Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

Music from a country on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Archive for the ‘guests’ Category

[guests, music:] Maurizio Monti, L’amore (1973)

with 11 comments

When a man loves a woman. L’amore is a kind of a strange concept album about every possible shade of a sentimental relationship – from falling in love to betrayal and separation, from frenzy to happiness and despair – as investigated by a talented pop songwriter. And, incidentally, an unexplored mine of rare grooves.

I share the same insane passion for Maurizio Monti with my dearest friend Francesco Bianconi, singer and main songwriter for Baustelle, writer, journalist, fine music connoisseur, who kindly accepted to write about how he ever happened to cross paths with him.

The original version of the post is available in the Found in translation page, as usual.


I first came in contact with Maurizio Monti many years ago, when I took my lyricist exam at SIAE (Società Italiana Autori ed Editori, “italian authors and publishers society”). I had to rewrite the lyrics of an existing song, following its metres syllable by syllable. And the song, on that occasion, was “Morire fra le viole” (“dying among the violets”) by, exactly, “M. Monti”. Lyrics which I partly already knew, after all it’s a quite famous Patty Pravo song, yet I didn’t know anything about its author. I changed the title into a nonsense such as “Risplendere nel sole” (“shining in the sun”), wrote new lyrics, and passed the exam. Playing this little creative rewriting game I realized how perfect those words were, with their terrific and, allow me, Prevertian synthesis of symbolism and pathos. Words of love, simple, easy to sing, but sound. A not at all banal lyricism. I remember thinking that perhaps the more titled Mogol had never been able of such perfection, but I guess this is a matter of taste. Apart from the SIAE exam, I owe my real musical encounter with Maurizio Monti to my singing teacher.

Fucking around after a lesson, he showed me this record in a white sleeve with a middle aged man sitting in an armchair, with his rollerskates on. The title was: L’amore by, exactly, once again, Maurizio Monti. I was stroke at once, starting from the cover. I’m afraid I’m made this way: my opinion about pop music is rather influenced by the superstructures, by the frills. The more I like the look of the singer, the way he smokes a cigarette, his photos, the more I like the music. On that cover Maurizio Monti may look like Betrand Burgalat on a record never released by Tricatel, or my uncle in 1973, had he been a singer. And I swear that this second possibility has the same coolness value for me. My teacher looked at me and told me: “it’s Maurizio Monti’s solo debut album”. He lended me it. I brought it home and, curious like a child, I dipped myself into this fantastic collection of songs.

The first side opens with “Bella mia”, another track later sang by Patty Pravo, and it knocks you out. Bass drum, bass guitar, hi-hat, and voice. Voice which starts with “certo, sembra un caso” (“sure, it seems an accident”). A non-singer shrill voice. The voice of a songwriter who gives it a go. Yet incredibly beautiful in its being awkward, Battisti-like, expressively out of line. The trivially seventies story is about a love triangle him-her-the other, but, just like in “Morire tra le viole”, it’s very effectively told. The melody and the words blend perfectly, and on the final “me ne sto andandooo” (“i’m going awaaay”), while the music fades, the hair rise on my arms and my heart beats. The “hair-rising effect” (which is a serious litmus test for pop tunes) always happens to me with at least three other songs in this record: “Amore”, with harmonic modulation and a  drums-bass-Rhodes piano downbeat which anticipate Moon Safari and Virgin Suicides by Air twenty years before; “Nuda di pensieri”, that sublimates and exceeds the Pachelbelian canon, with a Battisti-like rhythm change in the bridge and a supercheesy Solina fake strings instrumental break on top; “Esco con Rosa”, a love triangle again, again a bright use of italian language on a harrowing melody.

Oh, I almost forgot that there’s “Morire tra le viole” as well, full of blaring synths. What could you ask for more?

In brief, it’s not a key record, not a milestone, not revolutionary. It’s a wonderful easy listening record. A record made of songs, and that’s nothing small: it’s not easy at all writing songs like these.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Bella mia (“honey”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Esco con Rosa”)
02, Dipendi da me (“you depend on me”)
03, Un uomo fortunato (“a lucky man”)
04, Nuda di pensieri (“thoughts-bared”)
05, Amore (“love”)
06, Esco con rosa (“i’m dating Rosa”)
07, Sorprendente (“surprising”)
08, Morire tra le viole (“dying among the violets”)

Get it: Maurizio Monti, L’amore (1973)

Maurizio Monti has released another solo album in 1976, Diavolo custode (“guardian devil”, avalaible on these pages anytime soon). He has been writing many successful songs, mostly alone or with his creative partner Giovanni Ullu, for the likes of Patty Pravo, Mina, Gianni Morandi, Anna Oxa. He’s a chemist too.

You can learn more about his most recent project, a musical called Isimilia, at isimilia.com (also in English).

Written by alteralter

March 6, 2009 at 7:45 pm

[guests, music:] Ivan Cattaneo, Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (1977)

with 8 comments

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”)
09, U.F.O.
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.

