Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The albums of RITA PAVONE

This blog started out as a vehicle to express my opinions about albums recorded by Italian singer Rita Pavone. As I live in Brazil, I have based my research on albums released in this country. It spans from October 1963, when Brazilian RCA Victor released Pavone’s first album, up to 1967, when RCA Italiana released ‘Little Rita nel West’ her last album before she switched record labels going to Ricordi.

I have reviewed 6 albums released in Brazil; 4 albums released in Italy; one in the USA; one in Germany and one in Argentina. My point-of-view is the basis for these reviews. It is only my personal opinion which is mostly main-stream but sometimes may also be outrageous. I don’t have to make sense although I have tried to be as fair as possible.

I confess I have been a dedicated fan of Rita Pavone’s ever since I saw her on Brazilian TV on 25 June 1964. I took an active role at the Brazilian Rita Pavone Fan-Club until 1967. After that, I guess, I grew up and moved along to other interests. I still look upon those days with a wistful longing and I love to write about 'them good old days'.

I’ve chosen 11 albums to ‘review’. They are the ones I’ve owned at some time or other in the course of my life. I have skipped ‘compilation albums’ even though 1966's ‘Ci vuole poco’ could qualify as such.

I sincerely welcome all kinds of comments coming from you, readers. If you agree or disagree about a song or opinon, please, leave a note saying so. Thank you so much for your visit.

Toto Faria.

Rita Pavone's albums released in Brazil between 1963 and 1967.
Rita's Greatest Hits released in Peru is not reviewed here. 

Friday, 4 March 2011


RITA PAVONE    BBL-147   RCA Victor –
released in Brazil:  November 1963

1.  La partita di pallone [Carlo Rossi-Edoardo Vianello]
2.  Abbiamo sedici anni [Dino Verde-Bruno Canfora]
3.  Clémentine Chérie [Camucia-Tallino]
4.  T’ho conosciuto [Carlo Rossi-Dansavio]
5.  Sul cucuzzolo [della montagna] [Carlo Rossi-Edoardo Vianello]
6.  Le lentiggini [Dino Verde-Bruno Canfora]

1.  Il ballo del mattone [Dino Verde-Bruno Canfora]
2.  Come te non c’è nessuno [Franco Migliacci-Oreste Vassalo]
3.  Cuore [Heart] [Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill; v.: Carlo Rossi]
4.  Alla mia età [Carlo Rossi-Roby Ferrante]
5.  La commessa [Carlo Rossi-Piero Piccioni]
6.  Amore twist [Bovenzi]

The liner-notes on the back of Rita Pavone’s first album say she was a 17 year-old from Turin who had won a new-talent contest in Rome, in September 1962, and went on to record a 45 rpm single for RCA Italiana. The label gave her ‘La partita di pallone’ (The football match) a song first released in the summer of 1962 to cash in on FIFA's World Cup fever in Chile where Brazil came up on top for the 2nd time in a row. Cocky Mazzetti’s original record was the lament of a married young lady who is left home alone on Sundays while her fancy-free hubby goes out to watch his favourite football team playoffs. She suspects he might actually be seeing someone else and tells him she’ll go back to her mum’s if he doesn’t change his ways. Pavone’s  record had an infectious guitar introduction devised by Argentine arranger Luis Enriquez that hooked the listener straight away. The single went all the way to number one in the Italian charts. That was Pavone’s way of saying: ‘Here I am, take heed!

Shortly after, Rita was featured in ‘Alta Pressione’ (High pressure) a youth-oriented TV programme on RAI Uno that made her freckled-face popular overnight. Rita’s amazing luck continued when Mina, Italy’s number one songstress, had to leave ‘Studio Uno’ due to being pregnant. Producers Antonello Falqui and Guido Sacerdote had to re-arrange ‘Studio Uno’ to Rita’s teen-age appeal and she was given the mammoth task of leading the highest-rating TV show in the land. She was supported by I Collettoni (tall-collared boys) a 7-member singing-dancing group of young men who helped her introduce guests and songs. The new formula catering for a younger audience on a Saturday night show paid off in the end.  The times they were indeed a-changing.

The songs featured in Pavone’s first album were mostly written by staff composers and lycists working for RAI and RCA Italiana. Many of the tunes were custom-made for Rita’s idiosyncracies like her ageAlla mia età’ (At my age), ‘Abbiamo 16 anni’ (We are 16 year-olds),  her frecklesLe lentiggini’ (Freckles) and her red hair in ‘Pel di carota’, even though the latter was dropped out from the Brazilian album in favour of ‘Cuore’ that had been recorded after the Italian album came out.

At first I intended to review the Italian release (April 1963) but I changed my mind and decided instead to review the Brazilian release (October 1963) because the latter is a better album. 

LA PARTITA DI PALLONE’ – The football match – This was the first Pavone song I have ever heard. It got some air play in Brazil as of August 1963, when it was released as an EP along with 'Come te non c'è nessuno', ‘Alla mia età’ and ‘Clémentine Chérie’. I remember my older brother coming home one day and saying there was a record out by an Italian singer who sang something ‘obscene’. For some Brazilian ears the part Rita says: ‘u-una volta non ci porti pure me?’ (why don’t you take me to the match some time?) sounded like ‘o cú na boca...’ which means ‘the arse in the mouth’. For Anglo ears who are not used to hearing foreign hits played on their radios it may sound strange that such thing may have happened but to Brazilians whose hit parades were filled with hits sung in other languages (than the native Portuguese) everything was possible. I remember my younger sister thought Gigliola Cinquetti sang ‘um belo cú de ferro’ (a lovely iron arse) instead of ‘un bene cosi vero’ (a love so true) in ‘Dio come ti amo’, in 1965. So it is quite commom for folks to misunderstand foreign-language hits. 

