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

Posts Tagged ‘lucio battisti

[guests, music:] Maurizio Monti, L’amore (1973)

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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:] 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

[requests, music:] Adriano Pappalardo, Oh! Era ora (1983)

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By request, the last studio album from one of the most underrated singers and musicians in italian pop music history.

Adriano Pappalardo, born in 1945 in Copertino, in the south of Italy, started his career as a passionate and sanguine soul/rythm’n’blues singer with Numero Uno, Lucio Battisti’s label. He left for RCA in 1975, getting his greatest hit in 1979 with “Ricominciamo” (“let’s start again”), just to join forces again with Battisti in the early eighties.

After Immersione (“immersion”, 1982), Pappalardo began to write together with Pasquale Panella aka Vanera, a poet and unconventional lyricist who had deeply impressed Battisti with his words for Enzo Carella’s albums. The songs were then produced by the same Battisti (who also played guitars, synths and bass) in the oblique technopop fashion he was soon to perfect and push to the extremes with the incredible five-records series he wrote with Panella and released between 1986 and 1994. Five records which have changed the face of italian music forever. Somehow Pappalardo, whose loud, hoarse voice is slightly out of context in this setting dominated by Fairlight and keyboards, gave up his name and his persona allowing Battisti a field to experiment and refine the new and effective language he was working on since E già, in 1982.

Anyway, the result was blessed by some kind of state of grace, especially in songs such as “Signorina”, “Caroline e l’uomo nero”, “Questa storia”, and the title track, in which the surreal lyrics, pushed by Pappalardo’s roar, float upon the melodic flows and bump into the angular arrangements. By the way, Formula 3 founder Tony Cicco plays percussions on “Puoi toccarmi tutto a me”.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Signorina (“girl”)
02, Vanessa moda gaia (“Vanessa gay fashion”)
03, Breve la vita felice (“the short happy life”)
04, Puoi toccarmi tutto a me (“you can touch me all over me”)
05, Caroline e l’uomo nero (“Caroline and the black man”)
06, Questa storia (“this story”)
07, Io chi è (“who is I”)
08, Oh! Era ora (“oh! it was time”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Signorina”)

Get it: Adriano Pappalardo, Oh! Era ora (1983)

Pappalardo has also acted in several movies during the eighties and the nineties, and became a kind of a tv star first with his villain role in the legendary mafia serial La piovra, and more recently with his controversial participation in the italian version of I’m a celebrity… get me out of here!

More info on his Wikipedia page (in italian).

Written by alteralter

October 30, 2008 at 12:46 am

[music:] Gino D’Eliso, Ti ricordi Vienna? (1977)

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Do you know mitteleurock? No, nothing to do with Midge Ure’s Ultravox. Three years before they released their 1980’s same titled album, Vienna was a place of the heart for Gino D’Eliso, and mitteleurock was the name he gave to the scene that gathered around him in Trieste – and to the label he founded some time later.

Trieste is the real heart of Europe. It’s the crossroads where Mitteleurope and the Mediterranean meet. It’s neither western nor eastern, and it’s both. It’s bright and obscure. It’s windy. It’s the frontier town where smugglers cross the border and pirates meet. It’s the italian hometown for people like Sigmund Freud and James Joyce. Romantic, melancholic, multilingual and multicultural centuries before the very term “meltin’ pot” assumed its current meaning. Vienna was the empire, but Trieste had the sea.

This is the ground where D’Eliso’s peculiar mythology is rooted. Heroes and saints, thieves and dropouts, poets and gypsies are the characters who crowd his stories. Decadence, sadness, irony and compassion. And even if the music in Ti ricordi Vienna? (“do you remember Vienna?”) is mainly funk-flavoured pop (between Young Americans‘ Bowie and late 70’s Lucio Battisti – the latter having released through his label Numero Uno D’Eliso’s first effort, Il mare, in 1976), dusted with luxurious disco strings arrangements, one can still get balcanian and mediterranean folk echoes, together with faint new wave influences. This is mitteleurock at its birth – and possibly at its best.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Bellezza normanna (“norman beauty”)
02, Kajmac Calan
03, Il tamburello e l’eroe (“the tambourine and the hero”)
04, Non saremo angeli (we’ll be no angels”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Ti ricordi Vienna?”)
05, Fiesta messicana (“mexican fiesta”)
06, Ti ricordi Vienna? (“do you remember Vienna?”)
07, Tanto arriva domenica (“sunday will come anyway”)
08, Non basta la poesia (“poetry’s not enough”)
09, La notte di Erasmo (“Erasmus’ night”)

Get it: Gino D’Eliso, Ti ricordi Vienna? (1977)

D’Eliso released two other albums, Santi & eroi (“saints & heroes”, 1979) and Cattivi pensieri (“bad thoughts”, 1983 – his “greatest” commercial success) and produced some acts from the area, such as Revolver and Luc Orient, before disappearing from italian music scene. Unfortunately, the mitteleurock movement declined together with his career. D’Eliso is now working in the corporate communications field with an advanced technology company in Trieste. He released a new album in 2004, Europa Hotel.

Written by alteralter

May 21, 2008 at 11:46 pm