Amoeblog

Happy Discovery Day -- Real Geographic Discoveries of the Modern Age

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 13, 2014 04:42pm | Post a Comment

I will not make the argument that Columbus's arrival in the New World was insignificant merely because he was an absolutely awful person or because he didn't actually discover anything (which he himself maintained, claiming until his death that he'd merely found a different route to Asia). But think about this before you dismiss -- before Columbus, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, cashews, cassava root, chili peppers, chocolate, cocaine, gourds, maize, peanuts, pecans pineapples, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla were all unknown in the Old World and alcohol, apples, bananas, barley, cheese, coffee, mango, onions, rice, tea, and turnips, and wheat were unknown in the Americas. Imagine an existence without any of those and you can hopefully begin to get a taste of the importance of the Columbian Exchange. Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato sauce or gnocchi and you can't help but wonder if this is why Columbus is so dear to many Italians. Imagine, on the other hand, genocide, slavery, and old world diseases and you'll understand why he's even more hated by many others. 





 
We all know now that Columbus wasn't the first European to visit the Americas either -- but neither was Leif Erikson. Europeans had been living in the North American territory of Greenland since sometime between 876 and 932 CE when Gunnbjorn Ulfsson was blown off course and sited the world's largest island. Around 978, Snæbjorn Galti was the probably first European to set food on Greenland but we rightly don't make a big deal out of that since there were already Inuits living there and before them, an earlier people who'd arrived and abandoned the country -- and that cultural exchange was by most measures, less impactful on the planet.


The Divine Comedy - "A Seafood Song"

Greenland, of course, is just as much a part of North America as are the Bahamas (where Columbus landed) as are the US and Canada -- or Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Navassa Island, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and United States Virgin Islands, for that matter.



Crime & the City Solution - "The Bride Ship"
 

The fact is that people have been exploring for roughly 1.8 million since Homo erectus first caught that ramblin' fever years ago and identifying the first European to do something is a silly pursuit. Exploration and adventuring, on the other hand, is vital and something done by all good people (and plenty of bad). Most of the inhabitable world was discovered in antiquity but in the post-Classical age, new lands were still being discovered by humans around the planet -- especially Arab, Austronesian, and European seafarers. In the 15th Century, the more isolated islands of the Atlantic were still being added to maps with some regularity and discovery of islands in the Arctic and Southern Oceans continued into the 20th Century. Here then is a look at some of the real discoveries of the modern age -- previously uninhabited lands just waiting for humans to despoil them.





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MADEIRA

Madeira (image source: World for Travel)


Madeira was first claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique in 1419, who were driven by storm to an island harbor which they called Porto Santo. Settlement of the island began in 1420 and by 1433 it was known as Ilha da Madeira.



THE AZORES

Azorean chamaritta 

The Azores were known of in the 14th Century but humans didn't begin to colonize them until 1433. Before arriving, sheep were deposited to establish a food source for the colonists, who included Sephardic Jews, Moorish prisoners and African slaves, as well as Flemish, French, and Spanish colonists. Nowadays there are about a quarter of a million residents of the country.



CAPE VERDE

Morna performed in the documentary Dix petits grains de terre

The volcanic islands of the Cape Verde archipelago were discovered by Italian and Portuguese navigators around 1456. The first settlement, founded in 1462, was the first European settlement in the tropics. Located off the coast of West Africa, Cape Verde's economy was predictably built on the back of the slave trade but the African population was joined by Jewish refugees from the Inquisition, as well as Dutch, French, British, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, and other settlers.

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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Sparare un paninazzo nel gargarozzo - a look back at Paninari

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 22, 2012 04:10pm | Post a Comment
Pet Shop Boys "Suburbia"

On this day (22 September), 1986, the Pet Shop Boys released the single "Suburbia" b/w "Paninaro," which introduced an Italian subculture to the wider world. It was certainly my introduction. 

 


Paninari - che è il gran gallo?

Paninari (the plural of Paninaro) were an Italian youth subculture in the 1980s. Their name came from the word "panino," Italian for "bread." La Stampa branded them that due to the fact that their original, preferred hang-out was the Al Panino, a sandwich joint in in Milan's Via Agnello, where they first congregated in 1983.  




In 1985 the now defunct Burghy, an Italian chain specializing in American fast food, opened a location on Piazza San Babila, that became their home base.
 

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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. 

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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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