Saturday, 26 November 2016


«I don't think that there is such a thing as the Don Sebesky sound. [...] I think the common denominator here is more an attitude towards music, a willingness to blend various influences without worrying about where they come from. The way I look at music is the way I look at life - I have no pre-conceived notion about either. If today I feel like doing a certain kind of music, that's what I'll do. And tomorrow, I might try a different kind. I think that if I had one sound, if I stumbled on one formula and I had to stay with that one sound and keep pushing it, I'd never be happy. That's why I said that I don't think I have a "sound". But an attitude, an approach to music, definitely, yes.»

[Don Sebesky, from an interview conducted in 1973 by Didier C. Deutsch]

Donald John Sebesky was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA, on 10 December 1937; his father worked in a steel-cable factory, his mother was a housewife. At the age of eight he started learning the accordion; he later came to realize that this instrument was the best possible choice he could have made because, as he says, «the accordion is a 'mini-orchestra' and teaches the principles of harmony from the very beginning».

Sebesky soon started learning piano too, and in high school he switched to the trombone to get into the marching band. Then he began commuting into New York from New Jersey to study with Warren Covington at the Manhattan School of Music. His earliest influences were the big bands of Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.

During the mid '50s he began his professional career playing with Kai Winding, Claude Thornhill, and the Tommy Dorsey Band led by Covington. In 1958 he was hired to play the trombone in Maynard Ferguson's band appearing on their album "A Message From Newport"; on such occasion he signed two compositions: "Humbug" and "Fan It, Janet".

He also played briefly with Stan Kenton appearing on "Viva Kenton!" in 1959, but at the turning of the decade he decided to give up trombone playing and devote himself full time to writing and arranging, working out an individual style based on a combination of Jazz and Classical music.

In 1965 Don Sebesky joined Verve Records when Creed Taylor was still a producer for the label. One of his most distinctive and successful arrangements was for Wes Montgomery's album "Bumpin'" released the same year.

In 1967, when Taylor left the company to launch his own CTI, Sebesky joined the newborn label as staff arranger, giving his precious contribution in creating many hit records.

During the late '60s / early '70s, his orchestral backgrounds helped make artists like Montgomery, George Benson ("Shape of Things To Come", 1968), Paul Desmond ("From the Hot Afternoon", 1969) and Freddie Hubbard ("First Light", 1971) acceptable to audiences outside of Jazz.

Sebesky's arrangements have usually been among the classiest in his field, reflecting a solid knowledge of the orchestra, drawing variously from Big Band Jazz, Rock, Ethnic music, Classical music of all eras and even the Avant-garde for ideas. He once cited Béla Bartók as his favorite composer, but one also hears lots of Stravinsky in his work.

In 1968 he debuted as a solo artist with "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome", an albums intended to merge - as per its title - Jazz and Rock music. This record was soon followed by "The Distant Galaxy", a weirder affair that is the subject of the current post.

In the late '60s / early '70s Sebesky also arranged for Carmen McRae, Tamiko Jones (...her album "I'll Be Anything For You" is available here on Stereo Candies...), Peggy Lee, Hubert Laws, Kenny Burrell and Dionne Warwick, to name just a few, but the list is so much longer... In 1971 his song "Memphis Two-Step" was the title track of the Herbie Mann album of the same name.

In 1973 Sebesky released his opus "Giant Box", a double LP for which he employed musicians that makes the term 'all stars' sound like an understatement; this may have been Creed Taylor's most ambitious single project.

Among the numerous artists gathered together for the occasion were Paul Desmond, George Benson, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Airto Moreira, Grover Washington Jr., Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

The album reached number 16 on the U.S. Billboard Jazz Albums Chart and was nominated for a Grammy. Later on, this step out into the spotlight was followed only by sporadic releases among which we remember "The Rape of El Morro" (1975), "Three Works For Jazz Soloists & Symphony Orchestra" (1979) and "Full Cycle" (1983).

Active as a teacher since the 70s, Sebesky is the author of "The Contemporary Arranger", an authoritative easy-to-understand text covering all aspects of arranging for Jazz bands and other Contemporary / Pop ensembles, which is used in colleges and music schools all over the world.

He has worked with such orchestras as the London Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Pops, The New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic of London, and the Toronto Symphony.

As a recording artist and in collaboration with other artists, he has won three Grammy Awards and has been nominated for 27 more, won a Tony and has been nominated for two more, won two Drama Desk Awards and four Clio Awards.

During the years, he has composed and arranged music for Christina Aguilera, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Britney Spears, Chet Baker, Vanessa Williams, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Cyndi Lauper, and a host of other pop stars.

Sebesky has composed and orchestrated for several films, including the Oscar-nominated short subject "Time Piece" (1965) starring and directed by Jim Henson (...available here, it is worth your precious time, believe me!), "The People Next Door" (1970), "F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'" (1974), "The Rosary Murders" (1987) with Donald Sutherland (for which Sebesky also conducted), and "Julie & Julia" (2009) with Meryl Streep.

Sebesky's work for television has garnered three Emmy nominations for "Allegra's Window" on Nickelodeon, "The Edge of Night" on ABC, and "Guiding Light" on CBS.

His Broadway theater credits include "Porgy and Bess" (London production by Trevor Nunn), "Sinatra at The Palladium", "Sweet Charity", "Kiss Me Kate", "Bells Are Ringing", "Flower Drum Song", "Parade", "The Life", "Cyrano", "The Goodbye Girl", "Will Rogers Follies", "Sinatra at Radio City", "Pal Joey", "Come Fly Away" and "Baby It's You".

One of the most highly regarded arrangers in the business, Sebesky's work is precise and elegant, yet bristles with ideas and always displays his sure grasp of instrumental potential and the abilities of the performers for whom he writes.

