Archive for the ‘punk’ Category
The sleep of province produces monsters.
As repeatedly requested, here’s the manifesto of the Great Complotto (“grande conspiracy”), or: how a handful of kids from Pordenone, a well-off, outlying small town in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, North-East Italy, turned their city into the imaginary state of Naon (a republic with its own flag, money, government, football team, customs and habits – an official guide was included in the 1983 IV3SCR compilation) and managed to make it one of the capitals of international situationism and the cradle of Italian punk beside Milan, Bologna, Turin, Florence. Featuring bleeps, noises, screechings, drones, the legendary London performance by Tampax and HitlerSS – when they sent fake tour dates to “Time Out” and then went to the scheduled locations with cardboard instruments just to see what their audience could look like – and the Naon national anthem “Atoms for energy” in two different versions.
And remember: Pordenone could be London, but London can’t be Pordenone.
Here is the tracklist:
Lato A (“A side”)
01, Mess, Paraguay
02, Fhedolts, Stimolation
03, Sexy Angels, La beat
04, Andy Warhol Banana Technicolor, I’m in love with my computer
05, Mind Invaders, Individual therapy
06, 001100111100011001011101 (Cancer), 000010
07, 001100111100011001011101 (Cancer), 000001
08, Musique Mecanique, Atoms for energy
09, Musique Mecanique, Good ideas must not fall in the hands of the enemy
10, Tampax/HitlerSS, London cartoon concert
Lato I (“I side”)
11, Fhedolts, Hearthing
12, Andy Warhol Banana Technicolor, The future
13, Mess, Foolish girls
14, W.K.W., Wyatt Earp
15, Sexy Angels, Atoms for energy
16, Little Chemists, Fe2Cr 0
17, Waalt Diisneey prod., Chips dorè (I.D.Y.)
18, Waalt Diisneey prod., (I need) Action
Get it: AA. VV., Pordenone/The Great Complotto (1980)
[edit August 23rd, 2009: the all-worthy publishing house Shake Edizioni has at last made available again this record on cd, added with extra tracks, a video and a 68-pages book stuffed with pics and lyrics! Useless to say, the download link has been removed. You can get the box here.]
The album was produced by The Great Complotto, Oderso Rubini, Red Ronnie, Ado (Scaini, from Tampax) and Compact Cassette Records, and released through Italian Records Service. The cover features a postcard of Pordenone. Among the several outfits involved in the movement you can also count Futuritmi, Ice & The Iced and the amazing XX Century Zorro.
Everything you may need to know about the Complotto is here on its official website mantained by StEvE (unfortunately, in Italian only).
I already wrote about Italian Records and its crucial role in the development of Italian new wave and italo disco in the post about Gaznevada’s first tape (by the way, finally available on cd via Shake Edizioni). The debut album by Rats is one of the lost gems from their back catalogue, lying at the nexus of the label’s two main interests, that is post-punk experiments and alternative dance music – even if the record was actually released through the subsidiary Nice Label.
Founded as Sextons in 1979 in a small town near Modena, Emilia Romagna, they changed their name to Rats, hired a young female singer – Claudia Lloyd – and made their live debut in 1980, soon establishing themselves as one of the most interesting act nationwide and drawing the attention of Gabriele Ansaloni aka Red Ronnie, a dj, agit-prop, pop entrepreneur and key figure in the last three decades of Italian music history, who co-financed their first LP.
C’est disco – recorded by the label’s founder Oderso Rubini and marked by the voice of Claudia – effectively captures their early darkest moments and their dance-punk attitude, while contorting themselves and screeching alongside Siouxsie and the Banshees, Malaria!, Bauhaus, Bush Tetras, Glaxo Babies, Au Pairs, Ludus, Chrisma, and obsessively evokes the unhealthy atmosphere of a sleazy, outlying night club.
Here is the tracklist:
02, C’est disco (reprise)
03, Bimba (“baby girl”)
05, C’est disco
07, Spacciatori (“pushers”)
Get it: Rats, C’est disco (1981)
[edit March 17th, 2009: download link has been fixed with the correct tracklist.]
