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TimeOut Blog
  The History of Italo Disco (III) Date: 09/15/2009  
1984: Fockewulf 190 paves the way with "Gitano" and "Body Heat", two of the most respected Italo songs ever. The Italian men behind Fockewulf 190 wouldn't stop there they made one more song using the alius of Frank Tavaglione called "Tumidanda" - one of the most sought after Italo songs ever! The original 12" features both an English and Italian version, which was very uncommon!

Using the voice of Fred Ventura and the production values on Market Records, the Fockewulf 190 group took one more shot in the Italo scene with "Eagles In The Night" by Dario Dell'Aere becoming another majorly sought after release that almost no DJ can claim he or she owns to this day. Simply put, Fockewulf 190's four productions were all on limited release in 1984 and have become harder and harder to locate as the years go by - they sell on eBay for hundreds of dollars each.

Speaking of the years going by, Fred Ventura has a huge hit with "The Years (Go By)" and it's featured in an Italo Boot Mix, making it an even bigger hit in Germany. International Music System, release a major party song called "Dancing Therapy". Memory Records big hits of the year are led by Ken Laszlo's, "Hey Hey Guy" and "Tonight" and by Cyber People's "Void Vision" and "Polaris". The Peecker Melody label, a sub-label of Il Discotto provides 3 huge hits in 1984. They are: "Your Fun" by Modem, "Driving" by Sensitive, and "Running Straight" by Amin Peck. "I Wish" by Bolero became a huge hit all over Europe. One of the biggest hits of the year was "Self Control" by the late Laura Branigan. The song was actually written by an Italian artist who released his version (the original) under the alius of RAF (or RAFF in other markets).

Both versions topped every single chart in Europe and at one point both songs held the ..1 and ..2 positions simultaneously in the German music charts. As fantastic as the Laura Branigan version is, it lacks the beautiful male vocals and fantastic rap segment near the end of the song. "Queen Of Discoteque" by Sissy on the Eyes Records label is an amazing song. Also on the label is "Future State" by the same-named artist and also "Firelight" by Ghecko (often mistaken as Checko) these songs helped make Eyes Records a top Italo label in 1984.

On Ram Productions, a sub-label of Discomagic, Ram Band releases "Silent Smiles" and then on the same label, Anthony's Games releases the same exact song. Same label, a year later, Visions releases "Everybody" and then soon afterwards, Videovision (on the Ra.Re label) releases "Anybody" and Video (on the Fly Records label) releases "Somebody".

The man behind all 3 songs that "coincidently" have similar titles and the same exact synth-hook is Raff Todesco. All this stuff about the same song being released by two or three different artists was quite common in the Italo Disco genre. The most famous would be the song "Souvenir" which was originally released by OMD was then covered by a handful of Italian artists including Nicky & Nicky and Saxophone.

By 1984, Italo Disco was already in its prime with 100's and 100's of new songs arriving each month at the local record shops throughout Italy and Europe, particularly Netherlands and Germany, where the genre became an absolute phenomenon. "Clouds" by Angie is a great female Italo hit. "Magic Carillon" by Rose is another female vocal classic, often considered to be the best Italo song ever. Fake debuts with an extremely sexy vintage disco styled song that keeps many elements of Italo Disco. The song is called "Donna Rouge" and is often considered to be the perfect song! Let's move on to the big hits of 1984. "The Years (Go By" by Fred Ventura becomes a lead track on one of the Italo Boot Mixes and also a top chart hit all over Europe. Il Discotto's big hit was "Hot Stuff" by Image. Discomagic's big hit was "Play Boy" by Venise - another amazing female vocal song with a great electro/drum beat combo.

