Friday, September 09, 2011

I've been getting swept up in Italo Disco, listening to mixes and compilations, reading forums and living on Discogs. Yet it seems no matter how many songs I listen to, there appears to be tens of thousands of songs to go. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of songs produced in this musical era, inasmuch as it is easy to be confused as to why this genre has never been properly analysed or adequately documented. If you spend enough time with it, it's possible to garner an impression of the most significant dancefloor anthems, but much of the my personal enjoyment of this genre is predicated on taste. The act of actually listening to the songs, far removed from its original context, and finding that moment of perfect resonance.

For others, it is the act of collecting Italo records which is the most enjoyable thing. For any noob, detecting what is obscure in a genre full of obscurities is somewhat problematic. However, the knowledgeable Italo collector never seems to have any difficulty in that respect. I've known of their plight for a long time, the risks they take in pursuing vinyl obscurities. In their pursuit of the Holy Grail of Italo Records, the collector would sometimes part with hundreds of dollars in the hope that the record would arrive safe and intact in their letter box. However, the seller's account would duly disappear, along with the collector's money and any hope that the record ever existed in the first place. How I felt for them.

50 Works Project

My search for perfect Italo had largely taken form in MP3 format, so I never had to deal with unscrupulous dealers. However, as my obsession with these songs dramatically increased, I considered how cool it would be to have Dharma's Plastic Doll, Alexander Robotnick's Problèmes D'Amour or Jimmy & Susy's Come Back. No doubt my desire for these records coincided with my longing to hold a club night for the masses, where we would all dance to such songs (imagine, Rose's clip for Magic Carillion). Yet, still cautious and wary of the many horror stories of experienced Italo collectors, I only ever opted to click on the very cheapest records available. I didn't wish to be another casualty.

Ashamedly, my collection shows few signs that I've become so entrenched in this genre. There's a shamefully small handful of records; a Michael Bedford 7", a Den Harrow 7", a Laserdance 12", a Tom Hooker 12", a Fuzz Dance compilation, a ZYX boxset purchased from Stockholm. I still look on Discogs, not only to shop, but to research. For in a genre so free of narrative, it offers much insight into what is rare and valuable. When I have come across one of those records, 1 for sale from €800, I feel compelled to stake out that song and listen carefully. I attempt to assess its musical value and whether it correlates with market forces. It is a great relief to find the song is average at best and any chance of completely surrendering my bank account to this obsession can be laid to rest.

I present to you a podcast that will convert your bedroom into a darkened discotheque from the back alleys of Genova, circa 1986. I hope there, free of any external influence (ahem, aside from my own), you can fall in love with the sound of Italo and its unique pop immediacy.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Italo Disco Podcast #34
Clio - Eyes
Mania - Shine Shine Shine
Mister Black - Monnalisa
Scotch - Pictures
93rd Superbowl - Forever and a Day
Joy Peters - Don't Loose Your Heart Tonight
Swan - Don't Talk About It
Ross - Coming Up

Download (70.3 MB)

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