Archive for the ‘1977’ Category
The Italian book of the dead. Too much words for one man alone: breathless. Imagination in spite of hope, desire gone bad.
There’s a song in this record, called “Analfabetizzazione” (that is to say: the contrary of literacy), which reads: “Ed il lavoro l’ho chiamato piacere, perché la semantica è violenza oppure è un’opinione. Ma non è colpa mia, non saltatemi addosso, se la mia voglia di libertà oggi è anche bisogno di confusione. Ed il piacere l’ho chiamato dovere, perché la primavera mi scoppiava dentro come una carezza. Fondere, confondere, rifondere, infine rifondare l’alfabeto della vita sulle pietre di miele della bellezza” (“and the work, i called it pleasure, because semantics is violence, or it’s an opinion. but it’s not my fault, don’t you pitch into me, if my wish for freedom is now also a need for confusion. and the pleasure, i called it duty, because springtime was bursting into me like a caress. blending, blurring, refunding, finally re-establishing the alphabet of life on beauty’s honey stones”). In short, it’s all about fucking the meaning up. Work becomes pleasure, and pleasure turns into duty. What’s at stake is a complete revaluation of all dreams. Wait: that’s a downright treason. Despair is always subversive, and disappointment stinks like counter-revolution.
In 1977 Claudio Lolli was in an awkward position. Born in Bologna in 1950, he had established himself as one of the most radical among the politically engaged cantautori, yet all of his anti-establishment anthems – such as “Borghesia” (“bourgeoisie”) – had been released by a huge corporate record company like EMI, to which he was introduced by his fellow citizen Francesco Guccini (Lolli tauntingly recalled his early days with the major in “Autobiografia industriale”). Well, this is usually called a contradiction. So that when his record deal expired, he felt like jumbling it all up. The odd thing is that he had to switch to an alternative music label such as Ultima Spiaggia to record his requiem for the revolutionary movement: the new rallying cry was Disoccupate le strade dai sogni, “let’s clear the streets of dreams”. Too many comrades passed away, too many failures to come to terms with. There was anger to be wasted, there were mistakes to be repeated, and fallen to be honoured, such as Ulrike Meinhof (in “Incubo numero zero” – the album has the same title of the italian version of Meinhof’s biography by Prinz Alois) and Francesco Lorusso, a student killed by carabinieri during a demonstration in Bologna (in “I giornali di Marzo”, whose lyrics are a cut-up of those days’ newspapers).
And he twisted his own musical language to follow the lyrics’ edges (keeping on a path opened by Ho visto anche zingari felici – “i have happened to see happy gypsies too”, 1976) introducing jazz rock, progressive, impro elements which were typical of Ultima Spiaggia’s art-rock style, even inventing a funny dixie funeral march for social democracy which anticipated Vinicio Capossela, and eventually peaking his career and perhaps the entire singer/songwriters movement – even if the result was much closer to the R.I.O. scene or Dalla/Roversi’s work than to Guccini, Paolo Pietrangeli or Ivan Della Mea.
An enthusiastic melancholy and a subtle death drive had always been his key features, but negativeness reached a whole different level here. We are anywhere near Mauro Pelosi’s self-titled album, but the latter’s alarming vein of insanity turns into a ruthless lucidity. An autopsy carried out upon a still warm corpse.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Alba meccanica (“mechanical dawn”)
02, Incubo numero zero (“nightmare number zero”)
03, La socialdemocrazia (“the social democracy”)
04, Analfabetizzazione (“unalphabetization”, also released as a 7″ b/w “I giardini di marzo”)
05, Attenzione (“watch out”)
06, Canzone dell’amore o della precarietà (“song of love or of uncertainty”)
07, Canzone scritta sul muro (“song written on the wall”)
08, Autobiografia industriale (“industrial autobiography”)
09, Da zero e dintorni (“from zero and so on”)
10, I giornali di marzo (“the newspapers of march”)
Unfortunately, Disoccupate… did not manage to repeat his previous records’ success, and Ultima Spiaggia went bankrupt right before a live album project could be realized. Ironically, Lolli came back to EMI, releasing four other LPs with them until the early nineties.