ABBIAMO SEDICI ANNI’ (We are sixteen-year-olds) - Dino Verde, head of the writing team at RAI TV wrote most of the texts of the songs performed by Rita Pavone at Studio Uno 1963. This song was usually sung by I Collettoni with slightly different lyrics every time Pavone presented a new number in the show. In the Brazilian album sleeve it was never properly identified as being sung by I Collettoni so nobody had a clue why Rita’s voice had dropped so ‘low’. It took me years to know that the voices in ‘Abbiamo 16 anni’ are those of Gianni Morandi, Roby Ferrante and other unidentified RCA singers. All the musical numbers shown on Studio Uno were previously recorded at the RCA studios, then taken to RAI where they were mimed by the various acts. The whole show was actually pre-recorded on video-tape and beamed on Saturday throughout the Peninsula. 

CLÉMENTINE CHÉRIE’ – Theme song from a French movie made in early 1963 where Rita appears at a Parisian dancing party where the adults talk about classical music and the young only think about the twist. Suddenly, someone mentions Mozart’s Turkish March and out of a corner comes Rita Pavone who starts singing a twist number based on the Mozart tune accompanied at the piano by Teddy Reno. The song had been written by two Italians but in the actual film Rita is dubbed in French by some female singer who is not credited. In the Italian release of the same film, Rita appears at the very beginning  singing it in Italian, and later at the dancing party (in Italian again). The Italians also inserted another musical number (Pel di carota) half way through the plot. The song itself is a rocker that starts with the strains of Mozart's Turkish March and tells the story of a funny girl who's not quite sane.

T’HO CONOSCIUTO’ – I have just met you – This is a beautiful soft ballad where Rita is accompanied mainly by a double-bass. It was written by Ennio Morricone under the alias of Dansavio; words by omnipresent Carlo Alberto Rossi. It could have easily been a single. Actually this first album is almost a ‘Greatest Hits’ if you come to think of it.

SUL CUCUZZOLO’ (Della montagna) –  At the top of the mountain – Even though it’s in the first album, that track was Pavone’s fourth hit-single in Brazil, coming after ‘Cuore’, ‘Datemi un martello’ and ‘Scrivi’. The reason for 'Sul cucuzzolo' being released as a single in Brazil is local. When Rita toured Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and first sang this rocker there was a tumultuous reception to it. It’s a great  song but the sensational reception had a different reason: as in 'La partita di pallone' before, she pronounced a 'cuss-word': ‘sci-sci’ (pronunciation: 'shee-shee') which is the equivalent of ‘pee’ –  'urine', in children's talk. So every time Rita sang those words  Brazilians of all age had a little laugh... and children went wild about a grown-up singer being allowed to say such word in public. All of a sudden ‘Sul cucuzzolo’ became a hit in Brazil, and RCA had to released it as a single that went to number three in October 1964 almost two years after being released in the Italian album.

LE LENTIGGINI’ – Freckles – It’s a customized song for the girl who had a face full of freckles. Dino Verde's smart lyrics tell of a girl who’s necking with a boy at a dark corner... all of a sudden the moon waxes large illuminating her freckled face; the boy stops it right there turned off by so many freckles. She goes on blaming those horrible, hateful freckles that made her so lonely.

IL BALLO DEL MATTONE’ –  The brick dance – It's that kind of dance in which the couple won't move too far either to the left or to the right; in other words, they'll keep slow-dancing and will have time to 'neck' at the same time. Got it? By 1963, most of the new dance-crazes like the twist, rock, hully-gully, madison were danced separately. Couples did not touch each other. ‘Il ballo del mattone’ is trying to revert that trend. She tells her lover not to be jealous when she dances rock, twist or hully-gully with other boys. When it's time to slow-dancing she'll certainly revert to him. 

COME TE NON C’È NESSUNO’ – There’s no one like you – Arguably the best ballad in the album, especially if one does not include ‘Cuore’ which was not in the Italian album. This was Rita’s second single. When RCA realized they had a ‘gold mine’ in their hands they managed to come up with original material. Rita shines all the way through the long finale... which in the Brazilian album invites the listener to prepare his ears (and heart) for the double-bass' introductory ‘thump thump’ of 'Cuore'.

CUORE’ – Heart! I hear you beating – It was written by wife-and-huband team Cynthia Weill and Barry Mann, who spent their formative years working for Al Nevins and Don Kirshner at Aldon Music, part of famous Brill Building on Broadway that manufactured pop hits as if it were an assembly-line in the early 60s. ‘Heart’ was Wayne Newton's very first 45 rpm for Capitol and reached no higher than #84 at Billboard in early 1963. It just went unnoticed in the US.

It took Luis Enriquez’s sensibility to arrange ‘Cuore’ in such a way that it takes one's breath away! It starts with the faint beating of a double-bass that slowly goes on in a crescendo with the gradual addition of voice, drums and strings to literally explode in the half time. Then Rita does what she does better: she shouts and contorts and plea and cries and begs! She was no James Brown but she surely should be named the 'hardest working woman in Italian show business'.

ALLA MIA ETÀ’ – At my age – In 1963, it was commonplace for teen-age performers to sing about their own ages. Françoise Hardy had her biggest hit with ‘Tous les garçons et les filles de mon age’ (All the boys and girls at my age), which Belgian teen-beauty Catherine Spaak covered in Italian. Gigliola Cinquetti won San Remo 1964, with the teary ‘Non ho l’età per amarti’ (I don’t have the proper age to love you). ‘At my age’ is almost a sex-education class explaining how the hormones play havoc with poor teenagers’ bodies. Musically it reminds ‘Tous le garçons et les filles’ a lot. It was Pavone’s third hit-single in a row.

LA COMMESSA –  The shop assistant – Jazzy tune about a shop-assistant who just can’t wait for closing time for her to see her lover. Accompanied mainly by a piano, Rita shows that even as a 17 year-old Italian girl she had already been exposed to 'scat' done most likely by Ella Fitzgerald.

AMORE TWIST’ – It was the B-side of ‘La partita di pallone’ and it shouted the magic word: twist! It was still ‘twisting time’ in Italy, so the year must be 1962, even if it was late 1962! Those dance crazes had a very short use-by-date. One can almost tell what month it was by the title of a dance-song from that era.

