Thursday, 11 December 2008

MOS Show Redux

Yes, I know. I'm rubbish. I started with good intentions, like Grimsby Town do each August, and then, like Grimsby Town each August, those good intentions crumble into so much dust.

But I have a new resolution, and it's not even January yet. I'm going to update the blog regularly, even it's only to tell you about my new hairstyle (long, rakish, looking quite handsome in a vagrant-sort-of-way).

Anyhow, all of this is a roundabout way of telling you I've got a new Ministry show for you to download. It's not actually that new, it's from October 22nd, but it's as new as they get these days. By the way, there are big changes afoot at Ministry as they streamline their radio station and make it more 'on brand' or whatever the marketing jargon is now. Which means bye bye specialist shows. However, DJHistory will start podcasting its own show from January and we'll provide links from here, our website and through iTunes.

Anyway, you can grab it here >

Tele Music - Disco Free (Faze Action) (
Friendly Fires - Paris (Aeroplane Mix) (XL)
Ray Mang - Look Into My Eyes (CD-R)
The Revenge - Night Flight (Jisco)
Grace Jones - William's Blood (Yam Who? Cosmic Jam) (Jones)
Ilija Rudman - Dance Disorder (Faze Action Remix) (Bear Funk)
Blackjoy - Mercurian (Dialect)
TJ Kong & Nuno Dos Santos - Merging (Beanfield Mix) (Compost)
Julien Jabre - Stagger (Defected)
Marius - Disco Drummer (Pete Herbert Mix) (Maxi Discs)

Koyla ft DJ Primat - Bowel (Bombay)
Richard Sen - Cat Dance (CD-R)
Peter Visti - Nightclubbing (CD-R)
Junesex - Worst Than Love (Gilb'r/Chateau Flight Mix) (Junesex)
Paperplain - 11.30 (Too Pure Singles Club)
James Yuill - This Sweet Love (Moshi Moshi)
Tele Music - Life & Fun (Foolish Felix Edit) (
Mock & Toof - Underwater (DFA)
Mock & Toof - Underwater (Gavin Gordon Version) (DFA)
Coyote - Laidback (Windsurf Mix) (Is It Balearic?)
Springwood Sessions - One For The D (CD-R)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

MOS Radio show

You can download the show from October 15th here....

It was a good one. They all are really, but maybe that one more than most? Or maybe not? Who knows?

The tracklisting for it is here.
Coyote - Single Handed (Is It Balearic?)
Grace Jones - Nightclubbing (Peter Visti Mix) (CD-R)
George Pringle - I Love You LCD But You’re Bringing Me Down (CD-R)
Mock & Toof - Uptown (Vocal and Dub) (DFA)
Julian Jabre - Stagger (Defected)
Tele Music - Let’s Go Brasilia (Bonar Bradberry’s Bonus Beats) (
The Revenge - Night Flights (Jisco)
Mr Scruff - (with Danny Breaks) - Bang The Floor (Ninja Tune) (taken from Ninja Tuna)
Rocco - New Awakening (Freerange)
Sound Stream - Rainmaker (Sound Stream)

Random Factor - Knockabout (Manuel Tur Mix) (2020 Vision)
Koyla ft DJ Primat - Have No Inkling (Bombay)
Black Devil Disco Club - Free For The Girls (Richard Sen Mix) (CD-R)
Junesex - Worst Than Love (Gilb’r/Chateau Flight Mix) (Junesex)
Wild Rumpus - Rock The Joint (Reverso 68 Mix) (Bitches Brew)
Ray Mang - Look Into My Eyes (CD-R)
Soft Cell - Numbers (Spektrum Mix) (Phonogram)
Tele Music - Life & Fun (Mudd Mix) (
Crazy P - Never Gonna Reach Me (2020 Vision) (Taken from Stop Space Return)
Coyote - Laid Back (Windsurf Mix) (Is It Balearic?)

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Turn the radio on....

The latest Ministry show is now ready and willing for download here.

Bill Withers - Who Is He And What Is He To You? (Henrik Schwarz Mix)
Boozoo Bajou - Fuersattel (Idjut Boys Dub) (CD-R)
Stratus - Footprints (Eskimo) (taken from Cosmic Balearic Beats Vol. 1)
Ray Mang - Look Into My Eyes (CD-R)
The Laughing Light Of Plenty - The Rose (Whatever We Want)
Ajello - Moody Bang (Rebirth)
Sound Stream - Rainmaker (Sound Stream)
Liquid Liquid - Optimo (Matthew Dear Mix) (Domino)
Gorge - Supique (Freerange)
Tele Music - Mystery Rock (Idjut Boys Mix) (
Double Dee & Steinski - The Payoff Mix (Illegal Art) (taken from What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective)
Hot Chip - Touch Too Much (Ewan Pearson Mix) (EMI)
Class 71 - Alba Adriatica (Move D Vox) (Four: Twenty)
Sound Stream - Dance With Me (Sound Stream)
Ajello - Dolphy (Rebirth)
Macho Disco Master (Tope & Foat Edit) (CD-R)
Tele Music - Let’s Go Brasilia (Ray Mang Edit) (
Silverclub - Crash This Car (Leftroom)
Tele Music - Funky Bass (Idjut Boys Edit) (

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

New mix

I've just done a new mix, the first one for a long time (call it laziness or just call it not-enough-time-when-you've-got-two-little-kids...)

Anyhow, the good folks over at the Love Unlimited are hosting it.

The mix is here.

Big licks.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Now That‘s What I Call Balearic

Ooh, forgot. Our old mucker and fellow Low Life resident Jolyon Green has recently sacked his long-running (and excellent) Myspace blog in favour of a new location.

Go check it out here. Mind the poodle hair.

It’s a Mystery...

As that venerable thinker Toyah once sang....

Don't know if you're familiar with the DJHistory Mystery Mix series, but they've been running now for well over four years. Each month a different DJ selects a load of tuneage and the members of the forum, that bearded band of renegades, have try and guess the tracks. Anyhow, there were so many it was getting unwieldy so we decided to start again.

Someone (thanks John!) kindly stepped in to offer his services to musical appreciation with a dedicated site for all the old mixes: Mystery Mix.

Download to your heart's content.

Friday, 1 August 2008

MOS Radio

This week's show is now available here...

Come and get it.

Mark E - Get Yourself Together (CD-R)
Hot 8 Brass Band - Mish Mash (Unforescene Mix) (Tru Thoughts)
Recloose - Can It Be (Sonar Kollektiv)
Dolle Jolle - Balearic Incarnations (Permanent Vacation)
Beatspoke - Many Such Sun (Blackjoy Remix)
Magic Circle Express - Magic River (Strut) (taken from Calypsoul 70)
Emperor Machine - What’s In The Box? (DC Recordings)
Popular Tyre - Fabbre del discoTheque (Eat Some Real)
Sisters of Transistors - The Don (This Is Music)

John Acquaviva - The Hummer (Underdog)

Try To Find Me Vol. 1 - Make Dance (Golf Channel)
Mickey Moonlight - Interplanetary Music (Riton Mix) (Ed Banger)
Langenberg - Judgement Day (DPC)
Osborne - Ruling (King Britt Mix) (NRK)
Kraak & Smaak - Plastic People (All Good Funk Alliance) (Jalapeno)
Sambo - Woman (Strut) (taken from Calypsoul 70)
Estelle - No Substitute Love (Psychemagic Remix) (Warner Bros)
Hi Voltage - Smile (Blackjoy Edit) (CD-R)
Holy Ghost! - Hold On (Mock & Toof Mix) (DFA)

Anneli Drecker - Sexy Love (Royksopp Mix)

Amral’s Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orchestra - 90% Of Me Is You (Strut) (taken from Calypsoul 70)

Broadcast weekly on Weds on Ministry of Sound radio, 8pm - 10pm, BST.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Radio on

I do a weekly radio on Ministry of Sound where they let me wibble on and play whatever the hell I like. I tend to play new releases in all genres, esp. electronic. The show I did last night is here.

The tracklist for the show is here:
Maelstrom - Petrichor (Coyote Mix)
Hot 8 Brass Band - Mish Mash (Unforescene Mix) (Tru Thoughts)
Popular Tyre - Febbre del discoTheque (Eat Some Real Recordings)
Mickey Moonlight - Interplanetary Music (Riton Mix) (Ed Banger)
Kraak & Smaak - Plastic People (All Good Funk Alliance Mix) (Jalapeno)
Icasol - Ongou (Idjut Boys Mix) (Claremont 65)
Try To Find Me Vol. 1 - Make Dance (Golf Channel)
MD X-Spress - God Made Me Phunky (Izambad Mix) (Defected)

Chez Damier - Untitled (KMS)

Moby - I Love To Move In Here (Holy Ghost! Mix) (Mute)
Dolle Jolle - Balearic Incarnations (Todd Terje Mix) (Permanent Vacation)
Beatspoke - Many Such Sun (Blackjoy Mix)
Primal Scream - Uptown (Andy Weatheral Mix) (B-Unique)

Anneli Drecker - Sexy Love (Royksopp Mix) (EMI Norway)

Osborne - Ruling (King Britt Scuba Mix) (NRK)
Senor Coconut - White Horse (New State)
Sisters of Transistors - The Don (This Is Music)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Despatches from the Frontline of Collecting.... (Part 2)

Bumped into Nick The Record the other day, the proprietor of the very fine DJ Friendly record service. Well, I say bumped into, I was actually out in Brighton and so was he. Not surprising since he lives there.

He told me yet another story to warm the cockles of your rarest Preludes. While on a recent record buying trip to the States, while in Philadelphia, he was filling his hire car with bags ready to head to another Secret Squirrel destination sniffing for vinyl. He was gone a mere few minutes to grab more bags from the hotel reception. When he returned, the side window on the car had been smashed and the bags grabbed. Thankfully only a few records were gone, but his laptop was lifted, along with $4,000 in cash hidden in one of the record sleeves.

Obviously gutted, he debated whether to just cut his losses and come back home or continue on into the dark night of the vinyl hunter. Two days later his assistant Kate rang him to say she had received an email from a man in Philly saying he had something valuable and could he call him. He rang the guy and, sure enough, he had found the records abandoned by the side of the road, with the cash intact. Rather than keep it for himself, as would many, he Googled the name on the money envelope (DJ Friendly) and tracked Nick down.

Elated, Nick gave him a generous reward, content in the knowledge that the world is not quite as shitty as he had previously imagined.

Despatches from the Frontline of Collecting.... (Part 1)

Amid the gloom of the credit crunch and falling sales of 12-inch singles come two heart-warming stories from the troops in the frontline. The Maginot Line is now officially just south of Chalfont St Peter, according to a friend, who alighted there one day, popped his head into the local charity shop. No vinyl. “Excuse me, luv, have you got any vinyl out the back?” Indeed they did. A quid a pop. One of the finest hauls we’ve ever heard about in one go.

He called me the minute he got out of the shop, the sweat still palpable down the phone line, heart aflutter, acting like a giddy kipper.

The Paul Gonsalvez alone fetches about £650-800, never mind the vast range of other titles he nabbed from classic British jazz to easy listening, blues and skiffle. He left the classical, which no doubt was worth anther fortune. But by then he was dribbling too much to hold any more records.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The price of Diesel

We did a show for Diesel Music a few weeks ago. It was above a pub in South London, so lager was involved. And some music, obviously.

You can check out the show here...

See if you can spot the drink/Imogen interface as the show progresses.

Friday, 20 June 2008


Apparently today is the happiest day of the year. According to scientists, anyway, and they should know.

Anyway, it’s going to piss down all weekend, another reason for unbridled joy. On the other hand the weekend is a whistle and skip away.

Here's some Paul Daniels to make your weekend zip by a little more zipperly (doodah).

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

New Edit: Get it while it's lukewarm!

It’s been hanging around my house like a pair of old knickers. Feel free to help yourself.:
Groovy baby

Gianni Zuffa interview


Where do you come from?
I come from Imola and I used to go right up on the racing circuit at night with high antenna and we could get Radio Luxembourg. It was 1974 and ’75 and we’d listen to these records. It was music we couldn’t find in Italy, until three or four years later. So I had a passion for looking for these records. I’d go to Switzerland. I was interested in DJ culture. But far from imagining that you could put two records together in time, though. I’d buy 45s. Then there was no concept of mixing.

How did the shop Disco Più come about?
On 19th June, 1979 I started Disco Più. I took over an existing shop called New Reels. So in the beginning when the [Afro] phenomenon was starting some people would go to New Reels, but there wasn’t a special shop you could go to. We started importing records. I was probably the first that started to connect with these people. I’d take the records to them in the club. Most importantly, I’d spend hours and hours and hours listening to records. At New Reels the owner used to come down maybe once a week, whereas I was there all the time. I had the idea of working with the DJs. There was also Dimar but Dimar didn’t let people listen to the records. You’d have to go to Dimar blindfolded or if you’d heard a song on the radio and you knew what it was. There was also a local called Mike Clark, a Scottish DJ, who played locally, but he played things like Funkytown.

Tell me about Bob and Tom.
Bob and Tom were from another period. Nothing to do with Cosmic. They were the historic DJs of Baia. Their success was due to the fact that they were the first to work in a club that was ten years ahead of anyone else. A beautiful club, by the sea, and full of rich people. Everything was beautiful there. They were the first to mix records. No one had thought of that. In 1975 and 1976 when 12-inches first came out we didn’t think anything of them. “What are these for?” We didn’t know they were for mixing. I was still buying 45s or albums. It was beyond our conception. They were the first in this area that showed you could mix. We just thought, “12-inches? Waste of plastic!” At Baia, oh beautiful pussy! These two guys arrived and maybe they weren’t even very capable because if you go back and listen to the reels that have been preserved, lots of it was out of time and off-beat. Sometimes they got it right, but it wasn’t like today where it’s easy to mix. But it was like a bolt of lightning hearing them.

The main thing – the first thing – was the location of Baia. It was incredible. I went to Baia a few times as a kid. You felt overwhelmed in this place, a bit intimidated. “Where have I ended up?” It was like being in a film. And DJs would go to see this phenomenon. Just prior to this, DJs were changing records with these big knobs and with talking between the records, whereas these two were putting records in time and mixing them. They didn’t have mixers with faders, you have to remember what the equipment was at that time. If you forget about what was happening in New York in London, but here the people were quite amazed by what they saw. All around the DJ booth people were looking, but the record players at that time were belt-driven so they really weren’t made for it.

You can’t say how good they were because you’d have to go and hear someone like Larry Levan in the States. Or in England where there were places that were definitely better than here. It could be that they were just some ordinary DJs that had landed in the right club at the right time. The Baia had become a myth in all of Italy, people would come from all over. Beautiful people. The DJs had become names as DJs. DJs tried to imitate them. Mozart had tried to get them to help him and tried to learn from them. The crowd, the punters, were involved with the music, but it was more the context of it. The people there were people you don’t see any more. It was like something you might see in Monte Carlo. Very elite and very exclusive. You felt small and you were humbled by it all. I didn’t really see it through normal eyes I saw it through the eyes of someone who was interested in what was going on behind the decks and in the booth. I didn’t go for the pussy and the dancing so it’s difficult to know what it was like for normal people.

What were Baldelli and Mozart like?
In the beginning Mozart and Rubens were good friends. They lived quite near to each other. And Baldelli and TBC they came from the Rimini area. The most methodical, but less artistic was Baldelli and he wasn’t seen so positively by the other people who were into a lot of the drugs, heroin and hash and stuff like that. Those people who were off their heads and into drugs didn’t really see him much as an artist, but technically he was the best. Whereas Mozart, he’d done Conservatori which was the traditional school for musicians, so he knew how to play music. The others improvised but they were self-taught. Baldelli, after, because he didn’t have a strong club like Mozart at Baia, he moved on. Later the whole phenomenon degenerated, because they all just got lost in drugs. Baldelli was the one that remained lucid and he was more commercially minded, making his own tapes and so on. He had more of a managerial approach to his career. The others just got lost and ended up in clinics and overdosing. TBC wasn’t even very good technically, but he was always full of himself, you know, thought he was good and he didn’t really follow the public, he played for himself. Within a few years he was burnt out and finished. Baldelli was very professional and stayed the course. Mozart concentrated on making records and he managed to make some quite important records and so he came out of the clubbing world and didn’t get into doing any of the revival stuff.

I went to Baia between 1979 to 1981. It became bullshit for me, though. It eventually became too commercial. From northern Italy up to Austria and Germany, everything that was shit became Afro or Cosmic. And this whole thing about playing records at 45s at 33 and 33s at 45 had become completely ridiculous and completely detached from what we were doing in the late ’70s, when it was really about research and digging. We’d do a lot of digging, through lots and lots of records and choosing things that were musically really valid and good. And then after, anything that was rubbish they’d play at the wrong speed and say it was Cosmic.

What are the roots of Afro/Cosmic in your view?
No one in particular started this phenomenon. Those I mentioned had more personality and they had more opportunities to express themselves in the club they were working in. Baia was a great situation and Cosmic was also important, these were the clubs where at the time they were ten years ahead of any other club. They weren’t using the music that, even though it was good, was being played in other clubs. So we’re talking about a period of music that is after Prelude, Salsoul, Philadelphia. Instead they were going through records looking for one track on an album, or those thirty seconds or something that they could play, like some Brazilian tune. It was all about attentive research of records. It was still something that was really appealing and quite beautiful but it wasn’t something that was being played by everyone and that is what created the whole phenomenon. That’s what made the craze, not all these drugged out people. This whole drug thing made people ugly and those people made the clubs ugly, as well. A normal evolution, you could say.

As far as you’re concerned both Afro and Cosmic are completely independent of each other then?
Mozart isn’t anything to do with the Cosmic sound. He was more into Afro, Brazilian, whereas Cosmic started in Club Cosmic. So for me the Afro thing was an evolution and something that detached itself from the conventional commercial music of the time. It went off on its own and evolved. You could define it as commercial and non-commercial. It split up into factions, some would say that Mozart was the number one, or Badelli was the best or TBC. Also because of all this research they did, they had all these records that only they had. Unique records. And then everyone, when they played these records for four or five months after, everyone else was like, “what the hell is that record? What can it be?” It’s not like now, a record comes out and after three days everyone’s got it.

Mozart started playing John Forde and for three months everyone was looking for John Forde. It was a B-side of a record I’d got in a pile of rejected records that no-one else wanted. I gave it to him and he started to play it and push it. He identified himself with that record, it became part of his identity. Like Baldelli would identify himself with Sea Level’s On The Edge, which he got from a rock album that no one would have imagined there could be a playable track. But they were looking for alternative stuff in those days. They’d find a track and play it out and then people would be like, “Fuck what’s that song on Baldelli’s no 16 tape?” or “I heard it at Baia, Mozart played it”. The Cosmic sound wasn’t just born it was an evolution. Afro the same thing, an evolution. I used to give them the records, but the problem was they’d pull them out six months after. They’d keep it in their house and then they’d pull it out six months later and then you couldn’t get it anymore.

There were five or ten records that would typify Mozart. The same with Baldelli. They had them. Maybe at the same time I’d give them to one or two others or maybe to TBC as well, to cite an example. John Forde was a record that really defined a period; it was a record that Mozart played for months. I’d received three copies of it. I’d given them to TBC, Mozart and Baldelli. TBC played the other side. Baldelli maybe didn’t even play it and Mozart started playing Don’t You Know Who Did It. But he started playing it five or six months after I’d given it to him. When you go and look for it again, a record label like Sidewalk, an English rock label, how can you find a 12-inch after five months? And he’d been playing it constantly!

Another example. Everything that arrived, Baldelli wanted at least one copy. Everything. Because he was doing this digging, I was also trying to dig stuff up, also on albums. If there was a record, whether it was jazz, rock or pop, I’d get a copy. He was the one who had the most patience, the most desire to look for things. When he moved to Verona, I’d send two or three packages a week. In contrast to Mozart. I’d go to Baia and the thing that really surprised me was that one that night he’d play the records straight away. I’d be in the booth with him – dah dah dah – and when he liked it, he’d play it straight away. But it wasn’t always like that. Sometime he’d keep a record, God knows why, and then a few months later start playing it. And then the people on acid, like he was, would go off and try and find that record! Often I was there so I’d understand. After a couple of months people would ask for it again.

Baldelli was more difficult because of the distance. It was difficult to understand what side he’d be playing. And then there was the thing with the tapes. Tapes were a business for him but also a way for pushing music. Every week he’d do a tape and the people who followed him would have tremendous trust and loyalty in him and they’d find out the names of these tracks. He’d go and find too many tracks from rock albums and then people would come and ask for them and it wasn’t easy. I’d have to go and find that track. It would be continuous digging and looking. When I asked Baldelli what it was and nine times out of ten he’d tell me what it was. But then there were those times when he didn’t and everyone would go mad looking for it for months.

To get records I spent hours and hours all night. I tried to get at least one copy of everything. I’d always be looking for alternative stuff. Certain things they’d just give me, like, five copies. I had a big advantage. I created a network for myself, listening for hours, and to find all the alternative stuff. At that time even faxes didn’t exist. I’d speak directly with David in New York, my seller. Now a seller will do 50 shops, but back at that time I’d spend an hour and a half on the phone with him. After doing me he’d be exhausted and maybe would do one more shop!

If the big DJs played a record what impact did it have on record sales?
Going back to the summer of ’79, Johnny Harris’ Odyssey came out and George McCrae’s Don’t You Feel My Love. I’d get 30 people a day coming asking for them. They’d be trying to sing it to me. I could never get enough of them. After an hour they’d be gone. George McCrae was the hit of summer 1979. I remember other records like Candido’s Jingo and Living in the Jungle by John Tropea. These tracks you could sell for months and months: 500 or 800 copies. Difficult to say how many, because maybe after two years they’d come out again, thanks to the tapes. Someone would start DJing and they’d have the tapes from Mozart and Cosmic and these tapes were a reference point, so two years later someone would come in and say I want the records on that tape.

There were a lot of bootlegs as a result of the popularity of these tunes weren’t there?
The bootlegs started in 1981 or ’82. So just as John Forde you could find in industrial quantities on bootleg with a black cover or the original cover but you could tell because the opening was at the side. There was a guy who worked in the radio at Forli, he made these bootlegs. He started making these collections, Best of Mozart Vol. 1 and he’d advertise them on the radio. He’d advertise on the radio that he’d sell the tapes and the records.

