Wednesday, 29 January 2014


C'è una ragione che cresce in me e l'incoscienza svanisce
e come un viaggio nella notte finisce
dimmi, dimmi, dimmi che senso ha dare amore a un uomo senza pietà
uno che non s'è mai sentito finito, che non ha mai perduto, mai

Per te, per te, una canzone
mai una povera illusione, un pensiero banale, qualcosa che rimane
invece per me, per me, più che normale
che un'emozione da poco mi faccia stare male
una parola detta piano basta già ed io non vedo più la realtà
non vedo più a che punto sta la netta differenza
tra il più cieco amore e la più stupida pazienza

No, io non vedo più la realtà
nè quanta tenerezza ti dà la mia incoerenza
pensare che vivresti benissimo anche senza

C'è una ragione che cresce in me e una paura che nasce
l'imponderabile confonde la mente finche non si pente
e poi, per me, più che normale
che un'emozione da poco mi faccia stare male
una parola detta piano basta già ed io non vedo più la realtà
non vedo più a che punto sta la netta differenza
tra il più cieco amore e la più stupida pazienza

No, io non vedo più la realtà
nè quanta tenerezza ti dà la mia incoerenza
pensare che vivresti benissimo anche senza


There is a reason growing in me and the unconsciousness disappears
it's like a trip, which ends at night
tell me, tell me, tell me what is the point in giving love to a man who has no pity
one who never felt he was over, who has never lost, never

For you, never a song for you
never a poor illusion, a banal though, something that remains
but for me, for me it's more than normal
that a small emotion makes me suffer
a whispered word is enough and I don't see reality any longer
I don't see the clear difference
between blind love and stupid patience

No, I don't see reality any longer
neither how much tendereness you get from my incoherence
thinking you would also live well without it

There is a reason growing in me and a fear rising
the unexpected mixes up the mind until it regrets
and then, for me, it's more than normal
that a small emotion makes me suffer
a whispered word is enough and I don't see reality any longer
I don't see the clear difference
between blind love and stupid patience

No, I don't see reality any longer
neither how much tendereness you get from my incoherence
thinking you would also live well without it

[From the lyrics of "Un'emozione da poco" / "A Small Emotion"]

Anna Oxa, stage name of Iliriana Hoxha (born in Bari, 28 April 1961), is an Italian singer, actress and television presenter of Albanian origin.

One of the most gifted Italian vocalists, her thirty-five years long career has brought her many successes and has been mainly centered around her numerous appearances at the Sanremo Music Festival.

Oxa began performing as a child in the piano-bars of her hometown, and at the age of 15 she debuted with a song called "Fiorellin del prato" for a small local label.

In 1977 she was noticed by a talent scout and invited for an audition at the Cenacolo, a famous place of meeting, discussion and musical creation, launched in Rome during the early seventies by the RCA label.

She was immediately signed and introduced to Ivano Fossati, a famous Italian singer-songwriter, who soon began to compose lyrics for her debut album.

Just a few months later, the promising singer won second place at Sanremo with "Un'emozione da poco" ("A Small Emotion"), her first official single - which is the subject of this post.

Anna Oxa, Sanremo Music Festival backstage, January 1978

In 1978 I was just a child, but I still remember that late January evening when I watched the Festival on black and white TV with my parents.

Or at least I remember her: for some reason her image is firmly rooted in my mind, probably because at my tender age I found a woman in men's clothes a little bit confusing, somehow it struck me and it has remained within me for all these years...

Looking back at that performance, the look, the make-up, etc., it must be pointed out that for Italy in early 1978 that was Punk! The music and lyrics of the song have nothing to do with Punk of course, but that's how Anna Oxa was presented and marketed on TV and magazines in those days.

Anna Oxa in 1978

Despite the photographs make her look a little bit older, Anna was just sixteen when she participated to the Sanremo Festival... As wrote before, here she was presented with a strong androgynous look: menswear, dark lipstick, heavy eyeliner, an aggressive attitude and a mysterious briefcase.

Actually the character on stage had little to do with the real Anna Oxa, but she needed a gimmick to hit on first strike and the image created for her by her new friend Ivan Cattaneo - an Italian artist and singer known for his blunt and irreverent nature, who was constantly on her side during the Festival - was exactly what was needed.

Ivan Cattaneo and Anna Oxa, 1978

The shock effect worked just fine and Anna Oxa won second place after having conquered first place in the Performers category. She was only defeated by the group Matia Bazar, who won with "...E dirsi ciao". To be noted is the third place by the unlucky Rino Gaetano with "Gianna".

However, it is unfair to give the merit of Oxa' sensational debut only to her image: Ivano Fossati and Guido Guglielminetti had prepared for her a beautiful song which was very well orchestrated and arranged by Ruggero Cini, and which had a great impact on the public as well.

Moreover, Anna sang it with the right emphasis and with her own vocal technique, in which she alternates throat voice and chest voice, which later became her defining trait.

"Un'emozione da poco / Questa è vita" single, back cover

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

01. Un'emozione da poco (4:13)
02. Questa è vita (4:12)

Both tracks were remastered in January 2014 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

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

Released in February 1978, shortly after the Festival, the single obviously featured "Un'emozione da poco" on Side A. The lyrics written by Ivano Fossati depict a sort of conflict within a couple where he seems to be the classic strong man, rational and confident, while she is a frail and hypersensitive woman living on emotions who finally realizes that he doesn't love her that much...

On Side B we find "Questa è vita" ("This Is Life"), a cover of Electric Light Orchestra's "Livin' Thing". The Italian lyrics for this song were written by Maurizio Monti, a singer-songwriter who is better remembered for the songs he wrote for Patty Pravo and for his album "Diavolo custode" released in 1976. Strangely enough, this song was not included on Anna Oxa's debut album, "Oxanna", published just a few months later, and is exclusive to this release.

The following video offer the original live rendition of "Un'emozione da poco" as performed by Anna Oxa on 26th January 1978 during the opening night of the Sanremo Festival.

These other videos show two playback performances of "Un'emozione da poco" taken, respectively, from the 1978 edition of the Sanremo Festival and from an episode of Discoring, a very popular Italian TV show broadcasted since the late '70s until the end of the '80s, generally on Sunday afternoon.

The latter is particularly interesting for those speaking Italian because it also includes a short half-serious interview conducted by Gianni Boncompagni featuring Mino Reitano.

More information about Anna Oxa and "Un emozione da poco" 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, 18 January 2014


Borrowing its name from Jacques Tricatel, a character portrayed by Louis de Funès in the 1976 movie "L'aile ou la cuisse" (The Wing and the Thigh) - this, in turn, ispired by Jacques Borel, father of the "Restoroute" restaurant chain - French label Tricatel was founded in 1996 by musician and producer Bertrand Burgalat.

Since its creation, the label has been focused on releasing music of a futuristic lounge, refined pop, downtempo easy-listening and retro-chic nature. Proudly independent, Tricatel payed homage to labels like The Compact Organisation and él Records, that have been a source of inspiration for Burgalat.

During the years the label has released music by April March, Eggstone, Count Indigo, The High Llamas, Etienne Charry and many other artists, including veteran composer André Popp, actress Valérie Lemercier, writers Michel Houellebecq and Jonathan Coe, and - of course - its founder and gran maestro Betrand Burgalat.

The label had an high profile in France and many of its releases received huge critical acclaims both there and abroad, sadly this was not matched by commercial success and sales. Coupled with distribution problems, Tricatel was forced to slow down its release schedule after a few years of frenetic activity.

Tricatel has turned fifteen in april 2011, the following is an excerpt taken from a feature/interview by David McKenna taken from The Quietus website, the complete version is available here.

Bertrand Burgalat in the late 90s / early 00s

What does it mean to have kept Tricatel going for 15 years?

"Not much really - I am not good with numbers. I'm starting to realize that I may spend the rest of my life doing the same things: struggling to finance projects and to release them, getting discouraged then trying again."

