Tag: Fred Ventura

KNIGHT$ Interview

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

Combining the Italo spirit of SAVAGE and RAF with British exponents of the form such as PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, the debut album by KNIGHT$ is one of the best albums of 2019.

‘Dollars & Cents’ is one of those fine immediate electronic pop records, ideal for these turbulent and uncertain socio-political times. The solo musical vehicle of James Knights, his bright crowd pleasing nature has made him a must-see live performer following well-received gigs in Europe.

With a stylish energetic persona coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, the catchy glitterball Britalo of KNIGHT$ will be playing all in clubs over the UK in July as the opening act for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS.

Gathered together in the corner of a bar in Hoxton to avoid the barrage of televised football, James Knights chatted to The Electricity Club about the making of ‘Dollars & Cents’, working with ITALOCONNECTION, plans for his upcoming shows and surviving the vultures circulating in the music industry…

‘Dollars & Cents’ appears to have been a well-received escapist triumph?

I think so, so far it feels like all the objectives have been achieved. Maybe people were feeling a bit of doom and gloom with Brexit so needed a lift; it definitely did that in the short term.

Was ‘Dollars & Cents’ a natural choice for the title track, did you have a theme in mind for the album?

I knew I wanted the album to be as uplifting and uptempo as possible. In terms of the album title, it seemed to make sense, only because as I went through all nine tracks, that was the one that jumped out at me. I later found out RADIOHEAD had a song called that which was quite disappointing…

You achieved some of that authentic ‘Gelato’ flavour by working with Italo legend Fred Ventura on three tracks, how did the association come about?

I have to thank YouTube for this because I was listening to a lot of Italo playlists and this song came on… I looked up who it was that made it, but I didn’t make the connection between Fred and ITALOCONNECTION. Once I realised, I thought maybe we could do something and I wrote a message to him.

Fred was a total gentleman about being open to working together and when I sent him ‘Alligator’, he completely wanted to get involved. It’s funny, but he said “It’s synth music but it reminds me of THE CLASH”, so thank you Fred and his partner Paolo, they did a good job.

One of The Electricity Club’s Italian friends thought the middle section with the girl speaking sounded a bit “porno”, was that the intention? *laughs*

I have to say, it wasn’t that thought out… my vocals require many takes but that part with the Italian girl Monia Rega took two! I asked her to sing on the track, the first take she did very well but the timing wasn’t quite what I wanted, the second time she got it completely bang on. There was never a discussion about this so I don’t know what to say, we were looking for a vibe but we never mentioned anything dodgy like that! *laughs*

You know there was a weird European TV game show called ‘Tutti Frutti’ where contestants answered questions to get strippers to take their clothes off???

No! *laughs*

‘Hijack My Heart’ had you tightening your trousers for a great Jimmy Somerville impression?

In many other projects that I’ve been in before, maybe I didn’t have the guts to go up that high but it needed to be done. I’ve sung high live but never quite got there on the records. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It works really well; did you have BRONSKI BEAT in mind when you recorded ‘Hijack My Heart’?

I have to say if I’m going to break down all those elements, the song that I always come back to is ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ by BRONSKI BEAT… I don’t know if it’s the production or what and I know Jimmy isn’t singing that one, but it’s got a vibe I like it.

Did you raid your sister’s record collection for inspiration, because ‘Running’ isn’t that far off early MADONNA?

Yes, it’s got a bit of that and definitely some Whitney, it was like a “let go” thing to get me out of my comfort zone! It was the hardest track to finish and mix so when I breakdown that whole record, it’s the one where I haven’t had that many opinions on. I think it’s because it just happens, it’s very natural and appears at the end of the record… maybe time will tell, it takes a couple of listens for it to really work. That was the nearest thing to an experimental moment on the album.

