Anni di piombo, anni di paillettes.

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

Posts Tagged ‘sanremo

[music:] Enrico Ruggeri, Champagne Molotov (1981)

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Punk before you were. What made Enrico Ruggeri great, at least in his early moments, was his widely displayed conceit, his haughty attitude, a feeling of being outstanding, and that everybody should have acknowledged that, before having proved anything. A third-rate, polenta-flavoured Lou Reed, sunglasses after dark and dyed hair included; a wannabe John Lydon minus the proletarian background – and the rotten teeth – but plus a job as a literature teacher at a secondary school and a real python which he used to hang around with, together with his friend and bandmate Silvio Capeccia.

Yeah, the boy had nerves. And will. He steered his way into music business with a willingness to change (not to say betray) and a ruthless eagerness to climb success ladder, through launching, joining and remodelling outfits such as Josafat, Trifoglio, the “decadent progressive” Champagne Molotov (mark I) and, eventually, Decibel. The story of this latter band has been told several times, from any given point of view: their beginnings, the 1978 self-titled debut album (which is usually regarded as the first Italian “punk” LP), the synth-driven turn with the single “Indigestione disko” (“disko indigestion”, 1979), their striking and contested participation in the 1980’s Sanremo festival with the song “Contessa” (“countess”), the successful second release Vivo da re (“i live like a king”, 1980), up to the very moment Ruggeri suddenly quit the act and signed with SIF record company to pursue a solo career, with an aftermath of personal conflicts and legal quarrels.

Once out of the band, he needed to show everybody that he was the band, striving to fulfil the promises that Decibel, after all, had failed to keep. He recruited Luigi Schiavone from Kaos Rock as guitar player, around whom he were to build his new backing band Champagne Molotov (mark II), and started working hard with means pared to the bone night after night – Schiavone still had a regular job during daytime – eventually coming out with an explosive cocktail of wild self-assertion, performance anxiety, amphetamine-related nervousness, restrained rage, contempt and regret called, strangely enough, Champagne Molotov: camera shots of Magazine, Stranglers, Ultravox, Sparks, late seventies Roxy Music, XTC, and The Only Ones, sorted for an italo editing; sharp rock-wave blades (“Fingo di dormire”, “Sono proprio un infantile”, “Sempre giù”), edgy funk-punk numbers (“Travel cheque”, “Competitiva” ), hyperkinetic waltzes and minuets (“Con te, con me”, “Nostalgia”), minimal glam ballads (“…e sorride”, “Vecchia Europa”, “Passato, presente, futuro”); scattered hints of a refined yet unripe songwriting, influenced by Italian great classic melodists as well as french chansonniers, which would have shortly brought to flaming masterpieces such as “Polvere” (“dust”), “Nuovo swing” (“new swing”), or “Il portiere di notte” (“the night porter”).

Simply and perfectly, the record that post-punk Italy was missing.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Una fine isterica (“an hysterical ending”)
02, Con te, con me (“with you, with me”)
03, Competitiva (“competitive girl”)
04, … e sorride (“…and she smiles”)
05, Fingo di dormire (“i pretend to sleep”)
06, Vecchia Europa (“old Europe”)
07, Sono proprio un infantile (“i am really childish”)
08, Senorita (also released as a 7″ b/w “Amore isterico” (“hysterical love”), that is, “Una fine isterica” with different lyrics)
09, Travel cheque (“traveler’s cheque”)
10, Nostalgia (“homesickness”)
11, Sempre giù (“always down”)
12, Passato, presente, futuro (“past, present, future”)

Get it: Enrico Ruggeri, Champagne Molotov (1981)

Ironically, Ruggeri was not able to cash in. The album, in fact, was withdrawn from the stores during the promotion of the single “Senorita”, following a law suit by former Decibel’ label Spaghetti Records (it was reprinted only in 1984), and Enrico was forced by the court neither to record nor perform live for almost four years.