He has worked as a teacher at secondary school and is still active as a musician and writer. His latest album is La scoperta dell’America (“the discovery of America”, 2006). You can learn more about Claudio Lolli at his Wikipedia page (in italian).
Gender bender. Ivan Cattaneo has been among the first musicians in Italy, together with Alfredo Cohen and Andrea Tich, to openly and directly address gender-related issues in his work, not simply singing songs about homosexuality, but approaching music, songwriting and performing with a conscious and joyous gay attitude.
We thank our beloved friend and guest contributor Piergiorgio Pardo, musician – check out his outstanding band Egokid’s MySpace – teacher, writer, music journalist for “Blow Up”, for having kindly provided us with a piece about Cattaneo’s second album Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (“first course, main course and fruit (iVAT included)” – being IVA the italian for VAT), released by Ultima Spiaggia in 1977, way before he achieved a huge success in the Eighties with his electropop renditions of Sixties’ hits.
You can read the italian version in our “Found in translation” page.
Homosexuality and food. Music and poetry under the sign of Milk? More than that. Definitively. Because here we get the irreverent, experimental, self-centered, out of line, living history of that movement – in these days faithfully reconstructed with a barrage of Hollywood-sized fees and Academy Awards nominations.
The grass-roots radicalism become avantgarde matter. Even that naive, late Seventies one which still made think of synaesthetic projects that could put together all the arts under improbable acronyms (T.U.V.O.G. Art, the art of TOUCHEARINGSIGHTSMELLTASTE, come off it!), or played with post-modernism, dreaming of a bildungsroman between Giovanni Pascoli and Diabolik (the pedagogy of “Maria-Batman”, or “Dadadidattico”s metapartisan echolalia), or solved diversity issues in a post-Franciscan nature worship (“l’amore è grande e santo anche fra l’asino e il canguro” – “love is great and saint even between the ass and the kangaroo” – he swears in “Psico-Fico”).
But there’s also pasolinian naivety (“le tue labbra sanno sempre di asfalto e cipria” – “your lips always taste of asphalt and face powder”), modern disenchantement with the still recent peaks of glam exoticism (“quando l’ufo qui passò sulla terra, ci lasciò annegare soli qui d’immaginazione” – “when the ufo passed here on earth, he let us here alone drowning in imagination”), as well as with the just carried out failure of the extraparliamentary groups’ season (“per me rivoluzione è niente, noia o déjà vu” – “revolution is nothing to me, boredom or deja vu”). Words of courage, playful but haughty; cynism, but still a devouring energy even beyond hedonism and that monument to lust as a political act which yet made sense in those years.
And the musical substance is magnificent. Ivan spends with an extraordinary verve his hysterical apprenticeship in UOAEI (1975), his London experience, the unconscious wisdom of Nanni Ricordi and, above all, the hypercultured irony of Roberto Colombo, a true co-author, accomplice and somehow director of the album. Just hear how the jazz rock-derived recipe which defined many italian records from that time grows here in originality and depth. Or how vocal experimentalism gives up for good the stand-offish – and out-of-date by now – coordinates that led an Alan Sorrenti, turning into a loose miracle of irony. Guitars’ darts and liquid pianisms, odd tempos, elegant and light funky strokes, hints of ballads promptly broken by an inexhaustible will to play it down.
Gay pop culture caught in one of its most adventurous yet universal expressions. Ever.
Here is the tracklist:
01, La segretaria ha colpito ancora (“the secretary struck again” also released as a 7″ b/w “Maria-Batman”)
02, Maria-Batman (“Mary-Batman”)
03, L’amore è una s/cossa meravigliossa (“love is a many ssplendored s/thing”)
04, Psico-Fico (“psycho-cool”)
05, Dadadidattico (“dadadidactic”)
06, Il vostro ombelico (“your belly button”)
07, Agitare prima dell’uso (“shake before use” also released as the b-side of “Tabù”, 1978 )
08, L’occhio ridente (“the laughing eye”)
10, Salve o Divina! (“hail, oh divine!”)