Talking of experimental moments, ‘Proving A Point’ is perhaps the most unorthodox track on the album, featuring Holger Wobker of BOYTRONIC…

Yes, it is different from the other tracks on the album, I had a demo of this for many years but the idea to do this with Holger obviously came later. We’ve both had similar experiences and difficulties so we thought with this track, let’s tell it as it is, we needed to let something out.

I really like ROBYN and her albums always have a couple of tracks in, these diversions that give the album some sense within the pop.

So ‘Proving A Point’ is your ‘Konichiwa Bitches’?

Yes, I felt we needed it! *laughs*

What was the idea behind the throbbing ‘Shadows’, another track with Fred Ventura?

That goes back to a demo I had on this old four track TASCAM, I’d played all the synths and they were completely out of time. We knew which tracks were going to go down first on the album but I dragged out this demo, it needed a touch up and ITALOCONNECTION did an amazing job. It’s nice to resurrect things because it means you didn’t waste your time all those years before. It’s got a nice YAZOO feel to it.

Photo by Gilbert Yates

‘Dollars & Cents’ is a pretty straight-up full-on uptempo electronic pop album over nine tracks, had that been a conscious decision, are albums too long now?

Yeah, I could watch my favourite band of all time and two hours would be too much! I know other music fans think differently, but a good hour of anything is fine, my album is not even that!

What do you think of this new trend for two volume album works like MARINA, THE 1975 and TR/ST have done?

I wouldn’t do a debut album that way but maybe there’s room for it later on. But I really can’t imagine doing that, it’s hard enough work trying to write good songs without having then to find a thread, it’s not in my way of thinking.

For both ‘Dollars & Cents’ and the new BOYTRONIC album you’re involved in, you used Pledge Music and there have been some very public difficulties with its cashflow; how has this hampered you as an artist?

If it wasn’t for having a good fanbase, it would have been a complete disaster. But going with Pledge Music when I did was the worst thing I could have done, I went in at the wrong time! You have to think that the music will live on and that people will back you. People will back whatever they believe in and luckily, I’ve had many messages of support and we just got on with it, all of the fans have been great.

So what is happening with the upcoming BOYTRONIC album?

That’s was a bit tricky because I was meant to be paid by Pledge in December, so I’ve put my own money into recording the BOYTRONIC album. Obviously, I’m still down because the album’s not yet released, but I hope that it all comes good. A hell of a lot have bands like JESUS JONES have been inconvenienced and very vocal about the situation, but the only way we are going to get any solace from this is the music.

As history has proven, there is always someone in the music industry misappropriating money trusted to them by artists and fans. So is there a future to crowdfunding because no matter what happens, it seems like artists are just making money for a different type of crook?

I once did a calculation based on a record deal I was offered… I could sell 1000 myself or with the record deal, it would give me wider growth and expose me to more people, but I would earn exactly the same money if I sold 8000!! In this day and age, it’s so hard to sell 8000 copies of anything that it’s better to keep everything in house probably and try to sell 1000. People will say that’s short sighted but I don’t think it is.

Even at an independent level, there are people getting into the music industry who apply a smokescreen for more sinister intentions, be they DJs who hate the 80s doing 80s radio shows or event promoters who believe ticket touts are “free enterprise”. Any thoughts?

They will always be there, and unfortunately there will always be artists who take the same view… any artist that doesn’t believe in what they’re making, they’re in the wrong game… what can I say? it’s survival of the fittest.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

On a more cheerful note, your album launch party in London was a great success and even led to you inviting the audience to join you on stage just like early SOFT CELL gigs?

It was a big rush, because you never know what’s going to happen at gigs, you know what London is like. The fact that people came out and really got into it, it was brilliant. My stage is their stage and I wouldn’t really want to create a divide.

I’m not interested in crash barriers, if people want to come up, they should be able to come up. I would rather someone join me on stage and lose their minds.

You had an interesting gig is Sweden because of the venue set up?

