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[guests, music:] Enzo Maolucci, L’industria dell’obbligo (1976)

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Renato Q., among a bunch of other things we won’t mention here, is currently the lyricist for the lo-res brain-pop sensation Humpty Dumpty (make sure to check out their blog and enjoy the freely downloadable Q.b., or even better, buy the cd).

As a conscious and judgmental citizen of Turin, he dramatically helped us in diggin’ up the debut album by Enzo Maolucci, one of the signature singer/songwriters in town in the late seventies and early eighties, who provided with his records a kind of a loath soundtrack to those city’s difficult years.

The Italian version of the post by Renato is available in our Found in translation page.


“Da un mese sto insegnando in una scuola media” (“it’s been a month i’ve been teaching at a middle school”). Enzo Maolucci’s debut album opens with a declaration of double identity: here is a rock musician who is also a new teacher in a public school. Two conditions which aren’t necessarily consistent; and it’s easy to see that Maolucci doesn’t feel that comfortable in his role as a professor just looking at the cover, where he shows his face in a close-up, but prefers identifying with those who are on the other side, with the students: inattentive, mocking students, positively devoted to disobedience.

At the back there’s a wall, on top of the wall there’s barbed wire, and beyond the wall a town, Turin, for which this record nearly marks an official breakthrough in Italian rock imagination. Turin is the Detroit of Italy, the factory-city ruled by Fiat, a town where the same air is full of things that this record tends to deal little with, possibly for the same reason a fish would hardly write a song about the water it swims in. In the most tough Turin of the seventies, didactic songs about workers and assembly lines are willingly left to write to foreigner, to tourists, such as Lucio Dalla from Bologna, for instance, who exactly in 1976 has released an album, Automobili, whose opening track is an imaginary “Intervista con l’Avvocato” (“interview with the lawyer”, being “the Lawyer” the nickname of Gianni Agnelli, the president of Fiat). For Maolucci, the city is the backdrop for an autobiographical eye, which soon becomes his easily recognizable signature style: his approach may appear less direct, but it’s just because the power – the power of the “padroni” (the “masters”) – is there to be met and challenged everywhere, in café speeches, in the cultural institutions, in everyday life.

The first two stories are named after two proper nouns: Baradel and Rita Fenu, one a surname from Veneto, and the other from Sardinia; two characters who refer to the migration wave that brought to Turin something like a half-million people during the previous twenty years. People who can’t cope, who have a hard time at school, who face home violence day by day. Rita Fenu is a young mother forced several times to clandestine abortion (pregnancy interruptions will be legalized only in 1977) before giving birth to a baby she kills by her own hand, out of her mind. Baradel is the favourite pupil destined to always fail, the kid who never answers the questions, a symbol, with his sheer presence, of class struggle in the school. The song showers on this unforgettable, silent Franti (a character from the novel Cuore by Edmondo De Amicis) hopes which end in the classical double bind: “be free!”. The rest of the record is essentially dedicated to building the “Maolucci” character, yet before the ending there’s room for a third encounter, in “Omicidio e rapina”, with the nocturne appearance of a friend with his face covered in blood, who begs for a beer and theorizes hate and violence as the only way out of the “ridiculous ambitions” that bourgeois society throws on him.

The rage and phisicality with which Maolucci performs his songs, the political topics, the violence of language may make L’industria dell’obbligo (“compulsory factory”) look like a very straightforward record, while you need some listenings to get into its intellectual and almost snob side. Besides, this is the work of someone who made everything backwards: he debuts as a singer/songwriter at the age of 30, but in his twenties he has written a book about beat and rock which represents one of the first studies on this subject carried out in Italian university (Pop-under-Rock, 1972). A few months before entering the studio for this album, he has helped in establishing the first free radio in Turin, and has shortly hit the headlines in local newspapers disrupting with his protests a concert by Stockhausen, symbol of the hated avant-garde music. One of the strong points of L’industria dell’obbligo, and one of the reasons why it still sounds so alive after all this time, lies in the layered experiences which entered this music. Maolucci stages all of his contradictions, assumes in turn different poses and stereotypes just to emerge from this stream of words as a more and more shifty and enigmatic character, a provocative moustached icon. Not that bad for a pissed off civil servant.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Baradel (also released as a 7″ b/w “Omicidio e rapina”)
02, Rita Fenu (Ninna nanna per un figlio che non doveva nascere) (“Rita Fenu (lullaby for a baby who shouldn’t have been born)”)
03, La mia idea (“my idea”)
04, Omicidio e rapina (“murder and robbery”)
05, L’industria dell’obbligo (“compulsory factory”)
06, Al limite cioè (Ninna nanna per un cane sciolto) (“at a pinch, like (lullaby for a maverick”)