Rita Pavone & I Collettoni, the dancing boys who appeared with her at TV's Studio Uno at the Italian album back-cover.

2. MEUS 18 ANOS - BBL 159

MEUS  18  ANOS – BBL-159 – RCA Victor
recorded Sept. 1963; released in Brazil: March 1964.

1.  Datemi un martello [If I had a hammer] Lee Hays-Pete Seeger; Sergio Bardotti
2.  Non è facile avere 18 anni [Bernabini]
3.  Somigli ad un’ oca [Your baby’s gone surfin’] Duane Eddy-Lee Hazlewood; Migliacci
4.  Ti vorrei parlare [Carlo Alberto Rossi-Roby Ferrante]
5.  Si fossi un uomo [Wenn ich ein Junge wär’] H.Buchholz-G.Loose-Müller; v.: Rossi
6.  Quando sogno [On the sunny side of the street] Jimmy McHugh-Dorothy Fields; v.: Gagis

1.  Che m’importa del mondo [Franco Migliacci-Luis Enriquez]
2.  Son finite le vacanze [Carlo Rossi-Pelleschi]
3.  Bianco Natale [White Christmas] Irving Berlin; v.: Devilli
4.  Non c’è un pò di pentimento [Gianni Meccia]
5.  Sotto il francobollo [Carlo Rossi-Luis Enriquez]
6.  Auguri a te [Carlo Rossi-Luis Enriquez]

Pavone’s second album is something special. It is my favourite favourite album even though it's one-third made up of covers. The Brazilian release turned out to be better than the Italian counterpart for it featured 'Datemi un martello' as 'Cuore' had been included in her 1st Brazilian album.  

DATEMI UN MARTELLO’ (If I had a hammer) – ‘Give me a hammer, please’ is a celebration of sorts. Sergio Bardotti was given the task to turn ‘If I had a hammer’ into something more ‘palatable’ for the Italian younger set. ‘The Hammer song’, a folk song written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger in support of the progressive movement in the U.S.A., was first recorded in 1950, by The Weavers, a folk music quartet with Seeger, Hays, Ruth Alice 'Ronnie' Gilbert & Fred Hellerman. It was revived 12 years later as 'If I had a hammer', by Peter, Paul & Mary going up to # 10 on 8 September 1962.

Trini Lopez took 'If I had a hammer' even higher a year later, reaching # 3 on 1st July 1963, a few weeks before the March on Washington when Dr. Martin Luther King made his ‘I have a dream’ historical speech. The song was sung and chanted during the marches for the Civil Rights during that period. Its original lyrics say: ‘It’s a hammer of Justice, it’s a hammer of Freedom, it’s a song about the Love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land!

On the other side of the Atlantic, RCA Italiana's Artist & Repertoire man was searching for a new hit-song for Rita. The album 'Non è facile avere 18 anni' had been released just in time to cash in on the 1963 Christmas sales. Now, they needed a powerful rocker to be the flip-side of beautiful ballad 'Che m'importa del mondo'. They summoned song-writer Sergio Bardotti and gave him a copy of Trini Lopez's 'If I had a hammer' 45 rpm for him to 'adapt' it. Bardotti, who was a cultured man knew all about politics but since the start he thought he'd do something 'naughty' with the Hays & Seeger's tune. He would do a 'surf / hully-gully' version of that political statement. That's how 'Datemi un martello' came out to be such a 'scattered-brain' oeuvre.

From the Trini Lopez's recording, recorded ‘live’ at the P.J.’s in L.A., the producer only kept the 'live' feel with people shouting and clapping hands. Bardotti actually wrote two different sets of words for 'If I had a hammer': 'Su viene a ballare' that ended up being released - probably by mistake - in 'Lo mejor de Rita Pavone', a 1973 Spanish compilation album and 'Datemi un martello' itself that tells the story of a girl who’s bored-to-tears at a party where they refuse to play up-tempo surf & hully-gully tunes. She wishes she had a hammer to cause mayhem and finish the party off. It’s pure non-sense but fun! That’s the song that took Rita to Number One in Brazil – the biggest selling record of 1964.

'NON È FACILE AVERE DICIOTTO ANNI' (It's not easy to be an eighteen-year-old) - The title may be witty but it was the wrong track to be the 1st single out of the album. The song itself is charming but too slow. Pavone's hits so far had been either rockers ('La partita di pallone') or strong ballads like 'Come te non c'è nessuno' and 'Alla mia età'. 

SOMIGLI AD UN’OCA (Your baby’s gone surfin’) – You look like a goose - A cover of Duane Eddy's 'Your baby's gone surfin' (#93 at Billboard's single-chart on 14 September 1963). Studio musicians managed to replicate Duane Eddy's sound to Franco Migliacci's completely foolish lyrics. She shouts all kinds of abuse at her lover even calling him a banana-eating monkey. For those who don't understand Italian it's a nice tune. Rita sang it in one of her appearances at ABC TV's ‘Shindig’ (it ran from September 1964 through to January 1966). Rita sang it again in her first featured film ‘Rita, la figlia americana’ released in late 1965.

TI VORREI PARLARE –  I’d like to talk to you – Lovely ballad written by inspired Roby Ferrante aka Robifer who also penned ‘Alla mia età’ (1963) and ‘Ogni volta’ which Paul Anka sang at San Remo 1964 and sold a million copies. Roby died tragically in a car crash on 19 August 1966. Unfortunately, ‘Ti vorrei parlare’ has been shortened by half in the album; it ends abruptly just as the instrumental break begins. The whole (un-cut) song appears as the flip-side of 'Scrivi', released in mid-1964.

SI FOSSI UN UOMO [Wenn ich ein Junge wär’] – If I were a man - Italian cover of Pavone’s German-language 45 rpm that went to #1 in Germany in November 1963. See album ‘Ein Sonny Boy und eine kleine Signorina’ for more information about it. The Italian lyrics are true to the original. Rita added her voice on top of the play-back produced by Werner Müller in Berlin. 