How have you responded to changes in the music industry over the past 15 years?

"The situation for Tricatel is much better now than 15 years ago. The crisis in music industry has been an excellent thing for people in the margins like us. Now that record sales are disappointing for everyone and not only for us it's more useless than ever to be calculating. You have to do the music you'd like to listen to - even if your music is super opportunistic it may fail too. A lot of people are not used to making records with low budgets while paying musicians and technicians decently, whereas it has always been our main concern.

In fact, the only thing that I don't like here in France is that most records that sell are not catchy, they are more fake quality for bobos [bohemians], and I have always preferred a good song from Britney Spears to a boring album from Björk."

Modelled more on él Records (which in the 80s was a home to Momus, regular Burgalat collaborator Louis Philippe, Shock Headed Peters and Marden Hill amongst others) than Factory, Tricatel was set up, in Burgalat's own words, as a "fantasy" label with its cast of backroom boys, muses (American singer April March, French comedy actress Valérie Lemercier) and even a proper house band in the shape of AS Dragon. Undoubtedly a post-modern project, it seemed as though it was trying to establish an alternative variété: an idea of what modern mainstream French pop could be if it was Boris Vian, Yé-Yé, Pierre Henry, Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, cool 60s film music, uncool 70s MOR, Marc Cerrone, the soundtrack to La Boum and French Touch all mixed up.

In 1999 Tricatel launched a succulent initiative in the form a vinyl-only series aptly named "Tricatel 25cm Club". Initially, these 10" releases were only available by post and had to be ordered directly from the label, but sometimes later they also received a wider distribution through independent music stores.

Most of these records were pressed on clear vinyl; probably published in a limited edition, it is unclear how many copies of each release exist... The fourth number in this serie was "Prototypes" by Bertrand Burgalat, which is the subject of this post.

The following biography is taken From Wikipedia, with a few edits and corrections:

Bertrand Burgalat was born in the Corsican town of Bastia in 1963. His father, a high-ranking civil servant, was the sub-prefect of the island at the time, but as often happens in this profession, the family moved several times in the course of Burgalat senior's career so young Bertrand grew up in several different towns in France.

Obsessed with Classical Music from an early age, Burgalat apparently became fascinated with the possibilities of Pop Music after seeing Pink Floyd in concert when he was 10 years old.

Burgalat is well known for his cool, breezy '60s-style pop sound, something he has lent to his production work with Air, April March, A.S Dragon, Dalcan, Jad Wio, Mick Harvey, Louis Philippe and the French writer Michel Houellebecq.

His musical influences include the Yé-Yé sound of French pop made famous by France Gall, Françoise Hardy and Brigitte Fontaine, as well as the singers Jacques Dutronc and Serge Gainsbourg, as well as the 'Folk-music of the Ruhr' created by Kraftwerk.

Reputed to possess one of the most acute ears in the business, BB (a nickname he shares with Brigitte Bardot) also draws inspiration from 20th century French classical composers such as Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen, and was greatly influenced by the writings of cult French journalist-cum-pop visionary Yves Adrien.

At the age of 25, he produced the Laibach's album "Let It Be", which is an entire cover of The Beatles' album of the same name. In 1995, he remixed and rearranged the Renegade Soundwave song "Positive ID" (as "Positive BB"). In 2001 he also had the chance to remix Depeche Mode ("Freelove") and to create a completely new version of "Easy Tiger", an instrumental song from the album "Exciter", which were well received by all the devoted Depeche Mode fans.

His own albums, "The Ssssound of Mmmusic" (2000), "Portrait-Robot" (2005), "Chéri B.B." (2007) and "Toutes Directions" (2012), fuse subtle Electronica, Psychedelia, soaring backing choruses and string sections with wry lyrics (some of them written by Philippe Katerine, April March and Alfreda Benge, Robert Wyatt's longtime companion), and finely crafted melodies.

