Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘glam

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

with 8 comments

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.

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Written by alteralter

January 31, 2009 at 2:39 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

[music:] Andrea Liberovici, Liberovici (1980)

with 6 comments

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