QUANDO SOGNO’ [On the sunny side of the street] – ‘Whenever I dream’. Luis Enriquez turned this 1930 Broadway hit into a surf/hully-gully in which Rita shouts at the top or her lungs. It changes key twice getting higher and higher. That’s why some in the Italian press called Rita an ‘urlatrice’ (a shouter).

CHE M’IMPORTA DEL MONDO’ – What do I care about the world – The prettiest ballad in the album. A masterpiece written and arranged by Luis Enriquez. Rita over-dubs the track  making it softer. It was the 2nd single off the album with ‘Datemi un martello’ as a B-side. It ultimately became a #1 doube-sided hit in Italy. Even great Mina recorded it a few years later.

SON FINITE LE VACANZE’ – Vacation is over – Another rocker! This time Rita is stuck in a beach resort with her family, sort of a workers’ paradise while the sun burns like hell. She regrets not being able to get in touch with her beau who stayed back in the city. She shouts, pants, cries, jumps up and down... she twists and shouts and rocks and rolls.

BIANCO NATALE’ (‘White Christmas') – I’d hate to be called an exaggerate but I think Pavone’s rendition of ‘Bianco Natale’, the Italian cover of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’, is the best that has ever been recorded. Have a listen to it and tell me if I am mistaken. Look what Rita Pavone herself wrote about recording ‘Bianco Natale’:

I remember well my joy when I was told I was going to record that famous American evergreen made popular world-wide by Bing Crosby in 1942. A joy that turned into a childlike euphoria when my arranger at RCA, Luis Enriquez Bacalov showed me his orchestration for the first time. I was stunned with the beauty of the arrangement. I fell madly in love with the choir of voices that marks the rhythm as if it were a new, surreal instrument. And those magic violins that cascaded down in crystal-clear notes opening the way to my singing. I remember being so happy to sing this song that it took me only two takes to get the final cut which is in the album.

I'd like to add that Rita’s recording is a true masterpiece because differently from the original, the ending is ‘well-resolved’. I always thought Bing Crosby version has an anti-climax at the end when he sings: ...’and may all your Christmases be white.’  Rita’s finale is much more dramatic with: ‘è natale, è natale, è natale, non soffrire più... uh uh uh uh’. That’s something thought out by Luis Enriquez that even Mr. Berlin would have applauded.

NON C’È UN PÒ DI PENTIMENTOYou’re never sorry!Singer-songwriter Gianni Meccia wrote this melodious rocker where she complains that her boy-friend is a bloody no good mongrel who only thinks of himself. The guitar bit is probably played by Enrico Ciacci, singer Little Tony’s bother, who was one of the best session guitarrists at the RCA’s stable.

SOTTO IL FRANCOBOLLOUnder the postage stamp – Music by Luis Enriquez and words by inventive Carlo Rossi who had to work around a play-back conceived for another song. The play-back arrangement was originally done for Ce petite jeu’ recorded by Pavone in France earlier in 1963 and only released in that country. Rossi created a situation in which this girl writes to her boy-friend who lives out of town. As their romance should remain a secret she writes him bland letters in case they'd fall into the wrong hands. She’ll only write how much she loves him ‘under the postage stamp’. What an original idea!  

AUGURI A TEI wish you happiness  – the 3rd Luis Enriquez song in the album. Such a haunting melody, such a wistful finale for such a great album. Enriquez’s use of strings is masterful. The male-female choir gives the tune such a beautiful harmony. ‘Meus 18 anos’ was the first album I ever bought. I remember playing it non-stop and every time the stylus hit this last track I felt a strange feeling of nostalgia. 

Carlo Rossi’s words are really poignant: “Tutte le cose che il mondo può darti, tutte le gioie che al mondo hai sognato;  io le voglio per te, io le sogno per te, mio caro, mio caro, mio amor!” ‘All the things the world may give you, all the things you have dreamed about;  I wish they will come true to you, my dear, my dear, my love!’.

'Meus 18 anos' is the Brazilian version of Italy's 'Non è facile avere 18 anni'. The Italian album was released in November 1963 just in time for the Christmas sales. It had a double-sleeve that opened as a book, having a few pages telling Rita's daily routine. This de-luxe version was expensive and was discontinued after the holidays were over. Here are the inside photos of that original release:

original Italian glossy cover 
original Italian back-cover

Americans made movies located in Italy ever since the end of WWII. 'Three coins in the fountain' was really popular in 1954. In 1961 it was time for Come September’ starring teen-idols Sandra Dee & Bobby Darin along with Gina Lollobrigida & Rock Hudson. In 1962 it was 'Rome Adventure' with Troy Donahue and lovely Suzanne Pleshette along with Angie Dickinson and Rossano Brazzi, who had started his American career 7 years earlier in 'Three coins in the fountain'. 

It was a romantic comedy that appealed to teens and they flocked to the movie theatres. In its sound-track was ‘Al di là’ sung by Emilio Pericoli released by Warner Brothers as a single reaching the # 6 position in the Billboard charts on 9 June 1962. 

‘Rome adventure’ was translated as 'O candelabro italiano' and released in Brazil in February 1963. 'Al di là' played non-stop on the radio and the single shot to #1 in the Brazilian charts soon after Carnaval.

In Brazil everyone knows that ‘life only starts after Carnaval is over’. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere coincides with Carnaval, originally an European Catholic feast to mark the last days of 'free-meat-consumption' before the onset of Lent. Brazilian have always taken Carnaval seriously, and stuff themselves with as much food, sex and revelry as they possibly can. As life only starts after the fun, that’s the time when children go back to school and the big record companies release their catalogues.

After watching 'O candelabro Italiano', Brazilians were hooked on everything Italian, even if it was seen through American lenses. Brazilians loved Pleshette & Donahue on their Lambretta but mostly they fell in love with the Italian modern music heavily influenced by rock’n’roll made in USA since 1957. 

