Italian Boogie

By gustoo121 gustoo121
updated over 6 years ago

Italian boogie: The much ignored and frequently maligned sub genre throws up a tangled spaghetti of mysteriously elusive 12”s and obscure albums. Thanks to eBay (and the internet in general) it has become slightly easier to track down some of these strangely rare records, most of which never seemed to make the short journey across the channel to our import stores.

The boogie genre itself dates back to the dawning of the 80s. That’s when many producers moved away from the faster “disco” sound, with its octave bass-lines and open hi- hats to a slower, more soulful tempo. By ‘83, boogie had become more electronic with heavy use of synths in the instrumentation.

Any article on this subject has to start with detailing the work of the undisputed kings of Italian disco/boogie – the production team of Jacque Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi. In the late 70s the duo produced a string of successful records for various American labels under names such as Macho, Revanche and Peter Jacques Band. Some of this stuff is quite good but it is fast, percussive disco laced with campery and often verging into hi-NRG territory. However, in 1979 the duo completely revamped their sound and formed the aptly named Change.

Change’s debut album “The Glow of Love” was very much inspired by the Chic sound and was a universal success, scoring big chart action with the hits “Lover’s Holiday”, “Searching” and title track “Glow of Love”. Working with top quality American session singers really paid off as a strategy for both producers and indeed the main singer, with Mr Vandross soaring towards household name status thereafter.

Malavasi, along with collaborators David Romani and Paolo Gianolio appears to have been the actual musical mastermind behind Change. Malavasi’s classical training underpinned the music, giving the compositions, rich sophisticated arrangements, understated chords and tight production. Petrus, now sadly deceased, was more involved with the business function of the team, though also a musician himself.

Petrus and Malavasi followed this album up with the equally good, if slightly less successful “Miracles”, containing the popular “Paradise”, “Hold Tight” and more. Hot on the success of their new sound, the prolific duo put together several more acts, which they then signed onto various major labels stateside.

They were responsible for the classic early 80s soul/boogie of acts like High Fashion (Feelin' Lucky Lately, Break Up), BB&Q Band (“On the Beat/Time For Love/Starlite/Imagination”), Ritchie Family (“I’ll Do My Best”), Zinc (That’s the Way the Loves Goes/I’ll take my Chances), and Peter Jacques Band (“Mighty Fine”).

Malavasi and Petrus finally quit working together in ‘83 after the fourth Change Album – the weak “This is Your Time”. Petrus kept Change and BBQ going himself, sometimes outsourcing the production to others – most successfully with Jam and Lewis for the “Change of Heart” album

Back in Italy the Chic-aping success of Malavasi and Petrus didn’t go unnoticed and many of the country’s other producers started doing the same. Indeed many of these imitators went as far as using Change as their template.

There is quite a distinctive sound to Italian boogie, just as there was to early Italian house productions. It’s a sound that may be described as hovering somewhere between Change and UK Brit Funk. The variable quality of the vocalists used means that its highly unlikely that collectors will alight upon loads of undiscovered gems of the same calibre as “Glow of Love”. However for industrious vinyl addicts, there are still some interesting records to be found. Much of the best of this Italian material was licensed on to American labels, particularly Emergency, but also Brass, Sam and Easy Street, normally gaining far better worldwide distribution that way. So keep your eyes peeled, it may be Italian in disguise.

  1. Advance - Take Me To The Top

    A excellent example of the genre. 82

  2. The Armed Gang - Love Shot

    13 For Sale from $22.72

    Legendary italian producer Sangy.

  3. Asso - Do It Again / Don't Stop

    12 For Sale from $45.45

    Flipside on the Steely Dan cover "Do It Again"

  4. Ago (2) - For You

    Not the best singer in the world, he just pulls it off.

  5. Boeing (2) - Dance On The Beat

    5 For Sale from $51.14

    One of the genre´s best. funky slapped bass and male vocals.

  6. Cela - I'm In Love

    Very Chic-ish production, and as far as I know the only thing she recorded under this name.

  7. Fascination (2) - Out To Get You

    Produced by Kasso´s Giancarlo Meo

  8. Firefly (2) - My Desire

    Maurice Cavalieri´s project was maybe the longest running of all the italian disco acts

  9. Flowchart (2) - The New Harlem Funk

    6 For Sale from $45.45

    Maybe the most sought after Italian boogie albums of all. Recorded in NYC whit session singer Fonzi Thornton

  10. Game - Gotta Take Your Love / You And Me

    From the same team as Flowchart. The 12inch is on US label emergency. But the album remained Italien.

  11. Orlando Johnson And Trance* - Turn The Music On

    10 For Sale from $39.77

    Sweet all produced and recorded in Italy. Sounds a bit Britt-funky to me.

  12. Kano - Can't Hold Back (Your Loving)

    10 For Sale from $10.00

    Kano is maybe the best known Italian disco act. Many good boogie trax from this artist. Front man Glen White is not the best singer.

  13. Kasso - Walkman

    Claudio Simonetti and Giancarlo Meo were behind several italian disco acts. Easy Going, Vivien Vee and Capricorn is some of the best known. Thay have some auther hits tha you can check. "Dig It" n Change of Heart"

  14. K.I.D. - Fine Time Tonight

    Very Good Times sounding album. Also released of US label SAM.

  15. Natasha* - AM-FM (Rap)

    Nice Electro boogie fusion for the B-boys. Same producer as the pop acts Gazebo and Ryan Paris, Pierluigi Giombini. An Italian based American singe Natasha. Similar to some early Madonna trax.

  16. Korja - My Mind

    14 For Sale from $10.11

    Funny that its released on the record label Flop. Same producers as Ago and Rainbow Team.

  17. Koxo - Step By Step

    13 For Sale from $1.42

    This is Italien pizza whit extra CHEESY song. Try the inst. Same producing team as DrTogo.

  18. Metropole - Miss Manhattan

    Maybe more classic disco sound. More esialy found on the Canadian PBI label.

  19. Rainbow Team - A Song For You

    Both Rainbow Teams albums are good. And I happend to like the eurovison-ish feamale singers voice.

  20. Jimmy Ross - First True Love Affair

    Much-sampled classic. Remixed by the one and only Larry Levan.

  21. Selection - Selection

    Thight produced album. Check also the first twelve "Madly".

  22. Dr. Togo - Be Free

    18 For Sale from $22.73

    More of a Soul/Boogie track. I have heard that its the same guy as Kano, or some say Koxo. Use to go for stupid money.

  23. Touché (4) - Just Like A Doorknob

    26 For Sale from $18.18

    SUPER Chunky bass and ridiculous lyrics. From the US produser Dennis Bell (Later produced "The Show" by Doug E Fresh). This recorded in NYC and was original on Emergency label. But it dident make it, and ended up on the Rome label SPQR. Ironically taht one of the best Italian boogie trax is American.

  24. Vin Zee - Funky Bebop

    Party hearty vocoder boogie.