Don Sebesky, exact date unknown, probably mid/late '80s

"The Distant Galaxy" contains the following tracks:

01. The Distant Galaxy (0:16)
02. Dance the Night Away (3:10)
03. The Sound of Silence (4:51)
04. Martian Storm (0:15)
05. Soul Lady (2:56)
06. Reflectivity (0:14)
07. Mr. Tambourine Man (3:01)
08. Cosmic Force (0:21)
09. Water Brother (3:58)
10. Spiral Nebulae (0:23)
11. The Blue Scimitar (3:59)
12. Satellite (0:11)
13. Elvira Madigan Theme / Honey (3:02)
14. Solar Emissions (0:15)
15. Guru-Vin (4:34)
16. I Wish It Would Rain (2:47)
17. Lady Madonna (2:42)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in November 2016 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Before burning this album on CD-R using the provided CUE file, you must convert the original FLAC audio file to WAV format using an appropriate software. Please have a look here if you need some help.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.

Recorded between March and October 1968, and bearing catalogue number V6-5063, "The Distant Galaxy" was released on Verve Records in November during the same year. Just like the previous "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome", the record comes in a nice sleeve created by Joel Brodsky (photography) and Acy R. Lehman (art direction). The front cover aptly depicts the album concept, and on the back this is reinforced by the inclusion of a real picture of the Andromeda Galaxy.

As the 'V6' prefix in the catalogue number implies, the album is recorded in full stereo and the mixing offers clear separation of the various instruments. Despite being in near mint condition, my copy suffers from some serious crackling on the left channel and getting rid of it took ages...

Anyway, the album was bootlegged on vinyl sometimes in the late '90s / early '00s, but it never received a proper CD release. As far as I know, only the track "Guru-Vin" was released on a compilation entitled "Psychedelic Jazz", which is part of the "Jazzclub | Moods" series.

In June 1968 the LP was preceded by a single credited to The Distant Galaxy, which included "Elvira Madigan Theme / Honey" and "The Blue Scimitar". In December, shortly after the release of the album, another promotional single containing "The Sound of Silence" b/w "Lady Madonna" was issued. Once again, this was credited to The Distant Galaxy and not to Don Sebesky... It is unclear if this single was subsequently officially released and if it contains mono or stereo mixes of the track.

The following liner notes, included on the back of the album sleeve, were written by novelist David A. Kaufelt.


«The heavens open. The clouds part. And you thrust through. Past the fair moon and the envious sun. Past the red planet Mars and the foggy Venus and the titan Jupiter and the beringed Saturn and the unknown Pluto. Beyond the Big Dipper and Pegasus and Gemini and Taurus and Orion. Suddendly, quite irrevocably, the Milky Way - with its billions of stars blinking like pale yellow eyelids - is behind you and you're tripping 200,000 light years away, passing white dwarfs and mysterium and reptiles with wings and incendiary comets and irridescent meteors and signs of civilizations that reached their nadir one million eons before man's solar system had begun to evolve.

Orange flames and purple bolts and streaks colored from a different spectrum snake across the perpetual night. You've reached your destination, the ultimate synthesis of life, the opposite pole of the universe, THE DISTANT GALAXY.

Where time has never existed. Where stars orbit in a spiral abyss. Where you comprehend that man is not alone in the universe. Where others have conquered war, hunger and disease. Where sounds - both alien and familiar - engulf the at mosphere and tell you of another dimension, another place that exists beyond the farthest reaches of the-mind.

Sounds of violence. Sounds of electrical forces generated by an ultra-sensitive, macrocosmic transmitter. Sounds of Silence strained through instruments and voices you've never heard, you can never forget. Sounds of images that dance before your eye in unrelieved colors of the cosmic soul: Elvira Madigan walking a tightrope of pink gold stretched between twin hexagonal stars... Honey sinking into the organic-tinted waters of a one-dimensional moon... Lady Madonna caught in a koleidoscopic cob-web spun from the diamonds of her own dreams...

Sounds of limitless joys that enable you to Dance the Night Away... Sounds of external sadness that bring you face to face with the Soul Lady... Sounds of loneliness that leave you abandoned on an ebony desert, crying I Wish It Would Rain... Sounds of forgotten exotica (The Blue Scimitar, Guru-vin) transcribed into the fragile filigree of final understanding... Sounds that strike a sympathetic chord (Mr. Tambourine Man, Water Brother) reverberating across the endless reaches of space,
echoing in the endless reaches of your mind...

Sounds of fast, driving, pulsating crescendos that linger on in the inner ear long after the last possible electronic irnpulse. Sounds of jazz progressing deep into the azure blues of the twilight zone. Sounds from THE DISTANT GALAXY. Take the trip. Listen. Allow yourself to be transported, absorbed. And learn why you can't go home again.»

...and to finish this post, here's the complete credits as reconstructed from the original list included on the back cover and the information written on the center labels of "The Distant Galaxy". Additional information about most of the tunes is also included, along with six clips that offer a generous preview of the remastered album... Enjoy!


Arranged and conducted by Don Sebesky.

Produced by Esmond Edwards.

Recorded and re-mixed at A&R Recording Studios, New York City, by Dave Sanders, Phil Ramone, Don Hahn and Tony May.

