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Italo-disco singer Savage is coming to Southern California

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 23, 2014 11:01am | Post a Comment

On 6 June, 2014, '80s Italo legend Savage is performing for the first time in Southern California. He'll perform his greatest hits, including “Don't Cry Tonight,” “Only You,” “A Love Again,” “Fugitive,” “Radio,” and more in an event that will be DJed by BPM and hosted by singer TQ. Advance tickets are available here



Savage was born Roberto Zanetti was born in Massa, Italy on 28 November, 1956. Zanetti's musical education began when he was fourteen and he began taking piano lessons. Soon after he began playing keyboards in several bands including L'inchiesta, Fathima e i Pronipoti, I Vicini di Casa, andSangrià. 




In 1977, Zanetti formed Santarosa with Alberto Feri, Tiziana De Santis, Angelo Tedesco, and Paolo Zilio. In 1979 they had a his with Souvenir," which sold over 200,000 copies. The song was produced by singer “Zucchero” Fornaciari (né Adelmo Fornaciari)  and in 1980, he and Zanetti began a creative partnership. In 1983, the first fruit of their labor was also their first stab at dance music, "To Miami," attributed to Taxi and released by Florence-based Harmony Music and credited to Taxi




After the release of "To Miami," Zanetti returned with "Angelica" -- this time credited to Joey Moon




Zanetti's best known nom de disque, "Savage," was taken from the hero of 1930s American pulp magazines, Doc Savage. As Savage , Zanetti released his first single, “Don't CryTonight” in December of 1983, on Severo Lombardoni's Milan-based Discomagic Records -- an Italo-disco powerhouse who'd had by then already had hits with Gary Low, 'Lectric Workers, Jock Hattle and others. 






Unlike most Italo-disco efforts, "Don't Cry Tonight" was written, arranged, produced, and performed (both live and in videos) by the same person (who assumed another pseudonym, Robyx, for his production work – which included work with G.A.N.G., Kamillo, Claudio Mingardi, Saxophone, Lala, and others). “Don't Cry Tonight” was a massive success throughout much of Europe and Savage performed it on television programs like Mister Fantasy, Discoring, Pronto Raffaella, Azzuro, Festivalbar, and Tocata.




In 1984 Savage returned with “Only You” b/w “Turn Around,” which were included, along with “Radio,”Savage Only You “A Love Again,” “Fugitive,” “Tonight,” and his first single on the LP Tonight (1984-Discomagic).

In 1985, “Fugitive” appeared as the B-side on a remixed “A Love Again and “Time” was released as a single. A VHS titled Video LP was released which includes the videos for “Don't Cry Tonight,” “Only You,” and “Turn Around,” as well as a live club performance of “A Love Again,” “Only You,” “Radio,” “Fugitive,” and “Tonight.” Zanetti also collaborated, as Stargo, with Alberto Parodi and Andrea Tenerani, who released “Capsicum.” In 1985, “Only You” was also covered (as “Dans me yeux”) by French actress, Géraldine Danon


In 1986 Savage released “Celebrate” and “Love is Death” singles and toured in the Brazil, Japan, and the USA






In 1988 Savage released “So Close” and “I'm Loosing You,” both of which were indicative of the late '80s spread of House music to Europe.




In 1989 Savage released a single, “Good-Bye” and a cover of Sussex rockers Cutting Crew's “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” which dispensed with the unnecessary parenthesis and was simply retitled “I Just Died In Your Arms.” 



With Savage's transformation into a Eurohouse direction, his popularity increased in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland and the USSRIn August 1989 he played to thirty thousand people in the Sopot Festival, held in Katowice, Poland and performed for four consecutvie nights in Yerevan, Armenia. “Don't Leave Me” followed in 1990 on Euroenergy – a subsidiary of Discomagic. 




