t you?), and on the second side of the album, what is described as a selection of Zulu Stamps. Well they are not exactly ‘Zulu Stamps’. They are sixties pop reworkings of John Barry’s themes from the movie. They do have an African influence, but they are hardly traditional ‘Zulu’ music. Here’s a snippet from Cy Endfield’s liner notes.
”A number of these great traditional dance and song themes have been studied by the brilliant composer and arranger John Barry, who scored the film, and converted to a music so that all of us who listen to this record can do a little dancing of our own. If you learn the Zulu Stamp you will be doing some of the exciting, groovy dance movements that the Zulus themselves use.”
With an enticement like that, I am sure that many bored sixties housewives, while their husbands were at work, and their kids were at school, urged on by the primitive jungle rhythms would throw themselves around the lounge room doing the Zulu Stamp.
The music on the first side of the album, however is quite brilliant. Not that I expected anything less from Barry. It is good stirring stuff, that reflects the bravery of the men who held their positions at Rorke’s Drift as wave after wave of Zulu warrior swept down upon them. I know that sounds pompous, but those who have seen the film will know what I mean.
Side One: Original Soundtrack Recording
1. Main Title Theme – Isandhlwana 1879 (Narration by Richard Burton)
2. News Of The Massacre – Rorke’s Drift Threatened
3. Wagons Over
4. First Zulu Appearance And Assault
5. Durnfords Horse Arrive And Depart – The Third Assault
6. Zulu’s Final Appearance And Salute
7. The V.C. Roll and Men Of Harlech
Side Two: Selection Of Zulu Stamps
1. Stamp And Shake
2. High Grass
3. Zulu Stamp
4. Big Shield
5. Zulu Maid
6. Monkey Feathers