giovedì 25 marzo 2010

To prove what life is all about

I guess it was 1979, I was on my holiday study/vacation, spending monotonous time in Torquay, attending english language courses all day long. Fortunately, we could go out in the evening and it was really wonderful for teenagers like us talking a walk downtown, going to discover record shops with vinyl & goodies we never saw in italy. Punk rock was all around but apart for some mohicans in the central square, I didn't know much about it. There was some kind of agitation that summer there because the Stiff Little Fingers were going to play soon in town and it was a real event there. Still I dunno how it could happen but me, a 14 years old spotty italian kid, well I was there in that venue that night and it was exactly just as a punk gig should be; no seating, walls painted dark, the whole place smelling of sweat, beer and cigarettes and a lot of terrible people (a lot of skins that i never saw before!) jumping around and screaming and fighting. That gig can´t be compared to any other I have been to and it changed my life! It was a mix of joy and terror, the second more than the first, but I discovered a new world made of dirty leather jackets, exploding guitars and, of course, Stiff Little Fingers! They were too great for me & I gotta say now that theirs is simply the definiton of music I wanna hear forever... The Fingers' approach to the punk music was surely powerful, but limited; what distinguishes them was their incredible sound. The song structures were sophisticated and the band played like punks, which means without a lot of skill but with a lot of spirit. They weren't faking it. They had meaning, and a message too. Years later, they also refused to keep forcing themselves of the punk straightjacket of their early music, but tried hard to evolve as a band. Unfortunately they couldn't... Fantastic songs anyway that was linked to their Northern Irish origins and the politics of the time. My mum used to hate them when coming back in Italy, I used to play Hanx at full volume in my room with a tennis racket in my arms as a guitar. I've been Jack Burns so many times from that night in Torquay...fucking happy days folks...

martedì 23 marzo 2010

Allison don't run anymore (re-post)

Looking again at the golden eighties, it's sincerely hard to distinguish what was and what was not post-punk in Italy.And it's not easy anyway to know when post-punk ends and indie-rock/alternative-rock begins all over the world... here in Italy the situation is even more difficult because we usually lived the influences of a musical movement no less than a pair of years later. Amerigo Verardi's Allison Run were a sort of late paisley underground band, just few years after the sixties revival garage explosion and only some years before the new british pop "flower-power" interest. Their first ep "All those cats in the kitchen" (on Mantra records) is still considered one of the best example of indie wave record in Italy during the end of the eighties. Like jangle pop bands, Allison Run looked at the paisley underground as an inspiration, revived the clean, chiming textures of folk rock, but they had a more psychedelic bent to their sound. In their brief career they had achieved large critical success even outside Italy and virtually no commercial success although they published on Voxx records their self titled mini album in 1988. A more mature lp "God was completely deaf" will follow in 1989 but the audience soon declined in the late '80s, the new psychedelic italian scene almost disappeared and Amerigo band too. For a complete discography please take a look at their drummer Mimo Rash site while listening to their wonderful debut and some bonus stuff too.

venerdì 19 marzo 2010

Acute memories

The Lines began their existance in the late seventies with two scrappy DIY post-punk singles with a slight whiff of '60s pop influence a la early Soft Boys/Monochrome Set. Later, the renewed line up of the band improved their rhythm section simultaneously tightened up, locking into the grooves with more intensity, and loosened, opening up beyond straight rock beats into funk and R&B undercurrents. At the same time, the guitars started taking on more of a textural, atmospheric disposition. From there, The Lines grew by leaps and bounds. Over the course of the next recordings from late 1980 to '81, they dove into the deep end of of the pool, turning out bewitching tracks awash with funk rhythms, ambient textures, and avant-dub production techniques, sometimes abandoning traditional song form entirely in favor of exotic sonic tableaux. Ultimately, it's the kind of stuff anyone from Tortoise to the Rapture might have claimed as influential... please buy their remastered cd editions full of tracks, sessions and demos!

martedì 16 marzo 2010

Butterflies rock

Girls at our best! "...Possibly the finest early eighties band never to have a chart single and they split up before having any real success. They all come from the Leeds Area and the first glimmer was SOS, formed in '77 with guitarist James Alan and bassist Gerard Swift.Tthen taking refuge reality in art school, Alan met Judy. Well, convent schoolgirl from posh Wetherby that she was, she joined the group regardless (what's known as a rash decision) and SOS turned into the Butterflies. Several months after the Butterflies had ceased to exist Rough Trade heard a tape of a song called "Warm Girls", loved it and offered to back its release on the band's (would be) own label, Record Records. Renaming themselves after a line of their lucky song, they became Girls At Our Best!, sold 7,000 and hit the independent charts, then did again with "Politics". Finally they acquired a drummer (absent from the interview) and a deal with Happy Birthday, who are small enough for "Pleasure" to be their first album. IT'S QUITE clear that the most instantly distinctive Girl is the girl, Judy. Her voice soaring above what James describes as the band "oi-ing away" is high, pure - and jolly. Like a Girl Guide singing pop. Girls At our Best! split in 1982 after the joint departure of bassist Terry (Gerard Swift) and drummer Titch (Carl Harper). Their last release was the 'Pleasure' album, which came out in October 1982 [Wrong Fred, 1981], but they've since been remembered by 'Peel Sessions (17.2.81)' which was released on the Strange Fruit label during 1987..." Beautiful people, excellent music.

