Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘funky

[music:] Alan Sorrenti, Alan Sorrenti Special (1980)

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Usually I don’t post “greatest hits” or “best of” stuff, but this is a whole other story.

Basically, it’s like if there were two distinct artists called “Alan Sorrenti”: the half Italian, half Welsh long-haired & long-bearded hippy vocal experimenter who worked with Luciano Cilio, Toni Esposito, Jean-Luc Ponty, Francis Monkman from Curved Air and Dave Jackson from Van der Graaf Generator versus the moustached, well hairdressed falsetto singing latin lover who recorded with Toto as a backing band and whose most successful songs are featured in almost every oldies collection released. The tiny minority of people worldwide who know and love his early folk/prog works (that is two albums released on Harvest Records: Aria – “air” – 1972, and Come un vecchio incensiere all’alba di un villaggio deserto – “like an old incense burner at a desert village’s dawn” – 1973) most of the time dismiss his post-1974 career, while those who enjoy singing along with his disco-pop tunes usually can’t even fancy of a time when Alan was called “the Italian Tim Buckley” – “Bach-who?”.

This amazing 1980 EMI anthology knocks down this barrier, compiling in no chronological order ten songs seemingly the most distant from one another – and leaving aside his major hits such as “Figli delle stelle” or “Tu sei l’unica donna per me” – perhaps aiming at recovering some kind of an aesthetically and emotionally consistent general picture of the artist’s path from the beginnings to 1977.

Well, the mission is accomplished. The result is a mesmerizing stream of uncosciousness which lines up on the a side with no prejudice and an excellent taste the late seventies italo drama hint of “Notte di stelle” (an excerpt from the bestseller Figli delle stelle, “sons of the star”, 1977) with the ethereal “A te che dormi” (from Come un vecchio incensiere…); “Alba” (from Sienteme, it’s time to land, recorded in the States and released in 1976) with “Vorrei incontrarti” (from the first album) and the thin, sensual “Poco più piano” (from from the 1974 self-titled full-length).

The b side instead revolves around three songs in Neapolitan dialect, two of which are renditions of standards from the classical melodic songbook: the wonderful “Dicitincello vuje”, which topped the chart in 1974 and costed Sorrenti heavy protests from the alternative scenesters (at its worst, he was forced to leave the stage at the Licola Festival in 1975, when people from the audience started throwing bottles and cans), and “Passione”, arranged in a funky-disco fashion. Plus, it includes the sumptuous “E tu mi porti via” from the 1977 album and a scattered gem like “Le tue radici”, released as a stand alone single in 1975.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Notte di stelle (“starry night”)
02, A te che dormi (“to you sleeping”)
03, Alba (“dawn”)
04, Vorrei incontrarti (“i’d like to meet you”)
05, Poco più piano (“a little slower”)
06, Dicitincello vuje (“go and tell her”)
07, Le tue radici (“your roots”)
08, Sienteme (“listen to me”)
09, Passione (“passion”)
10, E tu mi porti via (“and you take me away”)

Get it: Alan Sorrenti, Alan Sorrenti Special (1980)

Alan Sorrenti has released five other albums since 1980 – not counting the compilations – the last being Sottacqua (“underwater”, 2003), none of which managed to regain his late seventies success. Incidentally, his sister Jane “Jenny” Sorrenti is a gifted singer herself; she founded the short-lived folk/prog band Saint Just in 1973, and is still active as a live performer.

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Written by alteralter

February 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm

[guests, music:] Ivan Cattaneo, Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (1977)

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Gender bender. Ivan Cattaneo has been among the first musicians in Italy, together with Alfredo Cohen and Andrea Tich, to openly and directly address gender-related issues in his work, not simply singing songs about homosexuality, but approaching music, songwriting and performing with a conscious and joyous gay attitude.

We thank our beloved friend and guest contributor Piergiorgio Pardo, musician – check out his outstanding band Egokid’s MySpace – teacher, writer, music journalist for “Blow Up”, for having kindly provided us with a piece about Cattaneo’s second album Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (“first course, main course and fruit (iVAT included)” – being IVA the italian for VAT), released by Ultima Spiaggia in 1977, way before he achieved a huge success in the Eighties with his electropop renditions of Sixties’ hits.

You can read the italian version in our “Found in translation” page.


Homosexuality and food. Music and poetry under the sign of Milk? More than that. Definitively. Because here we get the irreverent, experimental, self-centered, out of line, living history of that movement – in these days faithfully reconstructed with a barrage of Hollywood-sized fees and Academy Awards nominations.

The grass-roots radicalism become avantgarde matter. Even that naive, late Seventies one which still made think of synaesthetic projects that could put together all the arts under improbable acronyms (T.U.V.O.G. Art, the art of TOUCHEARINGSIGHTSMELLTASTE, come off it!), or played with post-modernism, dreaming of a bildungsroman between Giovanni Pascoli and Diabolik (the pedagogy of “Maria-Batman”, or “Dadadidattico”s metapartisan echolalia), or solved diversity issues in a post-Franciscan nature worship (“l’amore è grande e santo anche fra l’asino e il canguro” – “love is great and saint even between the ass and the kangaroo” – he swears in “Psico-Fico”).