Electronic effects: Rick Horton of MGM

Director of Engineering: Val Valentin

Cover photo: Joel Brodsky

Art Direction: Acy R. Lehman


The Distant Galaxy
(Rick Horton)
This is the very first in a series of electronic miniatures that are interspersed among the main tracks, whose purpose is to emphasize the out-of-this-world mood of the album...
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Dance the Night Away
(Jack Bruce / Pete Brown)
This song was originally included on "Disraeli Gears", the second album by the British rock band Cream released in November 1967; you can listen to the original version here.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Hubert Laws, soprano saxophone
Recording date: April 14, 1968

The Sound of Silence
(Paul Simon)
Mistitled "Sounds of Silence" on the original back cover of the album, this everlasting Simon & Garfunkel's tune was first released as part of the "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." LP in October 1964, and is for sure one of the most well-known songs ever recorded: do you really need a link to the original version? The arrangement created by Don Sebesky is one of the most elaborate and interesting on the album.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Hubert Laws, flute
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Martian Storm
(Rick Horton)
The effect that can be heard on this interlude was probably achieved by operating a tape machine manually...
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Soul Lady
(Don Sebesky)
Here comes the first of three tracks penned by Sebesky. His original compositions really stand the most stressful quality tests; this one in particular is so infused with Soul and offers a very solid groove that also leaves room for a cheesy Moog solo played by the man himself... Simply great!
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Dick Hyman, piano - Don Sebesky, Moog synthesizer
Recording date: April 26, 1968

(Rick Horton)
As the title suggests, this is just a short portion of the next track spinned backwards...
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Mr. Tambourine Man
(Bob Dylan)
The original version of this song appears on Bob Dylan's fifth album, which is entitled "Bringing It All Back Home" and was released in March 1965. A live version recorded at Newport Folk Festival in 1964 is available here... Well, I may be wrong, but in this track I happen to clearly hear Vincent Bell's trademark 'underwater guitar' sound as performed by him on many releases, including Dick Hyman's "Moon Gas", Ferrante & Teicher's "Midnight Cowboy" and his own "Airport Love Theme"... Bell in not credited anywhere on the liner notes, but a reference to his name most likely appears in the title of track 15, "Guru-Vin", uhm... Anyway, you can read more details below.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Hubert Laws, soprano saxophone
Recording date: April 14, 1968

Cosmic Force
(Rick Horton)
This is another short and simple interlude performed on a synthesizer that, according to Wikipedia, hints at the force derivable from dark energy that is responsible for the accelerating universe...
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Water Brother
(Don Sebesky)
The second of Don Sebesky's original instrumentals included on "The Distant Galaxy" is another winner, also due to the excellent clavinet and flute solos. Percussions and Moog synthesizer elements significantly add to the final result. I can't help to wonder how great a full album of original compositions in this vein would have been...
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Hubert Laws, flute - Warren Bernhardt, clavinet - Don Sebesky, Moog synthesizer
Recording date: April 14, 1968

Spiral Nebulae
(Rick Horton)
Side Two opens with more modular synth extravaganza. This is by far the most interesting interlude on the album.
Recording date: October 3, 1968

The Blue Scimitar
(Esmond Edwards)
This instrumental is credited to producer Esmond Edwards and was previously recorded by pianist Ray Bryant for his album "Lonesome Traveler" in 1966.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Marvin Stamm, trumpet - Richard Spencer, soprano saxophone
Recording date: April 26, 1968

(Rick Horton)
A simulation of an orbiting satellite passing by... Nothing more and nothing less.
Recording date: October 3, 1968

Elvira Madigan Theme / Honey
(Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
This medley includes a reworking of the second movement from Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21", that was included as part of the soundtrack to the 1967 Swedish movie "Elvira Madigan", and Bobby Russell's "Honey", a song brought to success by Bobby Goldsboro in 1968. You can watch him perform a playback of the original version here. By the way, the center label on the original album wrongly mention one *Bill* Russell as author instead of Bobby...
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Richard Spencer, soprano saxophone - Dick Hyman, piano
Recording date: April 26, 1968

Solar Emissions
(Rick Horton)
A last bit of tape manipulation with added reverb and effects.
Recording date: October 3, 1968

(Don Sebesky)
Here we have, in all his glory, the third instrumental piece composed by Don Sebesky for this album. During the '60s the sitar started being featured in Western Pop Music, Wikipedia hosts a very nice article about it and you can find it here. Towards the end of the decade, the electric sitar was developed by Danelectro, with the essential contribution of guitarist Vincent Bell, (...his name pops up again in this release, please see also the note for track 7, "Mr. Tambourine Man"... - a few posts about him will be uploaded to the blog soon), and its gorgeous sound graces "Guru-Vin", courtesy of American jazz guitarist Larry Coryell. Vocal inputs by Lois Winter are also essential...By the way, I just realized that the song title may be in honour of Mr. Bell, what do you think? Anyway... What a masterpiece!
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Ronald Zito, drums - Larry Coryell, electric sitar - Lois Winter, vocals
Recording date: March 28, 1968

I Wish It Would Rain
(Norman Whitfield / Barrett Strong / Roger Penzabene)
This song is one of the most melancholy in the Temptations repertoire. The single was released in December 1967; it reached #1 in the R&B Charts and #4 in the Pop Charts in th U.S. You can listen to the original version here.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Donald MacDonald, drums - Dick Hyman, piano
Recording date: April 26, 1968

Lady Madonna
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney)
The album ends with a Beatles cover. The original version was released as a single in March 1968 and you can listen to it here.
Musicians include: Chuck Rainey, bass - Ronald Zito, drums - Larry Coryell, electric guitar - Marvin Stamm, trumpet and piccolo trumpet
Recording date: March 28, 1968

More information about Don Sebesky and "The Distant Galaxy"is available here:

If you have any other useful information about this post, or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Saturday, 19 November 2016


The great John Dowie has written a book about his life as a comedian and as a cyclist, and he is currently doing a crowfunding to publish it in 2017. Pledge now and help him fulfill his dream!