Songs from the album were aired by the great, late John Peel, leading to a small and short-lived success accross Europe. Claudia Lloyd left the band shortly after the recordings of an unreleased follow-up to the first full-length, tentatively titled Tenera è la notte (“tender is the night”). These two records are longtime scheduled for a box-set reprint by Astroman, but no official release date has been yet announced.
The C’est disco line-up also appeared with “Tattoo” on the legendary double album Mission is terminated /Nice tracks, which featured four tracks by Throbbing Gristle and a cut up of songs by italian post-punk bands and excerpts from movies, interviews, radio broadcasts, field recordings, etc., released as a supplement to Red Ronnie’s magazine “Bazaar” in 1983.
Rats progressively shifted towards mainstream rock, achieving some fame in the early nineties, when they even happened to record with the notorious Italian rockstar Ligabue for the album Indiani padani (“padan indians”, 1992), and eventually disbanded in 1997. They reformed in 2007 and have been touring Italy since then. Here is their official website (in italian).
Red Ronnie has been a successful and influential tv presenter during the eighties and the nineties, and is still active as a promoter, a publisher, a music and pop culture consultant.
Given its commitment for a musica totale (“total music”) and its endeavours to establish a new urban rock form supporting artists such as Eugenio Finardi, Alberto Camerini, Andrea Tich, the same Claudio Rocchi, it made somehow perfectly sense that in the late Seventies Cramps Records directed its attention to the then rising italian punk scene, releasing already in 1978 “Karabigniere blues/Io sono un autonomo”, a single by Skiantos, the “demented rock” band which I already mentioned in the post about Gaznevada’s tape, and then their LPs MONOtono (“MONOtone”, 1978 ) and Kinotto (1979).
Following these first steps, in 1980, during the difficult times after the death of Demetrio Stratos, in the middle of “riflusso” and when its founder Gianni Sassi was increasingly losing interest in the label’s events, a new series of coloured-vynil 7″ by seven (post)punk acts from Central-Northern Italy was launched, under the name of “Rock ’80”. The songs from these singles (with the exception of Skiantos’ b-side “Mi piaccion le sbarbine” and Kaos Rock’s “Oh! Caro amore/Policeman”) were then collected in the same name album, curated and mixed by Paolo Tofani. A record which I consider the most meaningful epitath for this daring, clumsy, glorious independent record company.
Bologna led off the dance with two bands which had debuted on Harpo’s tapes series: just Skiantos, with a bowel-moving delirious funky about beans (“i fagioli son la mia anfetamina, i fagioli saran la mia rovina”: “beans are my amphetamine, beans will ruin me”…) and street rockers Windopen, with their anthem “Sei in banana dura” and the sleazy “La testa”. Skiantos ended up being one of the most influential and long-lived outfits in italian rock history. They’re alive and kicking, and a new album, Dio ci deve delle spiegazioni (“god owes us some explanations”) has been recently released. Windopen founder Roberto Terzani later joined Litfiba as a bass player when Gianni Maroccolo left the band, in 1990.
The Stranglers/2-Tone-oriented Take Four Doses from Rome – featuring Stefano Pistolini, now a well-known journalist and writer – wheezing introduced the Milan contributions: Kaos Rock were Gianni Muciaccia’s band with Luigi Schiavone on the guitars, who later joined Enrico Ruggeri in his successful solo career. Their a-side “Basta, basta” was already included as the opening track in the live tribute to Demetrio Stratos 1979 Il concerto (“1979 the concert”, 1979), but not in their sole album WW3 (1980). Wavey-garage X-Rated also appeared in the legendary Gathered (1982) compilation, together with Diaframma, Pankow, Not Moving, Death SS, Victrola, and others, before disappearing. As for Kandeggina Gang, you can check out my post about Jo Squillo Eletrix’s Girl senza paura, which featured a different version of their b-side “Orrore”.
