Tag: Laura Branigan

ROXI DRIVE Interview

The advent of synthwave as a genre has led to a number of interesting variants with the pop-oriented version of the form being led by international starlets such as DANA JEAN PHOENIX, NINA, and PARALLELS.

Looking to join their ranks with her recently released second album ‘Electric Heart’ is Britain’s very own ROXI DRIVE. With her own take on the classic MTV friendly sound of Pat Benatar and Laura Brannigan, ‘Electric Heart’ sees Roxi rock out more openly compared with her debut long player ‘Strangers Of The Night’.

Add Brat Pack movies, paranormal comedies and horror films from the era into the mix and ROXI DRIVE evokes colourful images from the past with big hair, leather jackets, sexy jump suits and silk blouses to accompany her synth assisted rock-flavoured sound.

Roxi kindly took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about her ‘Electric Heart’ and why she loves to party like it’s 1985…

The first thing that has to be said is the cover art for ‘Electric Heart’ is very retro-authentic, had it been inspired by any particular images from back in the day and how did you get the look?

Thank you. Yes I went through 80s single and album covers to find inspiration. I love the whole 80s aesthetic so it was fun putting together the look. I’m very inspired by Pat Benatar and Laura Brannigan so I wanted something reminiscent of their vibe. My friend and band member Glen Jevon came over to mine with all his kit and we had a fun afternoon shooting lots of 80s poses and looks.

What inspired you to enter this world of synths and popwave as your background is in acting?

Well I’ve always loved music and singing. I sung on stage in various roles when I did musical theatre. I then joined a 40s style harmony girl band called THE MORELLAS which was good fun and we gigged up and down the country together. I much prefer writing and recording than being in the acting game. I remember feeling a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a lot of the roles I was auditioning for. I have always been an 80s nerd so doing this really fulfils me and I have a lot of fun with it.

Is the rumoured Ryan Gosling obsession just legend or truth?

Haha! I think that rumour may have started with you Chi! I love the movie ‘Drive’ as much as the next synth head but not sure I’m obsessed with the guy as pretty as he is.

Who are your musical influences as far as you own music is concerned?

Ohhh too many to mention! I like to skip between slightly more rocky pop and the more funky pop. I love the pop rock chicks of the 80s, Pat Benatar, Laura Brannigan, Kim Wilde, Tuesday Knight and then the more funky pop artists like Nu Shooz, Cyndi Lauper, Meri D Marshal, Stacey Q and Aleshia. Favourite bands would be DEPECHE MODE, SIMPLE MINDS, TEARS FOR FEARS, BANANARAMA.

‘Run All Night’ started it all, how did the track come together and when did you become aware it was getting a positive response?

Yes ‘Run all Night’ basically began with a friend of mine James Secker sending my demo tape to SELLOREKT/LA DREAMS, who’s a producer in LA and he wanted to work with me which I was very excited about. He had already released it previously but felt it would work really well with vocals, so we got to work. It began with a full verse / chorus pattern and lots more lyrics but it wasn’t working, so we cut it down and created a chorus from one of the lines from the verse “Waiting in the dark” which worked well in the end. We were really pleased with the positive response and I knew then this was what I wanted to do.

Photo by Abstract Reality

Your first album ‘Strangers Of The Night’ was promising but it would be far to say it perhaps lacked aural cohesion due to the number of producers who worked on it; did you set out to do anything on ‘Electric Heart’ to get more of a sonic continuity?

You would think so, but actually I still worked with a number of producers on this album, although maybe the overall sound is more in sync than the previous album.

I particularly wanted more of an authentic vibe with the tracks and was keen to explore the rockier pop stuff with the electric guitars as I’ve always loved that sound. So a lot of the producers I worked with already had that sound or were more than capable of producing it.

So with a song like ‘Dangerous’, what would be the creative dynamic on that?

‘Dangerous’ was a track JUNO DREAMS produced and it was already pretty much in the bag, production wise. He needed a singer to write and record a melody for it and I got to work. I was very excited to work with him. That track came out better than I think either of us expected. I’ve had a lot of great response on that one, it’s quite an empowering track and I like to think makes you feel like you’re in the 80s soundtrack to your life when listening to it. The lyrics were actually based on one of my favourite 80s horror movies ‘Fright Night’. You’ll see in there the reference to mirrors knowing all the secrets and lies.

‘Breathe You’ has some great synth passages while vocally it’s quite wispily emotive, what is it about?