Burgalat is also expert at using discords and dissonances in his harmonies, some of which bear more relation to Avant-garde Classical music than to Pop. On his album "Bertrand Burgalat Meets A.S. Dragon" (2001), Burgalat places his crooning style directly in contrast with A.S Dragon's hard-groove rock/jam-band sensibility.

A more recent picture of Bertrand Burgalat, circa 2012

"Prototypes" contains the following tracks:

01. Biscarosse (4:24)
02. Haute volupté (1:53)
03. Albo (3:59)
04. Les amplis de Mayence (3:27)
05. Doctor Timsit laser (1:44)
06. Arc en ciel rue d'Ulm (3:47)

All tracks were remastered from the original 10" vinyl in January 2014 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

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

"Prototypes" offers six tracks recorded between 1995 and 1997; these are mostly instrumental with a few exceptions where we hear Bertrand vocalizing some melodies. Here's the complete credits and personnel list of the EP:

Performed and produced by Bertrand Burgalat.

Artwork: Manel

Mastering: Hervé Dutournier (Translab)

"Biscarosse" and "Haute volupté" recorded at Tricatel Studio, Summer 1997.

"Les Amplis de Mayence" and "Docteur Timsit laser" recorded at Tricatel Studio, Autumn 1997.

"Albo" recorded at Studios de la Seine, Summer 1995, with assistance by Gaël Robin.

"Arc en ciel rue d'Ulm" recorded at Mute / Studios de la Seine, Summer 1995, with assistance by Gaël Robin.

Drums on "Albo": Richie Thomas

Viola on "Docteur Timsit Laser": Typhaine Pautrel

Violins on "Docteur Timsit Laser": Cyril Garac, Nathalie Marc and Romain Sennac

Strings on "Arc en cielrue d'Ulm": Covent Garden String Quartet

The following videos offer a preview of the remastered EP; for this purpose I chose my favourite tracks: "Biscarosse", and "Les amplis de Mayence", enjoy!

Althought "Prototypes" is sold-out since long time, there are many other Bertrand Burgalat releases available for sale on the Tricatel website, including his latest CD album "Toutes directiones" that also comes as a limited edition double-vinyl, yum!

New Tricatel releases have also been published during the recent years, including cool and stunning albums by Jef Barbara and Chassol; I strongly encourage you to have a look and discover - or re-discover - one of the coolest french labels of all times.

More information about Tricatel and Bertrand Burgalat is available here:

If you have any other useful information about Bertrand Burgalat and "Prototypes" - especially corrections and improvements to 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!

Sunday, 5 January 2014


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.

"Legione straniera", original innersleeve

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 minimal title track 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.

"Legione straniera", original innersleeve

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.

Front cover of the "Legione straniera / Giardino segreto" 7" single

Between 1982 and 1987 he released three album of Pop music ("Legione straniera", the subject of this post, "Restoration" and "Note"). 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.

Back cover of the "Legione straniera / Giardino segreto" 7" single

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.

Franco Battiato and Giusto Pio in the early '80s

"Legione straniera" contains the following tracks:

01. Legione straniera (3:14)
02. Ostinato (3:11)
03. Eritrea's (3:24)
04. Cristina's Day (2:37)
05. Celestial Tibet (3:12)
06. Giardino segreto (3:42)
07. Totem (4:53)
08. Aria di un tempo (3:30)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in December 2013 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include restored and printable PDF artwork.

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

Following the huge success of Franco Battiato's "La voce del padrone", co-arranged by Giusto Pio, the first Italian album with a certified sale of more than 1.000.000 copies, "Legione straniera" was released by EMI Italiana with catalogue number 3C 064-18589 in late 1982. It sold more than 70.000 copies, but despite this little success at the time of writing it has never been officially reissued on CD.

The whole album, produced by Angelo Carrara, was co-written hand-in-hand by Pio and Battiato. Music, arrangements and stylistic features clearly show the influence of the LPs released by Battiato in 1980-82; beside this, he is also present as singer in the few tracks that are not purely instrumental.