Written by alteralter

January 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm

[guests, music:] Alberto Camerini, Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano (1976)

with 3 comments

I am massively happy and greatly proud to introduce you the first in a series of posts by special guest contributors; friends who will grace this blog with their deep knowledge and exquisite taste in music, and their brightening vision.

This time we warmly welcome Christian Zingales, journalist and writer, editor-in-chief of “Blow up” (the best italian music magazine), author of the book Italiani brava gente (“italians, good people”, 2008), “a sentimental trip into the sea of italian song” and the ultimate resource to properly comprehend italian pop. Christian supplied us with a feature story about Alberto Camerini’s first album. I know it has been recently posted by wago at Il golpe e l’uva, but this participation was scheduled way before I noticed that and, however, for such an important and criminally out-of-print record, two web resources are far better than one.

The original italian text is available in the new “Found in translation” page, here on top right.


Born in São Paulo, Brazil, from italian parents, Alberto Camerini moved back to Italy as a child, soon establishing himself in his late teenage years as a natural born talented guitarist in the protest-age Milan. After having debuted in a band called Il Pacco, together with his friends Eugenio Finardi and Donatella Bardi, he began to distinguish himself as a session musician around 1968, playing with the likes of Anna Identici, Patty Pravo, Fausto Leali, Rita Pavone. As the Seventies approached, he already stood as a reference figure in the milanese off-scene. His electric solos graced albums such as L’unità by Stormy Six, Volo magico n. 1 by Claudio Rocchi, Mai una signora by Patty Pravo and Megh by Mario Barbaja.

The contact moment came in 1975. He co-produced Finardi’s debut album, Non gettare alcun oggetto dai finestrini (“do not throw anything out of the windows”), released through the then-rising and highly quoted indipendent label Cramps, founded by Gianni Sassi. The record is an italian rock classic, and Alberto’s solos in long, electric rides such as “Se solo avessi” (“if only i had”) and “Saluteremo il signor padrone” (“we will salute our master”) instantly entered the myth: wrenching and acid scratches of a creativity taking shape.

In fact, one year later, his recording debut came as well, always on Cramps. Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano (“Cinderella and the daily bread”) – followed in the next two years by Gelato metropolitano (“metropolitan ice cream”, 1977) and Comici cosmetici (“comic cosmetics”, 1978 ) – is the opening act of one of the most peculiar and idiosyncratic trilogies in italian pop history, released years before he met his great tv success with a series of hits and albums produced with Roberto Colombo and released through CBS, turning himself into a post-punk, post-Bowie electro harlequin synthesizing electronics, pop and Commedia dell’arte with overflowing and uncontrolled istintivity. But Alberto’s masterpiece remains Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano, the genesis of all petitions to come, still cold from a control which put in a significant perspective the conceptual fooleries of a seemingly perfect metropolitan pixie, the joker who fell to the dull and luxuriant lands of late ’70 Milan.

Supported by Cramps’ crew musicians such as Hugh Bullen, Walter Calloni, Patrizio Fariselli, Claudio Pascoli, Camerini put together a patchwork of ludic and sharp visions which represented a real detachment from the whole engaged and post-cantautori antagonism: from the lysergic, subterranean rock of “La ballata dell’invasione degli extraterrestri” and “La straordinaria storia dell’invenzione della televisione (a colori)” to the brazilian legacies of “Maracatù F.C.” and “Pane quotidiano”, from pasteled nursery rhymes like “TV baby (Gli eroi della televisione)” to off-pop numbers such as “Sicurezza” and “Droga (Aiutami dottore)”, leading to the peak of the record, the closing track Cenerentola. Eight minutes of sheer metarock, an uncovered urban journey with a proto-rapping Camerini telling us about the saturday night of a working class girl looking for sex, drugs and rock’n’roll after an hard-working week – “e se otto ore vi sembran poche, provate voi a lavorare” (“and if  eight hours seem few to you, come and try to work”).  When, after thousands of coup de theatre and as many monstruous apparitions, the trip explodes in a rythmical queue with Bullen’s bass and Calloni’s drums on a war footing and Finardi singing, as from the liner notes, “coretti alla lurìd” (“looreed-ish backing vocals”), you get the long shot of one of the most incredible record ever in italian pop’s manifold manifestations. Having reprinted it in cd only in an ultralimited edition at the beginning of the Nineties it’s rather shameful.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La ballata dell’invasione degli extraterrestri (“the ballad of the extraterrestrial invasion”)
02, Maracatù F.C.
03, Pane quotidiano (“daily bread”, also released as a 7″ b/w “In giro per le strade”)
04, Sicurezza (“security”)
05, Droga (Aiutami dottore) (“drug (help me doctor”)
06, La straordinaria storia dell’invenzione della televisione (a colori) (“the amazing story of the invention of the (color) television”)
07, TV baby (Gli eroi della televisione) (“TV baby (television’s heroes)”)
08, Santa Marta (“saint Marta”)
09, Cenerentola (“Cinderella”)

Get it: Alberto Camerini, Cenerentola e il pane quotidiano (1976)

Check out the artist’s official page for more info.

Written by alteralter

January 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm