Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘cantautore

[music:] Claudio Lolli, Disoccupate le strade dai sogni (1977)

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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”)

Get it: Claudio Lolli, Disoccupate le strade dai sogni (1977)

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).

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Written by alteralter

March 11, 2009 at 11:00 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

[music:] Andrea Liberovici, Liberovici (1980)

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Ridicule can be tragic, and tragic is often sublime. Andrea Liberovici was 18 in 1980. Son of Sergio, composer and etnomusicologist, he was kind of an infant prodigy, having released his first album Oro (“gold”) in 1978, at the age of 15.

This first effort was sort of an end-of-course essay for a precocious, brilliant child musician who had studied at two different conservatories and had a great talent for theatre as well. The work of a teenager trying to impress the world, attempting to be profound and provocative, while he mostly sounded naive, and eventually innocuous. The music is a mash up of Canterbury-like pop with rockish rushes and some avant tricks. The whole album is actually interesting, but the one track that stands out is “Risotto”, which is also a strong link, both musically and lirically, to his incredible second record.

Liberovici came out just at the beginning of what was later called riflusso (“reflow”): after more than twenty years of massive political engagement, the revolutionary movement was rapidly disbanding, and collective issues were soon replaced by individual commitment. La marcia dei quarantamila (“the march of the the forty-thousand”) is a milestone in Italy’s contemporary history. More than 40.000 employees and managers from FIAT demonstrated against trade unions power and for a “return to order” in the factories. Restoration was coming. In the meantime, heroin consumption was reaching a peak, and terroristic attacks got more and more indiscriminate and useless.

The conflict was still there, but became a private issue. Something for your analyst, if you could afford one. Or something to sing at, if you were a musician.

The album reflected this end-of-an-era climate, being hysterical, confused, disturbing. It summarized seventies’ glam, funk rock, new wave, cantautore style in a way that was already pure eighties’ postmodernism. The lyrics as well were a collection of the past decade’s alternative culture slogan and clichés: drugs, sex, new social and family relations, spirituality. Everything’s fluorescent and overilluminated; exaggerated and yet stylized.

The boy took the risk of turning himself into a comics’ character. And in a way he was a comics’ character: look at him on the cover. But the thing is, he sounded totally serious about what he was doing. Serious and intransigent as only a young man can be. It’s the same attitude that made great “Cannibale” and “Frigidaire”, two of the most important and influential italian magazines of those years, and the people from The Great Complotto (we will speak about that). Even when he dedicated to Padre Pio – now a saint – a love song which somehow reminds of “Je t’aime, moi non plus”, it was not comedy. There’s a no-way-out feeling here, a sense of loss and hate which rescues even the most embarassing moments.

In the end, i disagree completely from pals at Orrore a 33 giri. This is not a trash album. It’s a great piece of contemporary art.

Here is the tracklist:

01, L’eroe e l’eroina (“the hero and the heroine”)
02, Ammorissimo mio (“grreat love of mine”)
03, Padre Pio (“father Pio”)
04, Ciuff ciuff (“choo choo”)
05, Carino (“cute boy”)
06, Tira tira tira (“pull pull pull”)
07, Vorrei (“i would”)
08, Occhi di luna (“moon eyes”)
09, Uh caramellina uh uh (“uh little candy uh uh)

Get it: Andrea Liberovici, Liberovici (1980)

After releasing this record Liberovici abandoned pop music and founded later teatrodelsuono, an experimental theatre company together with, among others, Edoardo Sanguineti, one of the best italian minds of the century, poet and scholar of literature. More info on liberovici.it (in italian).

Written by alteralter

February 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

[music:] Mauro Pelosi, Mauro Pelosi (1977)

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In 1977, the students and workers’ movement in Italy reached a peak of violence and defy. People from Autonomia Operaia, one of the most important leftist groups, used to parade with real guns in their hands; policemen not only had guns as well, but were eager to use them. As a result, many demonstrations ended up in gunfights, sometimes with dead people.

At the same time, a new and creative counterculture was rising, oddly influenced by punk, Living Theatre, french situationism, Woodstock peace-and-love philosophy, and boosted by drugs such as heroin, plegin (amphetamine-based diet pills), weed, and sedatives. Both the “regular” revolutionaries and the establishment looked suspiciously at those people, like the Indiani metropolitani (“urban red-indians”), and at what they did.

In the middle of all this, Mauro Pelosi released his third album. A masterpiece.

His first two records, La stagione per morire (“a season to die”, 1972) and Al mercato degli uomini piccoli (“at little men’s market”, 1973), released on Polydor major label, were pretty undecided between a “cantautore” style (“cantautori” were the singer/songwriters , tipically engaged and/or depressed, which many young people adored), and prog-like tentatives. Most of the lyrics were self-centered, dealing with love disappointment and suffering, and deeply introspective. Actually, there are great songs in these albums, and even some “experimental” takes which anticipate what was yet to come (like “Suicidio” on La stagione per morire), but the overall impression is that Pelosi’s vision was slightly out of focus.

After the commercial failure of his early seventies’ efforts, Mauro Pelosi took his time, preparing for the next move. He was allowed another chance by Polydor, which in the meantime released a compilation album, but he apparently gave up the opportunity, travelling to Far East and making his living by selling cheap indian jewelry in the streets of Rome, his hometown. Until one day, in 1976, he came back to his label’s offices. He was ready to record again.

It seemed he had absorbed all of the anger, the love, the sadness, the frailty, the unfulfilled dreams and the self-injuring instincts of his generation, the political discontent of the extremists and the freaky attitude of the Indiani metropolitani. And he was ready to give it back in the form of nine songs.

Everything is in its place here, even the faux pas, the naiveties, the excesses. In this self-titled LP, Pelosi simply and completely wastes himself, speaking on behalf of his generation, and no more just for himself, with relentless self-irony. It’s a sacrifice. He destroys himself, and everything else.

A morbid mood haunts the whole album, a feeling like the musicians – and the singer first, of course – could suddenly lose their heads and start eating their instruments, or kill each other. The music is kinda psychedelic pop, with some progressive and experimental hints, cabaret and child music passages, and even great orchestral moments, such in the magnificent, Bacalov-esque coda for “Ho fatto la cacca”, the final track. The backing band counts musicians such as the great Lucio Fabbri (Premiata Forneria Marconi, Demetrio Stratos, Claudio Rocchi, Eugenio Finardi…), Ricky Belloni (formerly with New Trolls), Bambi Fossati (Garybaldi), and Edoardo Bennato.

Useless to say, Mauro Pelosi sold little more than the previous two albums, and after another beautiful LP in 1979, Il signore dei gatti (“the cats’ master”), Pelosi was discharged by his label and completely disappeared from the italian music scene.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La bottiglia (“the bottle”)
02, Luna park
03, Ho trovato un posto per te (“i found a place for you”)
04, Una lecca lecca d’oro (“a golden lollipop”, also released as a 7″ b/w “L’investimento”)
05, L’investimento (“the investment”)
06, Una casa piena di stracci (“a house full of rags”)
07, Alle 4 di mattina (“at four in the morning”)
08, Claudio e Francesco (“Claudio and Francesco”)
09, Ho fatto la cacca (“i poo poo’ed”)

Get it: Mauro Pelosi, Mauro Pelosi (1977)

For those of you who can read italian, here is the artist’s self-managed site: mauropelosi.it

Written by alteralter

February 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm