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TimeOut Blog
  The History of Italo Disco (II) Date: 09/14/2009  
1978-1981: In late 1978, Black Devil, a very obscure act at the time from France, releases the "Disco Club LP", which is now considered one of the greatest electronic pleasures of the late 70's. Beautiful harmonies working solely with a synthesizer in real-time recording sessions make this album still in deman today! "Disco Fizz" by Azoto (working without the Lucrethia syntax) appeared in 1980, alongside Tantra's "The Hills Of Katmandu" release.

Both artists being Italian and leaning further away from the traditional disco beat and more towards a faster drumbeat using a drum machine, would later be known as two more pioneers of what would become Italo Disco! At the same time, on the newly formed Discomagic Records label, Sylvi Foster created "Love Dawn" and "If You Are Master" while Delanua makes a masterpiece called "Flood" - these songs being considered to this day the first true Italo Disco songs. Kano begins his long career with songs such as "I'm Ready" and "Holly Dolly". in 1980, La Bionda would solidify their position as a major influence of Italo Disco music with their big hit entitled, "I Wanna Be Your Lover".

1982: The Italo Disco scene was well under way by the time 1982 rolled in. Discomagic Records and Il Discotto Productions had both surfaced at this point and had started spawning off many sub-labels, each with their own distinguishable sounds. On Il Discotto, Jo Jo created the masterpiece track entitled, "Mind Games", which fused R&B, electro, and disco all into one song, and Gary Low released his first single, "You Are A Danger" which took a synthesizer and piano and welded them together into one song.

On the other end of the spectrum, Discomagic was beginning a long catalogue of records. The first big ones seemed to be "How Many Fill" by Delanua, "The Garden" and "Robot Is Systematic" by 'Lectric Workers, and the club smash, "Hookey" by Sylvi Foster. ll Discotto Productions has a huge hit with "Tequila" by Bo Boss. "I Need Love" by Capricorn is released and considered a major accomplishment in electro dance. "Plastic Doll" by Dharma becomes a cult classic way ahead of its time! On Zanza Records, Klein & M.B.O. release "Dirty Talk", and Pink Project debuts with "Disco Project" a cover version of Pink Floyd's, "Another Brick In The Wall" becoming two of the biggest chart hits in Europe in all of 1982.

Also released in '82 on Zanza Records was "Droid" by Mito, a song and artist that has developed quite a following since then. Kato, who would go on to become one of the most famous Italo artists ever, debuts with "Chinese Revenge", a very spacey disco song. Bob Salton's "Starknight" becomes a high energy Italo Disco hit. "Coda" by Amin Peck starts a long list of hits for this man.

The Twins debut with "Face To Face - Heart To Heart" and would be back in 1983 with two more big singles (more on them later). The big accomplishment for electro fused to Italo Disco in 1982 would have to be "Bad Passion" by Steel Mind. Using male, female, and robot vocals all in one song, we hear what is more like a prelude to all future dance music. We won't stress it any further, but this is to be considered one of the fundamental songs of Italo Disco!

Marzio Dance debuts with some promising hits such as "The Adventure" and the early '83 followup release entitled, "Rap-O-Hush". One of the most respectable songs of 1982 is "Life With You" by Expansives, a project by Franco Rago and Giorgio Farina who also produced "The Man From Colours" by Wanexa, all releases by the aforementioned 'Lectric Workers, and also "Batida" by Cariocas, which hit the market in the end of 1982.

1983: The best year for Italo Disco music from a true Italo lover's standpoint is without a doubt 1983! So many hits, so many memories. To get the ball rolling, the Mr. Disco Organization (a sub-label of Full Time Records) releases "Spacer Woman" by Charlie and becomes an immediate classic and the biggest song on the entire label. The House Of Music label also makes some waves with several masterpieces.

First, B.W.H. releases a double single entitled, "Stop" / "Livin' Up", often considered to be the most well-crafted Italo Disco release ever made! Next release on the label: "A Dog In The Night" by Mr. Master becomes another major hit. However, it was the third release on House Of Music label that set the tone for the perfect song: "Cybernetic Love" by Casco, a vocoder and synthesizer masterpiece. We're just scratching the surface with the big hits on the year! "Take A Chance" by Mr. Flagio features a heavily vocodized male voice and electro beats that are forever engraved in many Italo lovers heads.

Office Map

Il Discotto was the home of Doctor's Cat and their debut song, "Feel The Drive". Also on the same label was the first release by Brand Image entitled, "Are You Loving?" On the Italian Records label, Gaznevada releases "I.C. Love Affair" and N.O.I.A. releases "Stranger In A Strange Land" - two immediate classics. On the Fly Music label, "Shaker Shake" by Time is released, becoming an unforgettable classic with amazing synthesizer work that has since been unparalleled. At Discomagic, it was an absolutely huge year including the infamous song, "I'm Hungry" by Stopp, which displays one very phat bassline. Also, Samoa Park debuts with an Italo Disco version of Mike Oldfield's famous "Tubular Bells" project Ryan Paris creates the happy piano-esque tune called "Dolce Vita" which topped European charts.

Tommy Bow's "Dance Tonight" and Felli's "Diamond In The Night" were two of Discomagic's big songs of 1983. However, one of Discomagic's best releases was "Orient Express" by Wish Key. Gary Low continued to emerge as a leader with his next single, "I Want You", which has been sampled many times over the years, most recently by Miss Kittin. Gazebo makes a string of top hits all over European charts with "Masterpiece", "I Like Chopin", and "Lunatic". Over at American Disco Records, Scotch releases "Penguin's Invasion" and P. Lion releases "Happy Children", two songs which top the European charts and lead to success on this record label.

Also on the American Disco label, Finzy Kontini releases "Cha Cha Cha", a tropical melody still retaining the Italo Disco sound. And one more big hit on the label of course: "Hey D.J. (Give Me A Lot Of Music)" by B. Rose. Camaro's Gang release "Fuerza Major" and "Ali Shuffle" while Kano returns to top the charts with a major hit entitled, "Another Life".

An amazing and beautiful song off the amateur Danse Records label is "Come ..r" by Pineapples with Douglas Roop, an American vocalist. This is one of the most beloved Italo songs ever made. Memory Records was on fire with releases led by Hipnosis ("Pulstar" and "Oxygene") and Baby's Gang ("Happy Song"). One of their best releases however, was "Don't Stop Lovin'" by J.D. Jaber. "Incantations" by G.A.N.G. is another big Italo hit, coming off the Discomagic label. "Let's Go Out" by Roberto Onofri & Dee Jay Program Band is an extremely obscure song that is now in extreme demand. "Suicidal" and "Anxiety" by Amin Peck become two of the best Italo songs of 1983, showing how much work goes into each song - these 8-10 minute tracks use many instruments and channeled layers, ultimately making Amin Peck still popular today! "Run Away" by International Music System becomes a well known songs as a result of some very deep, dark beats.

The year was topped off by a super powerful song called "You ... See" by Helicon - using male/female combo vocals, which is uncommon for an Italo song. The Creatures release "Believe In Yourself" making themselves a permanent staple in the Italo Disco as a result of this song. The same thing goes for The Twins and their 2 big songs: "Ballet Dancer" and "Not The Loving Kind". Righeira released "No Tengo Dinero" and "Vamos A La Playa", two Italian vocal songs that both topped all charts in Europe. Other big hits in 1983 included, "Young Man" by Nite Lite, "Communicate" by Kirlian Camera, "Voice (In The Night)" by Martinelli, "Hypnotic Tango" by My Mine, and "Magical Body" by Los Angeles T.F. In a category of his own, Den Harrow debuts with "To Meet Me" and "A Taste Of Love" two very nice productions with someone else actually lip-synching these songs for the handsome 'Den Harrow' character.

Since Den Harrow was a fake name, the question soon became: "Who is Den Harrow?" Was it the same person as Fred Ventura, Joe Yellow, or Albert One? Soon, it was realized that Italo Disco had a whole 'nother element of mystery created by these sort of scenarios. As the year came to an end, Decadance released "On And On (Fears Keep On)", an amazing masterpiece that many deejay's want to have. As 1983 ended, it was obviously clear that Italo Disco was the biggest genre of music in Italian history. Many record labels, big and small, were now releasing hit after hit. Some of the bigger labels began to make waves in Germany, Netherlands, and throughout the rest of Europe (with England as an exception), eventually finding their way to the ZYX label in Germany.

This record label was the biggest and baddest label in all of Europe and was known to do a lot of third-party licensing for the German market (which was absolutely huge on disco/dance music!) It was in this year that ZYX had enough songs licensed to their label that one of their producers/deejay's created 2 short megamixes using Italian disco songs. The mix was named, "Italo Boot Mix Volume 1" and it featured artists such as Mr. Flagio, Time, Doctor's Cat, Samoa Park, and Brand Image. The mix of course, was a huge success all over Europe and was the first outreach of pure Italian music in new markets.

Soon after the first "Italo Boot Mix" was released, everybody in Europe began referring to disco music from Italy as Italo Disco, which is now what the entire genre is known as. One important note to make: The Italo Boot Mix series, which had a total of 16 volumes, 2 mixes apiece, only featured songs licensed to the ZYX label and is clearly not an indicator of the "best Italo Disco" songs - only the best ones that ZYX got a hold of. Many of the best Italo Disco songs never left Italy and are not as well known.
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