Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘baustelle

[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).

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Written by alteralter

March 6, 2009 at 7:45 pm

[music:] Faust’o, Poco zucchero (1979)

with 12 comments

It’s hard to explain to a worldwide audience the importance of mr. Fausto Rossi (aka Faust’o) for italian pop music. Possibly the simplest way to introduce him is saying that, even if practically unknown to a greater public, as often told for the Velvet Underground almost everyone who bought his albums later formed a band. Generations of musicians and songwriters have been inspired and influenced by his work, from Garbo to Bluvertigo and beyond.

Faust’o debuted in 1978 as one of the young artists signed by Caterina Caselli for her label Ascolto, a CGD subsidiary. Caselli had been one of the most succesful female pop singer in the sixties (if you know Nanni Moretti’s movies you will sure remember the scene in the car in his Palme d’Or winning La stanza del figlioThe Son’s Room – in which the whole family sings together one of Caselli’s biggest hits, “Insieme a te non ci sto più”). In the seventies, she had started a new career as an A&R at CGD, and obtained to manage a sublabel of her own to release records by her friend Pierangelo Bertoli (a talented singer/songwriter) and to scout new artists from the alternative scene, helped by a small group of trusted people, like the songwriter Oscar Avogadro. They came up recruiting, among others, this 23 years old worringly skinny guy born in Sacile, Friuli, but living and working in Milan, named Fausto Rossi.

He teamed up with Avogadro, as a producer, and former Formula 3 guitarist Alberto Radius to record his first full-length effort, Suicidio (“suicide”, 1978): a stylized glam-wave manifesto which mainly stroke its listeners with its angry, explicit yet poetic lyrics, and gained him the definition of “italian David Bowie” – even if he disowned the album saying that it had suffered too much from label’s pressure.

Coming back to the studio, he was actually claiming more control on the recording process and the artistic choices, and was allowed to produce himself the new songs, helped again by Avogadro and Radius. The result, Poco zucchero (“a little sugar”, 1979), stands as a cornerstone for the then-rising italian new wave scene.

The cold wave/art glam/minimal funk takes driven by Faust’o synths and Radius’ nervous guitar lines served perfectly as a canvas for his tales of urban, contemporary spleen, love, hate, discomfort and discontent as in “Kleenex”, “Il lungo addio” or the magnificent “Funerale a Praga” (which has been sampled by Baustelle in the opening track for their major debut La malavita, released in 2005). His sharp, theatrical voice sounded more original than ever, and became a landmark for italian rock singers in the eighties. In a word, this album was seminal. The definitive anti-cantautore – and the best interpreter of the post-engagement era – was officially invested.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Vincent Price
02, Cosa rimane (“what’s left”)
03, Attori malinconici (“melancholic actors”)
04, Oh! Oh! Oh! (also released as a 7″ b/w “Vincent Price”)
05, In tua assenza (“when you’re away”)
06, Kleenex
07, Il lungo addio (“the long goodbye”)
08, Funerale a Praga (“funeral in Prague”)

Get it: Faust’o, Poco zucchero (1979)
[edit April 8th, 2009: download link has been removed as requested by faustorossi.net
Go visit the website for further info about Fausto Rossi’s new album, Becoming visible, and to listen to his previous records.]

Faust’o has released four other great LPs under his stage name until 1985. Since 1992 he has been recording and performing as Fausto Rossi releasing four albums, the last being Becoming visible (2009), and produced Lungo i bordi (“along the borders”) by Massimo volume in 1995.

Find more info, pics and stuff at Fausto Rossi’s official site (in italian).

Written by alteralter

June 10, 2008 at 10:18 pm