Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘cramps

[music:] AA. VV., Rock ’80 (1980)

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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)

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Written by alteralter

February 10, 2009 at 3:17 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:] Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)

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Sometimes a failure is far more intriguing and challenging than a masterpiece. Claudio Rocchi has often cited Suoni di frontiera (“frontier sounds”) as one of his favourite albums, and me too, i’m a little obsessed by this inconclusive, naive attempt in experimental electronics which, together with his twin Rocchi (1975), attracts and swallows like a black hole the entire work of Claudio – and perhaps all the italian pop music which gravitates around it.

In 1975, Claudio Rocchi was already a well-established counterculture icon and the italian folk-psych-cosmic-out-of-his-head minstrel par excellence. Most of his listeners were hence slightly shocked when he suddenly almost completely replaced the guitars, the strings and the percussions of l miele dei pianeti le isole le api (“the honey of the planets the islands the bees”, 1974) with a cut-up of field recordings, samples, modulated soundwaves and analogic synthesizers assembled in a home studio, building with Rocchi an actual wall of sound between him and his usual audience. (Even if, from a 2008 point of view, you can catch an emotional consistency between this material and a track like “Lila” from Il miele… By the way, “Lila” was the first example of a song recorded by the same Rocchi at his place with a Revox A70 to be released on an album – a do-it-yourself solution which was soon to become an habit for him.)

Suoni di frontiera was an attempt to move further beyond, mincing the music into small, separated fragments, often based on a single electronic loop. A collection of wrong answers to an unspoken question. But, for a musician gifted with a peculiar and highly recognizable singing style as Claudio Rocchi is, the really astonishing thing was the self-injuring decision to get rid of vocals completely. It’s “the silence of words”, as the same Rocchi stated: something necessary to eliminate interferences and create actual connections between sound and energy in view of a “musica psichica” (“psychic music”), the music with a healing power he was dreaming of together with former Area guitarist Paolo Tofani and discussing with Demetrio Stratos, Elio D’Anna, Franco Battiato.

I should say the result is rather poor when compared with similar contemporary explorations in Italy and abroad, and almost ridiculous with its pretensions; but these handcrafted sounds encompass a vision, an enthusiasm, a soul which make up for their lack of originality and substantial pointlessness. Like learning from a wise child who, playing with microphones, tapes and knobs, discovers the unexpected pleasure of making noises – and remains amazed by himself.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La forza (“the strength”)
02, Il risveglio (“the awakening”)
03, Frammento (“fragment”)
04, Apertura (“opening”)
05, Oh Lyra
06, Oscillando (“oscillating”)
07, Il rame e gli armonici (“the copper and the harmonics”)
08, Tarantella
09, Canzone popolare (“folk song”)
10, Hò
11, Del r(ub)(id)are cultura (“of s(teal)(upply)ing culture”)
12, Suoni interni (“inner sounds”)
13, Dopo Arona (“beyond Arona”)
14, Acoustic seedback
15, Per antichi canali (“along ancient channels”)
16, Ritmi (“rythms”)

Get it: Claudio Rocchi, Suoni di frontiera (1976)
[edit February 10th, 2009: download link has been removed as requested from claudiorocchi.com
Check out Die Schachtel label’s website in the next few months for the record’s cd edition.]

This new direction led Claudio Rocchi in the land of soundtracks and soundscapes for art performances and theatre; and just after a show in a Milan off-theatre he was approached by Cramps’ founder Gianni Sassi. A meeting which resulted in a new record deal and a new, different level for the artist, who released in 1977 his first true “pop” effort, A fuoco (you can read it both as “focused” or “on fire”), recorded with a complete orchestra.

Claudio Rocchi and Paolo Tofani, together with their families, joined an hare krisna community in the early eighties. Claudio returned to earthly matters in 1994 with a new album, Claudio Rocchi (featuring Tofani, Alberto Camerini, Eugenio Finardi, Alice, Lucio Fabbri, Walter Calloni) and since then, among thousands of other things, he has released four records, directed a movie (Pedra Mendalza), acted in Musikanten by Franco Battiato.

Visit Claudio Rocchi’s official website for discography, projects, memorabilia, news etc.