Legata a un granello di sabbia’ by Nico Fidenco which had been a big hit in Europe in 1961, was a great hit in Brazil now. Soon enough radio started playing ‘La partita di pallone’ with rocker Rita Pavone. ‘Cuore’, a powerful ballad was the next in line and by the end of 1963, the so-called Italian Invasion was in full swing. 

In early 1964, Brazilian airwaves were flooded with the likes of Peppino di Capri’s ‘Roberta’, Sergio Endrigo’s ‘Io che amo solo te’EdoardoVianello's 'Abbronzadissima', Gino Paoli’s ‘Sapore di sale’Michele’s ‘Se mi vuoi lasciare’ etc. 

After Carnaval RCA released Pavone’s 2nd album and the single ‘Datemi un martello’ started playing daily, by the minute on the radio.

When Pavone finally reached our shores for personal appearances in June 1964, and her video-taped recital was beamed at Channel 7, 'Datemi un martello' reached #1 in the singles' chart, 'Adorabile' went to #1 in the EP charts and 'Meus 18 anos' was the best selling album in the land. Italians ruled and Rita Pavone was their Queen. 

'Your baby's gone surfin'' became 'Somigli ad un oca' in Italian.
'Datemi un martello' started out as 'The hammer song' and graduated as 'If I had a hammer'.
'Se fossi un uomo' is the Italian cover of 'Wenn ich ein Junge wär'.
'On the sunny side of the street' was already 33 years old when it became 'Quando sogno'.
'Sotto il francobollo' was written by Carlo Rossi having as a base the play-back Luis Enriquez had produced for Rita's rendition of 'Ce petit jeu', Chris Montez's 'Some kind 'a fun' translated into French. 

sleeve with poster included.

3. The International Teen-age Sensation LSP-2900

1. Remember me (Shelley Coburn)  5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
2. Wait and see (Larry Kusik-Richie Adams) – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
3. Big deal (James Smith-Phil Andreen) – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
4. Don’t tell me not to love you (Chip Taylor) – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
5. I can’t hold back the tears (Kornfeld-Keller-Kauffman-Ross) – G. Sherman
6. Kissin’ time (Kal Mann-Bernie Lowe) –  5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire

1. Just once more (Al Western)  – 5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
2. Like I did (Ben Raleigh-Russ Damon) –  6 May 64 – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
3. The boy most likely to succeed (Lor Crane-Nadine Lewis) 6.5.64 S. Appleb.
4. Little by little (Jean Thomas-Ted Cooper) –  6 May  64 – ar.: Garry Sherman
5. Too many (Earl Shuman-Leon Carr) – ar.: Garry Sherman
6. Say goodbye to Bobby (Stewart-Bryant) – 6 May 64 – ar: Garry Sherman

By the end of 1963 with Soeur Sourire, the Belgian Singing Nun strumming ‘Dominique’ all the way up to Number One in the Billboard charts, the executives at RCA in New York thought it would be a good idea to try and record the tiny Italian singer Rita Pavone in English for a big US launch. Pavone, the 1963 European rock’n’roll sensation had been selling records like hot cakes not only in her native country but was also at the top of charts in Germany singing  in German, and making inroads in France singing in the French language. 

Rita was invited to come to New York to record a whole album under the guidance of independent producer Joe Rene of ‘Tossin’ and turnin’’-fame (1961's best selling single). A language-coach would deal with pronunciation problems that Rita might have and RCA would have a gold mine in the shape of myriads of 45 rpms sold State-wise and around the world.

Rita had been successful in Germany singing ‘Wenn ein Junge waer’ in German, so why shouldn’t she do it again in the US? Even though she didn’t know a word of English she would surely ‘pick it up’ as she went along. She had everything going for her: a strong voice that could be melodious too, a natural rhythmic sense and most of all... an atittude. She was telegenic even though she had a face covered with freckles and was very short. She had ‘oomph’ as they used to say in the 1940s.

The only thing the RCA executives didn’t realize at that point was that the winds of change had arrived in America in February 1964, with the Beatles and the British Invasion. The likes of  Bobby Rydell, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton (Bobbys for all tastes), Frankie Avalon, Fabian and all the so-called ‘teen-idols’ were on the wane to give way to the more rebelious Liverpoodians. The times they were a-changing, indeed, as the ‘other’ Bob... Dylan had stated.

But as the project was already on, Rita recorded the album at the RCA Studio on 24th Street and went on a promotion tour of radio stations around the East Coast and Mid-west. 

So Joe Rene assigned three of the best arrangers in the RCA hit-factory to work on a bunch of songs; gathered the very best session musicians  and back-vocal singers to record one of the best orchestral accompaniments of the early 1960s. Each arranger had one-third of the album (4 tracks) and after a few listens one can easily tell them apart. 

Teacho Wiltshire arranges the up-tempo numbers with a stress on a lively brass section. Stanley Applebaum arranges the slow-ballads with the use of a lot of xylophone and glockenspiel and, finally, Garry Sherman the mid-tempo numbers with a pench for good choral harmonies. Actually I would have bought this album even if it had no Pavone’s voice; the orchestrations are precious. I really like the arrangements for themselves. It’s a magnificent collectively work done by the best session musicians in New York circa 1964. 

Rita was featured twice at the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS, and appeared a few times in ‘Shindig’, Hullabaloo and other teenager TV shows. Rita did the most she could to become a household-name in the US but she was swimming against the tide. Not knowing English properly was an unsurmountable mountain in a extremely competitive market like the US, and soon enough she left the States to go on a tour of South America where she was a really big star! 