He killed time working in the backstage, like writing lyrics for the first two singles by Diana Est or shaping the concept behind the italo disco project called “Den Harrow”, and preparing his big comeback, which eventually came in 1983 with the successful Polvere.

Enrico Ruggeri has released more than twenty albums so far, winning two Sanremo festivals (1987 and 1993) and establishing himself as one of the most famous and respected pop musicians in Italy, also writing huge hits together with Luigi Schiavone for the likes of Loredana Bertè, Fiorella Mannoia, Anna Oxa. He works as a tv presenter too.

You can learn more about him at his official website. You can also visit the Decibel’s page, with interesting details and great pics.

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Written by alteralter

April 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

[music:] Fanigliulo, Io e me (1979)

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A lifetime-long heartache. A heartquake. The son of a sailor, and sailor himself, who has to give up life on the sea because of a rheumatic disease and ends up as a farmer and breeder in Liguria’s countryside. The kid with the guitar recruited by Caterina Caselli for her label Ascolto together with Pierangelo Bertoli, Faust’o, Pepe Maina, Mauro Pagani, post-Cramps Area. The liscio singer from Romeo e Los Gringos in Giuseppe Bertolucci’s movie Berlinguer ti voglio bene (1977) which announces from the stage to a young Roberto Benigni the death of his mother. The jester which forecasts his own death by cerebral hemorrhage ten years in advance in his most successful song, while people clap hands and smile.

Franco Fanigliulo’s first album, Mi ero scordato di me (“i had forgotten about myself”, 1977) introduced the audience to this outsider’s peculiar theatrical approach to pop songs, which mixed mid-seventies cantautori style with french chansonniers and early nineteenth-century italian cabaret; but it’s with his acclaimed participation in 1979 Sanremo festival with the apparently funny “A me mi piace vivere alla grande” (written with Oscar Avogadro, Daniele Pace and Riccardo Borghetti), which he suddenly appeared bound for success.

Shortly afterwards, Io e me (“i and me”), produced by the great Gian Piero Reverberi (arranger and producer for Fabrizio De Andrè, New Trolls, Le Orme, Lucio Battisti, Mina, Lucio Dalla, Patty Pravo, and founder of Rondò Veneziano) was released. A masterpiece which overturned the same concept of “cantautore”, hurling it into the upcoming decade, and places Fanigliulo among other terminal heroes such as Mauro Pelosi, Faust’o, Flavio Giurato. The hit single (which however remains a great take on his cabaret side) was literally buried with songs such as “Non si sa mai”, “Buffone”, “Il chirurgo”, “Con te” and, above all, the harrowing “Marco e Giuditta” about a couple of old lovers, which accomplish the dirty job that Jacques Brel had only started with “La chanson des vieux amants”.

Here is the tracklist:

01, L’artista (“the artist”)
02, A me mi piace vivere alla grande (“me like living it big time”, also released as a 7″ b/w “Non si sa mai”)
03, Il guerriero (“the warrior”)
04, Marco e Giuditta (“Marco and Giuditta”)
05, Buffone (“bufoon”)
06, Con te (“with you”)
07, Il chirurgo (“the surgeon”)
08, Non si sa mai (“one never knows”)
09, La Giovanna

Get it: Fanigliulo, Io e me (1979)

Unfortunately, the record did not manage to chart, and “A me mi piace vivere alla grande” itself did not go further than the 42nd place. As a result, after another unsuccessful album in 1980, Ratatam pum pum (featuring Mauro Pagani, Walter Calloni, Loredana Bertè), and a 7″ in 1982 (“La liberté”), Ascolto discharged him. Fanigliulo came back to his coutrylife, from where he briefly emerged in 1983 with a Q-disc (a four-tracks EP) called Benvenuti nella musica (“welcome to music”) released by Battisti’s Numero Uno.

