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Musica (ep. 2) Italians copy it better - The 70s

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

And 1...2...3... here's the second article on the Italian music of the 70s! Spoiler alert: part of it was kind of trashy!

Worldwide, the 70s were years of extreme creativity in music. The Rock'n'roll and the psychedelia from the 60s muted into hard rock thanks to bands such as the Black Sabbath, progressive, art rock, and metal. The ballrooms got filled with the newborn disco music, funk, and soul, and between folk, blues, and pop music the punk was born. The music industry became huge and the hottest places were of course London and New York, but what about Rome and Milan at that time? Let's have a look at what was going on in this decade.

The 70s represented a pivotal moment in the history of Italian music, huge hits were delivered daily to the charts and disk jockeys across the country were trying to import the new sounds coming from abroad into the peninsula. As we discussed in the previous article , copying was considered the most sincere form of admiration for musicians and one Italian band definitely did it wrong. The 'Cugini di campagna' (the 'country cousins') adopted a 'disco look' (pretty much Swedish based) with perms, flared pants, glitters, and a falsetto voice. Their music looked up at the disco and transported it into the Italian context, creating something that today might sound atrocious to some! Their hit was a song called 'anima mia' ('my love', literally 'my soul'), a post-break-up song that brought them fame and that is still today considered a 'classic'.

Another singer that became famous in this period was a Bowie-like presence that embodied the theatrical trend of the decade: Renato Zero, a young performer who dressed up like Pierrot and played on sexual ambiguity, and mysterious love-stories, generating scandals with songs such as 'il triangolo' ( 'the triangle'). The pop music scene was dominated by songs written by a group of a few and important songwriters: Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Luis Enriquez Bacalov, Franco Migliacci, Giancarlo Bigazzi, and Mogol. These songwriters were the authors of most of the songs played in the 70s.

Other 'cantautori' such as Lucio Dalla, a singer from Bologna, and De Gregori, a songwriter from Rome, active in politics, and with a unique poetic style, kept writing and playing songs that influenced the pop-culture and student movement of the era.

Away from the lights of the mainstream scene, many bands were creating songs that are today still regarded as underground gems. The 70s in Italy saw also the progressive rock movement get to new peaks with bands such as the Premiata Forneria Marconi (aka PFM), the Banco del Muto Soccorso (BMC), and more obscure bands that signed the soundtracks of many horror and 'poliziotteschi' movies of those years. One above all the soundtrack from 'Profondo Rosso' ('The Hatchet Murders') a horror masterpiece directed by Dario Argento and with the music composed by 'Goblin'. The unforgettable music composed by Ennio Morricone for many movies, and Speak softly love, written by Nino Rota as the main track for 'il Padrino' ('The Godfather), Francis Ford Coppola's cult.

It is impossible to squeeze 10 years of music and culture in a 3-minute article but I hope that this would work as a starting point for further research into the Italian music of this decade.

In the meanwhile here's a nice tracklist of music from the 70s!

Nada Il cuore è uno zingaro (1971)

Premiata Forneria Marconi Impressioni di Settembre (1972)

Cugini di Campagna Anima Mia (1973)

Mina E poi (1973) Mia Martini Minuetto (1973) Franco Battiato Da oriente a Occidente (1973) Patty Pravo Pazza idea (1973) Lucio Dalla Piazza Grande (1976) Renato Zero Triangolo (1978) Vasco Rossi Albachiara (1979)

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