When Rita finally returned to Italy in the summer of 1964 she was in for a shock: new talents had taken her place and she had to work on the double to regain the time she'd lost trying to break into the US market to no avail. As the old saying goes: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Here’s the whole album track by track:

REMEMBER ME’ – Teacho Wiltshire – If one doesn’t consider the pre-women's-lib lyrics it is an impressive track. I’ve heard versions of ‘Remember me’ sung by Helen Shapiro and the Shirelles and none of them is nearly as good as Pavone’s. I kept wondering why Rita’s version is so much better and I think the secret is in its phrasing. Rita’s phrasing is sort of staccato whereas the others are ‘legato’. Rhythm is king in a simple song like this. That’s why Rita’s Italian version (‘L’amore mio’) was such a dud. The Italian arranger couldn’t reproduce the ‘dry’ pace Mr. Teacho Wiltshire devised. It’s one of the best tracks in the album and the right choice for a single. There are 3 guitar players in the recording plus bass, drums, 2 guys playing percussion, piano, baritone saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 flügehorns, trombone, reeds and 4 female back-vocal singers that were double-tracked. 

'WAIT AND SEE’ – Stanley Applebaum – Beautiful ballad magistrally arranged by Mr. Applebaum with clever use of glockenspiel when it comes the time for ‘now I pray like all young lovers till the day that I’m free’.

'BIG DEAL’ – Teacho Wiltshire – That’s a powerfull arrangement. RCA thought it might be a single but ‘Just once more’ won in the end. I prefer ‘Big deal’ even though lyrically is not appropriate for a girl to sing. It’s easy to see that the subjetc matter is a male conundrum and not of a girl’s concern. ‘Big deal, so you’re going steady? You’re not her only one, she’s only out for fun, but I’m not gonna let her make a fool of my baby!’ This ain’t no girls’ talk but clearly a matter of male’s dominion. The brass section juxtaposed with the female background voices and a vigorous rhythm section makes it irresistable. It’s been released in Brazil as a B-side to ‘Kissin’ time’.

'DON'T TELL ME NOT TO LOVE YOU’ – Stanley Applebaum – A good sweet ballad that goes like: ‘You say you’re not good enough for me, I say that you’re good enough to be anything you want yourself to be!’ Well, try and top that self-help advice! Not even Mr. Dale Carnegie would be so positive-thinking. Then she goes on: ‘You say that you’re of another class; my friends don’t want our love to last; I know but my love’s still holding fast, it won’t let go.’ Wow, that’s another example of affirmative-action in the making. Chip Taylor, its author, proved that he didn’t have a chip on his shoulders.

'CAN’T HOLD BACK THE TEARS’ – Garry Sherman – That’s a winner too. I particularly love the female chorus and the lively rhythm. ‘I let him go because I wanted my freedom, how would I know just how much I would miss him...’ That sets the tone of the narrative. Then she goes on about crying: ‘I’m gonna cry till my eyes are sore as they can be, I’m gonna cry till I bring him back to me.

'KISSIN’ TIME’ –  Teacho Wiltshire – A rocker indeed. It’s a pity the song had already been a hit by Bobby Rydell in 1959. Besides, as in ‘Big deal’, lyrically it doesn’t make much sense for a girl to sing it. A girl singing this sort of lyrics would be called a ‘whore’ or a ‘hooker’.  Mr. Wiltshire rocks again! He was a master in arranging brass, guitars and a swinging rhythm section.

'JUST ONCE MORETeacho Wiltshire – the B-side of ‘Remember me’ US single. A sexually charged atmosphere where lovers have just kissed and want more of the same. Rita opened her second tour in Brazil singing it. It was a number one hit in Argentina translated in Spanish as ‘Pido paz’. It was recorded by Brazilian Jovem Guara (Young Guard) queen  Wanderlea as ‘Peço paz’.

'LIKE I DID - Stanley Applebaum – The whole B-side, apart from ‘Just once more’, is slow and melodic. This is the track that opens the tear-gates. It may be silly but it is pretty: ‘You found someone new but I doubt she loves you like I did.’  Look at the sequence:  ‘And when her kiss is no more a thrill and you’ll say goodbye like I know you will, will she go on loving you still like I did?’  Gee, how much more square can you get?

THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEEDStanley Applebaum – That’s a cutie! ‘As years went by, you made me cry;  you thought that teasing me was so smart; if credit’s due they’d give it to you ‘cause you’d be the boy most likely to succeed in breaking my hear!’ Do we have to say more? One of the best tracks in the album. Its arrangement reminds me of the Brazilian Bossa-Nova rhythm that was catching up in the USA then.

'LITTLE BY LITTLEGarry Sherman – Nice little ballad about a girl who’s been left behind ‘little by little’. ‘The feeling’s going from your kisses and each kiss is ending much too fast;  now you get me wondering which kiss will be our last!’ Mr. Sherman really knows how to work with trumpets and a lonely trombone that is the highlight in this cutie.

'TOO MANYGarry Sherman – Another cutie!  Self-pity abounds again but supported by a nice trumpet playing and a good rhythm section. ‘Too many lies spoken, too many dates broken, too many people saying that they’d see you with somebody new!’  In such a case she should have dropped the dirty double-crossing philander.

'SAY GOODBYE TO BOBBYGarry Sherman -  That’s the last self-pity track. This time her self-esteem is the lowest it can possibly get. She asks her former ‘rival’ who’s taken her Bobby away from her to say goodbye to Bobby while you’re handing hands. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me, tell him that I undersdant!’. Then she goes and demeans herself further: ‘Many times he called me by your name, when you were near he didn’t act the same...’. And then she adds insult to injury by begging the ‘rival’: ‘... and please, love him tenderly, and if you’re not sincere, don’t hurt him, send Bobby back to me!’ Well, I guess that does it! This exercise in self-denial is beautifully arranged by Mr. Sherman in musical tones very pleasing to the ears. Actually if you believe this could be true you may even shed a few tears for such a self-effacing girl who is a strong candidate to be canonized by the Vatican next time around.

Further tracks arranged by Teacho Wiltshire featured at 'Small Wonder' - Rita's 2nd American album:  ‘Splish splash’ & ‘Turn her down’.
George 'Teacho' Wiltshire conducts his band in the 1950s.
Billboard's add announcing Rita Pavone's appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show on 17 May 1964 and the release of the album 'The International Teen-age Sensation'. 

