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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Roberto Zanetti is Savage



Tuscan singer Roberto Zanetti is one of the definitive stars of Italo disco.  From his debut single in 1983, Don't Cry Tonight which is actually quite slow and heavily influenced by new wave, to many others including Only You, Radio and Time.  He became one of the most successful artists of the genre.  He geniously mixed sadness with a dance beat and came upon a successful sound which built upon new wave and influenced a lot of Italo Disco that came after it.  Don't Cry Tonight went on to sell 50,000 maxi singles and 200,000 45's in Italy alone.  It then got licensed to many different countries in many of which it became a hit and sold well there too.

In an interview for the book Italo Disco Story Roberto states that the Pet Shop Boys were heavily inspired by Don't Cry Tonight and I've read elsewhere that they idolized Bobby O (an italian american producer) and in fact collaborated with him on their first releases until their contract was bought out and Bobby was kicked to the curb.

Savage Greatest Hits
Savage zip 2

He also used aliases such as Robyx, Rubix, Scatt, Joey Moon, Creavibe and the genius Stargo with the italo disco classic Capsicum.  Capsicum


He even worked with Zucchero in the seventies and then again in 1983 in the group Taxi who had a single release called To Miami.


One of my favorites is I'm Loosing You from 1988.  It too has a bit of the melancholy of Don't Cry Tonight though tinged with a real HiNrg/Euro Dance feel that was prevalent in the mid to late 80's.  I also love the fact that the title is not spelled correctly.



Roberto mostly worked with Disco Magic which was just about my favorite italo disco label.  He also produced other hits like Run to Me by Lena, which I've blogged before and Magic Carillion by Rose and Tango's Computerized Love.  Computerised Love


Roberto was also able to reinvent himself becoming hugely successful producer of Euro Dance.  Writing for and credited with propelling the careers of such artists as Double You (huge euro dance cover of K.C. and the Sunshine Band Please Don't Go), Ice MC and Alexia.  Lots of long standing number 1 hits in the lot.  He formed the company DWA and had another roll in the biz.  This time his work was also able to really make a difference in his home country.  Believe it or not a lot of italo disco music was snubbed in Italy during it's heyday.  Italians have for a long time had this type of inferiority complex that always makes them look toward international things, particularly pop music.  There are times when the entire  top spots in the charts are by international artists.


He even worked with his old friend Zucchero again being responsible for huge hits like Baila Morena, Bacco Perbacco and Ahum.


Now not much music is being produced in Italy at all.  Apart from a few huge stars like Eros Ramazotti and Laura Pausini and a few others.  The Italian music industry is in a sorry state and very far from it's huge successes of the 80's which brought Italo Disco throughout the world and resulted in sales in the millions.

Your Heart Keeps Burning Blind Date

Blind Date was a Synth Pop/Euro Disco group from Germany.  They put out an album and three maxi singles.  The second of which was the catch Your Heart Keeps Burning in 1985 was a favorite at The Saint and on Fire Island.


A 1992 remix got the record play again.  It also kind of made it sound less outdated.  Though still on a true Euro tip.  They did not house it up.


It's a light and airy ditty.  It fits into the mood of my blog.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Blind Date

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Run to Me by Lena




This lovely ditty was produced by Roberto Zanetti alias Savage.  Lena's Run to Me from 1987 on Disco Magic Records Italy.  A one off project that came at the tail end of the Italo Disco era.


It's got it all.  Funny pronunciation, strange lyrics and that infectious danceable beat.  I've even got a Brazilian remix in the zip.  I think I might like the simple single edit best in this case though.
Hope everyone is having a great summer everyone.

Rose Laurens, more than just AMERICAN LOVE, or take me to the Night Sky

Another older blog post with freshened download links, the third time I add to this one and re-post for your pleasure.
zip o Rose
LA NUIT DISCONET REMIX
A ZIP O ROSE
Rose Podwojny (name of art Laurens) had her first single release in 1977 with

Je T'Aime...Dis Moi Je T'Aime.   

She broke out in 1982 with the single Africa which became a Top 5 hit in a few European nations.  Africa hit #1 in Austria for two consecutive weeks.  In France it went platinum with sales totaling over 1,000,000 copies.

For a bit of chart trivia the song that was #1 in Austria before Africa was Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield and the song that topped the chart after was Sunshine Reggae by Laid Back.

I just sold my copy on Ebay recently.  