Pio's compositional style relies mostly on his violin, and embodies an ideal trait-d'union between Baroque music and Post-modern Minimalism. Elegance, repetition, and regularity are the key aspects of most of the tracks, where schematic violin themes fluctuate over straight beats.

As a matter of fact, the album also benefits of the same team of musicians who worked on "La voce del padrone", including Paolo Donnarumma on bass, famous guitarist Alberto Radius and keyboardist Filippo Destrieri.

Destrieri is credited as co-author on "Legione straniera" (Foreign Legion), the title track which opens Side A of the album; it is reported that he created the original four-bar theme of the piece, which was then elaborated and arranged by Battiato and Pio. This short epic number offers sonic landscapes that evoke a sort of "Beau Geste" or "Lawrence of Arabia" in technicolor; it was also released as a 7" single a few months before the album, probably sometimes during summer 1982.

"Ostinato", as its title implies, is based on a phrase that is persistently repeated, first on keyboards and violin, and then on electric guitar in the closing section; a polite and gentle musical motif that evocates an outworld placidity. This track was also made popular at a later date by its inclusion as the theme song of "Sereno variabile", an Italian TV program

The album collects many extra-European suggestions but never actually sounds like world music; the violin and guitars on "Eritrea's" are a fine example of this moderate practice.

Side A ends with the short "Cristina's Day", which sounds like a delightful fairy tale for children where Pio's violin is enriched by Paola Orlandi's choir and unexpected fast sequencer lines/arpeggios.

Side B starts with "Celestial Tibet", another very enjoyable track that preeminently features Battiato's voice during the refrain and might have been easily included in one of his own albums without sounding out of place. I can't help mentioning the bass line played by Paolo Donnarumma on this piece: it is one of the details that I like most in the entire album.

Pio and Battiato also allows some room for a pure divertissement like "Giardino segreto" (Secret Garden), a reworking of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous "Air On the G String" as transcripted by Fritz Kreisler complete with a fake Thai choir which, according to Pio, was nothing else than «...the recording of maids chattering nearby Battiato's hotel room, spinned backwards with a curious and alienating effect.» Strangely enough, this is the only track on the album which is signed by Battiato with one of his pseudonyms: Kui.

Almost reaching the five minutes marks, "Totem" is the longest track on the album and also the one with the darkest passages, and the gloomiest and most mysterious atmospheres. Definitely a favourite of mine!

The album closes with the rarefied and somehow sad melody of "Aria di un tempo" (...which I guess can be translated with "Atmosphere of a Past Time"...), a piece where, despite its electronic architecture, the prevailing air is a noble fin de siècle mood.

In the end, according to Giusto Pio's own words, "Legione straniera" is «a computerized album, but made judiciously, Oriental and esoteric, but with moderation

Here's the complete credits and personnel list of "Legione straniera":

Arrangements: Franco Battiato and Giusto Pio

Music and lyrics: Franco Battiato and Giusto Pio except "Legione straniera" by Giusto Pio, Franco Battiato and Filippo Destrieri, and "Giardino segreto" by Giusto Pio, Kui (Franco Battiato) and Johann Sebastian Bach

Production: Angelo Carrara

Art Director: Francesco Messina

Violins: Giusto Pio
Percussions: Alfredo Golino
Bass: Paolo Donnarumma
Keyboards: Filippo Destrieri
Microcomposer: Luigi Tonet
Guitars: Alberto Radius
Choir: Paola Orlandi
Choir on "Giardino segreto": Coro dei Tailandesi

Giusto Pio as he appears on the back cover of "Legione straniera"

The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album; for this purpose I chose my favourite tracks: "Legione straniera", "Totem" and "Giardino segreto", enjoy!

...and here's the original videoclip for "Legione straniera", along with a live version of the same track performed by Giusto Pio and Filippo Destrieri somewhere in Spain in 1987, what a find!

More information about "Legione straniera", Giusto Pio and Franco Battiato is available here:

If you have any other useful information about Giusto Pio and "Legione straniera" - especially corrections and improvements to 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!

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