Sunday, July 01, 2007
Happy Canada Day!
So, what do we have to celebrate this fine and joyous day? Why, nothing other than... Italian 78s!
I found these 8 discs at one of my usual thrift store haunts. There were 2 albums there, one was full of... stuff (most of which I had already, and the rest wasn't too exciting), and then I opened up the other album. Seeing all the Italian Cetra and Odeon 78s in there, I immediately said to the clerk "These are sold!" She grinned. I was very surprised to see these, as this stuff, for Denver, is rarer than hen's teeth. How rare is a hen's tooth one wonders...
Anyways, I started in on them, and have discovered some more singers I really enjoy (and one I didn't). These are all from the period between 1947 and 1957, and might make a nice little slice of the Italian popular music 'scene' during that time. So, let's just go through the recordings, I guess, by singer.
First up, we have my least favorite of the lot, Gino Bechi. These were from an American RCA Victor pressing, but the recordings were done in Italy. The material is very good, it's just that I don't really enjoy the Italian operatic style, unless it is done during opera. Sergio is quite a capable baritone, but this was the one-off that you get in every batch, I guess. He's not my cuppa cappucino, but maybe you'll enjoy him. We have a number about the moon, Melanconia Luna, or, Melancholy Moon. SInce this was an American pressing, RCA conveniently provided an English translation. I don't know who the engineer was on these recordings, but he should be taken out and shot. You'll cringe at the microphone placement on the orchestra... the string section sounds like they were placed in the men's bathroom or something... the other side features a (mercifully) short tune entitled Ricordati Di Me, or, in English, Remember Me. With the badly-recorded orchestra of Maestro D. Olivieri, how can one forget?
We move on to better things, all the way to 1957 and a Canadian Capitol release featuring the vocal talents of Sergio Bruni. These were, if my very bad Italian allows, taken from a film entitled "Canzoni della Fortuna", but there is a notation on the label stating "... Bari -- 1957". I really need to bone up on my Italian. Anyway, the songs here are Buon Anno... Buona Fortuna, or, "Happy New Year... Good Luck". Nicely done, and a little more of the style I like. The back side is sung in Neopolitan, with the tune being entitled Serenatella Sciue' Sciue'. No translation provided. These are really a nice contrast to the Victor discs as they are nicely recorded, which would hopefully hold true for pressings from the very end of the 78 era. This was about the time that 78s were discontinued in the US, but in Canada, they were pressed into the very early 1960s. Nice stuff, this.
We now get to the Italian pressings on the Italian labels. A very nice voice comes from the grooves of an Italian Pathe' 78, the voice of Narciso Parigi. These are from 1956, and feature songs that were part of some sort of contest as the label indicates that these were presented at the 6th Song Festival of San Remo. The first one, La Corpa Fu, was presented there, while the actual A-side, Aprite le Firestre, actually won first prize. No wonder, it's a catchy little tune about springtime, and that's about all I can get. But it's very nice! The orchestra, conducted by Barimar, doesn't hamper the singing, either.
Moving back to 1954, we now present two sides by Achille Togliani on the Italian Cetra label. State Vicino a Mme is a very nice slow ballroom type dancing number, perfect for crooning and swooning 'neath the mooning in Juning, oops, this is July. Sorry about that... the second number is a nice Beguine entitled Accarezzame. There is a little of the let's mic the piano in the men's room syndrome, but I guess it was used for effect.... a very nice example of an Italian Beguine though, with the orchestra conducted by Angelini.
Maestro Angelini now leads up in a little bit of up-tempo Italiana entitled Sorentinella, with vocal duties going to the Duo Fasano. Recorded in 1951 on a Cetra disc, I don't know who the two singers are, but it's definately a toe-tapper! The other side of this disc features a VERY nice singer, Nilla Pizzi, singing Grazie del Fiore. Sung very sultry, which makes my lousy translation of the title as "Thank You for the Fire" ring true, as this song is all about passion and love. Which makes it brilliant. Nilla Pizzi is turning out to be my second-most favorite of this batch, which is no slouching!
Moving back to 1949, we get another Nilla Pizzi recording, Quanta Nostalgia. Again led by the orchestra of Maestro Angelina, this is another wonderful sultry number about lost love and memories (as far as I can tell). Again, an Italian Cetra disc, and I'd love to find more of her work. The other side of this disc features the only recording I have by Elena Beltrami, and WOW what a chanteuse! I can gather the material deals with love, as it is a tango-style number entitled Autumno. Also recorded in 1949 with the orchestra conducted by Maestro P. Barzizza, this one burns with the passion required for tango material.
Which brings us to the last of the singers, Luciano Tajoli. Another wonderfully sultry alto, perfectly suited for singing of tunes great and not-so-great. The not-so-great tune is actually the Clanker of the Week, a silly thing called Valzer delle Candele, sung as a duet with Mita Ferroli being the other singer. Why is this the Clanker? Well, listen to the two melody lines. Come on, Auld Lang Syne and Danny Boy? Granted, this is a Odeon disc from 1947, but, please.... Maestro Piubeni, could you not find something better than this and calling it the "Candelight Waltz"? Oy vey.
She more than makes up for it, though, on the other side of this disc, Buon Giorno Amore Mio. Orchestra led by Maestro Piubeni, recorded in 1947, this is a MUCH better tune, at least in my opinion, and if I were in Italy, I would love to be awakened by this song, a nice little slow fox trot. This you'll like.
The last disc features Luciano Tajoli sounding almost Brasilero-sultry in these tunes... Dolce Veleno, and Madonna Rosa. Both recorded in 1947 with Maestro Piubeni again, the material is very well done here, emotion poured to overflowing on the songs. This is one powerful singer, people.
A word about the recordings and transfers... the discs were in pretty ratty shape, especially the Odeon discs, and I got what I could out of them. There's a bit more artifacting than I'd prefer, and on the last disc there were groove digs galore, including one spot where someone dropped what must have been an extremely heavy reproducer onto the disc, raising a blister on the opposite side! One nice thing about Italian 78s, though, they have a date on them in the runout area so dating these was bone-easy. If you look at the 'album' field in the ID3v2 tags, you'll see what I mean.
Anyways, hope you have a brilliant holiday, and I hope that these have spiced things up a bit for you.