 

It's entertaining, but the Rose I love are her morning music hits Night Sky and American Love.

Rose is not really Italo Disco sort of Euro Dance goes Morning Music.  But her impact on the Fire Island/Saint scene is notable.


I only wish I had been able to see her in one of her many appearances at The Saint.

A little bit of Rose trivia, did you know she sang the original french version of I dreamed a dream?  The song from the Broadway show Les Mis that later made Susan Boyle a household name.  It even made Anne Hathaway win an Oscar.


Rose Laurens has provided me with many hours of listening pleasure but I'd have to admit that most American don't even know who she is.  Not that this should matter.  Maybe this blog will bring her to the ears of a few appreciative new listeners.

Though this remake by Astaire doesn't hold a candle to the original I thought I'd throw it in anyway.




I will say that in general Astaire was a solid Hi Nrg group, I particularly liked the song Love Trap.



 

AND NOW FOR ONE OF MY CHOICES FOR BEST HI NRG RECORD EVER....DON'T STOP by MOTION

Don't Stop by Motion is the perfect hi NRG record.  Another gem from 1983 it could only be a little better if it were an italo disco record.  But it's not so it holds back a little.  It doesn't give us all the drama that a space disco italo disco would give us.  But it sure makes a good case for a Hi Nrg record.


ORIGINAL AND A RECENT EDIT of DON'T STOP


Johnny Dorazio and Tony Bentivegna of Motion were also behind Nightlife Unlimited.  In their first line-up in 1979 as a Canadian disco group.  They were also in a couple other groups.

Somebody by Video (George Aaron)

George Aaron (Giorgio Alighieri) first appeared on the italo disco scene at the age of 20.  He went on to sell over 10 million records worldwide.  His debut single was called She's a Devil.  He recorded not only under his pseudonym but also as Video and Victor Ark.



He was a perfect example of how italo disco male stars had to be handsome.  It was a package they were promoting.  In the end even though songs were sung in English not even good pronunciation was important.  This fact made the genre often snubbed in the States.  It was also often snubbed in Italy itself as Italians are highly drawn to all things international.  A look at their hit parade and usually most of the names are foreign.  George explains  in an interview in the book Italo Disco Story by Francesco Catoldo Verrina that 62% of the world architectural and artistic treasures are found in Italy.  But even treasures like Pompei were left to fall apart and many museums are closed on Sundays.  Italians don't know how to give true values and respect to their treasures.  Why should they care about their music?

George's record company tried to get him to participate in the San Remo festival but he refused.  In any case he preferred to record in English anyway and to compete at San Remo you must sing in Italian.


George Aaron under the moniker Cruz
Evanescent Version (Just for You) George Zip

Interestingly the Alighieri family of Parma is ob nobility and was a relative of the Emperor Carlo who ruled italy in 1521.  Luckily his family was supportive of his desire to sing.  Though he had a degree in Psychology.

He was first a member of the group Monopolio in 1981.  They are trendy around the Veneto region of Vicenza.  Giorgio also provided vocals for some of the songs by Firefly.  I refreshed the links in a blog about Firefly just a few weeks ago.  Firefly

Somebody (Hey Girl) by Video originally was released in 1983 on Fly Music Records Italy.


Unlike most Italo Disco records the next year it was licensed to Sleeping Bag and became a real Fun House classic.


Morales and Munzibai did a remix.  And suddenly Dyan Buckelew's name also went on the label.



George Aaron tours to this day and has even released new material in the italo disco vein in the past few years.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CCCan't You See Vicious Pink SYNTH POP FANTASTIC




Vicious Pink Phenomena later known as Vicious Pink were the epitome of Synth Pop New Wave.  When their debut single came out in 1984 the scene was ripe for their sound and CCCan't You See was a alternative dance club smash.  I especially love the French version which I provide for you in the deluxe zip.



Since CCCan't You See has been the most played song on my iTunes list on my iMAC for ages I figured I should honor it in some way.  It was a WBMX classic so you know they loved this record in Chicago.



The follow-up Fetish was pretty good too but just not quite as infectious.

Vicious Pink was formed in Leeds in 1981.  They broke up in 1986.  Originally they sang back-up for Soft Cell.  That's when they were called Vicious Pink Phenomena.  
 They were sure cool looking!  Josie Warden was able to sing equally well in French or in English though this didn't help the band to chart in France.

LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK if you wanna be old school they have a MY SPACE TOO.