Stanley Applebaum 

Spanning almost half-a-century, Stanley Applebaum's career has been rich and diverse. His compositions and arrangements have earned him numerous awards, including 35 Top 10 hits and several #1 singles for such as Ben E. King, Bobby Vinton, Neil Sedaka, the Drifters, the Coasters, Connie Francis and Brook Benton. 

Mr. Applebaum's big band arrangements have been written for artists like Beeny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Raymond Scott and Cootie Williams. Stan was an arranger and orchestrator for the Hit Parade, the US Navy, the US Air Force, the Goldbergs, Jimmy Durante, Radio City Music Hall, NBC and CBS.

4. Ein Sonny Boy und eine kleine Signorina LPS-10011


1. Ein Sunnyboy und eine Signorina [Karl Götz-Loose] Rita & Paul – 30.12.64
2. Okay, okay   [Rossi-Vianello; German words:  Hans Bradtke] – 4 Oct 1963
3. Zwei Mädchen aus Germany  [Heinz Buchholz-Günter Loose] – 28 April 1964
4. Wenn ich ein Junge waer’ [Heinz Buchholz-Günter Loose] 4 Oct. 1963
5. Sunshine Baby [Think about it] Paul Anka; G. ws.: Günter Loose – 28 April 1964
6. Wenn du deinen kleinen Brüder siehst [H.Buchholz-Joachim Relin] 26.9.64
7. Der schönste Ankerplatz  [Heinz Buchholz-Hans Bradtke]  30 Oct. 1964

1. Mein Jack, der ist 2 Meter gross [Johan Strauss; w.:C.U.Blecher] 23.01.64
2. Elizabeth  [Heinz Buchholz-Günter Loose]  30 Oct. 1964
3. Es ist aus [Heino Gaze-Fred Ignor]  26 Sept. 1964
4. Sweet sweet Rosalie  [Klaus Munro]  27 April 1964
5. Peppino aus Torino   [Heinz Buchholz-Günter Loose]  26 Sept. 1964
6. Dorch du has keine Zeit  [Paul Anka-Hans Bradtke]  27 April 1964
7. Kiddy, Kiddy kiss me [Klaus Munro] Rita & Paul – recorded 30 Oct. 1964

Released in late 1964.

1963 was a big year for 17 year-old Rita Pavone.  She started the year on the top of the Italian charts and finished it at the top of the German charts singing ‘Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ [If I were a boy] in the German language. She had been invited by RCA in Berlin to record an original composition written especially for her by Heinz Buchholz and Günter Loose a famous duo of German pop. It was clear to all that Rita was a little ‘butch’ in her manner of dressing and posturing herself before a microphone.  So Günter Loose came with the bright idea of writing a tune where she declares that it would be fantastic to have been born a boy instead of a girl. Half the song she praises the advantages of being a male, like going out at night without having to be back home early, or to be a famous center-forward in an international football team. Then, towards the end Rita changes her mind and admits that it’s much better to be a lovely female and be pampered by her boy-friend with kisses and caresses.

Well, that’s the story-line of ‘Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ which Rita recorded in Berlin on 4 October 1963.  By the 1st of  February 1964, it was Number One in Germany among Cliff Richard’s ‘Rotte Lippen soll man küssen’,  Trini Lopez’s ‘If I had a hammer’ and ‘America’, Conny Froboess’s ‘Drei Musketiere’, Connie Francis’s ‘Die Nacht ist meine’ and Manuela’s ‘Ich geh noch zu Schule’.  That was what the German Hit Parade looked like in late 1963 and early 1964.

As one can easily see, Germans liked to have foreign acts singing in the Teutonic language.  So they usually invited them to Berlin to record original material or covers of their own hits.  Peggy March had a # 2 in August 1965, with ‘Mit siebzehn hat man noch Träume’;  Elvis Presley had a # 2 in January 1961, with ‘Wooden heart’ [Muss I denn]; Paul Anka had a # 4 in July 1964, with 'Zwei Mädchen aus Germany’; even the Beatles had a # 5 with the double-sided hit ‘Komm, gib mir deine Hand’ / ‘Sie liebt dich’ in April 1964, while ‘I want to hold your hand’ [in English] was Number One.

EIN SONNY BOY UND EINE SIGNORINA’ – As Rita Pavone and Paul Anka both had had German-language hits in 1963-1964, RCA thought it would be a good idea to get them together to record a single where they would poke fun at each other for their shortcomings in the articulation of the German language. That happened on 30th October 1964 in the Lichterfelder Festsäle – Teldec Studio, in Berlin. It was produced by Sigrid Volkmann and famous band-leader Werner Müller conducting the RIAS Tanzeorchester with the Günter Kalmann Choir. Paul sings the higher part in the duet and Rita does the lower harmony. An American young man makes a date with an Italian signorina under the moonlight only to find out that the only words he knows in Italian are gelatto, macaroni and tutti-frutti.  She doesn’t understand English at all so there they are stuck with each other with no communication at all.  In the end they find their way around and come up with words like ‘my honey’, ‘sweetheart’ and ‘I love you’!  Such a winner!  It is a much better song than the A side but for some reason the rockier ‘Kiddy Kiddy kiss me’ was the one the got more air play and went up the charts.

OKAY! OKAY!’ [La partita di pallone] – As far as my German goes this is are very tread-of-the-mill lyrics.  Nothing really interesting. The only thing I’d like to point out is that even though Rita didn’t speak German she did a wonderful job memorizing the sound of the words she didn’t know the meaning of. Apparently the result was pretty good.  I was told she sings much better in German than she does in English.

Zwei Mädchen aus Germany’ – I hereby invite any Paul Anka to review Paul’s songs in this album.