If you're not familiar with Dowie's stand-up comedy, here's a few clips courtesy of YouTube:

Friday, 21 October 2016


Well, I am afraid this post is going to be quite short: sadly I wasn't able to discover any information about the elusive Rosa Fang (羅莎), except that this was probably her only release.

By the way, bootleg label Glycos from Singapore released an EP that combines the title track from this release with three tracks taken from the debut Rita Chao EP, which I remastered some time ago... Quite odd, isn't it?

Could it be that Rosa Fang released other records under a different name? She has a mature voice and I doubt that these are her only recordings... Maybe someone out there can shed some light on her? Thanks in advance!

Rosa Fang as she appears on the front cover of her one and only EP, 1966

Here's the track list for this 7" EP:

01. 穿着鞋子走路 (These Boots Are Made For Walking) (2:43)
02. 夢裡會情郎 (Far Away) (2:23)
03. 情竇初開 (My Love) (2:26)
04. 海上良宵 (Hawaiian Song) (2:58)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in October 2016 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the complete original artwork.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.

Althought manufactured in India, this EP was released in Singapore on the Columbia label with catalogue number ECHK 555, sometimes in early/mid 1966, around the same time that the debut EPs by Rita Chao and Sakura were also released.

Side A begins with "穿着鞋子走路" a cover of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", a hit song written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra in late 1965. Here's a link to a clip of the original version.

The song is followed by "夢裡會情郎" (Far Away), a quieter number which I can't clearly recognize, but I'm almost sure that it is a cover of some other famous tune released sometimes during the mid-60s. Can anybody help me on this matter?

On Side B we find "情竇初開", a nice version of Petula Clark's international hit "My Love", a song written by Tony Hatch in late 1965; here's a playback of the original version.

The EP ends with "海上良宵" (Hawaiian Song) which, once again, sounds familiar but I can't seem to focus on the original; the title is here on the tip of my tongue but... Once again I need help, thank you!

The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered EP, enjoy!

At this point I am supposed to provide you with some links about the release featured in this entry, but this time there are not many useful resources that I can direct you to...

As a last note, I'm still struggling to find some help for translations:

if you can translate from Chinese to English please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com
or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


«One day, coming back from school in Castelfranco when I was about eight or nine, I met a person who was playing violin under the arcades, in front of a small shop: that frail sound came over me, it made me vibrate and echoed inside of me for many days.»

[Giusto Pio, translated from the book "Dedicato a Giusto Pio"]

Giusto Pio was born in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy, in 1926. He inherited a passion for music from his father, who played several instruments without ever having attended regular schools.

At 13 he began to study violin in Marghera and three years later he was accepted at the Liceo Musicale Cesare Pollini of Padua. In 1941 he moved to Venice, where he studied composition and violin under Luigi Enrico Ferro, the last great violinist of the "Venetian School", at the Benedetto Marcelli Conservatory.

Pio graduated in violin in 1947, a few years later he got married and moved to Milan. During the '50s he received important national and international awards and entered the RAI orchestra of Milan (Italian television orchestra) as Concertino violin, a role that enabled him to acquire, in about thirty years of activity in close contact with the best directors and performers of the world, a wide experience in the field of orchestral-symphonic and operatic music.

During the '60s and the '70s, he also carried out an intense didactic activity with the best Milanese and Italian chamber music ensembles, contemplating a vast repertoire of music that, starting from the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Letitiae Musicae, the pioneer group in Italy for Medieval and Renaissance music), went through the Italian Baroque (Complesso Strumentale Italiano, Symposium Musicum Milano, Giovane Quartetto di Milano, Complesso Barocco di Milano, etc.), and then reached the contemporary music of today with many premières of the greatest Italian living composers.

Over the years Giusto Pio has participated in several recordings for the major record companies of the time (Ricordi, Angelicum, Vox, Decca). These musical performances were always philologically attentive, thanks to the help of musicologists such as Francesco Degrada and Raffaello Monterosso of the Musical Paleography School of Cremona.

At the same time, his expertise was also in demand in the field of Popular Music, and Pio has worked as a session musician adding his instrument to the recordings of many famous Italian singers of the '50s and '60s, including Claudio Villa, Luciano Tajoli, Nilla Pizzi, Tony Dallara, Betty Curtis, Domenico Modugno, Adriano Celentano and Mina.

In the late '70s Pio was hired by Franco Battiato as violin teacher and they soon became friends. Later on, almost for amusement and curiosity, Pio began to play improvised concerts with him and vocalist Juri Camisasca.

In 1978 he worked as musician on "Juke Box" by Battiato and during the same year he released his first album of experimental music entitled "Motore immobile" ( can listen to the whole album here...) on Cramps Records.

The long collaboration with Battiato was one of the most prolific and interesting during the '80s and '90s in Italy; this partnership took Pio to new heights in the fields of commercial and avantgarde music, with a great success in terms of popularity and discography.

Most of the albums by Franco Battiato, from "L'era del cinghiale bianco" (1979) to "Unprotected" (1994), depending on the case, included Giusto Pio as co-author of the music or of the arrangements, as violinist or as conductor. All the tours performed by Battiato during those years always included Giusto Pio among the essential lineup of musicians.

In those years, always with Battiato, he wrote the music and arrangements of many hit songs for Italian singers Alice, Giuni Russo and Sibilla ("Per Elisa" by Alice won the Sanremo Festival in 1981, you can watch the original performance here), produced two albums for Milva and various songs for other artists.

In 1984 Pio, Battiato and lyricist Rosario 'Saro' Cosentino penned the Eurovision Song Contest entry "I treni di Tozeur", performed by Alice and Battiato, which finished 5th in the contest and became a considerable commercial success in Continental Europe and Scandinavia. A video of the original performance, which briefly shows Giusto Pio as orchestra conductor, is available here.