Dirty Actions from Genoa completed the line-up with their prodigious ironic, messy clang’n’roll (“siamo figli del demonio, vi spacchiamo le vetrine, vi bruciamo le officine, vi alziamo le cantine, vi traviamo le bambine, vi vuotiamo le piscine, vi turbiamo le vecchine”, “we are sons of the devil, we smash your shop-windows, we burn your garages, we lift up your cellars, we corrupt your baby girls, we empty your swimming pools, we upset your little old ladies”). Their song “Bandana boys” was later included in Gathered as well. They seem still active; you can learn more about them on their web page.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Skiantos, Fagioli (“beans”)
02, Windopen, Sei in banana dura (“you’re in a hard banana”, street slang referring to a drug-related state of confusion)
03, Windopen, La testa (“the head”)
04, Take Four Doses, Vita di strada (“street life”)
05, Take Four Doses, La notte che inventarono gli eroi (“the night they invented heroes”)
06, Kaos Rock, Basta, basta (“that’s enough, that’s enough”)
07, Kaos Rock, La rapina (“the robbery”)
08, X-Rated, Blockhead dance
09, X-Rated, Routine
10, Kandeggina Gang, Sono cattiva (“i’m bad”)
11, Kandeggina Gang, Orrore (“horror”)
12, Dirty Actions, Rosa shocking (“shocking pink”)
13, Dirty Actions, Figli del demonio (Dirty Actions S-Ha) (“sons of the devil (dirty actions s-ha)”)
Get it: AA. VV., Rock ’80 (1980)
This is a piece of my heart. A friend of mine made me a cassette with this ’77 punk/hardcore/Oi! compilation when I was 13 or something, back in the days. I used to listen obsessively to it on my walkman going to school or wandering in the streets of my hometown, and trying to track down the words to sing along with the tape (even the italian lyrics were hard to get, because of the infamous quality of the recording, perhaps a dubbing of a dubbing of a dubbing…). Unfortunately, we had neither the tracklist nor any other information about the record, so it took me a long time in the pre-Internet age to recover its whole story and eventually discover this shocking pink vynil anthology in a disaster sleeve, one of the most valuable outputs of the italian anarcopunx scene.
In the early Eighties, in the middle of “riflusso”, right when collective issues seemed completely discredited, the kids began to squat places such as dismissed factories, abandoned buildings, unfinished hospitals and schools to live and work together in liberated spaces and host concerts and performances which no regular venue, promoter, theatre or gallery would have been likely to handle, creating a nationwide network with its diy bulletins and fanzines, its self-produced record labels and publishing houses, its great mobilizations. It was the rise of a new and different movement, influenced by ’77 nihilism as well as by Crass hippy-punk anarchism and american straight-edge, anticipating and stimulating in many ways the exciting season of centri sociali (“social centers”) or CSOA (centro sociale occupato autogestito, “squatted self-managed social center”), which characterized italian political antagonism in the late Eighties and in the Nineties.
Raptus 1984 – with its follow-up Raptus. Negazione & superamento (“raptus. denial & overcoming”, 1984) – was the first attempt to gather all the different components of this movement (at least the musical ones) and document them as a whole, supplying a state of the art of italian punk scene. The man behind this project was Giulio Tedeschi, born in Piacenza in 1952 but living in Turin since 1971, a counterculture hero and founder of independent label Meccano Records (by the way, Meccano had originally a logo I would adopt immediately for this blog if I could find it somewhere: a pink wrench).
He managed to coordinate the efforts of people from all over the country, eventually recording and showcasing eight bands (the last track by “Raptus” seems rather a joke), most of which had hardly released a demo tape before: Drull from Savona (Liguria), Uart Punk from Messina (Sicily), Wrong Boys from Pavia (Lombardy), UDS from Turin, Petrolio from Rome, Wops from Venice, Last Call from Bari (Apulia), and Raw Power from Reggio Emilia (Emilia-Romagna) – the only act of the bunch that is still active, and which gained a worldwide reputation after signing with american label Toxic Shock, touring intensively the U.S. and Europe.
