CIAO BELLA! ITALIAN GIRL SINGERS OF THE 60S.

CIAO BELLA! ITALIAN GIRL SINGERS OF THE 60S.

Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s, Ace International’s first compilation of 2015, is described as “groovy girl-pop.” That’s the perfect description of the latest compilation of girl-pop from Ace Records.

Previously, Ace Records have released compilations of American, French and Japanese girl-pop. Other record companies have released compilations British and German girl-pop. However, until very recently, Italian girl-pop has been overlooked. Not any more. 

Ace International released Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s on 26th January 2015. It features twenty-four tracks from some of the biggest names in Italian girl-pop, including Caterina Caselli, Catherine Spaak, Isabella Iannetti, Mina, Ornella Vanoni, Rita Monico and Wilma Goich. Given Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s has such an all-star lineup, it’ll be tantalising prospect for connoisseurs of sixties girl-pop. You’ll realise why, when I tell you about the highlights of Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s.

What better way is there to open Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s, than with Brunetta E I Suoi Balubas’ Baluba Shake. It literally bursts into life. Having gotten your attention, it doesn’t let go. What follows is a storming, hook-laden dance track. It’s sure to have filled many a dance floor on its release in 1966, on the Rifi label. This was the first release by Brunetta E I Suoi Balubas. Previously, she had released singles as The Explosive Brunetta and Ciclone. However, her change of name resulted in a change of fortune for Brunetta E I Suoi Balubas.

One of the biggest and most successful names in Italian girl-pop was Mina. Her career started in the late fifties, and in 1959, she enjoyed her first number one. After this, there was no stopping Mina. She became one of Italian girl-pop’s most prolific artists. So, it’s only right that she features three times. The earliest of the three tracks is Più Di Te, where Mina covers the Tracy Dey-Bob Crewe classic. Released in 1965 on Ri-Fi, Più Di Te epitomises  everything that’s good about girl pop. A year later, Mina released Se Telefonando in 1966, on Ri-Fi. This beautiful, heartfelt, wistful ballad shows another side of Mina. So does No, released on Ri-Fi in 1967.  Here, Mina delivers a defiant vocal, accompanied by jangling, Byrdsian guitars on this folk rock track. 

Just like Mina, Ornella Vanoni was one of the top Italian girl-pop singers. With Mina, she vied for the title of Queen of Italian girl-pop. However, Mina one out. Ornella Vanoni however, enjoyed an almost unrivalled longevity. Ornella is best know for ballads. That’s where she shines. Proof of this is Il Mio Posto Qual’e, released on Ariston in 1967. Against a lush backdrop that’s augmented by a sitar, Ornella delivers a soul-baring vocal. Then on L’Appuntamento, released in 1970, on Ariston, the tempo drops and Ornella delivers a thoughtful, melancholy vocal against an orchestrated arrangement. In doing so, she shows that when it came to balladry, Ornella Vanoni was one of the best.

When Isabella Iannetti’s first two singles failed to chart, she moved the Royal record label to Durium. This resulted in a  change of fortune for Isabella Iannetti. She would go on to release twenty singles and an album for her new label. One of Isabella’s first releases for Durium was Quanti Ragazzi, released in 1964. Its jaunty arrangement is propelled along by strings, while pizzicato string and harmonies prove foil for Isabella’s show-stopping vocal. Four years later, in 1968, Isabella released Un Amore Inutile. Tinged with drama, the arrangement veers between understated to an almost grandiose orchestral sound. This frames Isabella’s powerful, emotive vocal perfectly, resulting in three minutes of drama.

Not many of the artists on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s enjoyed the longevity that Rita Pavone has. Having won a talent show in 1962, Rira released her debut single later that year. This was the first over 100 singles Rita released. Then there’s the small matter of around twenty-five albums Rita released. Rita is without doubt, one of Italian pop’s biggest names. Her first contribution on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s, is Cuore, released on RCA Italiana in 1963. Against an arrangement that veers between understated to dramatic, Rita delivers a vocal that’s akin to an outpouring of emotion. It’s truly captivating performance. That’s what executives at RCA though. Rita, they thought, looked like being a huge international star. 

That’s why, in 1964, Rita headed to America, where in New York, she recorded a trio of English language albums. They were heavily promoted, with Rita appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. Despite the extensive promotion, Rita enjoyed just one American single, Remember Me. Two years later, in 1966, Rita who was constantly recording, released Il Geghege on RCA Italiana. This irresistible, hook heavy single sees Rita let her hear down, as she delivers a barnstorming performance.

Catherine Spaak was born in Belgian and brought up in France. However, throughout her career as actress and singer, Catherine called Italy home. She released her debut single Perdono, in 1962. Two years later, in 1964, Catherine released her sophomore album Noi Siamo I Giovani, on the Ricordi label. It features Penso A Te, a melancholy ballad, delivered against a cinematic backdrop. With its pensive marching drums and wistful horns, it sounds like part of the soundtrack to a Spaghetti Western. No wonder. It’s composed by Ennio Morricone. However, the piece de resistance to Penso A Te, is Catherine’s vocal. Three years later, Catherine featured on another soundtrack.

This was La Notte È Fatta Per Rubare, directed by Giorgio Capitani. Catherine featured on the soundtrack and acted in the movie. One of her finest moments, was on the bossa-nova tinged La Notte È Fatta Per Rubare, where Catherine delivers a breathy, sultry vocal.

Ennio Morricone is one of the most prolific soundtrack composers. At the last count, he’s penned 500 soundtracks. One of these soundtracks was Thrilling (La Regola Del Gioco). It was released in 1964, on the ARC label, and featured the vocal prowess of Rita Monico. She features on the title track, which became Rita’s sophomore single. Straight away, it takes on a moody, cinematic sound. Then comes Rita’s vocal. It’s heartfelt, dramatic and powerful. She paints pictures with her voice. They unfold before your eyes, and the combination of Ennio Morricone and Rita Monico proves a potent one. Two years later, Rita and the Maestro renewed their partnership, with a very different single.

This time, Rita decided to cover Dressed In Black, a track made famous by American girl-group, The Shangri Las. It was released on ARC, in 1966, as Non E Mai Tardi. The track is transformed, becoming a slow burner. At the start, the arrangement is minimalist and understated. Gradually, though, the drama builds, and Rita’s vocal becomes an outpouring of emotion and grief. Accompanied by an dramatic orchestral arrangement, Dressed In Black takes on new meaning.

Wilma Goich is remembered by many connoisseurs of ye ye music, as being Italy’s finest exponent of the genre. She is said to have been blessed with the finest voice. So, it’s fitting that she features twice on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s. Her earliest contribution is Un Bacio Sulle Dita, released in 1965 on the Ricordi label. Quickly, it becomes apparent why Wilma is perceived as the Queen if Italian ye ye. Three years later, in 1968, the Queen still hadn’t lost her crown when she released Finalmente as a single. Tucked away on the flip side was Come Un Anno Fa, a quite beautiful ballad, accompanied by a lush, orchestral arrangement.

My final choice from Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s is Patty Pravo’s Ragazzo Triste. It was released as Patty’s debut single in 1966, on ARC. Two years later, Ragazzo Triste featured on Patty’s eponymous debut album. By then, Patty Pravo was well on her way to becoming one of Italian music’s most popular artists. No wonder, with singles like Ragazzo Triste.

With each year that passes, girl-pop increases in popularity.  That’s why Ace Records have released compilations of American, French and Japanese girl-pop. Other record companies have released compilations British and German girl-pop. However, until very recently, Italian girl-pop has been overlooked. Not any more. Ace International recently released Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s. It features twenty-four tracks from the great and good of Italian girl-pop.

This includes Caterina Caselli, Catherine Spaak, Isabella Iannetti, Ornella Vanoni, Rita Monico and Wilma Goich. That’s not forgetting Mina, the undisputed Queen of Italian girl-pop. Mina and the other artists on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s deliver ballads, cinematic tracks and dance tracks. This eclectic selection of music is variously dramatic, joyous, melancholy, moody, uplifting and wistful. Loves songs sit side-by-side with tracks about love lost. Other tracks take on a celebratory sound. Often, the hooks haven’t been spared, and instantly, you’re won over by the music on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s. It’s just the latest instalment in Ace International’s series of music celebrating girl-pop.

Previous volumes have concentrated on America, France and Japan. However, Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s which hopefully, is the first of many volumes of Italian girl-pop is a welcome addition to Ace International’s discography. The music epitomises the sixties, one of the most important, innovative and influential decades in history. During the sixties, a political, social, cultural and musical revolution swept Europe. No country was left untouched, including Italy. 

Proof of this is Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s, which was recently released by Ace International, an imprint of Ace Records. This is a welcome release. Especially for anyone yet to discover the charms and delights of Italian girl-pop. For them, Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s is the perfect starting place. To misquote Woody Allen, the music on Ciao Bella! Italian Girl Singers Of The 60s features : “all you’ve ever wanted to know about Italian girl-pop music but were afraid to ask.” 

CIAO BELLA! ITALIAN GIRL SINGERS OF THE 60S.

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