That was in Halmstad, the original gig had been cancelled and they moved us to what seemed like the local Wetherspoons, I was on at two in the morning and it was crazy! *laughs*

The Swedes love their Italo…

I think it’s just an appreciation of melody coming through via the ABBA tradition, they really know a good song when they hear one. If there wasn’t any melody, we wouldn’t remember anything.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

You’re touring this UK with A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS?

I’m really excited about it and looking forward to going round the UK again with two nights in London, there’s a lot to be thankful for.

I’ve always loved A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS, I know they get a lot of stick with the haircuts and whatever, but they’re far better than people give them credit for. The songs aren’t that far from THE CURE, let’s be honest! It’s nice to be part of it.

So for those people who may not know what you are like live, why should they come along and arrive early?

They’d be fools not too! I have some nice surprises up my sleeve but for every person who has decided to sit in the pub to have an extra beer, I will match that beer! So if they turn up early, the beers are on me! *laughs*

What’s on the cards for the future?

I’d like to make another record as soon as possible but it always takes longer than you think, but we’ll have to see. And it would be nice to do an end of year show somewhere…


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to James Knights

‘Dollars & Cents’ is released by Specchio Uomo in CD and download formats, available now from https://knights101.bandcamp.com/album/dollars-cents-lp

KNIGHT$ opens for A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS on the following 2019 UK tour dates:

Wolverhampton Robin 2 (11th July), London Dingwalls (12th-13th July), Liverpool Cavern (14th July), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (17th July), Newcastle Riverside (18th July), Glasgow Art School (19th July)

http://knights101.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Knights101/

https://twitter.com/JPSKNIGHTS

https://www.instagram.com/knights101/

http://knightstore.bigcartel.com

https://open.spotify.com/album/24YAx5VzMc2hpQ14xuF0Jn


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
19th May 2019, updated 25th June 2019

KNIGHT$ Dollars & Cents

Coming over like the love child of Richard Butler and Neil Tennant, James Knights has been making synthwaves with sparkly Britalo!

Slicker and less intense than his previous band SCARLET SOHO, shiny disco pop is what his KNIGHT$ alter-ego is all about.

Combining the melodic Italo Disco spirit of SAVAGE and RAF with British exponents of the form such as PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, ‘Dollars & Cents’ is a joyous ray of sunshine.

It opens perfectly with the catchy KNIGHT$ calling card ‘What’s Your Poison?’ that was first issued in 2017. A dig at modern internet dating culture, he told the Electricity Club: “I guess I thought people would have a better idea of finding the perfect date by offering people drinks and judging them on their choice! Gotta be better than Tinder!”

KNIGHT$ has made a wise choice by including his first single, but it is the glorious ‘Gelato’ that affirms KNIGHT$’ Britalo aspirations with its unashamedly sun-kissed glitterball drive that gets all deliciously “Tutti Frutti”.

The soulful electro disco of ‘Julia’ comes complete with a Speak & Spell machine that counterpoints KNIGHT$’ sense of longing and there’s an unexpected key change too. Taking the pace down a bit for an artful street duet featuring Holger Wobker of BOYTRONIC, ‘Proving A Point’ comes over like spacey HEAVEN 17 as sheep bleat and synths bleep.

The ‘Dollars & Cents’ title track is a wonderfully charged HI-NRG romp with KNIGHT$ adopting a lower register Jimmy Somerville persona. Meanwhile continuing that theme, the equally energetic ‘Hijack My Heart’ apes BRONSKI BEAT, complete with a closing bursts of falsetto as the Winchester lad tightens his glitzy clubbing trousers to full effect and drops in a blistering synth solo to add to the fun.

The metallic Eurobeat of ‘Shadows’ offers no respite and keeps the feet shuffling on that dancefloor before the more steadfast ‘Running’; this one takes one more of an early MADONNA template but perhaps suffers next to the three songs preceding it, particularly as its rhythmic backbone is much more subdued in the mix. But it’s still a good song none the less.

Closing this primarily uptempo collection, the snappy electro-funk of ‘Alligator’ is an amusing observation on one-sided conversation with people who doesn’t listen which echoes LES RYTHMES DIGITALES but channelled in much more of a pop-oriented context.

The previously released B-sides ‘Playin’ It Cool’ and ‘What We Leave Behind’ come as welcome extras on the CD variant although the excellent ‘So Cold’ is missing; but almost everything you could want from a first full length body of work by KNIGHT$ is present and correct.

‘Dollars & Cents’ is a very immediate electronic pop record that is ideal for these turbulent and uncertain socio-political times. Whereas the coming years will decide whether it is a classic, for now it is simply perfect escapist pop music. So Britalo be thy name!

KNIGHT$ debut long player may be the antithesis of the intense and gloomy ‘Careful’ from BOY HARSHER, but sits alongside it as one of the first great albums of 2019.


‘Dollars & Cents’ is released by Specchio Uomo on 5th April 2019 in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats, available direct from https://knights101.bandcamp.com/album/dollars-cents-album

http://knights101.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Knights101/

https://twitter.com/JPSKNIGHTS

https://www.instagram.com/knights101/


Text by Chi Ming Lai
14th March 2019

TEC’S 25 FAVOURITE ITALO DISCO TRACKS

The recent documentary ‘Italo Disco Legacy’ and its accompanying soundtrack allowed a much maligned if cultishly celebrated form of electronic pop to be artistically re-evaluated.

Arguably pioneered by Italian producer GIORGIO MORODER via his various projects using the then-new sequencer technology, Italo Disco coincided with the growing use of synthesizers, vocoders and drum machines within dance music and became a distinct sub-genre with its own electro heart.

Despite its name, Italo Disco was not strictly a native affair; the form became a stylistic phenomenon in territories such as Spain, Greece and France, parts of the USA such as New York and Los Angeles, Sweden and Germany.

In fact, it was the German record label ZYX Music who coined the term and were particularly key in taking the music out of Italy, leading it to become a rogue gene in House music before eventually mutating into Eurodance.

One of the countries not to truly embrace Italo Disco was the UK where club audiences preferred the more soulful adrenalin rush of HI-NRG. However, it literally came in through the back door when it was a key influence in the music of PET SHOP BOYS and NEW ORDER, particularly in their use of very Eurocentric octave shift basslines and easy-to-dance-to beats.

Highlighting the British hypocrisy of only accepting Italo Disco provided it was fronted by the aloof cool of a Neil Tennant or a Bernard Sumner, in a 1986 issue of Record Mirror discussing PET SHOP BOYS’ ‘Suburbia’, the reviewer confessed: “Despite the fact that I love the PET SHOP BOYS as much as I loathe MODERN TALKING, I have to admit that musically, they’re not that different!”

One key aspect of Italo Disco was that the majority of its artists used very English names in an attempt to hide their origins. However, the charming accents often captured an amusing vocal detachment while the frequent “woah-oh” refrains, abundance of catchy melodies and timing mistakes also contributed to its escapist appeal.

Italo Disco went global with LAURA BRANIGAN whose two biggest hits ‘Gloria’ and ‘Self Control’ were covers of Italian artists UMBERTO TOZZI and RAF respectively, while SAMANTHA FOX and SABRINA were two of the more noticeable figures in pop who used it as a springboard for their own high profile careers.

Providing the soundtrack to many a Mediterranean summer holiday, the zenith of Italo Disco’s ubiquity (and some would say banality) was probably BALTIMORA’s ‘Tarzan Boy’, the worldwide hit fronted by the late Northern Irish model Jimmy McShane, although the lead vocals were performed by one Maurizio Bassi in a practice that was exploited frequently by the sub-genre’s producers.

Longevity was very rare in Italo Disco, so its history is represented more by a number of great records rather than great artists, although several such as FANCY, SAVAGE, BOBBY O and RYAN PARIS have entered into music folklore.

Latterly, Anglo-Argentine duo HEARTBREAK revived the form with a much harder sound and KNIGHT$ has added his own Home Counties take on the form labelled as Britalo. Meanwhile Italo Disco’s continuing influence can be heard within most types of modern electronic music including Synthwave.

In these darker, more turbulent times, the sunnier disposition of Italo Disco is just what the Doctor Rhythm ordered. So here are 25 nominally Italo Disco tracks which have brought a smile to The Electricity Club’s face, with a restriction of one track per artist in chronological and then alphabetical order.


KLEIN & MBO Dirty Talk (1982)

KLEIN & MBO were formed by Italian producer Mario Boncaldo and American arranger Tony Carrasco. Like a blueprint of early house music, their rhythmically hypnotic neo-instrumental ‘Dirty Talk’ with its orgasmic vocal interludes by jazz singer Rossana Casale proved to be a big influence on NEW ORDER for ‘Blue Monday’. Meanwhile MISS KITTIN & THE HACKER covered the track for their ‘Champagne’ EP in 1998.

Available on the KLEIN & MBO single ‘Dirty Talk’ via Tirk Recordings

https://www.facebook.com/KleinMbo-90283074783/


BOBBY O I’m So Hot For You (1982)

Bobby Orlando is credited as one of the founding fathers of Hi-NRG dance music thanks to his work with DIVINE, but operating at a more disco friendly 122BPM, ‘I’m So Hot For You’ was ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ taken on a New York subway ride with its rolling bass lines and Latin beats. The track was later sampled in 2003 for ‘Da Hype’ by JUNIOR JACK.

Available on the BOBBY O album ‘The Best Of’ via High Fashion

http://www.bobby-orlando.de


THE FLIRTS Passion (1982)

THE FLIRTS were an interchangeable girl trio of one redhead, one blonde and one brunette under the control of Bobby Orlando, whereby those who did the personal appearances had no relation to those who had sang on the tracks. ‘Passion’ was a favourite of PET SHOPS BOYS so much so that it was the inspiration for ‘In The Night’ while FELIX DA HOUSECAT ripped it lock, stock and barrel for ‘Silver Screen – Shower Scene’.

Available on THE FLIRTS album ’10 Cents For A Dance’ via High Fashion

http://www.theflirtsband.com


GINO SOCCIO Remember (1982)

A Canadian disco producer of Italian heritage, Gino Soccio’s finest moment came with ‘Remember’, a pulsating sequencer assisted number featuring some vocoder augmentation and the sexy nonchalant voice of Marie-Line Vasseur over a fabulously retro-futuristic string machine. Ahead of its time, this was a forerunner of what was to emerge as Electroclash.

Available on the GINO SOCCIO album ‘Face To Face’ via Rhino Atlantic

https://www.discogs.com/artist/75922-Gino-Soccio


CHARLIE Spacer Woman (1983)

A project helmed by Maurizio Cavalieri who had been a member of the Italian group FIREFLY and co-written with Giorgio Stefani, ‘Spacer Woman’ featured a mysterious Gina X styled lead vocal over some electro break beats that unlike other Italo Disco recordings, used more colder synth sounds that were more associated with UK acts like THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Picked up by ZYX Music for international release, this was to be the only CHARLIE track released.

Available on the CHARLIE single ‘Spacer Woman’ via Mr Disc

https://www.discogs.com/artist/15971-Charlie


COREY HART Sunglasses At Night (1983)

Canadian Corey Hart is best known for ‘Sunglasses at Night’, a catchy tune with its characteristic synth arpeggio, rock guitar and cryptic lyrics apparently inspired by the studio personnel wearing sunglasses protect their eyes from the air conditioning positioned above the control desk! The song was covered in an Electroclash vein in 2001 by TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS, while the original made an appearance in an episode of ‘Stranger Things’.

Available on the COREY HART album ‘The Singles’ via EMI Music

http://www.coreyhart.com


MR FLAGIO Take A Chance (1983)

The project of Italian duo Flavio Vidulich and Giorgio Bacco (hence the moniker), the futuristic robotic vocoder opera of ‘Take A Chance’ had a subtle tinny banality that made it extremely appealing. PET SHOP BOYS borrowed its feel for the early B-side ‘A Man Could Get Arrested’ while it use of minimal rhythmic guitar and sequencers clearly had an effect on NEW ORDER’s Bernard Sumner.

Available on the MR FLAGIO single ‘Take A Chance’ via The Saifam Group

https://www.discogs.com/artist/15976-Mr-Flagio


IVAN Fotonovela (1984)

IVAN was the stage name of Spaniard Juan Carlos Ramos Vaquero and he naturally found a home for his music in Spanish speaking territories like Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile. The sunny octave vibe of ‘Fotonovela’ with its bells, strings and accordions was to be his greatest moment; indeed the Greek production duo who produce MARSHEAUX are named after this song.

Available on the IVAN album ‘Lo Mejor De’ via Sony Music

https://www.discogs.com/artist/81599-Ivan-4


P.LION Happy Children (1983)

Italian musician and singer Pietro Paolo Pelandi named himself P.LION thanks to only having Ps in his name while with his aristocratic background, his family coat of arms was a lion. The optimistic synth brass laden ‘Happy Children’ was to be his biggest song, becoming popular in France and later in the colder climes of Sweden where Italo Disco was to find an unexpected audience.

Available on the P.LION single ‘Happy Children’ via Nocolors

http://www.plionproject.com/English/New_Release.html


ALEXANDER ROBOTNICK Problèmes D’amour (1983)

Born Maurizio Dami, the Italian electronic musician was a founder member of the quirky art cabaret trio named AVIDA. ‘Problèmes D’amour’ with its clattering drum machine, swirling analogue synths and cutesy female voiced counterpoints found a cult audience. Later working in soundtracks and world music, Dami continues making electronic dance music in the present day under the ALEXANDER ROBOTNICK moniker, remixing ‘Stuck On Repeat’ for LITTLE BOOTS in 2009 along the way.

Available on the ALEXANDER ROBOTNICK single ‘Problèmes D’Amour’ via Materiali Sonori

https://www.alexander-robotnick.it


RYAN PARIS La Dolce Vita (1983)

While his real name was Fabio Roscioli, his huge hit ‘La Dolce Vita’ was written and produced for him by Pierluigi Giombini, who not only wrote songs exclusively in English but was keen to move the established Italian singer away from rock. Paris recently returned to the spotlight with ‘Love On Ice’ in collaboration with Johan Agebjorn and Sally Shapiro, a song from the soundtrack for the Swedish thriller ‘Videomannen’.

Available on the RYAN PARIS album ‘The Best Of’ via Dvmor

http://www.ryan-paris.com


SAVAGE Don’t Cry Tonight (1983)

Despite having a long music career which continues to this day, Tuscan native Roberto Zanetti is still best known for debut single ‘Don’t Cry Tonight’, a moody slice of disco lento that was hugely successful across Europe. One notable fan was Chris Lowe, who used the song to open his playlist in PET SHOP BOYS ‘Back To Mine’ mixtape collection in 2005.

Available on the SAVAGE album ‘Don’t Cry – Greatest Hits’ via ZYX Music

http://www.savage-music.it


VALERIE DORE Get Closer (1984)

The alluring tones of VALERIE DORE were actually masterminded by producer Roberto Gasparini and fronted by Monica Stucchi who lip-synched on public appearances to the vocals of Dora Carofiglio on the first two hits ‘The Night’ and ‘Get Closer’. Stucchi herself voiced her recordings after 1986 and continues performing as Valerie. Meanwhile ‘Get Closer’ itself was covered by MARC ALMOND with STARCLUSTER in 2016.

Available on the VALERIE DORE album ‘The Best Of’ via ZYX Music

http://www.valeriedore.it


FANCY Slice Me Nice (1984)

Under the stage name of FANCY, Manfred Alois Segieth cut a striking androgynous figure within Italo Disco, scoring an international hit with the extremely saucy ‘Slice Me Nice’. The German born Spaniard even made headway in the US Billboard Dance Charts in 1985 with ‘Chinese Eyes’ and ‘Come Inside’, while ‘Bolero’ hit the top spot in Spain. At the age of 70 in 2017, he took the Guinness world record for the highest ever pop concert in La Paz, Bolivia!

Available on the FANCY album ‘The Original Maxi-Singles Collection’ via Pokorny Music Solutions

http://fancy-online.com


OP.8 Butterfly (1984)

Originally released on Milan’s Discomagic Records, ‘Butterfly’ was Moroder influenced Italo Disco with an oriental flavour and a catchy refrain derived from Puccini. It’s so obscure that there is virtually no information about it, although it was written by Ronald Hanson, Michele D’Alessandro and Massimo Parretti while progammed by Piero Cairo. ZYX Music dug it out for a compilation in 2010.

Available on the OP.8 single ‘Butterfly’ via ZYX Music

https://www.zyxmusic.com/


RAF Black & Blue (1984)

Raffaele Riefoli actually lived in London before starting out his musical career. He scored a domestic hit with his co-write ‘Self Control’, but hit paydirt when it was covered by Italian pop enthusiast LAURA BRANIGAN. ‘Black & Blue’ was one of the highlights from his debut album called ‘Change Your Mind’ in most territories which featured slap bass and all the then-modern technological trimmings which wouldn’t have sounded out of place as a release on PET SHOP BOYS’ Spaghetti Records imprint.

Available on the RAF album ‘Self Control’ via East West Italy

http://www.raf.it


CLIO Faces (1985)

The vehicle of Italian singer Maria Chiara Perugini, the sophisticated and stylish aura of CLIO’s ‘Faces’ was written and produced by Roberto Ferrante who later founded Planet Records. With its pretty colourful melodies and punchy rhythms, it could have been mistaken for early MADONNA. The track was covered by Canadian synth duo ELECTRIC YOUTH in 2011.

Available on the compilation album ’80’s Dance Story Original Italo Hits’ (V/A) via Hot Hits

https://www.discogs.com/artist/154990-Clio


BRIAN ICE Talking To The Night (1985)

Singer and actor Fabrizio Rizzolo was the man behind the ice and ‘Talking To The Night’ was apparently composed and written in just a few minutes, using just about every Italo Disco cliché in the book, especially with its “woah-oh” vocals. A limited edition 12 inch issued on ZYX Music played from the label outwards! He later co-wrote ‘Never Be Lonely’ for Gloria Gaynor and continues a successful career in Italian TV and theatre.

Available on the BRIAN ICE album ‘Greatest Hits & Remixes’ via ZYX Music

http://www.fabriziorizzolo.it


GRANT MILLER Colder Than Ice (1985)

Sensing he could achieve another massive hit if the song had an extremely handsome frontman, FANCY made the idea reality when Indiana-born model Grant Miller-Benton was introduced to him by DIVINE. Produced by FANCY under his Tess Teiges moniker, Miller scored a debut hit in Germany when it was released by ZYX Music. A popular personality within the scene, a later single ‘Doctor For My Heart’ released in 1986 was produced by Dieter Bohlen of MODERN TALKING.

Available on the GRANT MILLER album ‘The Maxi-Singles Hit Collection’ via ZYX Music

http://grant-miller.blogspot.co.uk


CC CATCH Cause You Are Young (1986)

Caroline Catharina Müller was a German domiciled Dutch pop singer who was a member of the girl group OPTIMAL. Spotted by Dieter Bohlen of MODERN TALKING, he signed her to Hansa Records and launched her solo career. A breathy vocal and an enticing lead synth line plus a fabulous catchy chorus laced with orchestra stabs ensured that ‘Cause You Are Young’ was a big European hit.