In the early 1990s, after more than a decade, Zanetti mostly retired from the stage, instead focusing his attentions on production. He purchased Casablanca Recordings and founded his own label, the Discomagic-distributed DWA - Dance-World Attack Records, which became the home to Alexia, Corona ("Rhythm of the Night"), Double You, and ICE MC


Zanetti continued to make music, employing a handful of aliases and collaborators. Teaming with Marco Bresciani and calling themselves Mali Carvalho, the duo released “Fuego.” He later teamed with Breciani as Soul Boy and released “Typical.” 





As Raimunda Navarro he released “Me Gusta,”” “No Lo Hago Por Dinero" b/w “Te Amo,” “Jungle Fever,” and “James Brown Has Sex.” As Rubix he released “The Party” and “Desiderio Latino.” As Pianonegro he released “Pianonegro.” As Wareband he released “Party Children” and “A Better Day.” As Scattt he released “Vocalize” and “Scat and Bebop.” And finally, as Humantronics, he released “The Sound of Afrika.” 

Whilst Zanetti was recording primarily under various other names, he occasionally released music as Savage, as was the case with 1993's "Something” b/w “Strangelove," the latter a cover of the hit by Basildon's finest, Depeche Mode. In 1994, as Savage, he once again embarked on a short tour, performing in Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, and Brazil. He also released a new single, “Don't You Want Me?

In 1997, as E.Y.E., he released “Virtual Reality.” In 2005, as Creavibe he released “Wonderful Life.” That year he again returned to the stage for the first time since the birth of his daughter, Mathilde, in 2002. This time playing concerts in the Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, and the USA. In Moscow he performed at three Autoradio Festivals, filmed at Olympic Stadium in front of an audience of more than 20,000. In October 2009 he released a new song, “Twothousandnine" with a video filmed at Southern California's Salton Sea. In 2010 he released a new album, Ten Years Ago (Klub80 Records).

 


While Savage has performed in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, his upcoming performance in Orange County will be the first time he's performed in Little Saigon. Whilst the audience behind the Orange Curtain won't rival the audience he's accustomed to behind the Iron Curtain, I think that he'll be pleasantly surprised by the ferocity and adoration of  the largely Vietnamese New Wave crowd.

Well slice me nice, Eurodisco legend Fancy is coming to Orange County!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 23, 2013 12:56pm | Post a Comment
Fancy, the singer of hits including "Angel Eyes," "Bolero," "China Blue," "Cold as Ice," "Flames of Blue," "Lady of Ice," "Latin Fire," "Slice me Nice" and more is coming to the US for the first time ever in January, 2014. He'll be playing at R3 Social Lounge in Stanton (North Orange County/Little Saigon) on the 17th of that month. The event will be DJed by Ian "DJ BPM" Nguyen and hosted by TQ. Get your tickets by clicking here. For all you Los Angeles Italo-heads who think driving to OC is harder than crossing the Sahara -- it's only about 40 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles to Stanton. It's also served by several OCTA lines so quit making excuses.


For those unfamiliar with Fancy, he’s also written material for other artists, most notably, Grant Miller (who was introduced to Fancy by none other than Divine!), and produced notable Italo-disco hits for artists including Linda Jo Rizzo (formerly of Bobby Orlando's act, The Flirts), and Mozzart. Scoring his friends Siegfried & Roy's stage shows has exposed him to an audience who's nonetheless unaware of his identity but his greatest stuff is his solo work so here's a brief history...

Manfred Alois Segieth (or is it Manfred Aulhausen -- details about Eurodisco performers are often quite hazy) was born on July 7, 1946 in München, Germany. The son of a practically-minded craftsmen, he was enrolled in a Capuchin school where he trained to become a monk. However, a change of plans became necessary after the twelve-year-old heard schlager star Ted Harold’s “Moonlight” and subsequently picked up the guitar.

After high school, Manfred formed a Cliff Richard & the Shadows-influenced band, Mountain Shadows. At the same time, he began shopping around his own compositions which he occasionally recorded under the name "Tess Teiges," beginning in 1971.
 