Between 1982 and 1987 he released three lovely albums of Pop music: "Legione straniera", "Restoration" - I already remastered both of them some time ago along with the "Auto-Motion (Otomoscion)" single - and "Note", the subject of this post. In particular, "Legione straniera" and "Restoration", both written along with Battiato, sold very well and Pio became a well-known name among the younger audiences, as evidenced by the musical chronicles of those years on many magazines and newspapers.

In 1988 he published "Alla corte di Nefertiti", an album that marked the passage to a music style which was very different from his previous output and had far less commercial appeal. His association with Pop music definively waned after the end of his artistic fellowship with Battiato.

Over the past decade, Pio increasingly approached acoustic and electronic research, and produced music for theater (for example the play "Medea", for the Florentine group Krypton, which won first prize for music at the Massa Carrara Festival, or his collaboration on Battiato's operas performed in the major Italian theaters), music for movies and interactive musical comments with other art forms such as painting, sculpture and poetry.

Among his most recent music releases we remember "Utopie" (1990), "Missa Populi" (dedicated to His Holiness John Paul II, 1995), and "Le vie dell'oro" (2000).

The book "Dedicato a Giusto Pio", which includes a companion CD entitled "Dolomiti Suite", was published in 2010 to celebrate Pio's 85th birthday.

Giusto Pio has turned 90 on 11 January 2016.

"Note" contains the following tracks:

01. Capriccio (3:38)
02. Halley (4:20)
03. Concerto (4:01)
04. Capitano Nemo (4:18)
05. Ninna nanna per Andrea (3:22)
06. Inno (3:06)
07. Angeli? (3:32)
08. Sagra (3:11)
09. Ultimo Lied (3:18)

Although the artwork was scanned and restored from the vinyl album in my possession, the music was sourced and remastered from an original copy of the rare CD version which was kindly supplied by Stefano AbulQasim, thank you so much Stefano!

All tracks were remastered in September 2016 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Please have a look at the comments for the download link.

«After the moderate success of "Legione straniera" and "Restoration" I had decided to be the Cincinnatus of the day, cultivating a small piece of land in my neck of the woods. However, the lure of music was too strong. After all, I still used to perform each now and then with some 'ensemble' of acoustic music, be it Baroque or other styles, so I hadn't completely quit the stage. Then, some old friends (starting from producer Angelo Carrara and the CBS press office) convinced me to work on a new record. The album, informal in style and presentation, was born almost like a 'divertissement'. I bought a mixer and a twelve-track tape recorder, and I brought them to my country house. There, from February onwards, I focused on the compositions. I also resumed old ideas that I had never developed; some of them date back to the days when I used to work with Battiato.» [1]

«"Note" is my latest album of Pop music; it includes instrumental compositions for violin and strings. Two tracks, namely "Halley" and "Capitano Nemo", were retrieved from some improvisations related to "Cigarettes", an unreleased work made in 1978-79. Other compositions are more recent, for example the lullaby that I composed for my nephew Andrea.» [2]

"Note" (Notes) was released by CBS with catalogue number 460063.1 sometimes in late 1987, probably in October or early November, both on LP and cassette tape. The album was also issued on CD format in a limited run, hence its rareness today.

Just like the two previous Pio's Instrumental Pop efforts, the album was produced by Angelo Carrara. However, the album doesn't feature the same team of musicians that enriched those records; guitar and bass are completely absent in favour of a more electronic / programmed / midi sound that unfortunately, in certain passages, appears a little bit dated today.

Franco Battiato, who had co-written all the tracks on "Legione straniera" and "Restoration" - the touchstones with whom "Note" should be compared - was not involved in the making of this album and his contribution is limited to the short endorsement that those of you who are lucky enough to read Italian can enjoy here below.

All tracks are therefore signed by Pio alone and, as a matter of fact, the usual extra-European suggestions which are ascribable to Battiato are not part of this work. Unlike in the two previous albums, quotes from famous pieces of Classical Music are nowhere to be found on "Note".

I may be wrong, but I guess that on this album Pio received some help by young pianist Roberto Rossi: he is credited for playing various sinthesizers and samplers, but also for some kind of 'artistic collaboration'. In the meantime, after years spent playing keyboards for many Italian artists, Rossi is now Head of the A&R department of Sony Music Italy...

An endorsement about "Note" written by Franco Battiato

The album opens with "Capriccio", an uptempo number which probably would have been the perfect choice for a single or for radio promotion, but as far as I know no single was released, not even a promo.

"Halley" is a superb composition, probably the best on the record, and deserves a special mention; it brings up images of deep space and oceans. How this piece can be born from an improvisation completely eludes me...

The piano + midi keyboards introduction of "Concerto" doesn't sit among my favourite moments of this record; luckily enough the track evolves with a sax + violin refrain that elevate the mood. I can't help to think about how this piece would have benefited from a real bass instead of the thin sequenced line that we are offered.

Side One ends with "Capitano Nemo" (Captain Nemo), another of those tracks whose origin Pio traces back to the late 70s. Once again, this is a strong piece that offers a well-balanced fusion of sequenced elements and violin, with an apt organ outburst in the closing section.

Side Two starts with the sweet "Ninna nanna per Andrea" (Lullaby for Andrea). In his short review of the album, Battiato describes it as «a kind of symphonic poem chamber, a "program music" intimate story».

"Inno" (Hymn) may not be as effective as Vangelis' "Hymne" but its progressions highlight the more playful side of the Maestro, while "Angeli?" (Angels?) offers a serene reflection on faith, a theme which is very close to his heart.

With "Sagra" (Festival / Celebration) the album returns to a lively mixture of synthesizers, with different melodies chasing each other until the violin bursts onto the scene.