It’s his friendship with Zucchero (Fanigliulo is credited in the latter’s 1987 bestseller Blue’s for his contribution to music and lyrics) and especially with Vasco Rossi, the most successful italian rockstar, which drew him back to the music business. Actually he released a couple of singles in 1987 and 1988 through Bollicine, Rossi’s label, and was working on his comeback album, with Steve Rogers Band as a backing band, when, on January 1989, at the age of 44, he was hit by a stroke and died after a couple of days at the hospital’s intensive care unit. Just like he sang in “A me mi piace vivere alla grande”: “Ho un nano nel cervello, un ictus cerebrale” (“I’ve got a dwarf in my brain, a cerebral ictus”).

The songs he left unfinished were released in 1990 as a posthumous album titled Goodbye mai (“arrivederci never”). You can pay tribute to Franco Fanigliulo visiting the site L’artista Franco Fanigliulo (in italian), stuffed with info, pictures, songs preview, interviews, etc.

[music:] Roberto Ferri, Se per caso un giorno la follia… (1977)

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In the seventies there’s been a passionate debate in Italy about mental illness and psychiatric hospitals, mainly promoted by great psychiatrist and philosopher Franco Basaglia. He began experimenting new and different methods in treating lunatics in Gorizia, Parma and Trieste’s asylums, which he directed between late sixties and early seventies. In 1973 he founded Psichiatria democratica (“democratic psychiatry”), a movement for a reform in mental health system.

The fight against psychiatric abuses such as electroshocks and sedatives overuse, and for a new way of considering insanity, became a crucial issue for the broader social movement who struggled against repression and total institutions such as prisons or the army. A true and deep revolution in italian culture started here.

Se per caso un giorno la follia… (“if, by chance, one day the madness…”) would have possibly never existed out of this climate. Roberto Ferri had been discovered by Mina in the late sixties, and had released a series of 7″ between 1967 and 1970, but he had to wait since 1977 for his first LP, which was something completely different from the pop tunes – sometimes covers of foreign hits – he had been recording since then.

It actually was a concept album about social labelling, marginalization and exploitation, portraying characters suffering because of their diversity: psychotics, of course, but also dropouts, kids, animals. The contrast between the music – which is basically soft progressive rock added with sophisticated, melodic pop in the french chansonniers’ style, with even some folk hints – and the stories Ferri told made tracks like “Io povero pazzo” or “Requiem per Boby” (a shocking crude song about vivisection) even more heartbreaking. But there’s also space for a love triangle (“Tu e lui”) and for the closest thing to an anthem for the Indiani metropolitani’s generation: “Anno zero”. Ferri is great giving a coherent emotional mood to the whole work which, in spite of some naiveties, remains touching and challenging even thirty years later.

Here is the tracklist:

01, Alla piazza deserta (“to the empty square”)
02, Io povero pazzo (“i, poor madman”)
03, Ritagli di giornale (“newspaper cut-outs”)
04, Col vestito da indiano (“in a red indian costume”)
05, Il pavone (“the peacock”)
06, Requiem per Boby (“requiem for Boby”)
07, Giovannino seme di mela (“little appleseed John”)
08, Anno zero (“year zero”)
09, Tu e lui (“you and him”)
10, La goccia (“the drop”)

Get it: Roberto Ferri, Se per caso un giorno la follia… (1977)

Italian asylums were closed in 1978 with the law number 180 (also known as “legge Basaglia”). Franco Basaglia died in 1980. Roberto Ferri continued his career as songwriter and performer, while teaching chemistry and working in the perfume industry. He collaborated with, among others, Fabrizio De Andrè, Adriano Celentano, New Trolls, Patty Pravo and Franco Battiato. He also wrote the 1983 Sanremo festival winning tune, “Sarà quel che sarà” (“what will be, will be”), sang by one-hit wonder Tiziana Rivale. In 2007 he returned to play live Se per caso un giorno la follia…

Check out robertoferri.it for more info and updates.

Written by alteralter

May 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm