sabato 23 gennaio 2010

Losing their religion

Coming from Udine, a city in the northeast of Italy, Detonazione formed in the land of frozen winters and desolate summers. They started as a sextet with great jazzy influences, just like some years before them Area's Demetrio Stratos, a radical anti-system group they wre in some kind devoted to. In their first gigs they had an original unique approach that remid me of the later well known CCCP style, and Detonazione were considered soon one of the best example of the so called art wave in Italy. They had immediately a single out in 1983, thanks to their fan Marco Pandin, a Rockerilla journalist with a genuine passion for alternative punk. And this was their masterpiece, "Sorvegliare e Punire", a title taken from a Foucalt book. The record still sounds like a fist in your face, an ensemble of angular sounds and difficult rythms. Someone called them "politically uncorrect songs for an utopistic punk adventure". Detonazione were close to the young italian hardcore scene but they founded hard to identify them with that style or to have musical connection with, since they did not sound punk at all! So, these sort of Italian Scritti Politti did not have lot of fortune and visibility, as you can easily argue, although they sold more than 2.000 copies of the single, stll one of the most rare and appreciated item for the italian post punk collectors. The great difficulties of the independent circuit caused them lot of problems to whom they could'nt survive a lot. No gigs, no radio airplay, no record contract and future. In 1984 the new born Tunnel records realised their musical testament, the mini album "Riflessi conseguenti", a bunch of unfinished and incomplete intentions, but still a good one. There were also appereances in compilations and a posthumous record called "Ultimi pezzi" but the time expired very very fast for them.... Don't forget them anyway, because a good attitude is sometime much more better than a good song!

giovedì 21 gennaio 2010

Only time will tell...

..."The question here is not whether the group has talent, but what it intends to do with its obvious skill. This Athens, Georgia-based quartet has a sharp, unfailing grasp on `60s garage rock-anyone with a fondness for the form can sink into the atmospheric, 12-string strums and Merseybeat harmonies with a relieved sigh of familiarity and give thanks that the style is alive and well. As with other young undiscovered (by the masses) but appreciated (by the critics) bands like the Fleshtones and the Bongos, R.E.M. holds tight to a tradition of mid-tempo, slightly psychedelic songs that would feel equally at home in another Nuggets or pop/rock collection, and the production stresses that simple, almost tinny sound that `60s rock vets grew up on. So what next? The lyrics only drift through in fragments, so it’s hard to tell if R.E.M. is using the classic mode to say anything new. Only time-and perhaps a lyric sheet-will tell. For the moment, however, these 1980-81 demos cassette is well worth it for anyone who thinks great rock died with the coming of the 16-track studio"...

sabato 16 gennaio 2010

Listening to Radio Edna

For years I hoped to find another band just like the Smiths, perfectly knowing that it was a kind of illusion. Amongst the best groups that sounded alike, I like to remember Ian H. band called "Bradford", coming from Blackburn (!?). They had great singles out in the beginning ("Gatlin' gun" & In Liverpool" were my favourites!) and an interesting compilation album on Midnite Records France. Later they began recording for Stephen Street's Foundation Label but the magic of the first years seemed soon to be lost. Morrissey himself loved the band and he also recorded his own version of "Skin Storm" as a bside. ".... Ian H, once Bradford’s frontman, says that the reason the band folded had nothing to do with Morrissey. “In a word, the reason was ‘Madchester’. Bradford, in some respects, were Britpop five or so years too early. We were five Northern working-class lads with skinhead crops, the odd Fred Perry, Docs, Harrington, Levi 501s and red tab jackets in the wardrobe, singing about a Greed And Pleasant (sic) Land etc. All completely out of step with the baggy/dancey/ravey Manchester which, of course, became legendary. We had lots of press, but while we scraped into the indie Top 10 on several occasions, we didn’t (to use the bean-counting parlance of the modern record companies) ‘shift enough units’. Sire dropped us in America and that’s you, mate – three years of indie fun then back on the dole. Did Morrissey help? A resounding yes. We’ll be forever grateful and flattered by the attention. I still have ‘silly notes’ he sent me and postcards, plus the accolade of a major icon recording Skin Storm, a song I wrote. However, I never received a penny in royalties from record sales or publishing for the substantial sales of this track. So if anyone can help out with this on a no-win, no-fee basis, get in touch (” Ian H, now with a band called Acoustic Uprising, adds that he still has contact with other Bradford members. “Cherry Red were planning the re-release of a 20-year-old album of ours in April and we were all at bass-player Jos’s house discussing it. Some virtual jousting commenced but legal/ownership issues put the kibosh on things.” From MOJO # 189, August 2009

