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Any Major Beatles in Italian

March 15th, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

The two editions of Beatles in French (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) turned out to be more popular than I had expected. So now we turn the music of the Fab Four over to the Italians, though this time in only one volume.

The French Ye-ye movement found some imitators in Italy, but that didn’t find expression in a wave of Beatles covers, as it did in France. Some beat groups, however, seemed very keen on the Liverpool band. I Meteors, who hailed from Bologna and started out in 1961 as a support act for Gene Vincent on his tour of Italy, issued a whole album of Beatles covers (and of songs The Beatles themselves had covered), including even the relatively obscure Misery. Truth be told, it wasn’t very good and has aged even less well. Their version of She Loves You, which features here, is at least inoffensive.

The collection kicks off with a track by Dino e I Kings, who return as few numbers later. Why does Dino and his backing group get two tracks when the rules usually allow for only one song per artist? Because both tracks were arranged by none other than Ennio Morricone, who’d go on to become one of the great composers of the 20th century. As for Verona-born Dino Zambelli, he was one of Italy’s biggest teenage stars between 1964-68, on record, stage and film. He retired from music in 1973 and ended up becoming an oil executive.

The original Italian beat band was I Fuggiaschi (The Fugitives), featured here with a cover of If I Fell, who were led by Don Backy, one of several, artists who shared the scene with the ubiquitous Adrian Celentano (whose own Beatles covers came many years later and aren’t very good). Backy is still active at the age of 82.

Another pioneer of Italian rock was Ricky Gianco (aka Ricky Sanna), featured here with his version of All My Loving, who got his start backing Celentano and was known as one of urlatori, or “screamers”.

Also in that pioneer group were I Ribelli, who started out in 1959 as Celentano’s backing band. They soon struck out on their own and were regulars on Italian TV in the 1960s. But by the time they covered Oh Darling, competently so, their commercial appeal had declined. They split soon after, reforming a couple times, most recently amid a beat revival boom.

I Ribelli backing the ubiquitous Adriano Celentano in 1961. (Photo from Wikimedia)

 

Among all the Italians, there’s one Englishman: Mike Liddell. Born in India and raised in northern England, the singer and drummer came to Italy in the 1960s. With his band Gli Atomi (The Atoms) he had some success on the beat scene. Their version of We Can Work It Out was the flip side of the debut single, an Italian take on The Sound Of Silence. The single reached #3 on the Italian charts in 1966. By 1968, the band split, and Liddell went on to dabble in psychedelic rock.

Patrick Samson is also not your average Italian name; nor is the guy’s real name, Sulaimi Khoury. The Lebanese-born singer, featured here with Let It Be, has had a long and productive career. Having started his career in France, where his family had emigrated to from Lebanon, Samson moved to Italy at the age of 19 in 1965. He soon had success, first as leader of the R&B-infused Patrick Samson Set and then as a solo artist. His career came to a halt in 1973 when he took time out to care for his ill brother. His return to music was not accompanied by success.

Also not engaging in Italian nomenclature were The Rogers, who nevertheless were all Italians. At around the same time they released Tam-Tam, their delightfully onomatopoeic rendering of Come Together, the group enjoyed a million-seller with Guarda. The Rogers split in 1980.

 

Patty Pravo

One of Italy’s biggest singing stars is Patty Pravo, featured here with her take from 1970 on And I Love Her. Pravo, whose career has spanned more than 50 years, has the distinction of being the first pop act to be played on Vatican Radio, with her Italian version Sonny & Cher’s But You’re Mine. She is still recording and performing today. Likewise, Gianni Morandi has had a hugely successful and lasting career as a singer, actor and TV presenter. On this mix, he croons Here, There And Everywhere.

When Don Miko committed his version Michelle on record, the former duet partner of Timi Yuro wasn’t a big star yet. That would change in the 1970s and again in the 1980s, when he became an Italo-Disco star as Miko Mission. He’s still recording.

The best-known artist here might be Pino Donaggio, a classically-trained music prodigy who put down his violin to become a rock & roller in the 1950s. He has featured here before as the singer and co-writer of the 1965 hit Io che non-vivo on Any Major Originals 1960s Vol. 1, which later became a hit for Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley as You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me. By that time Donaggio had found his calling as a composer of film scores, becoming a favourite of Brian De Palma, scoring films like Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, and Raising Cain.

Another singer-turned-film-composer was Fred Bongusto, an easy listening vocalist featured here with his take on The Fool On The Hill. Bongusto, who died at 84 in 2019, incorporated Latin rhythms in his music, and was popular in South America, especially in Brazil. When he wasn’t crooning or writing film music, Bongusto was involved in local politics, standing for Italy’s Socialist Party.

Also well-known, but rather for her movies, is French-Italian actress Catherine Spaak, featured here with her version of Help. As a singer, she styled herself on Françoise Hardy, with whom she shared a producer, Ezio Leoni, one of the fathers of Italian pop.

 

Two acts here created full versions of bits of songs on Abbey Road’s Side 2. Chriss and The Stroke (another act featuring twice) of whom I know nothing, do a nice version of Golden Slumbers, and I Nuovi Angeli of Carry That Weight. Both incorporate snatches of You Never Give Me Your Money. I Nuovi Angeli, who were founded in 1966, went on to have international success — in Europe with their 1971 hit Uakadi Uakadù, and also in the US, where they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I’ve found almost nothing on The Bushmen, who do a rather good version of Rain here. They might have been a quintet from Kenya, in which case they’d be this set’s most interesting story… Does any reader know more about them?

The remarkable thing, especially for your local In Memoriam merchant, is that of all the solo artists I’ve written about above, all are still alive except for Fred Bongusto (and I don’t know about Mike Liddell)!Come sempre, il mix si adatta a un CD-R standard. Il testo sopra è anche in un PDF illustrato. Password nei commenti.

1. Dino e I Kings – Torna con me sulla luna (I Saw Her Standing There) (1965)
2. I Meteors – She Loves You (1965)
3. Giovani Giovani di Pino Donaggio – Ma voglio solo te (I Want To Hold Your Hand) (1964)
4. Ricky Gianco – Non cercarmi (All My Loving) (1965)
5. I Fuggiaschi – Se mi pensi un po’ (If I Fell) (c.1965)
6. Patty Pravo – La tua voce (And I Love Her) (1970)
7. Dino e I Kings – Cerca Di Capire (I Should Have Known Better) (1964)
8. The Ingoes – Se Non Mi Aiuti Tu (Help) (1965)
9. Meri Marabini – Mi manchi (I Need You) (1966)
10. Catherine Spaak – Ieri (Yesterday) (1966)
11. I Camaleonti – Se ritornerai (Norwegian Wood) (1966)
12. Gianni Morandi – Una che dice di sì (Here, There And Everywhere) (1970)
13. Augusto Righetti – Il paese che non c’è (Nowhere Man) (1966)
14. Don Miko – Michelle (1966)
15. Mike Liddell & Gli Atomi – Nelle Mani Tue (We Can Work It Out) (1966)
16. The Bushmen – Pioggia (Rain) (1966)
17. I Castellani – Penny Lane (1967)
18. Mark e Martha & The Splash – Un Piccolo Aiuto Dagli Amici (With A Little Help From My Friends) (1970)
19. I Soliti Ignoti – Cerchi Solo Amore (All You Need Is Love) (1967)
20. Fred Bongusto – Tranquillità (The Fool On The Hill) (1971)
21. I Bit-Nik – Hello Goodbye (1968)
22. I Gleemen – Lady Madonna (1968)
23. Uh! – Non Sono Solo (I Am The Walrus) (1970)
24. Chriss and The Stroke – Torno in Russia (Back In The USSR) (1969)
25. The Rogers – Tam tam (Come Together) (1969)
26. I Ribelli – Oh Darling (1970)
27. Chriss and The Stroke – Per Niente Al Mondo (Golden Slumbers) (1969)
28. I Nuovi Angeli – Il dubbio (Carry That Weight) (1969)
29. The Juniors – Chi è (Get Back) (1969)
30. Patrick Samson – Dille di si (Let It Be) (1970)

GET IT! or HERE!

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  1. amdwhah
    March 15th, 2022 at 09:43 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Marco
    March 16th, 2022 at 10:32 | #2

    Thank you from Italy! A second volume
    regarding the 70s and 80s would be much appreciated.
    Marco

  3. amdwhah
    March 16th, 2022 at 22:07 | #3

    Sadly I’ve found very few covers from that period.

  4. March 18th, 2022 at 12:49 | #4

    This is great stuff! Thanks for pulling it all together!

  5. Fredrick Beondo
    March 22nd, 2022 at 20:44 | #5

    Tracklisting.txt is the one for ABIF vol. 2 :)

  6. Fredrick Beondo
    March 22nd, 2022 at 21:10 | #6

    Also, two versions of Non Sono Solo, marked (old) and (new), listed with two different lengths, but the ‘new’ version is the same as the ‘old’ one, and ends at the same time with extended silence on the end. Personally will delete the ‘new’ one as it seems irrelevant.

  7. amdwhah
    March 23rd, 2022 at 22:35 | #7

    I think the “old” has a long silence at the end, and should have been deleted. Better keep the “new”.

  8. Fredrick Beondo
    March 24th, 2022 at 19:34 | #8

    I’ll go back over them in a bit and figure it out :)

    One interesting difference I had listening in my ‘Yesterday’ fugue state from ABIF, was I found myself singing along (in English) to these Italian versions more than I did with ABIF. [shrugs] No explanation LOL

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