1983 was the year that KISS took off their make-up, McDonald's introduced the McNugget, and I first started actively listening to music on my own after realizing that all of my classmates were obsessed with some fellow named Michael Jackson with whom I was wholly unfamiliar. If there was a "Year that Italo Broke," then 1983 was probably it too.



In 1983 Manfred adopted the suitably Italian alias, "Manfred Perilano" but more importantly, the nom de discque of "Fancy." After Fancy asked Todd Canedy to write a song for him, he recorded a demo of “Slice Me Nice” which he submitted to composer/producer Anthony Monn, who’d previously achieved world-wide successes with husky-voiced diva, Amanda Lear




Usually collaborating, Segieth and Monn embraced a brand of dance music which, thanks to its elevated sense of melody and songcraft, was as at home in and out of the dance clubs where it was most popular. Though largely unknown outside the dance scene in the Anglosphere, Fancy performed very well commercially and, along with his Eurodisco peers, he undeniably helped prepare the world for similar-sounding English musicians and producers, like Stock, Aitken & Waterman and Eurobeat acts like Dead or Alive, who achieved both club and mainstream success with a similar formula.


 
In 1984, Fancy scored a hat trick with the infectious “Chinese Eyes,”  “Get Lost Tonight” and “Slice Me Nice.” All three are absolute masterpieces of tuneful, melodramatic dance fluff that added an undeniable and irresistible Hi-NRG influence to the comparatively relaxed Italo-disco sound epitomized the previous year by Gazebo's “I Like Chopin.” There was also a strong visual element to Fancy, who seemed to shop at the same stores as ABC's Martin Fry but rock loads of make-up in the New Romantic style.


In 1985, Fancy released his first full-length album, Get Your Kicks (1985 Metronome), which included allthe previous year’s singles. He made his first appearance on French TV and performed his first shows in North America, mostly at gay clubs. His sophomore release, Contact (1986 Metronome), spawned “Bolero (Hold Me in Your Arms Again),” which was reportedly number one in Spain for nearly six months. 




That same year, Fancy extensively toured clubs in Germany, Sweden and North America. The video for another single off the album, “Lady of Ice,” featured the (as always) tarted up, shiny-clothed Fancy prancing on a laser grid dance floor in outer space and I challenge anyone reading this to come up with anythingmore '80s. "Lady of Ice" went gold in Scandinavia.

Fancy Get Your Kicks Fancy Contact Fancy Flames of Love

Fancy's third album, Flames of Love (1988 Metronome) featured both Monn/Fancy collaborations as wellas some of Fancy’s first solo compositions and its title track was huge in Poland. He closed out the decade that he seemed so indelibly tied to with All My Loving (1989 Metronome), whose title track was a hit in Europe. Like most of Fancy's Eurodisco peer, for most of the ‘90s he released little-or-no new music,instead mostly repackaging, remixing and revisiting his former glories, often clothed in the trappings of fleetingly popular styles like Eurodance, Hip-House and (more lastingly popular), Trance.
 
  Fancy Forever Magic

Fancy pursued the emerging Eurodance style with releases like Five (1990 Metronome) and with Steve D5 & Grandmaster Tess’s hip-house re-make of his “When Guardian Angels Cry,” called “When Guardian Angels… Rap,” featured on (1991 ZYX Music), which mixed some new material and with old. Attributed to “Fancy and Band,” Blue Planet Zikastar (1995 Koch International) saw Fancy moved into more straightforward pop territory and includes “Saramoti,” a piece Fancy composed for his friends Siegfried and Roy’s show, Master of the Impossible. Colours of Life (1996 G.I.B. Music & Distribution GmbH) and D.I.S.C.O. (1999 Disco Records) followed. In the 2000s, Fancy's musical output slowedconsiderably and his only new material was the release, Voices from Heaven (2004 ZYX Music) and Forever Magic (2008 Happy Vibes).

*****

Do not miss this opportunity to see Fancy live! And if you're an Italo/Euro-disco fan, follow Keep on Music on Facebook as they've thus far brought Fred Ventura, Gazebo, Gina T, Ken Laszlo, Lian Ross, Linda Jo Rizzo, and Tom Hooker & Miki Chieregato (Den Harrow) to Southern California and additionally thrown many other New Wave (in the Asian New Wave/Vietnamese New Wave sense of the term) events that you should stop sleeping on! See you there and...

Italo-Disco star Ken Laszlo is Coming to SoCal on Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 15, 2013 08:43pm | Post a Comment
On 26 May, 2013 Italo-Disco star Ken Laszlo is coming to Orange County. On that date he and 

fellow Italo performer Fred Ventura will descend upon Avec Nightclub in Huntington Beach, thanks to Keep On Music. The event will be hosted by TQ and DJed by DJ BPM. Tickets are $20 in advance (from Bleu Nightclub in Westminster) or $25 at the door.

Ken Laszlo is the primary nom de guerre of singer Gianni Coraini. In European pop – especially Italian pop of the 1980s – it has long been the common practice to hire one or more singers to provide vocals for producer-driven music projects (often credited to imaginary performers with vaguely Anglo-sounding names) whose faces on album covers, videos, live performances, &c was usually that of a dancing and lipsynching model. Despite usually singing in English, most of these acts have found limited success in the Anglosphere (although there have been notable exceptions like the German Milli Vanilli and the Belgian Technotronic). Coraini has been a very prolific clandestini and sorting out which “singers” he’s been the voice of is rather time-consuming and hair-graying so please leave corrections and/or additions in the comments!


Gianni Coraini was born in 18 July, 1954 in Mantua (or Florence according to some accounts). As a child Coraini sang in his church choir. He also learned to play flute, keyboards, as well as saxophone and graduated from music school. When he was fifteen he began playing with a band in clubs and discos. It was the early 1970s and Coraini’s taste at the time apparently leaned toward progressive rock bands like Genesis and Jethro Tull as well as the art rock of David Bowie. When the ‘70s passed into the ‘80s, Coraini’s tastes grew to include Depeche Mode, Level 42, and Michael Jackson.




Coraini chose the stage name “Ken Laszlo” as a reference to the character “Victor Laszlo,” the Czech resistance leader from the film Casablanca. Though seemingly a cheeky reference to Coraini’s secret identity as anonymous vocalist, almost from the beginning Coraini would also be the face of Laszlo instead of relying on the services of a model. Lazlo’s musical backdrop was created by Gino Caria and Sandro Oliva. Caria was a prolific producer who worked for Time and later ABeatC (and other labels) who passed away in 1999. Oliva is a prolific writer, arranger and producer who set up Go Go’s Music with Alessandra Gatti in 2006 and continued, at least until recently, to work in the Italian music industry.





The debut Ken Laszlo single was 1984’s “Hey Hey Guy,” one of the earliest releases on Memory Records, which had been founded the previous year by Alessandro Zanni and Stefano Cundari. An early “live” performance featured model Ezio Zanassi (aka De Gama – who died in a car crash in 1987) miming the vocals but his role as Laszlo’s face quickly ended. The song was massively popular in much of Asia, Europe, and South America. Ken Laszlo wasn’t the only pseudonym that featured Coraini’s vocals that year. As Chris Lang he released “Disco Island” on Crash and as Jaco he released “Spanish Run” on Sensation.





The following year Ken Laszlo scored a Top 20 hit in The Netherlands and Sweden with “Tonight.” From that year (1987) on, he was also the uncredited vocalist behind Ricky Maltese’s singles (“All the Night,” “Warrior,” “Mama,” and “Rainy Day”). In 1986 he released, again as Ken Laszlo, “Don’t Cry,” which was a number thirteen hit in Sweden. In 1987, Laszlo released “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8” and “Glasses Man.” His debut, the self-titled Ken Laszlo (1987-Memory), included remixes of the preceding singles as well as "Let Me Try," "Talkin,"


In 1988 he released “Red Man” b/w “Black Pearl” (the latter taken from the debut). Italo Disco’s golden age ended as the 1980s drew to a close and in the decade’s final year, Laszlo released “Everybody is Dancing,” and “Madame” b/w “Let Me Try” The latter single was one of Memory’s final releases and the Italo label ended its run within months of the single’s release. It was also the last of Laszlo’s collaborations with Caria and Oliva.


The next phase of Coraini’s career was dominated by singing uncredited vocals on a huge number of projects. After releasing “Hey Hey Guy For Tonight” as Laszlo & Innocence in 1989, Lazslo provided uncredited vocals for Mark Tower & Co. (1989-1990). In 1991 Coraini began collaborating with Giuliano Crivellente and Mauro Farina and sang on several of their projects – most prominently providing Danny Keith’s vocals from 1990-1995 (Keith’s vocals in the ‘80s had been sung by Farina). Coraini also leant uncredited vocals to Coy McCoy (1990), De Niro (1990), Max & Co. (1990), Malcolm J. Hill (1990-1992), Coo Coo (1990-1992), Angelo Maria Morales (1990), Body Power (1991), Moreno (1991), Mr. Beat (1991), Maltese (1991-1996), Dave Cole (1992), Michael Dream (1992), Nick Kaye (1992), Mike Freeman (1992-1995), DJ NRG (1992-1996), Jean Corraine (1992-1996), Ric Fellini (1993-1998), Tony B. Walters (1993-2004), Ken Hunter (1994-1995), Billy the Butcher (1996), Jean Mix (1996), Remy Panther (1996), Live Music Gang (1996), Gordon Jim (1996), Leit-Motiv (1996), Jungle Bill (1996-1998), Spencer (1996-1998), Lucky Boy (1997), Beat Unlimited (1997), Franz Tornado (1997), Jeff Driller (1997), Francis Cooper (1997-1998), Mr. Bean (1998), Alvin (1998), Tommie B (1998), Bibi (1998), Roby & Sara (1998), Asia Gang (1998), Mister Fly (1999), Jackie O’ (2000), Otello (2000-2008), Boys Band (2001), Max Ducati (2004), Captain America (2005-2008), The Falco (2008), Frog A’ Billy (2008), and Maxx Valentino (2008).

In 1995, Coraini again employed the Ken Laszlo name, recording a series of duets with Clara Moroni as Ken Laszlo duet with Jenny until 2003. In 1998 Coraini recorded and released Dr Ken & Mr Laszlo (S.A.I.F.A.M.), an album which compiled of previously-released material, re-recorded singles and cover versions. It wasn’t until 2007, twenty years after his debut, that Ken Laszlo released a proper sophomore release, Future Is Now (Azzura Music), the product of collaboration with a new group of musicians – specifically Alan Farrington, Carlo Cantini, and Fiorenzo Delegà.




I believe that the Memorial Day weekend concert will be both Laszlo’s and Ventura’s first live performances in California. Both will be performing several of their hits (including, in Laszlo’s case, “Hey Hey Guy,” “Tonight,” and “Don’t Cry,” “Glasses Man,” and “Mary Ann.”

See you there!

*****

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Italo-Disco star Fred Ventura is Coming to SoCal on Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 8, 2013 01:33am | Post a Comment

26 May, 2013 Italo-Disco star Fred Ventura is coming to Orange County. He and fellow Italo performer Ken Laszlo will descend upon Avec Nightclub in Huntington Beach. The event will be hosted by TQ and DJed by DJ BPMTickets are $20 in advance(from Bleu Nightclub in Westminster) or $25 at the door. 

Fred Ventura was born Federico Di Bonaventura in MilanItaly on 16 July, 1962. He became interested in music when he was twelve. In 1978 or ‘79, Ventura joined An Incoherent Psyche on drums. In 1980 he joined another band, Le Jour Prochain. In 1981 he formed State of Art with bassist Stefano Tirone and guitarist Stefano Mazzola, both formerly of Der Blaue Reiter. The band proved to be short-lived although in February 1982 they recorded a song “Venice” which sounds a bit like the offspring of Joy Division and Chic (or in other words, a bit like A Certain Ratio).
 

State of Art




"Venice" was included on a compilation titled Gathered that was released by Italian magazine, Rockerilla. "Venice," along with several other studio and live recordings were compiled and released as Dancefloor Statements 1981-82 (2012-Spittle). In 2009, a new line-up formed, re-recorded several old tunes and a new one which they released as At Work (2012-Killed By Disco Records). Less than a year after their debut performance, Ventura left the band to embark on a solo career.

Armed with a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer and an Oberheim DX drum machine (both then new to the market) Ventura pursued a dancier direction inspired by Hi-NRG pioneers Bobby O and Patrick Cowley, Neue Deutsche Welle act D.A.F., French singer Étienne Daho, disco producer Giorgio Moroder, and electro acts like Kraftwerk, The Human League, and New Order.





Ventura’s new direction brought him into contact with Roberto Turatti from DiscoMagic in 1983. Along with composer Miki Chieregato, the three formed Flexx and released the epic “Love Theme From Flexxy-Ball (You'll Never Change No More)” and “Theme from Deep.”



Inspired by Austrian singer Falco’s recent success with “Der Kommissar,” Ventura released his solo debut, the German (and English) language “Zeit” b/w “Hollywood Party,” in 1984. Ventura's final collaboration with Chieregato and Turatti was 1985’s “The Years (Go By)” b/w “Streets (All Right).” After that, Chieregato and Turatti began formulating and focusing their energy on their Den Harrow project, which didn’t involve Ventura.

Ventura moved to Time Records, brought there by Giuliano Crivellente of the established Italo production duo Mauro Farina and Giuliano Crivellente. Ventura has been open about finding his creativity stifled by Farina and Crivellente’s perceived commercialism although he did score several hits during his relationship with them.






In 1986, he released “Leave Me Alone” and “Wind of Change.” In 1987 he released “Imagine (You'll Never Change Your Mind)” and “Night And Day” b/w “Jour Aprés Jour.” In 1988 he Fred Ventura East & Westreleased “Lost in Paris” and “Heartbeat” b/w “Housebeat.” Finally, in 1989 he released his solo full-length, East & West (1989-Time Records) which included most of his previous singles for Time as well as new singles “It’s My Time,” and “One Day” as well as album tracks “Never Too Late,” “No More Lies,” and “Late Night Train.”

After the 1980s ended, most Italo veterans attempted to soldier on by jumping on the commercial (and often grating) Eurodance/Euro-NRG bandwagon, Ventura began producing House music. He collaborated with various musicians under a variety of names including Active, Grey Area, Red Mecca, Visions Factory, Beat 4 Life, Love Nation, Vibrazioni Productions, Bedroom Rockers, and Electrique. He also went on to work as a label manager at Evolution Records, Free Zone Records, and Milano 2000 Records. More recently he’s contributed vocals to several Clone Records acts, including I-f, Alden Tyrell, and Jupiter Black.




I believe that the Memorial Day weekend concert will be both Ventura’s and Laszlo’s first performances in California. Both will be performing several of their hits (including, in Ventura’s case, his Time-era singles “Love Theme From Flexxy-Ball (You'll Never Change No More),” “Wind of Change,” and “The Years (Go By),” as well as new single, “Don’t Stop.”

See you there!
 

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Italo sensation Den Harrow returns (sort of) for New Wave 80's Memorial Weekend in Huntington Beach

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 7, 2012 12:00pm | Post a Comment
   


Den Harrow
, the Italo disco star famous for such timeless '80s classics as "Bad boy," "Charleston," "Future brain," "Mad desire" is coming to perform for his first time ever in California... sort of. Actually, Den Harrow was an invented character but the sources of the voice and music behind him, Tom Hooker and Miki Chieregato, respectively, are set to perform on Sunday, 27 May 2012 at Avec Nightclub in Huntington Beach’s New Wave 80’s Memorial WeekendDJ BPM from Keep on Music will be DJing. Tickets are $20 and the bottle special is $200 for Martell VSOP.  It'll be hosted by Truc Quynh.




More than an actual person, Den Harrow was a musical project of the aforementioned composer Miki Chieregato, fronted by Milanese model Stefano Zandri with vocals initially provided by several singers before Tom Hooker was brought in -- Chieregato's PR partner, Roberto Turatti, was another integral aspect. Together they enjoyed considerable popularity in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden during the golden years of Italo-disco -- the 1980s. In the UK and US, the practice of hiring a model to lipsynch at shows and in videos was almost unheard of until the exposure of the likes of  C + C Music Factory, Technotronic (from Belgium), Boney M (from West Germany) and most notoriously, Milli Vanilli (also from West Germany). In European pop produced during the golden age of music videos, however, it was a fairly common practice. To be Den Harrow's face, Chieregato and Turatti hired Stefano Zandri and invented a perhaps needlessly but humorously complicated back-story. 

*****


According to their fictional history, Zandri’s name was Manuel Stefano Carry and he was born in Boston to an architect father. His family moved to Italy when Carry was a toddler and then, at just seven-years-old, Carry learned to play guitar and piano. His parents divorced and Manuel, his brother and sister stayed with their mother. They only spoke Italian in the home so, despite his birthplace, English presented him with some difficulty in school. Although he’d always dreamt of pursuing a career in show business, in high school, “Carry” additionally started practicing bodybuilding, break dancing and judo (as seen in the video for “Mad Desire”). Then he met Turrati, who was DJ-ing at the club, American Disaster. Turatti and his friend, Miki Chieregato gave Manuel a new stage name, "Den Harrow," meant to suggest denaro, the Italian word for money. Den Harrow then took extensive vocal lessons and recorded his first two songs, “To Meet Me” and “A Taste of Love” on Hole Records.










The voice behind the first two singles was provided by Chuck Rolando, a singer and songwriter at Durium. The singles were moderately successful in some European markets but due to Rolando’s contractual obligations, his partnership with the project ended, necessitating their recruiting a new voice.



For “Mad Desire,” released on Gong Records, Silvio “Silver” Pozzoli provided the vocals and the single was a massive success, selling over a million copies. Pozzoli’s voice was adequate but heavily-accented so the producers sought out American expat singer, Tom Hooker.
 
Tom Hooker


Thomas Beecher Hooker was a Greenwich, Connecticut native who’d moved to Europe when he was less than a year old. After living in Switzerland, in 1980 he moved to Italy where’d he’d released music with various labels first at Harmony with 1980’s “Flip over” followed by a three year stint at Full Time. After recording “Give it to me” for Sensation Records, he moved to Merak Music and released the Italo ode to football, “Real men” in 1984.




In 1985, Chieregato and Turatti bought out Hooker’s contract. Their first collaboration was 1985’s “Cry (urban remix)” b/w “Don’t forget (to buy this record)” which was simply attributed to T.H. and released on Baby Records subsidiary, For Sale (and later re-recorded and released by Den Harrow).





Chieregato, Turatti and Hooker all then moved to Baby Records, most significant for being home to Italo superstar, Gazebo hit-maker Albert One. Hooker sang vocals on Den Harrow’s next single, “Future brain,” also in 1985.




For consistency’s sake, Hooker re-recorded “Mad desire” for Den Harrow’s debut album, Overpower (1985-Baby Records).