Nu Shooz

Nu Shooz originally formed in 1979 and featured 12 members.  But nothing much happened for them the first few years.  In 1985 as a husband and wife duo "I Can't Wait" came out and they broke out.  But in a roundabout way, ironically the Peter Slaghuis mix from the Netherlands is what broke the record.  In fact it was HUGE at The Paradise Garage, and played as an import.  Apparently Larry Levan would toy with it mixing it for as long as a full half hour.  Then it went pop.

It eventually made it all the way to #2 on the U.S. R and B charts and #3 on the pop charts, while making it to #1 in Canada and on the U.S. dance chart.  While in the U.K.  I can't Wait peaked at #2.  Furthermore it was fully embraced by the Latin Freestyle community who embraced the song as their own, though this lily white couple from Portland, Oregon were certainly not Latino.
 The follow-up single "Point of No Return" was equally as pleasing but it didn't have the chart impact of "I Can't Wait" so they are sort of considered one hit wonders.  Though they were even nominated for a Grammy as best new artist.
In 1988 their last hit was "Should I say Yes" which went Top 20 R and B though the track "Are you Lookin' for Somebody Nu" became another hit on the dance chart.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Klapto

Valter Fausto Bassani released three italo disco records under the moniker Klapto.  He also used other aliases with Meccano being the most well known.

 Klapto zip

The first and probably the most infectious was Mister Game in 1983.


Queen of the Night was their follow-up in 1984.

The Sound of Spaghetti Dance, italo disco and 80's phenomenon

Today's treat is this fabulous documentary about Italo Disco featuring many of the originators.  There are subtitles but if you understand Italian you'll be able to appreciate it more.


The Sound of Spaghetti Dance Documentary



I've just started this book.  When I finish it I'll cover it, review it, and basically help translate some of it since it's only available in Italian.



Some fun facts from the beginning mentions that Gazebo has sold 12,000,000 records worldwide.


Italo Disco was primarily a male driven genre and in a sense was a response to all the female driven records of the late 70's disco music scene.

The book also mentions that Gazebo (Paul Mazzolini) along with Ryan Paris, Carrara, P.Lion, Ago, George Aaron, Savage, Linda Jo Rizzo, Martinelli, Righiera and Den Harrow are some of the most recognizable faces of Italo disco and that they are still active today.  Tom Hooker lives in Las Vegas and is a successful artist.  He has carried on a longstanding feud with Den Harrow (since he was the actual voice of most of Den's hits).  I have posted a video about this a few years back so you can check it out using the search function above.  Tom Hooker like yours truly was born in Connecticut.


Note how all the Italo Disco stars were pretty.  It appears to be a fact that they were often chosen as much for their looks as for their voices.

Nice Story on the Roots of Italo Disco

More to come.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor



I don't usually write about books but Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983 has made me want to do so.  Since this was before my time as a club kid in New York it nourished my curiosity for what the scene was like before I got there.


I was going out a bit in high school and then a lot by the time I got to American University in 1982.  So most of my early club years were about the rise of Hi Nrg music and the hot minute of New Wave.  Music styles embraced by The Saint in New York, which had a much whiter sensibility then The Paradise Garage.  In any case, The Saint was a club which I would not get to visit until years later when they were using the original space for Saint at Large parties, until they couldn't anymore.  Then they started having them at Roseland.  Really I didn't have a clue.  The last party party was going on, it was just a few blocks from my apartment on 14th street but all I thought about was that it was too expensive.  I didn't get the magnitude of the night.

Same thing happened the last night of Sound Factory in 1995.  I wasn't feeling it and just stayed home or went home after The Roxy I can't remember.  It ended up being the unannounced last night of the club, before it became Twilo and there were a ton of club politics involved.


But my friend Tommy Richardson got me on the Paul Lekakis guest list one Saturday in 1989 and I got to be amazed by all that The Saint was and what it had been.  Though I remember my friend Harrison calling most of the revellers dinosaurs.  We really felt like we were ringing in a new scene and that The Saint represented the past.


Paradise Garage closed the year before I moved to New York so I never got to see that space.  Anybody who used to go speaks about it as the holy grail of New York clubs.