However, the big Italo song of 1984 (from a true fans standpoint) would be "Catch" by Sun-La-Shan. 'Catch Is Sexy' would become the famous vocals to this song that almost any Italo fan is able to sing along to. Scotch released "Disco Band", a major arpeggio hit that became a major hit in Germany, actually becoming one of the biggest chart success Italo songs ever! Miko Mission releases two songs in a row, "The World Is You" and "How Old Are You?" which are immediately entered into the history books of Italo Disco music! Without a doubt, it was the synthesizer work that Miko did with these two songs that made them so memorable. Memory Records is led by Ken Laszlo (e.g. "Hey Hey Guy", "Tonight") and Cyber People (e.g. "Void Vision", "Polaris"),

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1985: Fantasy Life releases "Over And Over", considered to be the rarest Italo Disco vinyl ever. The mp3 is quite easy to locate, but it's the original 12" record that fetches 600-700 dollars regularly on eBay. What a DJ would do to have this one!!! What wouldn't a DJ do??? Brand Image returns to the Italo Scene in 1985 with "Love In A Summer Night" helping jumpstart the infamous Time Records label. Magika also has a nice hit on Time Records with "I Know Magika".

It should be pointed out that around this time, as Italo Disco became took over the airwaves that suddenly we begin to see a major saturation of the market 1000's of releases a year, eventually peaking in 1984 and 1985 with 5,000 major releases each year across 100's and 100's of labels.

Several things can explain this market saturation: 1) creating an Italo Disco song was very easy, cheap, and trendy, especially for the DJ's of that time. Everybody was taking a stab at the Italo market; 2) many of the biggest producers from the big labels would start sub-labels and let one major artist head the label and produce literally hundreds of songs in a very short period of time. Often times, one producer would make 100's of songs a year, and the same vocalists would appear on songs across many sub-labels, being the secret vocalist. Rose, Ken Laszlo, Fred Ventura, Eddy Huntington, Den Harrow, Joe Yellow, and Albert One would become the major contributors to this rapid movement of new songs being produced.

For example, "Spanis Run" by Jaco is actually the voice of Ken Laszlo, famous for his smash hit "Hey Hey Guy". Here we are in 2009 still sorting through productions and trying to figure out who sung and who produced some releases it's all quite confusing because the genre was very tightknit yet so quickly evolving. Anyways 1985 brough many, many big hits. "Forever And A Day" by 93rd Superbowl presents some amazing male vocals, Fake returned with a major smash hit called "Brick" and a b-side called "Another Brick" - a very fine production indeed! "Dial My Number" by R. Bais. "Baby On Fire" by Ottomix & P.K. Siegel.

1986: Italo Disco already past its peak, begins to decline as new genre's are now surfacing. High Energy Music in Germany, fueled by Modern Talking, Bad Boys Blue, C.C. Catch, and Silent Circle is a major dance scene that begins to conquer the charts. At the same time, all the traditional Italo/Euro Disco beats begin to sound "old fashioned" when compared to the likes of the new speedy drum machine beats on a TR 808 or 909. Basically, this is when Garage House, Acid House, Chicago House, House, Acid and any form of the true 130BPM would begin to take over the dance scene. It was all in the planning stages since 1982 when Italo Disco surfaced. We knew the beat would speed up and the bassline would become louder.

However, Italo Disco was still not dead! This was the year it finally touched the soil of America - 2 songs actually became minor hits in USA, but were simply thrown into the New Wave genre. The two songs that now have cult status for making it to USA are "Boom Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room)" by Paul Lekakis and "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora, which was released in 1985 but became an American hit in 1986.

Just like any other dance genre, 1 big European hit always touches every country at least once with Euro Dance / Euro House it was "Mr. Vain" by Culture Beat. For Italo Dance, it was "Blue (Da Ba Dee)" by Eiffel 65. For Trance, it's Cascada, for techno, its "Sandstorm" and so forth. The point we are trying to make is that the entire market has just 1 song of many 1000's shoved in their face. You hear this one song over and over and only wish for more songs like it. It was around this time that Radiorama became a major player in the Italo Scene.

They would get their own label and release a major, major song called "Aliens" in the end of 1986. Alan Barry, Aleph, Alphatown, and many other Italo artists start experimenting with a faster BPM. Slowly, but quickly, the BPM begins to speed up into the 130's, 140's, and so forth. Time Records becomes the leader in the industry at this point, with A Beat C and Asia Records following right behind.

The Italo Boot mixes are now in full popularity in Germany and others parts of Europe that weren't able to access all the Italo releases. Italo Boot Mixes were megamixes from the ZYX label, featuring 10-15 songs per mix, usually split into 2 parts each. They usually featured the biggest Italo songs of the time and were quite popular in Germany, where many made the top charts for many weeks. THE END.
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