"Note" closes with "Ultimo Lied" (The Last Lied), a romantic «twilight poem», where violin and piano have prominent roles.


[1] translated from this interview;

[2] translated from the book "Dedicato a Giusto Pio".

Here's the complete credits and personnel list as translated from the back cover of "Note":

Music by Giusto Pio.
Artistic collaboration by Roberto Rossi.
Produced by Angelo Carrara.

Violin and strings: Giusto Pio
Synthesizers and samplers (Fairlight, Yamaha, Akai, Oberheim): Roberto Rossi
Piano on "Concerto": Roberto Rossi
Drums: Alfredo Golino
Drum machines and programming (Yamaha, D.Drum): Alfredo Golino
Sax: Amedeo Bianchi

Recorded at "Cetra Art Recording Studio" by Ezio De Rosa.
Mixed at "Psycho Studio" by Marti Robertson.

Photography by Giorgio Ciprandi.
Still life by Mario Tedeschi.
Cover by Studio Vertigo.

Giusto Pio as he appears on the back cover of "Note"

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album, please enjoy "Capriccio", "Halley", "Capitano Nemo", "Inno" and "Ultimo Lied"!

More information about Giusto Pio and "Note" is available here:

If you have any other useful information about this post or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


Well, many factors currently prevent me from working on new masters from vinyl records; the situation should settle down in the coming months, so bear with me. Meanwhile, I thought about treating you with the first volume in a new series of compilations.

So, graced by gorgeous Eve Meyer on the cover, here comes "Stereo Cocktail Volume One"; it contains songs and a few instrumentals taken from some of the albums that I enjoyed the most during this long hot summer.

There's definitely a flavour of americana spread across the tracks, but in the true spirit of this blog many genres have been considered and juxtaposed with each other. Althought the music on offer here spans about forty-five years the final result sounds mostly cohesive to my ears, I truly hope you will enjoy!

Here's the tracklist of "Stereo Cocktail Volume One":

01. EURO BOYS - Deliverance (8:20)
02. BOB DYLAN - To Be Alone With You (1:52)
03. FRIENDS OF DEAN MARTINEZ - Twilight Sleep (4:52)
      - Wichita Lineman
05. JOSEPH ARTHUR - Honey and the Moon (4:24)
06. PRIMAL SCREAM - Struttin' (Edit) (4:59)
07. SORT SOL - Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town (2:52)
08. AL STEWART - On the Border (3:10)
09. IMANI COPPOLA - La Da Da (4:10)
10. JAY-JAY JOHANSON - A Letter To Lulu-Mae (2:35)
11. LEONARD COHEN - Darkness (4:09)
12. BECK - We Live Again (2:59)
13. BABY HUEY - Running (2:51)
14. THE DURUTTI COLUMN - Friends (5:39)
15. SCOTT WALKER - Montague Terrace (In Blue) (3:23)
16. TERRY CALLIER - I'd Rather Be With You (6:33)
17. THE SEA AND CAKE - Sound and Vision (3:36)

All selections were compiled and mixed in September 2016 and are available in FLAC lossless format along with printable artwork.

Before burning this compilation to CD-R using the provided CUE file you must convert the original FLAC audio file to WAV format using an appropriate software. Please have a look here if you need some help.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.

A note for the readers: most of the biographic details below were taken from various Wikipedia articles; I believe it is useful to have all the pertinent information about this compilation gathered in one place.

01. EURO BOYS – Deliverance
original CD/2LP issue: Long Day's Flight 'Till Tomorrow, Virgin (1999)
Euro Boys is a Norwegian band. They were formed in 1990 under the name Kåre and The Cavemen, but changed it to Euro Boys in 1997 for releases outside of Norway. In 2000 they changed their name to Euroboys for all releases including inside Norway. Yes, I know this looks a little bit strange... Anyway, "Deliverance" is the opening number from their second album, which is a small masterpiece. Almost entirely made of instrumental tracks, it is a perfect companion for driving through the night and has kept me good company for quite many journeys. Guitarist Knut Schreiner also plays lead guitar with Turbonegro. More information about the band is also available here.

02. BOB DYLAN – To Be Alone With You
original LP issue: Nashville Skyline, Columbia (1969)
Bob Dylan needs no introduction. As Wikipedia recites, "Nashville Skyline" is his ninth studio album and was released on April 9, 1969. Building on the rustic style he experimented with on "John Wesley Harding", the album displayed a complete immersion into country music. Along with the more basic lyrical themes, simple songwriting structures, and charming domestic feel, it introduced audiences to a radically new singing voice from his author, who had temporarily quit smoking - a soft, affected country croon. The result received a generally positive reaction from critics, and was a commercial success. "To Be Alone With You" is a simple love song; it was the first one Dylan recorded for the album.

original CD issue: Atardecer, Knitting Factory Records (1998)
Friends of Dean Martinez is an instrumental rock / post-rock band featuring members of Giant Sand, Calexico, and Naked Prey. Their music may be described as a combination of americana tunes with bits of electronica, ambient, lounge and psychedelia intertwined with surf rock inspired lead guitars. Originally called The Friends of Dean Martin, they were forced to change their name after the actor refused to give them his blessing... "Twilight Sleep" is taken from "Atardecer", the band's third full-lenght release, a postmodern instrumental rock album which is a good illustration of different ways to conjure imaginative reverbed and acoustic guitar lines.

original CD issue: A.A.V.V. - Lounge-A-Palooza, Hollywood Records (1997)
I guess that at least hundreds and hundreds of compilations were released during the lounge / space age pop / cocktail music revival of the mid 90s (...ooops, looks like that with "Stereo Cocktail Volume One" we're just twenty years late...). Among the ones that I purchased then, "Lounge-A-Palooza" is still one of my favorites. As the liner notes put it, the album «is the heart and soul of a new generation of Martini-sipping swingers»... Well, Martini is not exactly my cup of tea, so to speak, but I can only bow in front of the cosmic forces that have brought together Glen Campbell, Michelle Shocked and Texas Tornados for this great version of Campbell's signature song "Wichita Lineman".