Yes another one I based on a favourite 80s movie, this time ‘Starman’ by John Carpenter. I always loved this film and the lyrics were about this extra-terrestrial ‘man’ having to go back home but also having to leave this woman that he’s fallen in love with. He can’t stay on Earth because he literally can’t breathe and won’t survive. Every time I see that film I cry so it was nice to write about it in the lyrics.

You’re getting to play out a lot more of your Pat Benatar fantasies on tracks like ‘Breakdown’, ‘Lost In the Game’ and ‘Video Fantasy’?

Yes absolutely! She’s such an inspiration of mine and her performances are so powerful. Her music really lifts the mood. I really wanted tracks like this on the album.

Were you ever a hairbrush in the mirror kind of girl when you were a teenager?

I’m sure I did stand in front of my mirror with a hairbrush. I was always performing in some way, if it was in the school choir, or school plays, or local theatre group. I remember begging my teacher when I was about 10 if I could stand in front of the class and sing ‘Eternal Flame’ by THE BANGLES. I guess the 80s influence was written in the stars even then.

Photo by Abstract Reality

How do you prefer to record your voice? Are you a one take type of girl or is comping better with regards the end product?

Mostly comping. I rarely get a whole song in one take and I would never be happy with that. I’ll do several takes and decide on the right ones.

‘Hot Night’ is a real fist in the air moment like it could have come off a Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckenheimer film, was Bonnie Tyler in the house?

Haha she may have been when Diane Warren wrote it. It was originally sung by Laura Brannigan for the ‘Ghostbusters’ soundtrack and I’ve always loved it.

Why did you opt to include two versions of ‘Electricity’?

I wanted a different spin on it and I really love DIAMOND FIELD’s style of taking a song and reworking it as opposed to remixing it and creating almost an acoustic version which stands well alone as a different song entirely. I didn’t want a typical remix, I wanted it to sound very different.

Which are you own favourite songs on ‘Electric Heart’ and why?

‘All My Dreams’ is a beautiful song written by a wonderful musician called KIDBURN. We both loved working together and it turned out our voices had a really nice synergy. ‘Breakdown’ and ‘Video Fantasy’ are real foot stomping feel good tunes. ‘Electricity’ is really good fun to sing on stage.

Do you feel an affinity with the other synthwave girls like NINA, PARALLELS and DANA JEAN PHOENIX like sisters in arms?

Yes, I love those artists and lots of other female artists doing the retro thing. I’ve always been drawn to female vocalists. I love listening to them sing and it’s so wonderful that we all support each other. Everyone has their own style and vibe which I love.

How are you finding handling social media and marketing your music to an audience? What have been the pros and cons?

I was used to it to a certain extent when I was an actress. It can be tough to have to constantly find content to put out. We don’t get paid for social media posts, we just have to hope that we sell more music or reach out to a wider audience. The pros are most defiantly being able to interact with so many people all over the world. I’ve had the nicest support from people and the kindest of messages about how my music has made people feel or helped them in some way and that means everything to me. Makes it all worthwhile.

How have you been finding performing live? What’s it like compared with acting in a play?

I was bricking it when I first started. Simply because although I’ve been in a band or in plays, I’ve not stood up alone with no one by my side sharing the load. I have found the more shows I’ve performed, the more confident I’m getting and like anything else, it’s a learning experience and my show is building all the time. I now have an awesome drummer called Matt and a keytar player in Glen, so we now have a really nice dynamic on stage as a band. I feel like I can relax and let loose a bit more.

What’s next for you, lockdown depending of course? Are there any hopes and fears with regards doing music?

Yeah it’s a shame as I had some nice shows booked this year. I’ll continue more writing and recording. I’ll soon be releasing a horror track to promote an 80s horror novel David Irons has written called ‘Polybius’. Based on an urban myth about a killer arcade game in the 80s, so that will be released shortly.

I’m working with a couple of other producers on possible side projects. I’ll probably continue to keep varying my style. I don’t like to get stuck in a box. I’ll do what feels right and what I enjoy. I’m filming some live performances at home, so me and the guys can pretend we are on stage from our homes.


The Electricity Club gives is warmest thanks to ROXI DRIVE

‘Electric Heart’ is available as a download album direct from: https://roxidrive.bandcamp.com/album/electric-heart

Pre-order vinyl LP at https://qrates.com/projects/20465-electric-heart

https://www.roxidrivemusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RoxiDrive/

https://twitter.com/RoxiDrive

https://www.instagram.com/roxidrive/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/7hQiyAGXAwCFtakCFSIgHK


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Glen Jevon except where credited
29th April 2020, updated 19th May 2020

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

GOLDFRAPP Live In London

On a cold Autumn evening in a packed Hammersmith Apollo, something unusual was happening; Alison Goldfrapp was having fun!

The fairy godmother of modern electro has always cut a striking if static on-stage persona but tonight, it was if the thigh booted ice queen of yore had melted.

Like LADYTRON’s Mira Aroyo on their ‘Velocifero’ tour, Ms Goldfrapp totally loosened up, just as ERASURE’s Andy Bell once suggested she should.

So after a start which included darker, more artful selections like ‘Voicething’, ‘Crystalline Green’ and ‘You Never Know’, there was a breakout of smiles, dancing and even acknowledgements of the audience. While she has not turned into KYLIE MINOGUE, tonight saw a more relaxed and confident Alison Goldfrapp, someone who was now comfortable in their own aura.

There could be a variety of factors contributing to this but one almost certainly is the uptempo material from the ‘Head First’ album that dominates the middle part of this show. Tailor made for the sheer dynamics of live performance. A song like ‘Dreaming’ may be gorgeously layered Eurodisco, but the bouncy FM synth rock numbers ‘Alive’, ‘Believer’ and ‘I Wanna Life’ make the audience punch the air and join in the choruses.

‘Rocket’ is another case in point, a wonderful slice of Trans-Atlantic pop with Italo refrains a la LAURA BRANIGAN. The gorgeous middle eight is just angelic while the near lyrical banality of the chorus is utter genius.

Honorary Frappers Charlie Jones, Angie Pollock, Davide Rossi and new drummer Daisy Palmer all contribute a strong visual presence, with Pollock and Rossi taking to keytars in mock-VAN HALEN parody during this lively section of the show.

Rossi is a total musical all-rounder, swapping between violin, synths and guitar while Pollock backs up on keyboards and backing vox, looking every bit the glam vamp. Marching around the stage in neo-militaristic fashion, Ms Goldfrapp’s crazy curly locks billow in the artificial wind like some live action remake of the cult cartoon ‘Crystal Tipps & Alistair’ and her black tinsel-covered outfit does the same.

The glam era is very much at the root of the GOLDFRAPP aesthetic and even on the mid-paced material, this influence is prevalent. The fantastic ‘Number 1’ is a ROXY MUSIC number transported into the 21st Century, while the wonderful ABBA inspired singalong of ‘Head First’ would do Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Annifrid proud.

Throughout the set, the rhythm section remains rock solid. Jones, son-in-law of LED ZEPPELIN’s Robert Plant cooly textures and jazzes up proceedings as appropriate on his bass while despite having a full acoustic kit at her disposal, Palmer sticks mostly to a punchy electronic percussion pad but comes to the fore when the power is needed.

An extended electronic work out of ‘Ride A White Horse’ meets the crowd’s approval while ‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Strict Machine’ are effectively turned full-blown T-REX tributes with as usual, the latter’s ‘We Are Glitter’ intro threatening to turn into RAH BAND’s ‘The Crunch’! And not forgetting ‘Train’, this doesn’t disappoint either as a filthy slice of Teutonic schaffel!

Indeed, the sheer volume is a pleasant surprise tonight. It even paradoxically helps the quieter numbers in the encore like ‘Black Cherry’ and the superb ‘Lovely Head’ with Ms Goldfrapp’s spine tingling electronically assisted banshee wails.

GOLDFRAPP gigs have often been too quiet in the past, thereby encouraging talking in the audience and provoking the culturally challenged who simply cannot get their heads around the more esoteric GOLDFRAPP material. This evening, the loudness sees them all thankfully silenced, even when she tackles these songs dressed like a Meringue!

Tonight, people saw the real Alison Goldfrapp, the girl with the OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN fixation.

If she had only performed the early B-side ‘UK Girls’ featuring its chorus lifted from ‘Physical’, then the circle would have been completed and everything would have been perfect. Other than that, it was GOLDFRAPP’s best ever live set. Despite all the flirtations with folk and film-noir, Ms Goldfrapp is actually a purveyor of some guilty pleasures.


‘Head First’ is released by Mute Records/EMI music

www.goldfrapp.com


Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Richard Price
16th November 2010

GOLDFRAPP Head First

Alison’s Opalescent Retro

GOLDFRAPP have always shed skins with every album. Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory are almost like a modern day EURYTHMICS, changing styles as they please and making the audience work for their enjoyment whether they approve of the new direction or not!