Available on the CC CATCH album ‘The 80’s Album’ via Edel Records

http://www.cccatch.de


EDDY HUNTINGTON USSR (1986)

Hailing from Peterlee in County Durham, Cliff Richard fan and model Edward Huntington sought fame and fortune as a pop singer in Italy. Discovered by Baby Records, they took him to Milan to record the catchy ‘USSR’, written by the same production team behind DEN HARROW. Released in the rest of Europe by ZYX Music, the song unexpectedly became a hit in the Soviet Union. Huntington later returned to the UK to become a primary school teacher.

Available on the EDDY HUNTINGTON album ‘Bang Bang Baby’ via Baby Records International

https://www.facebook.com/Eddy-Huntington-Italo-Disco-138800969576918/


MODERN TALKING Cheri Cheri Lady (1986)

Comprising of ridiculously tanned singer Thomas Anders and musician Dieter Bohlen, MODERN TALKING’s overtly catchy melodic tunes like ‘You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul’, ‘Cheri Cheri Lady’ and ‘Brother Louie’ ensured they were simultaneously the most successful and most hated pop duo in West Germany. Bohlen later gained notoriety as a judge on ‘Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar’, taking on the role of Germany’s answer to Simon Cowell.

Available on the MODERN TALKING album ‘The Very Best Of’ via Sony Music

http://www.modern-talking-online.de


PAUL REIN Lady-O (1986)

Sweden’s Paul Rein was their home grown Italo Disco star and ‘Lady-O’ showed that cold weather and dark nights was no barrier to producing upbeat electronic dance music. He has since continued a career as a songwriter for artists like Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore, but perhaps as a reaction to his fame, his daughter Joanna is now making waves in EBM, having opened for DAF in 2016!

Available on the PAUL REIN album ‘Communicate’ via 22:22 Music

https://www.discogs.com/artist/116266-Paul-Rein


FRED VENTURA Wind Of Change (1986)

Italo Disco legend Federico Di Bonaventura began his music career with a 4 track cassette machine, a Roland Juno 60, an Oberheim DX and a passion for NEW ORDER. ‘Winds of Change’ was a rousing Italo Disco track with cowbells and big digital drums that brought him European success. He continues making music today with Paolo Gozzetti as ITALOCONNECTION who have remixed THE HUMAN LEAGUE, HURTS and KNIGHT$ amongst others.

Available on the FRED VENTURA album ‘Disco Modernism (1983 – 2008)’ via Clone Classic Cuts

https://www.facebook.com/italoconnection/


DEN HARROW Don’t Break My Heart (1987)

A play on the Italian word “denaro” meaning money, this project was the brainchild of producers Miki Chieregato and Roberto Turatti. Fronted by fashion model Stefano Zandri,  it was however American singer Tom Hooker who provided the voice on the biggest hit ‘Don’t Break My Heart’. Despite Zandri admitting in 2012 that he did not sing on any of the records, he continues to make public appearances as DEN HARROW having taken singing lessons in 1998.

Available on the DEN HARROW album ‘I Miei Successi’ via DV Digital

http://www.denharrow.it


‘Italo Be Thy Name’, a Spotify Playlist compiled by The Electricity Club of related tracks can be listened to at: https://open.spotify.com/user/theelectricityclub/playlist/3uUHPnMSOsUegDSnnFr7Fn

The ‘Italo Disco Legacy’ soundtrack is released by Private Records as a 2LP + DVD package, available from https://www.juno.co.uk/products/italo-disco-legacy-soundtrack/672465-01/

https://www.facebook.com/ItaloDiscoLegacy/

http://www.italo-interviews.com/


Text by Chi Ming Lai with thanks to Grit Cheraka and Viola Anastasia
12th May 2018