Paisa’ Got Soul – Soul, AOR & Disco in Italy (1977-1986)
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Between the late 70s and the early 80s, pop music was in a transitional phase. After a return to the roots of punk, rock was morphing into New-Wave, while Disco was rapidly declining and the electronic revolution, already on the rise, was ushering in the transition from analog to digital. This period also saw the emergence and relatively brief flowering of a commercially dominant style that mixed soul influences (especially Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire), folk/pop songwriting, and jazz sensibilities in equal measure, creating a hybrid easy on the ears but also emotionally and musically rich. It was the style represented by artists like Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Gino Vannelli, and Kenny Loggins, who were all influenced by black music. They belonged to a larger trend that took place in all major music-producing countries, including Italy where, like so many other things, the style was not merely imported or copied, but reshaped into a specifically local version based on the nation’s tastes and cultural traditions. In Italy, a soulful and sophisticated approach to pop music was embraced not only by established names like Mina, Alan Sorrenti, and Loredana Berté, but also, and perhaps most importantly, by an entire generation of writers, arrangers, and musicians who had grown up listening to early fusion, to Steely Dan’s refined recordings, and to Quincy Jones’s productions. So, with this compilation, we hope to give new exposure to artists and songs that, despite having moderate or little success when first released, must be regarded as among the creative peaks of Italian pop music. “Paisà Got Soul” features pop veterans Peppino Di Capri, Mario Lavezzi and Alberto Radius alongside atypical singer-songwriters (Enzo Carella, Enzo Cervo, Gino D’Eliso), Italo-disco heroes (Stefano Pulga), international hit composers (Beppe Cantarelli, who has co-written for Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey), Brazilian-born naturalized Italians (Jim Porto) and complete unknowns (Franco Camassa, I Ricci, Massimo Stella). It brings together little gems that in most cases are no longer available on the market, or only available in their original and now very rare vinyl format. We believe they all deserve to be rediscovered today, partly because of the recently renewed interest in “yacht rock”, as this music style has been retrospectively named, and partly because they provide further evidence that Italian artists rework international music styles in creative and original ways.
Brand new, never played, sealed