11, L’altra faccia della luna (“the other side of the moon”)
12, Uffa! (“phew!”)
13, C’era una volta (“once upon a time”)
Get it: Ivan Cattaneo, Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (1977)
[edit: rip now fixed with the correct tracklist]
If you want to know more about Ivan Cattaneo you can browse his official website.
Here is the beforementioned sequence from the movie Berlinguer ti voglio bene by Giuseppe Bertolucci (younger brother of the celebrated Bernardo) in which Franco Fanigliulo, playing a ramshackle liscio singer, reads a note from the stage of an outdoor ballroom informing Mario Cioni (a then-debutant Academy Award winner Roberto Benigni) that his mother has died.
Liscio is a traditional popular dancing music genre from Romagna (Central-Northern Italy). Enrico Berlinguer, to whom the movie is ironically and affectionally dedicated, has been leading the PCI (italian communist party) from 1972 to his death, in 1984. Benigni’s mother was played by the great, late Alida Valli.
The film’s international title is Berlinguer: I love You.
Just a taste of what italian television could look like back in the late seventies, when format and script writers and directors at RAI (the national broadcasting service) were encouraged to experiment and innovate to meet the taste of viewers grown up in the sixties and the seventies, who couldn’t stand no more its traditionalist and stiff attitude.
“Non stop – Ballata senza manovratore” (“non stop – ballad without manoeuvrer”, referring to the absence of a presenter) was a joyfully chaotic medley of stand-up comedians, live music, dance broadcasted between late 1977 and early 1979, hosting the debut appearances of stars-to-be such as the Academy Award nominee Massimo Troisi (R.I.P.), Carlo Verdone, Francesco Nuti, Jerry Calà. If you want to know more about this cult broadcast you can read its Wikipedia page (in italian).
In the video here above you can enjoy an astonishing live performance by Lucio Dalla singing “Com’è profondo il mare” from his 1977 same-titled album. The pop nightmare scenography, the still standing masked guys and the non-sense choreography set for a subtly frightening mood, which fits perfectly with the song. An extraordinary piece of music which turns into a great piece of tv.
When you say industrial music, some pioneers’ names come immediately to your head: Monte Cazazza, Boyd Rice, Throbbing Gristle, and so on. Martial rythms, tape loops, distorted noises, buzzing electronics… ok, but what the music of a real factory would have sounded like? One of the possible answers lies in this record.
The new social and cultural framework created in Italy by the great workers’ fights which started in 1967, and the permanent revolutionary mobilization which lasted until the end of the seventies, allowed a new kind of radical, proletarian artists coming from the factories and the urban suburbia to express themselves and find their way into “official” culture. People like the worker-writer Tommaso Di Ciaula, the incredible folk/experimental musician Enzo Delre, and Alfa Romeo workers’ band Gruppo operaio ‘e zezi could now release their books and records, drawing the attention of a broader audience than anybody could ever image a few years before.
Francesco Currà – born in Calabria, in the deep south of Italy – used to work at a milling machine at the Ansaldo, a huge heavy metal industry in Genoa. Actually you can see his pay sheet for october 1976 on the cover. He was a poet, too. He was 29 when he was granted by independent label Ultima spiaggia the opportunity to team up with Roberto Colombo, Flaviano Cuffari and other great musicians to realize Rapsodia Meccanica (“mechanical rhapsody”): not simply a concept album about life in a factory, but a kind of a fantastic voyage through the alienated mind of a chain worker.
The music was based on the same Currà’s field recordings of the Ansaldo’s machines (his co-workers are credited as musicians), turned into gloomy drones and obsessive rythm patterns with the help of Roberto Colombo, under whose artistic direction some acoustic and electronic instrumental contributions were also added.