The music (punk rock, hardcore, oi! punk, some weird post punk/garage mixtures) is raw and rude as it should be, and the sound quality is obviously poor. Most of the lyrics seem now naive and full of elementary slogans (but they for sure didn’t seem that naive to a thirteen years old boy); anyway, it’s the spirit and the attitude which count here. Not disregarding a true gem like Italia/Italia by the sadly forgotten Petrolio, which manages to synthesize punk rage, cantautori’s grudge and italo-wave disruptive irony in one amazing song.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Drull, Tentacoli di potere (“tentacles of power”)
02, Drull, Militare (“in the army”)
03, Uart Punk, Anarchia in Italia (“anarchy in Italy”)
04, Uart Punk, Frustrazione (“frustration”)
05, Wrong Boys, Massacro (“massacre”)
06, UDS, Ma che bella società (“what a beautiful society”)
07, UDS, Basta (“that’s enough”)
08, Petrolio, Italia/Italia (“Italy/Italy”)
09, Wops, Hateful town
10, Wops, Kids
11, Last Call, Fall of italian empire
12, Last Call, Your solution
13, Raw Power, Raw Power
14, Raw Power, You are a victim
15, Raptus, The end
Get it: AA. VV., Raptus 1984 (1983)
In 1985 Meccano became Toast Records, one of the most active underground italian labels, hosting acts such as Afterhours, Fleurs du Mal, Limbo, Underground Life, Ritmo Tribale, Statuto, No Strange, Not Moving, Avvoltoi, Yo Yo Mundi, En Manque d’Autre, Kina, Franti, Marlene Kuntz, Pikes in Panic. You can visit the label’s site for more info.
Bologna 1977, “Skank Bloc Bologna”: the boiling point. Communist party as the establishment. Autonomia Operaia, Dams (the art and music faculty). The student Francesco Lorusso killed by the police. Indiani metropolitani, Radio Alice, situationism. Wrenches in the pockets. Pop culture is the weapon. Lambrusco wine and plegin. And sedatives. And heroin. Tortellini punk. The rise of post-modernism.
Traumfabrik was the name of a squatted flat in the center of the city, part house, part art studio, part club. People like Filippo Scozzari and Andrea Pazienza – members of “Cannibale” comics ‘zine’s crew and later founders of the seminal magazine “Frigidaire” – Renato De Maria, Oderso Rubini, and many others kids from the scene used to live, work, perform, or just gather there to meet people, listen to music, enjoy drugs, and have fun. Among them, the Ramones-fixated, leather-jacketed young guys who were soon to form the one-song, one-show punk sensation Centro d’urlo metropolitano (“metropolitan scream center”).
Their 25th September 1977 few minutes live appearance performing “Mamma dammi la benza” (“mommy gimme the fuel”) during a festival in Bologna, ending up in a paper balls fight between the stage and the audience, is a landmark in italian pop history, and anticipated the official breakthrough of “rock demenziale” (“demented rock”), a peculiar italian contribution to post-punk history whose most important representatives have been Skiantos, another band from the area.
Anyway, Centro d’urlo metropolitano was soon to mutate into a whole different thing. When their anthem was eventually released on the miscellaneous tape Sarabanda, the guys now known as Gaznevada (a name inspired by a Raymond Chandler’s short story) were already experimenting with sound and lyrics under the influence of acts such as Devo, Talking Heads, Pere Ubu and Contortions, evolving from their early raw and unorganized two-chords punk-rock attack towards the unique and amazing spaghetti-no wave of their masterpiece debut album Sick Soundtrack (1980).
Oderso Rubini, who had recently started his own label Harpo’s Music, taped them during their 1979 rehearsals, documenting the stunning work in progress which would have led to their first full-length effort. Gaznevada was the result of these sessions, and the seventh issue of the label. What you can find here is a band strugglin’ to find their true voice, between the disconnected upbeat of “Everybody enjoy with reggae music”, and the fascinating, sharp, lirically intriguing manifesto “Nevadagaz”, re-recorded for their legendary first 7″ in 1980. It’s the birth of a legend.
Here is the tracklist:
01, Everybody enjoy with reggae music
02, Criminale (“criminal”)
03, Donna di gomma (“rubber woman”)
04, Bestiale (“bestial”)
05, Mamma dammi la benza (“mommy gimme the fuel”)
06, Teleporno T.V. (“porn channel T.V.”)