Why didn’t they just license these tracks from the labels?
There were some small labels, the ones that came out in the mid 80s, Italo-disco, there was Full Time there were a few others. There were two or three major labels and a few private initiatives like Full Time. This [Afro] was an alternative phenomenon, marginal. It’s difficult to say whether, if one of the labels had taken one of these tracks, they would have had commercial success with it. If I sold 300 copies of a title, I’d be selling a big slice of all the imports that were selling, like 50%. 25 years ago, 1,000 copies was a fart, a blip. Nothing. We worked in big quantities, thousands of copies. La Bionda, Rockets, Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, big quantities, but that was CBS, Casablanca, Columbia, but they’d do thousands of copies and consequently albums. A thousand or two thousand copies of a record that today might be considered important, then was just negligible. Later on the Italo disco thing, there were some labels like Discomagic that were all born in the second half of the 80s, they were distributors who became labels, but with a totally different identity and style, which was probably an advantage, because today Italy doesn’t have an identity. Before we did have an identity and we exported. Remember Dolca Vita by Ryan Paris? You can criticise it all you like, but it sounded Italian.

Why didn’t anyone write about it?
Publications? They didn’t exist. The music industry was totally disinterested. Later we invented Discoid because there was nothing.

Who did you supply with records?
All of them. Mozart, TBC, Baldelli, Rubens… No one talks about Rubens and Ebreo and Spranga. They were all friends. They’d be the record box boys of the older DJs. Rubens was more capable than Mozart, but less of a public relations guy, less good at getting on with people and then drugs… He lost it before anyone. He lost his lucidity way before the others. Had these DJs stayed together and not let themselves been carried away with the drugs and they’d been in New York and London with some management behind them…. Who knows what might have happened? A lot of the people who followed them said Rubens was the best. He was hardly ever together, though. Bob and Tom and Mozart made their name also because of the club they worked in, if Rubens had worked at Baia, maybe he would have had a name.

Why do none of the new DJs tell anyone about the Afro scene?
It’s back to the media. Times had completely changed. It was all word of mouth and now it’s submerged. It’s part of our Italian nature… here you are for a team, you are for Mozart or Rubens, like it’s a football team. You tended to divide, that’s the mentality, and then throw shit at the others. In America it’s the opposite, if there’s a movement they support it.

What about the records on Sky, Klaus Schulze and stuff like that?
Harder to remember these names. They were later on albums. I don’t have a good memory of that period because, for me, it had all degenerated. The music degenerated. There wasn’t the same enthusiasm or the attention to detail. Everyone played things at the wrong speed. They were just trying to be different for the sake of it. They were just ruining the work that people had in the studio. The late’ 70s was the most creative period.

© DJHistory, Frank Broughton and Bill Brewster

Thanks to David Colkett for interpreting and Liam J. Nabb for the translation.

More DJHistory interviews

Claudio Simonetti interview


Born into a musical dynasty, Claudio Simonetti's career was dramatically launched when his young band Goblin were chosen to produce the soundtrack for Italian horror auteur Dario Argento's latest flick (Argento is pictured right with Simonetti). Profondo Rosso went on to sell three million copies and the band also scored his next soundtrack, the classic Suspiria. After discovering disco, Simonetti made an array of classic records under a variety of names from Easy Going to Capricorn, before returning to movie scoring in the mid-1980s.

I believe your father was also a composer, is that right?
Yes yes, my father was very well known in Italy. He was very famous. He was a musician and also a TV entertainer during the 60s and 70s he worked a lot on the TV as a showman. More than a musician. His name was Enrico Simonetti.

Was that an influence on you growing up?
Yes, I was born in Brazil and because my father worked for 15 years in Brazil, he was also very popular there. So when I was born, I was born into a musical world, because of my father. He never said you have to study musuic but when I was eight years old I started playing piano. When I started at eight I was not very interested in studying music seriously. I listened to the bands of the Sixties like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, I was a kid during that period and I loved them so I started playing guitar in a small band.

This was in Italy or Sao Paolo?
No Italy, I came back to Italy when I was 12. I arrived here and started studying when I was 13 or 14. So I decided to be a musician. So my father said, ‘OK, you can be a musician but it’s better if you study’. So I studied composition and piano at the Conservatore Saint Cecilia. But during that period I played with many bands so I studied classically but I played a lot with bands in the underground. That’s how I came to play with my band Goblin later. Cherry Five was actually the same band as Goblin, more or less. It was a record we recorded before we did Profondo Rosso and Dario Argento chose us to do the soundtrack for this after listening to what we were doing in the studio with Cherry Five. But when we recorded Profondo Rosso we changed the name to Goblin. So the album that was released later, but we actually recorded first, was done under the name Cherry Five. I don’t know why they chose this name, it’s a mystery. We were never contacted about it. Before this, I had a band called Ritratto di Dorian Grey [Dorian Grey’s Picture]. I was a big Oscar Wilde fan. It was one of my favourite books so I chose the name.

How did you meet Dario Argento?
When he came to shoot Profondo Rosso he was looking for a rock band to appear in his film. We were lucky because when we were recording the Cherry Five album we signed a contract with the same label that my father was signed to. And this label was also same label that released Dario Argento’s music. So he asked Carlo Bixio, the producer of Cinevox Records, and he said, ‘Oh I have Enrico Simonetti’s son’s band!’ So Dario came into the studio to listen to our music and he loved it. So he gave us the chance to do the soundtrack. He was very brave because we had only just turned 20 and were very young. He was a very big, famous director. We were lucky to find Dario but he was lucky that he found the right band. Profondo Rosso sold 3m. copies.

You seemed to be experimenting with electronic music and sounds from quite an early age. Even Goblin is very electronic sounding. When did you start dabbling with electronic keyboards?
I was always a fan of electronic music. My first Moog, the Mini-Moog, I bought in 1972 so I was one of the first keyboard players in Italy playing synthesiser. I had a lot of synthesisers later. You can hear it in Goblin stuff and for Suspiria we used the big Moog, Robert Moog’s1500 Moog. We had to rent this Moog because it was so expensive. Keith Emerson used it. I saw a concert of his recently and he still uses the same big Moog. It’s unique. Emerson has the original one. They were very expensive to buy. It cost maybe £20,000 at the time. So we rented it and a technician came and I told to him what to do and he programmed it for me. Even now I’m very happy with Suspiria; maybe it’s the Goblin masterpiece. We did a lot of research for this soundtrack. We used this big Moog, but we also used ethnic instruments, like tabla, bazouki and dobro. We used a lot of stuff to record it and three months recording it.

Is it true you recorded the Suspiria soundtrack without first seeing the movie?
No we did just demos before. We read the script but Dario uses the music just for ambience you know. But actually when the film was finished the music was completely different from the demos. So nothing remained from those demos.

You had a very unique disco sound, was that deliberate or was it just the way it came out?
Firstly, I was born in Brazil so the Brazilian rhythm and sound is in the music everywhere. I’d grown up with this in my blood, even if I play rock. When the 70s progressive rock era finished, after the split of Goblin, I met a producer Giancarlo Meo and with him we decided to make disco music. At that time, especially in the middle seventies and the end of the seventies, disco was full of orchestration, choirs etc. I loved this music, it was very powerful. In the seventies if you wanted to do arranging for disco you had to be a musician, otherwise you couldn’t write or play. It was a very nice period for me. I have great memories of this period. I changed my lifestyle completely, coming from rock bands to becoming a disco producer. I spent five or six years like this I decided to change, after Phenomena, in 1984. I decided to write just soundtracks and make rock music again.

Were you going to discotheques in the early 1970s?
Yes. One of the most famous clubs was Easy Going in Rome. It’s where I met the DJ Paul Micioni. We start to make productions together with Giancarlo Meo. We did the Easy Going albums. I also found Vivien Vee in the same discotheque. So this discotheque was one of the first I went to in Rome. It’s where I found the disco life! We had also another one, before, called Jackie O in Rome. Paul did a lot of productions after and some very good ones. They worked with Amii Stewart and many others.

Do you remember the music he was playing at Easy Going?
All the 70s and 80s music like Cerrone and Moroder, stuff like that. Many kinds of music. But very full of orchestration. Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin.

What disco groups or producers inspired you?
I enjoyed a lot of Moroder. He was one of the first electronic producers. He made a lot of Donna Summer records. I remember I loved I Feel Love, it was completely electronic. This was the kind of disco I loved. But I also loved Barry White. His productions were great.

What background did Giancarlo Meo have?
When I met him he was not from a musical world. He was a businessman. He worked a lot with Italian fashion. But he decided he wanted to do this and be a record producer. When I met him he had finished recording a small production. When we met together, Paul Micioni and Giancarlo, we decided to do an Easy Going record. It was the first time in Italy anyone had done this. There had maybe been the brothers LaBionda, they were recording on a German label. But actually in Italy no one was producing this music when we decided in 1978 to make this record. Many Italian producers told me I was crazy for doing this. It’s Americans who do this not Italians! So Easy Going was probably the first album. The only other guy was Mauro Malavasi, he recorded Macho at the same time and then Change and others. I never met him, I don’t know him personally. I think I spoke to him once by telephone. I know his musicians and I have played with some of them but I never met him.

Is it true you recorded demos for English groups in London in the early 1970s?
No we [Goblin] lived in London for almost one year and we made some demos there. We had an American singer living in London and we recorded some demos with him. These were the same demos that we brought to Italy that eventually became the Cherry Five album; but he never sang on the Cherry Five album he left before. His name is Clive Haynes. He now lives in America and is a very good painter.

Once you’d started to make disco records did you go to a lot of discos in Italy?
Yes especially in Rome. We had a lot of discos there. Everywhere you go in Italy, France, Germany there were people dancing. I have great memories of that period. With Giancarlo, we recorded some records in Madrid, New York and Philadelphia. It was fun.

Do you remember where you recorded in New York and Philly?
I did the second Easy Going album Fear at the Power Station. I recorded the brass and background choir at a studio in Philly but I can’t remember the name.

Around that time you did some session work with Herbie Mann didn’t you?
Yes. A friend of mine was producer for Atlantic and I met him in New York. Someone bought the rights to release Baby I Love You in America. A producer wanted to make a new version so when I arrived in New York with the 24-track I met Silvio Tancredi and I became his friend and we recorded this version; straight after when he was recording the Herbie Mann album he mentioned to Herbie that he knew a good Italian musician.

What were your favourite discos?
I loved Studio 54 and Xenon in New York.

Were you aware of DJs like Mozart and Baldelli in the early 1970s?
Yes but I never worked with them.

Were you conscious of the sound you had created that became known as Italo-disco?
Maybe now I know this and I can feel it. At the time I didn’t know. We recorded a lot of music that had global appeal. Maybe now I feel we invented something but at the time…. It’s like spaghetti westerns… there were many directors who were inspired by this. A lot of Italian disco was imitated. Now I know this. In the 1980s, I had no idea. It was the same with Goblin. We never felt we were one of the most powerful horror bands. Now I know.

Was Easy Going a touring band as well or just a studio project?
No I never played I just arranged it. Most of the concerts were just playbacks with the singers.

Did you have any idea how big your records were in the US?
No. In 1979, we came to the US with Vivien Vee when we had some success with Give Me A Break. It was in the Billboard charts. I realised she was very famous there. It was strange, especially for her, because she’s Italian, and she spoke very bad English. She just sang in English because she learned it, but she actually had difficulty to speak with people in America. Many times I saved her because people would talk to her and she had no idea what they were saying. I’d say, “No no no Vivien Vee she doesn’t talk to anyone!” Later she did learn to speak.

Vivien Vee originally came from Trieste, one of the northern cities. She came on holiday to Rome and me and Giancarlo met her and he became her boyfriend. When we decided to record a new album we found an Italian-American singer who was a model. I wrote this song Give Me a Break and she said she liked it so we went to record it. Although she was a model she sang very well. Anyway, her name was Carol and she totally disappeared. We never saw her again. So we had the studio and we needed a girl, so Vivien said, “Well, I sing but only Italian songs”. So I did a demo with her. And she had this low voice. We loved this voice. We called an English teacher and coached her through the song.

Did you realise that your music had had such an impact in Chicago and Detroit?
No because I never went there, but occasionally someone will say, “Oh your music was a big influence”.

Do you remember recording things like Do It Again by Easy Going?
Oh yeah. We recorded that album here in Rome in one studio. Not very big but it was quite expensive. It was very good for a disco sound. They recorded mainly TV shows and orchestras there. We tried to record here because it had a very good sound for drum and bass. We recorded this album live with many nusicians. One of the guys from Goblin played on one song, Fabio Pignatelli, on Suzy Q.

You used Walter Martino for a lot of the drums as well didn’t you?
Walter Martino was our first Goblin drummer. Fernando Fera played in some songs. He was Dorian Grey guitar player. And I used the brass section from a TV orchestra.

Did you use drum loops as well as live drummers?
It depended. We used real drums until the early 80s. After the Linn arrived and others we preferred to use drum machines. If you listen to the big bands of the Eighties most of them used drum machines. The English sound especially. Keyboards like the DX7: it’s the master. It was the first midi keyboard. You can recognise the early Eighties because of the sound of the DX7.

A lot of the musicians you used had English names. Were they American or British musicians?
No. We changed the names! It’s like the ’60s when they shoot spaghetti westerns they just changed the names, even Sergio Leone had a different name. That’s because if we had told the people it was an Italian production nobody would trust that it was good, because no one had done it. It was very funny. Simon Pouds, for instance, is me.

Did you and Giancarlo Meo work well together, because you made a lot of great music?
He was a producer but he also had a good ear; he would say this is good or this is not good. But normally he was the businessman of the company and I was the music producer. He organised contracts, distribution, but he was a good talent scout. He’s found a lot of good artists. Even after we split. He’s one of the biggest producers of independent labels. He sold millions of copies of many artists.

How do you view the music now you look back at it?
I like it. Sometimes I hear the old records and I like it, because it has its own story. Now I think I could maybe do it better, but I love that Eighties sound. The instruments and moods are different now. I love almost of all of what I did.

Read more DJHistory interviews

© // Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, 2008