Monday, January 26, 2015

Italy's Old Rockers

I enjoy studying Italian music. Trying to figure out what Italians like and why. Things are very different here when it comes to local artists, and one of the most obvious things for me is those artists who have been around forever. The ever-loved Jovanotti brought rap into the Italian mainstream in 1988, and even Eros Ramazzotti has been around since his Sanremo appearance in 1984. But the ones that impress me the most are the group I've dubbed the Old Rockers.

Vasco Rossi. Loved and lothed in equal measure by the Italian public (I must admit, I'm more on the 'loath' side of the fence...), he's going to embark on yet another stadium tour this summer, playing 8 Italian cities, at the age of sixty three. His first album was released in 1978, and to date has released another thirty two. His latest studio album, Sono innocente, was released in November last year and has sold over 200,000 copies so far, peaking at No.1 in Italy. One of my funniest memories from last year was when I experienced the sight of an entire piazza in Riccione (even people younger than me) singing his 1983 song Vita spericolata. The man is unstoppable. One of his most well-known songs, and one of the few I can honestly say I actually like, is Senza parole from 1984.

Luciano Ligabue is the other big old male rocker. Remember the whole Blur vs Oasis thing in the 90s? Well, that's the kind of relationship Vasco and Liga have. Ligabue's not been around for quite so long, his self-titled first album was released in 1990 at the age of 30, and since then he's released another sixteen. When I think of Ligabue I associate him with his massive Campovolo concert in 2005, it was just before my arrival in Italy for my Erasmus year and I remember hearing a lot about it during the following months and years. Around 180,000 people saw him play at the airport field in Reggio Emilia that night. One of my favourite songs by him is Happy hour from 2006.

The female old rocker is Gianna Nannini, who's sixty and still going strong. Her latest single Lontano dagli occhi is doing the rounds on radio at the moment. She has a very distinctive gravelly voice, and there was a period during my Erasmus year when Sei nell'anima was being played on the radio where she was a bit of a joke, as us foreigners had never heard anything remotely like her. She beats the men as far as longetivity's concerned - her self-titled first album was released in 1974. She's released 20 studio albums, the latest from last year has sold over 100,000 copies in Italy so far. This May she will play 10 dates in arenas up and down Italy. My favourite song of hers is one of my guilty pleasures, Bello e impossibile from 1986 - the year I was born!


Bruno said...

Gianna Nannini rocks. Or, at least, she used to.

Mark said...

Hi Nerys - I'm no big fan of any of these, although I recently saw a very well made documentary/interview (RaiDue?) with Ligabue a couple of weeks ago, which made me realise that he has made some very good music, and I'm sure some good albums too.