05. JOSEPH ARTHUR - Honey and the Moon
original CD issue: Redemption's Son, Real World Records (2002)
Joseph Arthur is an American singer-songwriter and artist from Akron, Ohio. Combining poetic lyrics with a layered sonic palette, Arthur has built his reputation over the years through critically acclaimed releases and constant touring. He was discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-'90s, and signed to Gabriel's Real World as the first North American artist on the label's roster. Arthur is also an acclaimed painter and designer; his artwork has graced most of the sleeves of his entire discography. "Honey and the Moon" is my favourite song from his third studio album and is a quite fine example of the man's artistry.

06. PRIMAL SCREAM - Struttin' [Edit]
original CD/2LP issue: Give Out But Don't Give Up, Creation Records (1994)
Primal Scream are a Scottish rock band originally formed in 1982 in Glasgow. The band were a key part of the mid-1980s indie pop scene, but eventually moved away from their more jangly sound, taking on more psychedelic and then garage rock influences, before incorporating a dance music element to their sound. Their 1991 album "Screamadelica" broke the band into the mainstream. The following album "Give Out But Don't Give Up" - from which this edited version of "Struttin'" is taken - was released in 1994 and was a massive departure from their previous output. Where "Screamadelica" was primarily a psychedelic album, this new effort was influenced by classic rock and blues... That's exactly what is needed to beef up this compilation a little bit right now.

07. SORT SOL - Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town
original 12" issue: Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town, Medley Records (1985)
Sort Sol is a pioneer rock band from Denmark. The group was formed in 1977 as a punk rock outfit, originally under the name Sods. The name Sort Sol was taken in the early 1980s. It translates to English as 'black sun' and is named after a nature phenomenon particular to their Country, where huge bird flocks gather in the sky and appear to block out the sun. I first fell in love with this band thanks to their Joy Division-influenced album "Under en Sort Sol" released sometimes in 1980. "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town" - a song originally performed by Johnny Darrell in 1967 - is taken from the 12" EP of the same name released in 1985, which is entirely made of covers of famous American songs.

08. AL STEWART - On the Border
original LP issue: Year of the Cat, RCA Victor (1976)
Al Stewart is a Glasgow-born singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history. Stewart is best known for his 1976 hit single "Year of the Cat", the title song from the platinum album of the same name. "On the Border", which is included here, was the second single excerpted from that album. It offers some quite seductive Spanish guitar riffs and is an example of Pop perfection for sure. My older brother listened to this album for months when it was released. I was just six years old then, so I guess that this is one of my earliest favourites.

original CD issue: Chupacabra, Columbia (1997)
What a pleasant discovery I made tonight! I remember to have bought "Chupacabra" some fifteen years ago in the bargain bin of a second-hand records shop out of curiosity, but in the end I never searched for information about its author until now.. I'm quite happy to learn that Imani Coppola has released many other albums after her 1997 debut and that she is still active today as part of the Little Jackie duo. I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of pure hip hop music, but the beats and samples scattered all over "Chupacabra" and its implicit pop feeling always strike a chord in me. "La Da Da" is a lovely mellifluous track and comes at the end of the album. As you have already guessed, it is the one that I like the most.

10. JAY-JAY JOHANSON - A Letter To Lulu-Mae
original CD issue: Tattoo, BMG Sweden / RCA (1998)
Jay-Jay Johanson is one of my heroes. Yes, no less than that. So, what can I add? I remember the very first time I watched the promotional clip for his first single "It Hurts Me So" back in 1996: what a coloured and strong voice in such a pale and frail body! The lyrics and general atmosphere of the song have instantly entrapped me in melancholy and I never recovered since then... No, seriously, I have thought about it many times and now I would like to publicly state that, in this life, Jay-Jay is the only worthy artist that I discovered stumbling by chance upon MTV at 3:00 a.m., really! Since then I enjoyed each and every album he has made, and I strongly encourage you to check him, you won't regret it. "A Letter To Lulu-Mae" is taken from his second album entitled "Tattoo", which is a trip hop M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E that can easily stand between Portishead's first two albums without being ashamed.

11. LEONARD COHEN - Darkness
original CD/LP issue: Old Ideas, Columbia / Sony (2012)
If Bob Dylan needs no introduction, then why Leonard Cohen should? As Bruce Eder puts it, «Cohen is second only to Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon) in terms of influence, he commands the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the 1960s who is still working at the outset of the 21st century.» I agree with that, well, maybe except the bit about Paul Simon, but I understand that each one of us loves to make his/her own charts. Unfortunately, during the years I lost track of Leonard Cohen, you know, twenty-four hours a day are never enough for everything... My fault! I was lucky enough to watch the second season of "True Detective" (...and I can't help to mention that, just like almost anyone else in this planetary system, I enjoyed the first one much more...) and the use of Cohen's "Nevermind" - off his latest album "Popular Problems" - as theme song was a welcome surprise. The bluesy "Darkness" is taken from his 2012 album "Old Ideas", which is delightful too.