But there’s also pasolinian naivety (“le tue labbra sanno sempre di asfalto e cipria” – “your lips always taste of asphalt and face powder”), modern disenchantement with the still recent peaks of glam exoticism (“quando l’ufo qui passò sulla terra, ci lasciò annegare soli qui d’immaginazione” – “when the ufo passed here on earth, he let us here alone drowning in imagination”), as well as with the just carried out failure of the extraparliamentary groups’ season (“per me rivoluzione è niente, noia o déjà vu” – “revolution is nothing to me, boredom or deja vu”). Words of courage, playful but haughty; cynism, but still a devouring energy even beyond hedonism and that monument to lust as a political act which yet made sense in those years.

And the musical substance is magnificent. Ivan spends with an extraordinary verve his hysterical apprenticeship in UOAEI (1975), his London experience, the unconscious wisdom of Nanni Ricordi and, above all, the hypercultured irony of Roberto Colombo, a true co-author, accomplice and somehow director of the album. Just hear how the jazz rock-derived recipe which defined many italian records from that time grows here in originality and depth. Or how vocal experimentalism gives up for good the stand-offish – and out-of-date by now – coordinates that led an Alan Sorrenti, turning into a loose miracle of irony. Guitars’ darts and liquid pianisms, odd tempos, elegant and light funky strokes, hints of ballads promptly broken by an inexhaustible will to play it down.

Gay pop culture caught in one of its most adventurous yet universal expressions. Ever.

Here is the tracklist:

01, La segretaria ha colpito ancora (“the secretary struck again” also released as a 7″ b/w “Maria-Batman”)
02, Maria-Batman (“Mary-Batman”)
03, L’amore è una s/cossa meravigliossa (“love is a many ssplendored s/thing”)
04, Psico-Fico (“psycho-cool”)
05, Dadadidattico (“dadadidactic”)
06, Il vostro ombelico (“your belly button”)
07, Agitare prima dell’uso (“shake before use” also released as the b-side of “Tabù”, 1978 )
08, L’occhio ridente (“the laughing eye”)
09, U.F.O.
10, Salve o Divina! (“hail, oh divine!”)
11, L’altra faccia della luna (“the other side of the moon”)
12, Uffa! (“phew!”)
13, C’era una volta (“once upon a time”)

Get it: Ivan Cattaneo, Primo secondo e frutta (IVAn compreso) (1977)
[edit: rip now fixed with the correct tracklist]

If you want to know more about Ivan Cattaneo you can browse his official website.

Written by alteralter

January 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm

[music:] Enzo Carella, Sfinge (1981)

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One out of many. An average long-haired, moustached kid playing guitar, hitchhiking through Europe, going to rock festivals. Enzo Carella was in the Isle of Wight in 1970, at his hero Jimi Hendrix last gig. And in London, when Jimi died in his bed. What do you see when you turn out the light? I can’t tell you, but i know it could be mine.

I already mentioned Pasquale Panella in the previous post. Carella met him somewhere in Rome in the mid-seventies, while planning his personal way out of the post-prog swamp, fancying of an italian etnopop yet to come. The two teamed up in a songwriting plot to gently upset the scene.

1976. Enzo Carella releases his first single, “Fosse vero” (“should it be true”), followed some months later by the album Vocazione (“vocation”, 1977). Suddenly, a dazzling pop vision which looked like nothing before – and perhaps since – in Italy. Brightness, night, lightness, riddle, dance, rest, sex, suicide. Gold offered with simplicity and aloofness, just as everyone could do that. Only Lucio Battisti had likewise managed to sound so easy and complicated at the same time, joining britpop, soul, funky, latin influences, italian melodic tradition, often using opaque lyrics (by his songwriting partner Mogol) to challenge the listeners. Desperately seeking for a term of comparison, people sticked to this parallel and labelled Carella as a funny clone, justified by some superficial similarities such as the same thin, rough voice. Fact is, the ghost of Battisti has been haunting him since then – but who was influencing who, if in the end Lucio picked up Pasquale Panella to write the words to his songs from Don Giovanni (1986) on?

Enzo Carella was maybe looking for a spell that could disperse this shadow during the two years of silence that followed the release of a successful second album, Barbara e altri Carella (“Barbara and others Carella”, 1979), and a second place at the 1979 Sanremo festival. The same press sheet for his full-length comeback Sfinge (“sphinx”), finally out in 1981, reported him as “dealing with magic”.

Actually, esotericism and erotism seem to be the two strenghts which join forces in this masterpiece, surprisingly produced by a veteran from the prog scene, former Osanna wind player Elio D’Anna (who also played sax and flute on the record). D’Anna basically supplied a pleasant yet uncomfortable mediterranean setting where the songs lay in the half-light, at midday (“Mare sopra e sotto”, “Sfinge”), or under the moonlight (“Che notte (qui con te)”, “Contatto”). It’s the power of opposites. Pop music as an acrobatics number gone bad.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Stai molto attenta (“be very careful”)
02, Sì, si può (“yes, you can”)
03, Sex show
04, Mare sopra e sotto (“sea above and below”)
05, Sfinge (“sphinx”, also release as a 7″ b/w “Sì, si può”))
06, Che notte (qui con te) (“what a night (here with you)”)
07, Contatto (“contact”)
08, Lei no (“not her”)
09, Rilfessione finale (“final reflection”)

Get it here: Enzo Carella, Sfinge (1981)

After Sfinge, Enzo Carella went on hiatus until 1992, when the semi-anthologic Carella de Carellis came out. Since then, he has released two other albums, Se non cantassi sarei nessuno (1995, an imaginary musical based on the Odissey), and Ahoh yè nanà (2007), both written with his long-time confederate Pasquale Panella.

You can also visit his MySpace (in italian) for updates and some amazing pics.

Written by alteralter

December 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm