mercoledì 24 febbraio 2010

In the echoes of time

Vision were a 1980s band from rotherham/sheffield and their lifespan stretched 7 years from 1981-1988. First started out as Spiral Vision in 1981 and with 3 main different line ups and personnel, all hinged around Andy Beaumont (keyboardist). Richard Jobson of the Skids cousin Ivor Hillman was singer then before he left to form My Pierrot Dolls. At that time they were on MVM/PRT RECORDS. A pair of years before, as Spiral Vision they released an EP in 1982 (Dance Macabre) , finally changing their name to Vision and releasing their biggest dance anthem Lucifers Friend. During this happy period, Vision had a certain success here in Italy, toured extensively around here, Germany, Belgium and also Canada in 1983. I remember also their appearence on the Italian version of Top of the Pops (discoring) performing Lucifers friend... they seemed so young and unsecure... In their long lifetime, the band released singles on 12inch and 7inch formats but due to problems never managed to release the album Insight on MVM Records. History reports that Russell Bonnell - vocalist of the band - unfortunately passed away in 2000. Taste their great electronic wave music through their wonderful album that never was!

lunedì 22 febbraio 2010

Via dei Bardi, Florence

In middle eighties journalists & papers couldn't believe to their eyes and to their ears. After years of waiting, Italy finally founded its post punk definitive band, Litfiba from Florence. The band was born there, two steps from Via dei Bardi and it was more or less 1980. The early line-up consisted of 4 members Federico Renzulli (nicknamed Ghigo) on guitars and lead vocals, Gianni Maroccolo on bass, Sandro Dotta on lead guitar - left the band after a few weeks - and Francesco Calamai on drums. Antonio Aiazzi on keyboards and Piero Pelù on vocals joined the band shortly after. As you can understand, punk and new-wave were a huge influence over the band's early songs, which for the initial brief period had also English lyrics. But Piero couldn't really sing in any other language but italian. And so it was, from the band’s first recordings (a 5 track EP titled Guerra 1982), and one year later a 7' single, "Luna/La preda". Those were their best recordings, together with a bunch of demos that never saw the light in the official discography. Oh yes, there was also their celebrated first full-length album, Desaparecido in 1985, the great EP Transea (1986) and the second full-length 17 RE, that someone still considering the best italian rock album ever and a third good album ("3"). Later those years, the band's evolution, under the guide of their singer Piero Pelù, led them to a sort of "mainstreem italian hard rock" a formula that gave them money and success but no artistic value at all. I still remember them playing in an obscure club dowtown Florence in 1981 and I can't forget the end of the show with Piero in a pub with us trying to convince the prettiest girl around to have a night meeting with him. At the end they went out hand in hand while me and my 2 friends, coming back to San Casciano Val di Pesa with no girls in our car, were just thinking to leave studies and consider seriously the possibility of beeing soon rock stars...

sabato 20 febbraio 2010

Young but not so stupid

What a sad day that was... 19 January 1985. Edwyn Collins announced that Orange Juice had split, whilst on stage at the London Brixton Academy for a Miners' benefit gig. Their time was gone, just five years after all, not so much if you think of the Rolling Stones and other rock dinosaurs. Orange Juice was so important for the post punk scene as the Stones for mainstream rock music and there's no doubt aboput it. How I loved their first years, when Steve Daily & James Kirk were still jangling their guitars and Falling & laughing was the best unknown pop song around.. this was the time when Edwyn's boys offered us some of the last century's most quixotic and luminous pop moments. They had raccoon hats, they wore their fringe like Roger McGuinns and, most of all, they wrote songs of real happiness, breathtaking tunes, hopeless bus-stops and bars romanticism....a s someone said years ago, "there were few bands more human than the OJs... they had the courage to fail. They wanted to be The Velvet Underground, they wanted to be The Delfonics, they wanted to be Sly Stone and the Buzzcocks all at the same time, and they were prepared to make fools of themselves in the attempt. According to their detractors, this is precisely what they did, but why waste time on the grouses and churls when there are songs as good... did I say good? Songs as life-changingly fantastic as 'A Sad Lament', 'Falling And Laughing', 'Consolation Prize' and 'The Artisans' ... There's really not much more to say. Except that the "shoo shoo shoo shoo doo"s in 'In A Nutshell' say nearly everything there is to say in the confines of a pop song. And that... oh, don't start me off. We'll be here all night"...

martedì 16 febbraio 2010

Sing this song that says yeah yeah yeah!

Five Or Six was part of the early-1980s British post-punk scene, expanding upon the lessons learned from the likes of Joy Division and the Fall in the late '70s. With an interesting debut single (Another reason) produced by Kevin Coyne and some other obscure recordings later, they gradually developed their world of punk-inspired energy, avant-garde conceptualism, and arty experimental leanings. Atmospherics & electronics mix with dub-inspired soundscapes and edgy, skeletal rock for a singular, captivating sonic experience. Not so original and completely underrated at the time, Five or Six were just one of many bands who popped up on the post-punk landscape of England in the early 80's and managed to sneak a few records out before going off to forming Spring Heel Jack in the 90's. The palette from which they worked was pretty similar to a lot of U.K. post-punkers at the time (Wire, Can, Beefheart, etc.) but it was Five or Six's wide-eyed way of mixing the bitter with the sweet such as on "You, The Night and The Music" that made them stick out from the oh-so-serious young men of the Ian Curtis generation. Please sing their songs forever...

giovedì 4 febbraio 2010

Amsterdam boulevard

The Italian independent post punk scene in the 80’s was greatly influenced by the uk maestro joy division, bauhaus & cure amongst the others. Two cities specifically provided bands to the new scene: Turin with Carmody, Defear & Monuments and Florence, the very true center of the new born italian cold wave movement. Diaframma started in the city of Arno as an idea of Federico Fiumani. The band grew up around his magnetic figure of composer/guitarist/poet and his inspirate, violent and visionary attitude. It'a out of any doubt that they had a great impact on the young italian independent scene in the early eighties. In addition, unlike their town mates Litfiba, they were more influenced by decadent and romantic artist as well punk rock and new wave. As a matter of fact, when they released their first single "Pioggia" on Italian records (it was 1981 I guess...), they stood like a sore thumb within the italian lazy scene, having already developed some sort of a personal style, heavly influenced by english bands but in some way devoted to italian artistic idols of the seventies, the so called "Cantautori" scene. Their first recordings , all sung in italian, raised great interest locally, including radios and labels, especially in the Florence area where Contempo Records was just moving its first steps. They were exactly the kinfd of band that all the italian new wavers (those kind of dark dressed boy were called "nerini") dreamed to be a part of. Then other great singles came after, the wonderful Altrove ep for example, and finally the long awaited debut album at the end of 1984. "Siberia" is still considered the italian new wave masterpiece and no matters what happened the years after: Diaframma will be always be identified with that cold wave sound they first created in Siberia. The story tells us that in spite of the enthusiastic response of the few post punk fans and the efforts of and passion of journalists and producers like Alberto Campo, Federico Guglielmi and Claudio Sorge, Diaframma were virtually ignorated by the most important italian media and the band was suffering from what they thought was an unmerited lack of consideration. Only Federico survived these troubled years. But soon they reached the status of cult band they will never leave! Today Federico is still singing with this moniker Diaframma and notoriously, he more than once turned down very lucrative major labels' deals in order to preserve his artistic independence and maintain band's integrity. Listening to his latest album, I don't know exacly what kind of integrity he's still talking about but his attitude surely makes him a sort of a hero in the underground Italian scene.

martedì 2 febbraio 2010

Worlds of Jayne

Well, we were the Eric's (famous Liverpool club) band and everyone hated us because we were dead cocky and dead mouthy. If you walked into Eric's, there was a little platform, and that was our table. Obviously like all our mates we'd come from gay clubs. Before Eric's opened, gay clubs were the only ones that would let us in, because of the way we looked. We'd kind of been into dance music in gay clubs, so we brought that with us, and it was a very bitchy scene. People like Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope were quite young in terms, they're only the same age as Holly and Paul (Rutherford), but we'd been very isolated from our working class background, whereas they'd come straight from it; we were probably a little bit more sophisticated in the way we were looking at life. We were all cynical, we'd been around more, we'd all left home at 14 and kind of got into the same books and the same records. We'd already been well into Warhol and Lou Reed, and we'd sort of got into the New York alternative subculture, and modelled our little scene on that, really. So it separated us a bit from the others, also because all the boys in our gang were gay. So they all really hated us and they formed an anti-Big in Japan society. They got a petition together, and when they had 2,000 names on it we had to split up. Then they got t-shirts with my face printed on them, so they'd all walk around in t-shirts with my face on them, getting everyone to sign these petitions, which we all signed because we were into it you know. "He's got my face on his chest, he fuckin' hates me, I love it!" (laughs) So it was very antagonistic. They were into things like Jack Kerouac, quite dry things. We were just into "camping out" and having a laugh. It was two separate scenes, and then they started to play instruments and wanted to be in bands, which is why they hated us so much to begin with, because we were doing it and they were sort of just coming up. You know I have said that when I saw the first Bunnymen gig at Eric's, when they just had a drum machine, it was the best thing I'd ever seen. You know I did think they were brilliant. In later years we became friends, but it was very antagonistic in the beginning. All through the 80's, Ian and Julian would slag me in the music papers at every opportunity, because that's what they felt they had to do. It was the most competitive I've ever seen in the Liverpool music scene at that time, and it was quite odd because I was the only girl really there at that time, there weren't that many girls around doing things at that point... We miss your music and your creativity Jayne!