On top of this sounds layers, Currà screamed his expressionistic yet iperrealistic verses of rage, contempt, fear and sorrow. We’re not having here a middle class kid giving his interpretation of a worker’s life and nonsense talking about alienation. This is first-hand experience, and sounds far more dramatic, disturbing, and politically uncorrect than anything else recorded in those years. Currà’s peculiar singing style basically reminded of “cantastorie” (south Italy folk story-tellers) litanies, with some curious hints of Domenico Modugno; at the same time he anticipated the declamatory spoken-word style by Giovanni Lindo Ferretti from the seminal post-punk band CCCP – Fedeli alla linea, namely in tracks such as “Quanto dura il mio minuto?”, “Preferirei piuttosto” and “La massa della miseria”.
Each “song” in here is a highlight, from the proto-drum’n’bass of “Non mi parlare di rivoluzione” to “L’alunno dell’ultimo banco” and the thrilling “Tavola ansaldina”, which embeds what seems to be an excerpt from a traditional folk love song from Calabria.
Here is the tracklist:
01, 16 giugno (“june 16th”)
02, Non mi parlare di rivoluzione (“don’t you tell me about revolution”)
03, Incubo (“nightmare”)
04, Quanto dura il mio minuto? (“how long does my minute last?”)
05, Preferirei piuttosto (“i’d rather than”)
06, Tra cespugli di ginestre (“in brooms’ bushes”)
07, La rovina del porto è il marinaio (“it’s the sailor which spoils the port”)
08, Hanno sputato sui vetri (“someone has spitted on the glasses”)
09, L’alunno dell’ultimo banco (“last desk’s pupil”)
10, La massa della miseria (“the mass of misery”)
11, Tavola ansaldina (“ansaldinian stele”)
12, Son le puttane le donne migliori (“the whores are the best women”)
Francesco Currà has recorded another album in 1979, Flussi e riflussi (“flows and reflows”), now apparently lost, and has published two poetry books: Rapsodia meccanica. Poesia in fabbrica con le canzoni del disco dell’Ultima spiaggia (“mechanical rhapsody. poetry in the factory with Ultima spiaggia record’s songs”, 1978), and Le eruzioni dell’eros e del male (“the eruptions of eros and evil”, 2004).
Check out the interesting Mutant sounds’ post about Rapsodia meccanica, which places Francesco Currà in the “as-yet-unnamed Italian trajectory that includes Franco Battiato, Pierrot Lunaire, Franco Leprino, Arturo Stalteri and a handful of other like-minded cosmonauts”.
Do you know mitteleurock? No, nothing to do with Midge Ure’s Ultravox. Three years before they released their 1980’s same titled album, Vienna was a place of the heart for Gino D’Eliso, and mitteleurock was the name he gave to the scene that gathered around him in Trieste – and to the label he founded some time later.
Trieste is the real heart of Europe. It’s the crossroads where Mitteleurope and the Mediterranean meet. It’s neither western nor eastern, and it’s both. It’s bright and obscure. It’s windy. It’s the frontier town where smugglers cross the border and pirates meet. It’s the italian hometown for people like Sigmund Freud and James Joyce. Romantic, melancholic, multilingual and multicultural centuries before the very term “meltin’ pot” assumed its current meaning. Vienna was the empire, but Trieste had the sea.
This is the ground where D’Eliso’s peculiar mythology is rooted. Heroes and saints, thieves and dropouts, poets and gypsies are the characters who crowd his stories. Decadence, sadness, irony and compassion. And even if the music in Ti ricordi Vienna? (“do you remember Vienna?”) is mainly funk-flavoured pop (between Young Americans‘ Bowie and late 70’s Lucio Battisti – the latter having released through his label Numero Uno D’Eliso’s first effort, Il mare, in 1976), dusted with luxurious disco strings arrangements, one can still get balcanian and mediterranean folk echoes, together with faint new wave influences. This is mitteleurock at its birth – and possibly at its best.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Bellezza normanna (“norman beauty”)
02, Kajmac Calan
03, Il tamburello e l’eroe (“the tambourine and the hero”)
04, Non saremo angeli (we’ll be no angels”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Ti ricordi Vienna?”)
