Introduction to Italo Disco
The more strict definition of Italo Disco contains only electronic (dance) music made in italy during period of year 1983 to 1988. Most releases were song in english language, the exceptions usually in italian or spanish languages. A relaxed definition of Italo Disco (italodisco, italian disco) includes also music made in other countries, like Spain, France and Germany. A very well known Italo Disco sub-style is spanish Sabadell sound. There are many alternative definitions of Italo Disco, and it might be, that person’s birth date and place do have some influence too. Some people also include early (before 1983) italian made electronic music into Italo Disco category, others (like me) keep it separate. However, I admit that there are a few early tracks that belong to Italo Disco, like Gazebo’s Masterpiece from September, 1982.
Photography models and lip sync
A very typical feature in Italo Disco is that the artist (singer) and person in the record covers are exchangeable commodities. Artists are projects of record producers. Singing is mostly done by professionals, their voice is the key thing, physical appearence is insignificant. Of course photography models are not a requirement, many record covers have a picture of real singer or do not contain any persons at all. Live appearances are done by real singer and/or photography model performing lip sync. Graphical or photography art has also apperared in record covers, for instance photographer and publicity agency Asenauers (Verona, Italy) has pictured many record covers.
Lip sync and use of photography models is not just a Italo Disco feature, it’s pretty popular for many artists representing other music styles too. In live appearances even the real singer might perform lip sync, as the original voice (of recordings) might be filtered somehow (vocoder) and/or just to give better output for audience (does not trust own voice enough all the time). Swedish eurodance act E-Type is an example, as it is a known fact that Dilnarin ”Dee” Demirbag performed in live appearances lip syncing Nana Hedin’s voice. Another good example of lip sync artist is Whigfield, known broadly of her hit song Saturday Night.
There are of course a big number of artists, who have done no lip syncing in their live appearances, or very minimally if needed. Albert One, Brian Ice, Gazebo, Ken Laszlo and Savage, just to mention some of most famous Italo Disco singers (or voices).
The most famous lip sync Italo Disco project is Den Harrow. Worth to mention however, that project’s photography model, Stefano Zandri, has also used his own voice in recordings and live appearances. Most Den Harrow recordings have used Tom Hooker’s voice, and another well known source is Silvio ”Silver” Pozzoli. In more recent times there has been some conflict between Stefano Zandri and Tom Hooker, and as a result of this Tom Hooker has begun a new artist project Tam Harrow.
Radiorama, the beginning and first album
This article is about Radiorama, which is almost as famous Italo Disco project utilizing photography models and studio singers, as Den Harrow. Originally Radiorama was a project established year 1985 by Aldo Martinelli. He was requested for the project by Mauro Farina. The only published Radiorama release written by Martinelli together with Simona Zanini was Chance To Desire. Martinelli and Zanini continued their co-operation under artist name Martinelli, which begun 1983 with single Voice (In The Night). Perhaps the second Martinelli production, Cenerentola, is their most famous release. During years Simona Zanini made many great Italo Disco productions co-operating with Marco Tansini too.
After Martinelli discarded Radiorama, Mauro Farina and Giuliano Crivellente, the most famous Italo Disco producers, took the charge. Forthcoming Radiorama’s releases were then mostly sang by Mauro Farina and Clara Moroni. The very first release, Wacha Gonna Do, was sang by Marco Bresciani and Simona Zanini. It was also previously released under artist name Mark Jay. First bigger hit by Farina-Crivellente team was Desire (1985). Following year (1986) songs Hey Hey and Vampires were published. Radiorama’s first album Desires And Vampires was also released same year. Producers were Marco Bresciani and Paolo Gemma. The mentioned hit songs were included, and also some extra tracks. Album also contained remix of Desire (which is also on B-side of Hey Hey maxi single).
Radiorama’s hits and other Italo Disco releases were imported from Italy to Finland by record store OR – Original Records in Tampere. As there was no Internet available those days, the italian record wholesale companies sent a sample package (containing one vinyl of each new release) to potential customers (like OR), and the customers then made the order by fax. My own copy of Desires And Vampires actually is the OR’s sample record, and so the first in Tampere, perhaps in Finland too. The OR store closed it’s business 1987, which was a big blow for Italo Disco fans like me. After that the number of imported Italo Disco releases to Tampere (Finland) decreased significantly. The main rival record store, Epe’s Music Shop, did not keep Italo Disco so important for it’s business. Worth to mention also, that Epe’s bought OR’s Italo Disco (and other) stock, and for a while some great bargains were possible (about 90% discount). Fazer Music store also imported some Italo Disco releases till about 1990 or something. There were also some smaller companies, like Dance Window and Chivisa Records, importing some Italo Disco stuff.
Radiorama, the second album
Year 1986 brought perhaps the overall best known Radiorama hit, Aliens. Following year 1987 another monster covered maxi single Yeti was released, and later So I Know. These hits were included in the following album release.
The Second, Radiorama’s second album (1987), which I got from Epe’s Music Shop (Kauppakatu), is perhaps more balanced as a whole, when compared to the first album. Like first, this album was produced by Marco Bresciani and Paolo Gemma.
Album contains track Warrior, which was originally sang by Riky Maltese (Gianni Mocchetti) and was released earlier year 1986. The cover art of Maltese’s 12″ was done by Asenauers, Verona. According to Discogs, Asenauers was credited for total 159 record covers. Question of taste, but in my opinion Radiorama’s version sounds slightly better.
Radiorama, the Legend – 3rd album
Later year 1987 one of the best Radiorama songs, Fire, was published. This release is a kind of endpoint to Radiorama’s original sound. After this release the musical style of Radiorama changed from Italo Disco to more like italo/euro-pop.
The Legend, Radiorama’s 3rd album, was published year 1988. As previous two, this one was produced by Marco Bresciani and Paolo Gemma. It contained a shorter version of Fire and several italo/euro-pop tracks. Maybe because the first two albums were excellent, containing top class Italo Disco sound, this third album was a big disappoinment for me and probably for many fans globally too. However album’s tracks ABCD, Manitu and Sing The Beatles were published on maxi single format, so commercially it did manage pretty well.
Radiorama, Four Years After – 4th album
Radiorama ’brand’ still had a huge potential to sell, so it was time for the fourth album release. Musically the 1989 published album is a bit better than previous 3rd album, but far away from the superb two first albums. To provide some classic feeling, included is another version of Flight Of Fantasy (from 1st album) and 1989 remix of Aliens. Tracks Bad Boy You, Baciami (Kiss Me) and Daddy Daddy were also released on maxi singles. Album was produced by Paolo Gemma.
Radiorama, The Fifth – 5th album etc.
The 5th Radiorama album, The Fifth (1990), is the one I personally do not have. It was not available on vinyl format which I prefer, only cd. I did not even know that such a album exists until short while ago, when I noticed that on Discogs database. Musical style of this album is something between Hi-Nrg and eurodisco, pretty standard soft pop sound anyway. Tracks Why Baby Why and 3, 4 Gimme More were also available on 12″ vinyls. Producer was Paolo Gemma.
After the album release, year 1990, a cover version of Round One’s In Zaire was published. Following year appeared One Two Three (in co-operation with Max Coveri) and Come Back My Lover. Female voice on these releases was provided by Daniela Rando.
Radiorama, Eurodance project (SAIFAM)
Before going to the main subject Radiorama, it’s beneficial to know some basics about SAIFAM Publishing Group. The company was founded by Mauro Farina 1981. About 1988 it begun it’s own record labels, starting from Asia Records label. I guess japanese music market was the main target, explaining the name of the label. For different purposes, music styles etc., different labels were used. For eurodance releases the main label was 21st Century Records. Most releases were produced by Mauro Farina, with or without partners. Most of Italo Disco or slow eurobeat stuff (Asia and FCF labels) was produced by Mauro Farina and Giuliano Crivellente.
The concept of Radiorama was updated 1994 when eurodance begun to be popular style of music. The main singer for Radiorama’s eurodance releases was Jackie Bodimead, giving her voice also for numerous other SAIFAM eurodance releases. Not every Radiorama release was sang by Jackie, for instance the last release under label 21st Century Records (year 2002), a Bonnie Tyler cover Total Eclipse Of The Heart, was sang by Melody Castellari. For my personal taste, the best releases are Di Da Di, Cause The Night, Beautiful Man, Ninna Ninna Oh and Danger.
- Your Love (1994)
- Let Me Be (1995)
- Little Bird (1995)
- Touch Me Now (1996)
- Like An Angel (1996)
- Di Da Di (1997)
- Cause The Night (1997)
- Give Me The Night (1998)
- Beautiful Man (1998)
- More Time (1999)
- Ninna Ninna Oh (1999)
- My Fantasy (1999)
- Truly Eyes (1999)
- Danger (2000)
- Total Eclipse Of The Heart (2002)
World Of Radiorama, the album containing most Radiorama’s eurodance songs was published 1999. In this album were renewed ’year 2000’ versions of classic Radiorama hits Aliens and Yeti. Radiorama’s eurodance tracks are also included on many SAIFAM’s cd compilations. Also Klone Records, a british company specialized selling Euro House/Hi-NRG for gay club market, had SAIFAM releases on their compilation albums.
Radiorama, Eurobeat project (SAIFAM)
Japan has been a very big business area for eurobeat music, and so it is not a wonder, that SAIFAM also produced material targeted mainly for the japanese market. Typically these releases have higher bpm than in the material targeted (also) to european buyers. There’s not any good reason to use new artist names for Japan, better to use ones, which have some history behind. Under artist name Radiorama SAIFAM published about ten eurobeat releases during years 2005-2012, most sang by Melody Castellari. Good examples are Magic Butterfly (2005) and It’s My Life (2008). These were mainly digital releases, possibly appearing in some compilation albums too.