07, Johnny (fallo per me) (“Johnny (do it for me)”)
Get it: Gaznevada, Gaznevada aka Cassetta Harpo’s (1979)
[edit March 9th, 2009: thanks to our friends at Shake Edizioni this tape is finally available on cd, with the title Mamma dammi la benza!, together with a short book about Gaznevada and the video Telepornovisione by Giampiero Huber, Renato De Maria and Emanuele Angiuli. Obviously the download link has been removed. Go and buy it at the publishing house’s website.]
Gaznevada released four albums before breaking up in 1988, progressively shifting towards italo disco and synthpop. They joined Edoardo Bennato for his 1980’s Uffà uffà, and played gigs with the likes of DNA, Chrome, Lounge Lizards, Bauhaus. Their 1983 hit “I.C. Love Affair” is a club classic and has been recently remixed by Munk for the Confuzed Disco compilation (2006). Former guitarist Ciro Pagano (aka E. Robert Squibb) is a founding member of the successful italo-house outfit Datura.
Harpo’s Music would have soon become Italian Records – together with IRA from Florence THE italian new wave label, hosting the likes of Gaznevada, Skiantos, Windopen, Sorella maldestra, Luti Chroma, Confusional Quartet, The Stupid Set, Kirlian Camera, Johnson Righeira, Monofonic Orchestra, N.O.I.A., Art Fleury, A.I.M., Neon, Hi-Fi Bros, etc. Gems from Italian’s back catalogue (such as Gaznevada’s Sick Soundtrack) are being reprinted by Oderso Rubini’s new label Astroman.
If we ever had our own little rock’n’roll swindle in Italy, this could be it.
In 1979, Jo Squillo (Giovanna Coletti) was the lead singer of Kandeggina gang, a riot grrrl teen band based in Santa Marta, the squat/art school in Milan (Demetrio Stratos was a teacher there) where some of the first local punk acts used to rehearse. She was provocative, scary, unpleasant, sexy. And she had a boyfriend, too: Gianni Muciaccia, possibly the closest thing to an italian Malcolm McLaren.
Kandeggina gang gained some fame thanks to their brutal anti-male attitude, and performances such as throwing red painted Tampax tampons to the audience during concerts. They eventually released the single “Sono cattiva” (“i’m bad”) on Cramps in 1980. But Muciaccia had more ambitious plans for her girlfriend.
First, he founded the Partito Rock (“rock party”), which participated in the elections for Milan’s town council with Jo Squillo as the leading candidate. Then, he created his own label, 20th Secret, distributed by Polydor, to release her first solo effort, Girl senza paura (“ragazza without fear”): basically a collection of three-chords tracks in the early Ramones fashion, with synth lines and sax intermissions here and there which remind of Métal Urbain, X-Ray Spex, or Bow Wow Wow, celebrating Jo’s shrill, almost unbearable screaming. The music paired with the elementary, repetitive lyrics about (or should i say against) school, family, males, etc. Everything was put in the simplest possible way. The result was naive and rough, yet exciting.
Helped by the scandal about the song “Violentami” (“rape me”) and the brilliant music video for “Skizzo skizzo” co-starred by the popular melodic singer Christian, Squillo and Muciaccia managed to create a female outrageous pop/punk sensation suitable for mass media and the music mainstream. The next step, indeed, was a u-turn towards new pop and eventually italo disco, with singles such as “Avventurieri” (“adventurers”, 1983) and “I love muchacha” (1984). Unfortunately, the career of this former punk diva was not very successful until her 1991 first and last big hit: “Siamo donne” (“we are women”), a duet with pop pin-up Sabrina Salerno.
Jo Squillo is now a television presenter. She released her last album 2p LA-xy=(NOI) in 1994.
Here is the tracklist:
01, L’asta (“the auction”)
02, Muoversi (“hurry up”)
04, Faccia da vipera (“viper’s face”)
06, Ma chi se ne frega (“who gives a fuck”)
07, Skizzo skizzo (“skuirt skuirt”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Energia interna”)
08, Orbita (“orbit”)
10, Energia interna (“inner energy”)
11, Violentami (“rape me”)
12, China’s war
13, Voglio farlo con te (“i wanna do it with you”)
14, Orrore (“horror”)
15, Tuo Cesare (“yours Cesare”)
16, Fuggi fuggi (“run run”)