12. BECK - We Live Again
original CD issue: Mutations, Geffen Records (1998)
Beck is an American singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He rose to fame in the early 1990s with his sonically experimental and lo-fi style, and became known for creating musical collages of wide genre styles. While playing some open mic events, he got noticed by a small local label, Bong Load Custom Records. In 1993, "Loser" was released to the world in a limited pressing of 500 copies and sent out to radio DJs across the U.S. The song became quite popular, and Geffen signed him in November of 1993, giving him the freedom to work with independent labels and to make 'uncommercial' music. Today, he musically encompasses folk, funk, soul, hip hop, alternative rock, country and psychedelia. "We Live Again" is an evocative ballad that will give shivers from here to eternity to anyone who has a heart, and is taken from the album "Mutations".

13. BABY HUEY - Running
original LP issue: The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend, Curtom (1971)
James Ramey, better known as Baby Huey, was an American rock and soul singer. He was the frontman for the band Baby Huey & the Babysitters, whose sole LP for Curtom Records in 1971 was influential in the development of hip hop music. Due to a glandular disorder, he weighed about 350 pounds (160 kg). His size contributed to his stage presence, but also to health problems. By 1970, he had developed an addiction to heroin, and his weight had increased. In addition to the heroin problem, he was also drinking... Baby Huey was in the midst of recording tracks for his debut album when he died as a result of a heart attack. Some time lapsed before his manager Marv Stuart and Curtis Mayfield took what had already been recorded, added some instrumental tracks that had been recorded previously, and managed to gather up enough material for the album's release. A quarter century later, the record went on to become a cult classic among soul musicians and hip hop fans and has been sampled many times. "Running", written by Mayfield, was released as "You've Got Me Running" by The Impressions in 1967. Baby Huey's version is much stronger than the original in my opinion.

original CD-R issue: Chronicle, Kooky Records (2011)
The Durutti Column are an English post-punk band formed in 1978 in Manchester, England. The band is a project of guitarist and occasional pianist Vini Reilly who is accompanied most of the times by drummer Bruce Mitchell. Since its inception, the band has been associated with Factory Records, until the label's collpase in the early 1990s. Let's put it simple: The Durutti Column are my favourite band of all times, full stop. I've been listening and supporting them for about thirty years now. Althought still partly incomplete, my collection of Durutti's releases is wide enough to include some sought after rarities, just like the "Chronicle" limited edition CD-R for example. The music on the album was premiered at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 30 April 2011 and the disc was sold on such occasion. Although I couldn't attend the concert, a few copies were sold directly from Kooky Records the following May. The official release of the album was delayed until June 2014 when it was finally made available as "Chronicle XL". In the meantime "Friends" was given a different - and shorter - mix and re-entitled "Fanfare Reprise". I am more inclined to appreciate the original version, that's why you can listen to it here.

15. SCOTT WALKER - Montague Terrace (In Blue)
original LP issue: Scott, Philips (1967)
Born Noel Scott Engel on 9 January 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, and gifted with a really interesting voice, that later will evolve into the contradistinctive baritone timbre, the young Scott Walker started with television appearances in 1957 and became a worldwide acclaimed star after moving to London and releasing for Philips as part of the The Walker Brothers. For some months the group even overshadowed The Beatles in popularity becoming icons always followed by a crowd of adoring fans. From 1967 the Walkers disbanded and Scott started to produce his first solo albums, the critical acclaimed "Scott", "Scott 2", "Scott 3", "Scott Sings Songs From His T.V. Series" and "Scott 4". For three years Walker worked in strict collaboration with the expert arranger John Franz, Philips A&R man, the young engineer Peter Olliff, and classical-trained directors like Wally Stott, Reg Guest and Peter Knight. "Montague Terrace (In Blue)" is taken from his debut solo album, and is a suggestive masterpiece full of lyricism and pathos.

16. TERRY CALLIER - I'd Rather Be With You
original LP issue: What Color Is Love, Cadet Records (1972)
Terrence Orlando "Terry" Callier (May 24, 1945 – October 27, 2012), was an American jazz, soul and folk guitarist and singer-songwriter. His debut album, "The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier", released in 1965 on Prestige, included eight traditional songs and established that he was quite difficult to categorize. In 1970 he joined Jerry Butler's Chicago Songwriters Workshop and in 1972 he released his first self-penned album entitled "Occasional Rain", which was soon followed by "What Color Is Love". During the 1970s he released three more albums on Cadet and Elektra, but by the end of the decade his career had slowed down. Soon after recording a single, "I Don’t Want to See Myself (Without You)", which he paid for himself, in 1982 he quit music... He re-emerged from obscurity in the late 1980s when his music attracted a cult following among British soul music collectors and DJs. In the late 1990s Callier began his comeback to recorded music, collaborating with Urban Species and Beth Orton, before releasing the album "TimePeace" in 1998, which was followed by many more releases until his untimely departure. "I'd Rather Be With You" perfectly sums up Callier's approach both to life and music.

17. THE SEA AND CAKE - Sound and Vision
original CD/LP issue: One Bedroom, Thrill Jockey (2003)
The Sea and Cake is an indie rock band with a jazz influence based in Chicago. The group formed in the mid-1990s from members of The Coctails, Shrimp Boat and Tortoise. Starting with 1997's "The Fawn", the group has relied on electronic sound sources, such as drum machines and synthesizers, to color its music, but has retained its distinctive post-jazz combo style. Contrary to his multi-instrumentalist role in Tortoise, John McEntire almost exclusively plays drums in The Sea and Cake. The cover art of their albums are largely created by members Eric Claridge (paintings) and Sam Prekop (photographs). Their most recent studio album, entitled "Runner", was released in 2012. "Sound and Vision" is taken from "One Bedroom", an album released by Thrill Jockey in 2003. The song was originally included on David Bowie's "Low", released in early 1977. Closing the compilation with this small tribute seems fair to me.

All your inputs are more than welcome, if you feel so inclined you can reach me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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