1983 was when I went abroad to Rome.  My university had a branch there.  So this is when I cultivated my love for Italo Disco.  A genre I didn't really know about before then.  So as much as I hold The Paradise Garage and Larry Levan up on a pedestal, even if only in my mind.  I would not have been ready for that scene yet.  It even took me a while to feel secure at The Sound Factory which was my era's version of The Paradise Garage but certainly more Latino and then later more Chelsea muscle queen then The Garage ever was.  In many ways, I was still a provincial suburban kid from Connecticut in the early 80's.  Sort of torn between my love for new wave and disco.  Since loving disco was basically something you had to be in the closet about where I grew up, or at least at the Catholic schools I went to.  I was sort of confused.  Luckily I was able to leave this all behind in 1982 by both coming out and by experiencing freedom by going to a university far from my home and my sheltered oppressive upbringing.  My parents were immigrants from the South of Italy and they had some very specific ideas for what they expected their only male son to be like, in a family of five children.


So really at the time written about in the book, I was completely oblivious to what was happening at The Mudd Club and The Roxy, Danceteria or The Pyramid.  Though years later on a visit to to the city from D.C. I did go to the New Years eve party of 1984 going into 1985 and it was a night that remains ingrained on my memory banks.  Fabulous beyond anything I had ever been to before.  It even featured a sighting of the incredibly glamorous and iconic Diane Brill the girlfriend of Rudolf Piper who ran the club and other clubs that I later got to promote parties at such at The Tunnel and Mars.  I started to use the moniker Goldy Loxxx, which Michael Alig sanctioned for me and first started using on invites at Larry Tee's Celebrity Club and outlaw parties and other events at The World and Red Zone.

wikipedia Larry Tee

Wikipedia Club Kids


The article that put the concept of "club kids" on the map.  The March 1988 New York Magazine cover with Michael Alig, Magenta and Mykul Tronn in the Tunnel Basement.

How horrible is my hat?



Back row third person in from the left, in a top hat, you can hardly make me out.  But every club kid mover and shaker was there even though we had to show up at the club in the middle of the day.




wikipedia Party Monster


Back in those years would I ever have imagined that Diane Brill would even know my name much less have conversations with me?  The New York clubs were definitely where you could rub elbows with your idols.  In many ways you could even feel on the same level with them.  Especially if you were chatting them up in a V.I.P. room.


wikipedia Mudd Club

From what I gather from the Tim Lawrence book those early 80's years had a huge cross section of artists and actors and creative people who were involved heavily with the clubs.  While managing to create so much out of the clubs too.  Here's a pic. of Jean Michel Basquait at The Mudd Club.  He later would go on to DJ at Area for shits and giggles. Though there were certainly creative types when I was going out 6 nights a week in the late 80's early 90's, it sure didn't seem anything like what I read about in the book.  Seminal spots like Area with their installations and The Saint with the incredible dome and light show were already closed by then.


But for a hot minute us club kids felt like we ruled the roost.  We could get paid by some clubs just for showing up or handing in a guest list.  Which we may or may not have made any phone calls in support of the event.  The whole scene fell apart basically because of Michael Alig's murder of fellow club-kid Angel Melendez the introduction of hard drugs to the scene, and Mayor Giuliani's obsession with destroying the scene.  Yes there had always been drugs in the clubs.  But could you run a successful party and be completely strung out at the same time?  I don't think so.  In any case James St. James immortalized the moment in his book Disco Bloodbath and later in the film Party Monster which gave many young people who hadn't lived it and didn't know anything about our movement, their own source of joy and inspiration.  Susanne Bartsch throws parties even now with a new breed of New York club kid.  While many of us from the original club kid era have moved on to so many other things, such as artists, writers, singers, TV show hosts and even a few like me are teachers.


Not one of my favorite pics. but it is James St. James and I at the first Love Ball May 10, 1989.  A legendary night for the club scene if there ever was one.

wikipedia james st. james




Of course RuPaul and I came up out of the same New York clubby scene.  Difference is she now disassociates herself from Michael Alig and I've pretty much forgiven him for the many times he was shady.  We write each other emails and give each other likes on Instagram.  Next time I'm in New York we plan to have lunch.




More recently the film Glory Daze documented the comings and goings of the club kids in the 90's too.



When I was hosting Shampoo at The Limelight on Saturdays I worked with the drag queen of comedy Lady Bunny.  She used to come over on Saturday evenings to my loft in Tribeca because I had a second phone line.  Together from  opposites sides of the loft we would call people for our guest list.  She was caustic and pejorative and often hung up on the people she was calling to put on the list.  She always had me in stitches and I'll never forget how funny she was.  A true talent.  
It was Michael Alig that would bring me in to promote nights such as Shampoo and at Club U.S.A. so I will give credit where credit is due.  He thought I was fabulous and I agreed with him (lol).  Can you lol when you're not texting?  It's tacky, right?