05, Fiesta messicana (“mexican fiesta”)
06, Ti ricordi Vienna? (“do you remember Vienna?”)
07, Tanto arriva domenica (“sunday will come anyway”)
08, Non basta la poesia (“poetry’s not enough”)
09, La notte di Erasmo (“Erasmus’ night”)
D’Eliso released two other albums, Santi & eroi (“saints & heroes”, 1979) and Cattivi pensieri (“bad thoughts”, 1983 – his “greatest” commercial success) and produced some acts from the area, such as Revolver and Luc Orient, before disappearing from italian music scene. Unfortunately, the mitteleurock movement declined together with his career. D’Eliso is now working in the corporate communications field with an advanced technology company in Trieste. He released a new album in 2004, Europa Hotel.
In the seventies there’s been a passionate debate in Italy about mental illness and psychiatric hospitals, mainly promoted by great psychiatrist and philosopher Franco Basaglia. He began experimenting new and different methods in treating lunatics in Gorizia, Parma and Trieste’s asylums, which he directed between late sixties and early seventies. In 1973 he founded Psichiatria democratica (“democratic psychiatry”), a movement for a reform in mental health system.
The fight against psychiatric abuses such as electroshocks and sedatives overuse, and for a new way of considering insanity, became a crucial issue for the broader social movement who struggled against repression and total institutions such as prisons or the army. A true and deep revolution in italian culture started here.
Se per caso un giorno la follia… (“if, by chance, one day the madness…”) would have possibly never existed out of this climate. Roberto Ferri had been discovered by Mina in the late sixties, and had released a series of 7″ between 1967 and 1970, but he had to wait since 1977 for his first LP, which was something completely different from the pop tunes – sometimes covers of foreign hits – he had been recording since then.
It actually was a concept album about social labelling, marginalization and exploitation, portraying characters suffering because of their diversity: psychotics, of course, but also dropouts, kids, animals. The contrast between the music – which is basically soft progressive rock added with sophisticated, melodic pop in the french chansonniers’ style, with even some folk hints – and the stories Ferri told made tracks like “Io povero pazzo” or “Requiem per Boby” (a shocking crude song about vivisection) even more heartbreaking. But there’s also space for a love triangle (“Tu e lui”) and for the closest thing to an anthem for the Indiani metropolitani’s generation: “Anno zero”. Ferri is great giving a coherent emotional mood to the whole work which, in spite of some naiveties, remains touching and challenging even thirty years later.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Alla piazza deserta (“to the empty square”)
02, Io povero pazzo (“i, poor madman”)
03, Ritagli di giornale (“newspaper cut-outs”)
04, Col vestito da indiano (“in a red indian costume”)
05, Il pavone (“the peacock”)
06, Requiem per Boby (“requiem for Boby”)
07, Giovannino seme di mela (“little appleseed John”)
08, Anno zero (“year zero”)
09, Tu e lui (“you and him”)
10, La goccia (“the drop”)
Italian asylums were closed in 1978 with the law number 180 (also known as “legge Basaglia”). Franco Basaglia died in 1980. Roberto Ferri continued his career as songwriter and performer, while teaching chemistry and working in the perfume industry. He collaborated with, among others, Fabrizio De Andrè, Adriano Celentano, New Trolls, Patty Pravo and Franco Battiato. He also wrote the 1983 Sanremo festival winning tune, “Sarà quel che sarà” (“what will be, will be”), sang by one-hit wonder Tiziana Rivale. In 2007 he returned to play live Se per caso un giorno la follia…
Check out robertoferri.it for more info and updates.