From their moody cinematic debut ‘Felt Mountain’ to the futurist electro-glam of ‘Black Cherry’ and the X-Certificate Kylie of their biggest commercial success ‘Supernature’, even fans were a little shocked when folktronica album ‘Seventh Tree’ hit the shelves.

Coming over like Sandy Denny crossed with Britt Ekland in ‘The Wicker Man’, the album was an unexpected success despite the drastic change in direction.

But for ‘Head First’, there’s yet another path. Alison Goldfrapp recently came out in her relationship with ‘Nowhere Boy’ film editor Lisa Gunning and this appears to have provided her an emotional release, a metaphoric weight off her shoulders. ERASURE’s Andy Bell once remarked that Ms Goldfrapp was “a sweetheart but really needs to loosen up” and it would appear that this joyous union has resulted in the most up GOLDFRAPP album ever.

In common with Annie and Dave’s appropriately titled ‘Be Yourself Tonight’ LP which exposed more Stateside influences, ‘Head First’ shows hints of MTV styled AOR with Irena Cara-era Giorgio Moroder, Laura Branigan and Olivia Newton-John being the most instant references. That Da Neutron-Bomb is an influence however should not be a complete surprise as GOLDFRAPP interpolated her classic hit ‘Physical’ into their own B-side ‘UK Girls’ as far back as ‘Felt Mountain’ in 2000.

Alison obviously has a taste for guilty pleasures and probably in a desire to show Gaga, Boots and Roux a thing or two, she’s let rip with the synths again to reclaim her disco queen crown. But add in some power chords while trying not to say VAN HALEN and for the first time, GOLDFRAPP are actually sounding retro! More Oberheim than Korg, ‘Head First’ has precious little agenda with yesterday’s tomorrow.

First single ‘Rocket’ has the synthetic brassy stabs of ‘Gloria’ and the wonderfully banal lyrics like “Woah-oh-ohh! I’ve got a rocket! Woah-oh-ohh! You’re going on it!” recall the Italo disco genre which was such a big influence on the Laura Branigan sound. The middle eight is gorgeous and you can read what you want into any sexual innuendo! Several other tracks like ‘Believer’ and ‘I Wanna Life’ are enjoyable FM pop but typical of the Americanised anthemic sound attempted on ‘Rocket’. In a strange way, GOLDFRAPP are going back to their cinematic roots. Only the soundtrack is for the montage dance scene of a Brat Pack movie or ‘Flashdance’ rather than a Cold War spy drama!

‘Alive’ recalls ELO’s ‘I’m Alive’ from Da Neutron-Bomb’s ‘Xanadu’, a film so awful it was rechristened ‘Xanadon’t’! But this does sound like it could be a new song for the extended directors cut. The synth solo is big and fat; it’s GOLDFRAPP‘just not as we know them! The stand-out track is ‘Dreaming’ which walks tall because it’s the most European of the set. There’s a beautiful high-register chorus alongside the chunky arpeggios, swimmy ARPs and real strings. It’s a slice of quality Eurodisco with an updated take on French electronic acts such as CERRONE and SPACE (not the talentless Scouse chancers!)

The title track is pure ABBA! Even the “I am your visitor” lyric points to their final album being one of Alison and Will’s muses. Will Gregory pays tribute to Benny Anderson with some classic keyboard runs while the belting multi-layered harmonies are Alison doing her best Agnetha and Annifrid. Alison loosens up further on ‘Shiny and Warm’, whispering along to fat bass pulses and a stuttering Lindyhop that makes this a more electronic cousin to ‘Satin Chic’ from ‘Supernature’.

A GOLDFRAPP album wouldn’t be a GOLDFRAPP album without the usual plethora of slower moods. There’s the staccato ‘Hunt’ which is like their own ‘Deep Honey’ driven by a live drum beat and the neo-accapella ‘Voicething’ which is dominated by Alison’s abstract vocal stylings on top of a minimal electronic backing track. It’s doesn’t quite scale Matterhorn heights in the way ‘Felt Mountain’ did but it’s a lovely closer.

Short and sharp, ‘Head First’ doesn’t outstay its welcome and works as an album. GOLDFRAPP have been the epitome of cool in the 21st Century but are they in now danger of thawing? ‘Head First’ is a very immediate, fun recording but whether it will become a classic, only time will tell.


‘Head First’ is released by Mute/EMI Records

http://goldfrapp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Goldfrapp


Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st March 2010