A pre Supermodel of the world RuPaul.

Wikipedia RuPaul


Here I am with Andy Bell of Erasure at Mars.  I think this was in 1990.  It was in one of the last months of the clubs existence.


On my way to Wigstock.  I thought my look was relatively subdued though the Vivienne Westwood crown was major.  Bill Cunningham took my picture for the New York Times that day so I remember it well.  To a club kid if Bill Cunningham took your picture it meant you had arrived.

Wikipedia Wigstock

Wikipedia Bill Cunningham


Dancing at Love Machine at The Underground.  This Vivienne Westwood armour/vest got me some decent coins years later on eBay.  A teachers income always needs a boost.  Years later did I really still expect it to fit anyway?

 The night I won King of Manhattan 1991 at The Limelight.  Painstakingly made by designer Manolo.  I never felt more regal or grateful that such a talented designer was a dear friend.
 Our idol and icon Leigh Bowery.  No one could compete, but he surely did inspire.

At a party I threw for diva and door-person extraordinaire Kenny Kenny.  Kenny has become an incredible photographer and artist.  Follow him on instagram, Kenny Kenny photos.   I wrote about Leigh just a few blogs back if you're curious.  Leigh Bowery as Minty


In the early 80's Leigh Bowery and Trojan were getting a lot of press and attention with Tabboo in London in that cities own inception of the club kid movement.  Infused with the whole new romantic sensibility of the time.  Course it was later made into a Broadway show starring Boy George as Leigh Bowery.   It was financed by Rosie O'Donnell.

wikipedia Leigh Bowery



So I really must thank Tim Lawrence for writing such an incredible book and documenting so much disco history.  I look forward to the coming books and for an opportunity to be interviewed when he gets up to my period.


Mark Kamins always did the music for Manolo Ready Couture fashion shows.  His mixture of spiritual, sexy and audacious was always fun.


 Mark Kamins at a tree trimming party in my Tribeca Loft.


Mark with his ever present whistle along with Susan Ainsworth at Club Gold, Tokyo.  All three of the above photos I took myself.

                                   
From the club kid bible, the magazine Project X
THE FABULOUS PROJECT X ARCHIVES (THANK YOU ERNIE GLAM)

Tim Lawrence mentioned my buddy Mark Kamins often in Life and Death on the Dance Floor.  He was after all the main DJ at Danceteria.  Mark was definitely instrumental in the launching of Goldy Loxxx.  Especially when he took me to Japan to represent New York Club Kids and when he got me the gig to DJ in the side room of the 90's inception of Danceteria.  Mark was a dear friend to me and lived only a couple blocks away in Tribeca at the time too.  So we even got to spend time together outside the clubs.

School Yourself about Danceteria

So I highly suggest you get a copy of the book.  Order Your Copy here

As a reader of my blog I know you care about the music, so here's your chance to get versed on the New York scene from the early 80's too.  You should also check out his other books Love Saves the Day about The Loft and a book about Arthur Russell.

here's an excerpt:

Publishing his thoughts in an eight-page feature title "Behind the Groove" in the September edition of Collusion,  Harvey launched into his argument from the get-go. "The brief 10 years of disco history have provided popular music with one of its most creative periods--one too often passed over by critics," he declared. "Even the faddish embrace of all things danceable has failed to encourage critics to muster the same seriousness for the synth-anthems of Brooklyn duo D Train as they do for Soft Cell or Yazoo."  Few credited disco as being the legitimate heir to the rhythm and blues tradition, while the likes of Grandmaster Flash alleged that disco was responsible for "killing off" funk, "despite its means of production being the same" and "despite its embrace of great black voices like Loleatta Holloway, Aretha Franklin, Bettye Layette, Gwen McCrae and many others." Harvey also argued that DJS rather than musicians or producers were the most influential figures within disco thanks to the way they communicated the music with such "extraordinary power."  Who else could remember the thousands of one off releases, he asked, and who else could claim to be as modernist as the DJS who transformed their found materials into a collage? "Disco has always revolved around the cult of the DJ and the club," he concluded, "and, as such, record spinner have shaped the  music in a way that is unique."
Page 450 Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor

My blog post from 2009 about disco related books