Get it: Enzo Maolucci, L’industria dell’obbligo (1976)

Enzo Maolucci released three other LPs within 1985: Barbari e bar (“barbarians and cafés”, 1978. A song from this record, “Torino che non è New York” – “Turin which is not New York” – has been featured in 2008 in the soundtrack of Anni spietati – “ruthless years” – a documentary about terrorist killings in Turin in the seventies by Stefano Caselli, Davide Valentini and Igor Mendolia), Immaginata (1982), and Tropico del toro (“tropic of bull”, 1985), then focusing on teaching and on his passion for survival (he has founded in 1983 the I.S.A. – International Survival Association – has published some books on the topic and has designed some outdoor garments). He also designed the legendary Eko Short-gun electric guitar.

Following his recording comeback in 2008 with De liberata mente, his first four albums have been recently reprinted in two cds (together with two stand-alone singles, but not including “American Football Game” the 7″ released as The Rams in 1982 for the Saint Louis NFL team). Visit his official website for more info.

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Written by alteralter

April 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

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

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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

[music:] Ricky Gianco, Alla mia mam… (1976)

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Most of the people outside Italy know very little about our pop music. Just few, usual names: Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini and, as for the past, Mina, Albano e Romina, Toto Cutugno. And, of course, Adriano Celentano. Our own king of rock’n’roll.

Celentano has possibly been the first italian popstar to claim full control about his work and to rebel against the established rules of music business. When in 1961 he broke up with his recording company Jolly and founded his own label, Il Clan, together with a posse of friends, Ricky Gianco was there: a talented, very young guitarist and songwriter from Lodi, near Milan, who had already played and recorded with people like Luigi Tenco, Enzo Jannacci, Gino Paoli.

Even if he had left Il Clan shortly afterwards, in 1963, Gianco had for sure that lesson in mind when, more than ten years later, he founded with Nanni Ricordi and other friends Ultima spiaggia. One of the cult italian indie labels in the Seventies, together with Cramps and Bla Bla, which delivered albums by Jannacci, Ivan Cattaneo, Roberto Colombo, Francesco Currà, Gramigna.

At that time, Ricky Gianco was mainly known as a rock’n’roll prime mover in Italy and a hitmaker – by the way, he wrote “Pugni chiusi” (“clunched fists”), the greatest success of Demetrio Stratos’ first band, I Ribelli – but the label’s manifesto, a collective effort called Disco dell’angoscia (“the anguish record”, 1975) had little to do with pop. It’s one of the most challenging and gloomy italian records of those years. An art-rock/prog concept album about a man involved in a car accident, played by an all-star band featuring the same Gianco, Cattaneo, Gianfranco Manfredi, Tullio De Piscopo, and Ellade Bandini.

Alla mia mam… (“to my momm…”), released in 1976, was an attempt to bring somehow the madness and the experimental attitude of Disco dell’angoscia into a more traditional rock song form. The result fitted perfectly with the oblique protest lyrics that Gianco and Gianfranco Manfredi wrote for the album. The wave of ’77 was rising and Ricky Gianco rode it, giving his own peculiar contribution to the movement’s political songbook.

Rage and pride, freakiness and irony, counterculture epic and ordinary tales of alienation are in a perfect balance in tracks such as “Un amore” (a thrilling, acoustic guitar-driven ballad), “Fango”, “Un pipistrello in abito da sera” (an odd pastiche of tropicalism and roman folk songs) or “Davanti al nastro che corre” (already released in a different version on Disco dell’angoscia). And even if none of these ever managed to become a generational anthem, Alla mia mam… still remains one of the best records to come out in that climate, and definitely the best album Ricky Gianco never made.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Un amore (“a love”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Mangia insieme a noi”)
02, Campo minato (“minefield”)
03, Fango (“mud”)
04, repubblicA (“republiC”)
05, Mangia insieme a noi (“come eat with us”)
06, Ospedale militare (“military hospital”)
07, Nel mio giardino (“in my garden”)
08, Un pipistrello in abito da sera (“a bat in evening dress”)
09, Davanti al nastro che corre (“in front of the conveyor belt”)

Get it: Ricky Gianco, Alla mia mam… (1976)

More info and news about Ricky Gianco on his official website (in italian).

Written by alteralter

March 20, 2008 at 12:24 am