mercoledì 13 gennaio 2010

Lovers of today

Formed in early 1984 in Manchester... separated in late 1986. Played all the venues - The Boardwalk, The Venue, Corbières, The Polytechnic, The University, The Gallery, The International. Had a good following and some really positive reviews in NME, City Life. Released a single, had interest from Virgin and London Records... but the Warehouse Party and Rave age were just beginning.... and Manchester was soon to become Madchester... Influences? is too easily confused with "what music i listen too and like" - it shouldn't be. Martin Tivnan, songwriter, always spoke of Ian McCulloch as a major influence - in terms of melody and song structure. BAWL were big on melody and creating an easy to listen to sound, without falling into a MOTR category. Being in Manchester in the 70s and 80s there were lots of bands citing the same names (doors, velvet underground, joy division, the fall....).... but BAWL were perhaps more influenced by the Cabaret sound (Frank Sinatra,Vic Damone) and the pop sound of Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice. A big band sound without the big band set-up. One reviewer wrote "The Blow Monkeys meets Frank Sinatra" - almost right..!! You can make up your own mind!

Hard bananas

Back in the days of the first italian wave Bologna was the centre of the world, you can ask the Scritti Politti for further informations. Around the university, underground culture and alternative music rised just in front of the barricades where the students fighted for their rights.. New sounds came out from the frequence of Radio Alice, the first true Free Radio in Italy. The "toosoonforgotten" Roberto's Terzani Windopen were one of the best bands around at the time, too polite for the harpo's underground aspirations, too punkish for the major labels that wished they could go soon to the Sanremo Festival. "We were idealistic idiots" said Roberto some years ago in a letter he wrote to his old fans... don't know if they could have been bigger than the Beatles (or the Pooh, here in Italy...) but they remained a great example of musical integrity, real "...street rockers, with their anthem “Sei in banana dura” and the sleazy “La testa”... Windopen founder Roberto Terzani later joined Litfiba as a bass player when Gianni Maroccolo left the band, in 1990 and he still have a great site where you can have details about his own personal history with the band. In other case, no doubt that Windopen were a real classic of the first italian wave as you can hear in their wonderful anthem "Windopen Rock" or in their outrageos "Strazzami i Maroni". Enjoy to their sound and please, send me a digital recording of their first harpo's tape because mine is damaged!!!

lunedì 11 gennaio 2010

The alternative Tate gallery

For years, just four years to be unforgettable... this was the story of The Smiths, "the only band that really matters" (The Clash will understand...) I said for years to all my friends. From those old Tate recordings (Dear John?) to the Strangeways misuranderstandings, it was all too brief. Almost any British band that picked up a guitar in the '80s and banished synthesizers from its sound was influenced by the Smiths, a quartet that favored street clothes to haute couture and played ringing, hook-rich songs sung by the always eccentric and outspoken vocalist. And God, what kind of songs, easy but complex, sorta many-hued instrumental tracks topped by Morrissey's wordy, sexually disorented poetry for struggling adolescents. I'm "still ill" nowadays and me only but I continue to see the band's influence as "enormous", in every other band I listen to. The '90s Britpop movement grew from the Smiths, and bands that upend traditional notions about gender and sexuality -- Suede, Antony and the Johnsons, Bloc Party, Of Montreal, the Magnetic Fields -- come from the same place. Then came the Moz adventures, but it was just a pantomime of the past, while my "guitarhero" Johnny wandered around for years ( and he's still wandering somewhere) with no apparent direction home. I can't really say how much I miss them, they were a part of my life and those were the days, if not the best, probably the most important... I was a young student at the time and it was around 1983... it's difficult to imagine intense young students making it through university without these songs. Hopefully they'll never have to...