It was a big hit in Switzerland and Sweden and spawned two more hit singles, “Bad boy” and “Charleston.”






The album, single and Den Harrow won several awards, at Festivalbar, Vota La Cove and Bravo’s Silver Ottos


In 1986, Hooker’s proper (as in attributed to Tom Hooker, not Den Harrow) debut full-length, the Claudio Donato-produced Only One, was released on Heaven Records, which also included the title track single.



That same year, using yet another alias, Lou Sern, Hooker released the cuckoo clock-sampling “Swiss boy” on Esquire which was, funnily enough, released as a “split single” with Den Harrow’s “Charleston.” Back at Baby he released “Looking for love” and “Help me” as well as the schmaltz ballad “Highway to freedom” with Maruizio Vandelli and Dario Farina under the handle, “Fahrenheit 104.”




Back recording for Den Harrow, the next single, “Catch the fox,” showed up on the full-length follow-up, Day by day (1987-Baby Records).


Den Harrow Day By Day


It was proved to be another solid collection of melodic synthpop. It produced another single, “Don’t break my heart,” which became their biggest success to date.




The album too was an even bigger success than its predecessor, reaching number one in Germany and the Top Five in Italy, Spain, Greece and Benelux. It also went gold in France, platinum in Canada, and earned a Golden Otto. Behind the scenes of the success there was some discord. Hooker had wanted to record the single under his own name but Freddy Naggiar, the head of Baby Records was reluctant to tamper with the Den Harrow cash cow. Although Hooker continued writing lyrics for Den Harrow, he stopped providing the vocals. Meanwhile, as himself, he released the single “Atlantis.”




Harrow’s next single, “Born to love” again won at Festivalbar in 1987 and appeared, in a dance version, on his album Lies (1988-Baby Records).




For the vocals, Turatti and Chieregeto employed the services of an English singer with a much higher register, Anthony James. Zandri, although he never sang, wasn’t even particularly adept at lipsynching and with another undeniable vocal shift, the true nature of Zandri’s role became one of the worst kept secrets in music – for those who cared. The album and singles “My time” and “You have a way” were less successful but nonetheless appeared in European commercials for Adidas and Coca-Cola.


 

The same year, 1988, Chieregato and Hooker recorded Hooker’s proper sophomore release, Bad reputation (1988-Baby Records), which included the singles “Feeling okay” and “No more Heaven.” Not surprisingly, the voice sounded more like the voice of Den Harrow than Den Harrow himself had on his album.








After the release of “Holiday night” and “Take me back” in 1989, Zandri decided to strike out on his own, ending his relationship with Turatti, Chieregato and Baby Records. After several years of considerably less commercial success, Zandri moved to California to take part in Aaron Spelling’s mostly-forgotten Baywatch-inspired soap opera, Sunset Beach.  


After Hooker’s 1990 single, “Living in the sunshine” he and Chieregato also ended their collaboration. 1992 was Baby’s last year (they reappeared, reorganized as Baby Records International in 1994) and Hooker’s Fighting for our love (1992-Baby Records), was recorded without Chieregato. The same year, as “TH & The Funk Guitar,” Hooker released “Sex-o-phone & funk guitar” on Pop In Baby. Hooker went on to work with other musicians, releasing music as Elastic Band, Cool Jack and Defect. After a final solo single, “Runaway,” released in 1994 by ZYX there was a long period of silence. That year Hooker moved to the US to start a family and changed his name to Thomas Barbèy (taking his mother's maiden name) so that his wife's name wouldn't be "Mrs. Hooker."







Then, in 2011, Hooker and Chieregato joined forces as Tomik Productions and released their first collaborations in about twenty years, “Change your mind,” which was released on Flashback Records and "No elevation."






And as I said in the introduction, they're finally coming to California. I'll be there but if you can't, you can watch it live streaming here!
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