venerdì 12 marzo 2010

( Re- Post) This was the modern world

Torino 1981-1983
The Blind Alley were a beat-mod band from Torino, with only one single published by Shirak Records in 1983. They were actvive since years before, close to the new born mod scene of Turin. The central figure of the band was the singer-composer Gigi Restagno, one of the most influencial charachter of the new wave scene in town at the time, later with Defear & other minor projects. The boy who played drums was my classroom friend Marco Ciari- later with Party Kids & Fratelli di Soledad - and still I remember those days when he came to school with the demo tapes of his band, or live recordings that sounded horrible... but it was really fun. Blind Alley were a great live band anyway, with not much of originality but with lot of young energy mixed with taste & style. Also they used to cover "live" great songs like Stiff Little Fingers "Wait and see" and "Safe European Home" by The Clash and they were finally punker than mod-ish when they played on stage. This is my personal homage to this forgotten band of the eighties, a collection of tracks from my vinyls and from the net. As for the Blue Vomit stuff, recently remastered (?!) on cd by SOA Records, I hope that one day my old friend Marco will find the way to realize a retrospective collection of his band... ciao Marco!

mercoledì 10 marzo 2010

Forgotten days

Don't know much about the group i'm going to resume now. They were called "Colour Moves" and I suppose they probably came from the Milan area. They had a rare and mostly unknown seven inch untitked "Trees" distributed by Supporti Fonografici, historical records shop based in Milano, Italy. What I relly know is that their song "Forgotten days" is a real classic and one of the best tracks of every italian wave compilation. I love this song. The atmosphere here goes from synthpop to darkwave and back again, always marked by dark shades & a sense of emotion. Their sound takes place in that band in which are declared the references to Defear with an eye to Death in Venice and Carillon del Dolore and in general to darkwave scene of the ‘80s conjugated with the sounds of synth pop that in that period invaded our frontiers. Don't know exactly if Colour Moves has been in the Italian alternative scene since the middle eighties or earlier but I remember that during those years, thanks to their great demo releases - also on alternative fanzine compilation like "zero zero"_ they became a sort of legend. I really hope that someone will soon or later give us more infos on them!

domenica 7 marzo 2010

Where flamingoes flew

GO FLAMINGO! was an Italian new wave band formed in Ferrara, Italy, in autumn 1982, not exactly the place from where you've expected to come from a post punk band. Three songs by GF! were soon included in the 12'' LP "A White Chance" (White Studio Recordings, 1985), released at the same time they won the contest "Indipendenti 84", a compilation produced by Oderso Rubini (Fare Musica Records). After this (un)success, they started increasing their live gigs, since the release of the debut miniLP "Go Flamingo!" (Fare Musica, 1986). Unfortunately, this (un)popularity was destined to decrease in a while. Half mod & half darkwave, they had an original mix of sound, full of energy & passion and a very gifted vocalist too. Though in recent years, the band started performing again occasionally, for the joy of their old (as well as new) nostalgic fans, after their last release on cd "In The Dark" – Anthology 1983/86 (No Tyme Records, 2004), a compilation remastered by Nicola Compagnini, including all the tracks that were released on vinyl and the first demos of the band too. I'm still searching for this damned cd!!!

venerdì 5 marzo 2010

At the end of an era

I got into the voodoo with Mexican Radio and that was not a rare thing in the eighties. But then my favourite dj Alberto Campo began playing "Can't Make Love" on his radio program called "Evening star" and after hearing that unique and mesmerizing sound beat a couple of times, I went out with my vespa and bought the vinyl from "Rock'n'folk" - the best record shop in my hometown Turin at the time. Wov has been one my favorite band of all time ever since. That was in the fall of 1980, when I was a mod oriented teen with an original musical taste. The only thing that disturbed me was that Wov were no MODS at all... Anyway, I bought the album soon after and was totally stunned. I had never heard anything like it. Song after song I sat just staring into space, dreaming of lost weekends spent travelling thru desert highways, from the san diego valley to the canyons. I've been there some years later and those songs still echoed in my mind. Wall of Voodoo were magic and Richard Mazda was their studio guide, producing some of the best recording of the eighties. Stan and the boys were able to create massive visuals throughtout the songs and the Call of the west album was even better than everything heard before. When Stan left the band I was really shocked. It was simply the end of an era...

martedì 2 marzo 2010

Look back in anger

Intelligence Dept was an Italian New Wave band from Ferrara (Italy) who formed in 1982, during one of the most fertile year for the post punk sound in our country. There were lot of synths & programming machines all around Europe at the time but there was also a new sound incoming from the last singular adventures of Robert Smith & Bernard Albrecht. Their influence was terrific here in Italy, more than the Beatles in the sixties, more than the Zeppelin in the eighties... The coldwave movement spreaded his influence from Northern Europe, where maestros like Isolation Ward from Belgium & Siglo XX from France defined a new deeply emotional music. It was not so strange to find these middle-european influences in our provinces also because that particular style was a winning sound in the well known italian discos, the only places where the poor italians boys could eventually go and enjoy some music. Suzanna Zaghi's Intellingence Dept played together for five years with not much of a success but this is a common story... Anyway, they recorded & distribuited by themselves three interesting demo-tapes: "Sleeping City" (1984), "The Big Trouble (1985) & the more mature "Intelligence Dept" (1987), but they never had the possibility to record their own album. Three songs of "Sleeping City" were included in the 12" LP "A White Chance" (1985) & one out of these songs, "Anger Inside", was also contained in a compilation on cassette published by Fare Musica (an Italian quite famous music magazine). It seems that Mannequin records will soon realize a post humous compilation by the band during this year. Wait for it!