WENN ICH EIN JUNGE WÄR’ – If I were a boy – As I have already mentioned it is the story of a girl who ponders the advantage of being a male instead of a female but is convinced in the end that being the target of her Tino’s sexual advances is much better.  Well, a point to Tino I guess.  This was Pavone’s greatest hit in Germany. Nina Hagen who lived in Eastern Germany then recorded a 'live' cover in the 1980's when she became famous in the West.

Sunshine Baby

WENN DU DEINEN KLEINEN BRUDER SIEHST’ – When you see your little brother, tell him to stop ruining our dates. Tell him to stop pestering us! Tell him to leave us alone! Tell him to stop throwing pebbles at us while we’re necking. Tell him he’s too young but one day soon he’ll understand it.  That’s the ‘message’ of this little rocker. Rita recorded it in 26 September 1964 along with ‘Peppino’, ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Es ist aus’.  Actually that was her part in the album because ‘Okay’ and ‘Wenn ich ein Junge’ were already recorded in 1963.

Der schönste Ankerplatz

MEIN JACK, DER IST ZWEI METER GROSS’ – My Jack is 6 feet tallor 2 meters tall. The melody was borrowed from Johannes Strauss who wrote it in 1866. It was first recorded in January 1964 in the USA as ‘I’ll wait and I’ll wait’ [see ‘Small Wonder’] directed by Sammy Lowe and his orchestra. Rita recorded the German version in Berlin two weeks later. The German words are so much better: Rita being short – only 1.50 meters tall – something like 5 feet tall – fancies a guy called Jack who towers over her. Her ‘mission impossible’ is to impress Jack and she plans on dressing to kill to get his attention  wearing a pair of red shoes, a purple dress and green hat. Not only that but she’ll be a big star as well. I wish my German was better to tell you the end of the story.


ES IST AUS’ – That’s it!  No more hanky-panky!  You’re no damn good and I’m through with you!  That’s basically what this really good rocker says.

Sweet sweet Rosalie

PEPPINO AUS TORINO’ –  As in ‘If I were a boy’ [Wenn ich ein Junge wäre’] ‘Peppino from Torino’ is a song especially written for Pavone. Günter Loose writes about this famous singer [Rita] who is very popular among her peers. Louis Armstrong would like to play his trumpet especially for her; Frank Sinatra rings her up daily from Hollywood; Charles Chaplin invites her for tea; Elvis Presley thinks the world of her; Maurice Chevalier thinks she’s got it ; Cassius Clay [later Mohammed Ali] tells her she’s the Greatest; even the Beatles like her so much they want her to become the 5th Beatle. There’s only one thing she can never get: Peppino from Torino eludes her in every way; Peppino really doesn’t care about her. An up-tempo tune reminiscent of rag-time in a superb brass arrangement of Werner Müller, is arguably Rita’s best German recording. It came out as a single in October 1964 backed with ‘Bye Bye Blue Jeans’, a most poignant ballad that unfortunately never made it into the album. that was obviously planned to be realeased in early January ’65.

Doch du hast keine Zeit

KIDDY KIDDY KISS ME’ – Pavone and Anka sing a duet again. Paul carries the melody and Rita does the lower-harmony. It’s got a typical German-rock flavour while ‘Sonny Boy und Signorina’ is more like a County & Western German style. It was released in late ’64 getting to chart position # 7 in 20 February 1965. This tune has been covered by The Clevers, a Brazilian 5-member rock band that supported Rita Pavone in her 1964 Italian summer tour. It has also been covered by a South African act.


BYE BYE BLUE JEANS’ (TSCHAU LITTLE BOY) – even though this was not included in the Album that I have just reviewed I’d like to bend the rules to say that it is my favourite Pavone German song. It is so well constructed musically as well as lyrically! It is a little masterpiece of teen-age angst. Werner Müller’s arrangement is perfect. It starts really soft when the girl is saying goodbye to her childhood, it grows into a crescendo when she notices that she’ll have to face a new world, it has a dramatic key-change, it soars into the heights of a new-found maturity when she becomes a lady [Dame zu sein], only to go back to a really soft and sad [traurig] finale. What a tour-de-force! I suppose it didn’t make into the album because it is a ‘slow number’ as opposed to a ‘rocker’ – that was what was supposed to come from the likes of Rita Pavone and Paul Anka. It had a bit of air play in Brazil even if the record was never released here. It’s
one of those mysteries!


For a few months in the year of 1966 there was a radio manager [Helio Ribeiro] who tried to innovate programming and had Alberto Moraví, a Uruguayan disc-jockey who spoke only Spanish in the air of Radio Tupi of São Paulo. Moraví presented a daily one-hour show in the morning. He used to play all those latest records he received via-air-mail from Europe, US and Latin America. He played German records sung by the likes of Brenda Lee [‘Wiedersehn ist wunderschön’], Cliff Richard, Rita Pavone, Paul Anka. Cliff in Spanish [‘Maria Nomás’], Pavone in Spanish [‘Pido paz’, ‘Las papas con tomate’], Trini Lopez [‘San Francisco de Asis’], Herb Alperts [‘Whipped cream’ – Crema Batida].  The Rolling Stones in Italian [‘Con le mie lacrime’], the Kessler Twins in Italian [‘La notte è piccola’], Mina [‘Un anno d’amore’]. Then one day the Journalist Trade Union  had a meeting and decided that a foreign guy speaking a foreign language could not command the air waves one hour a day. And that’s all she wrote. Moraví was gone but his high-quality show stayed in the back of my mind forever. It was like opening the doors to the world. He spoke 80% Spanish and translated the titles of most of the songs into Spanish something that was really rare in our radio. When he really liked a certain song like Trini Lopez’s ‘We’ll sing in the sunshine’, he would play it many times and rave about it. I remember he playing ‘Bye Bye Blue Jeans’ and translating it into Spanish as ‘Adiós pantalones azules’. Very quaint and cute.

Rita Pavone & Paul Anka's 45 rpms singles released by RCA Victor

47-9454 - La partita di pallone / Come te non c’è nessuno

47-9468 - Alla mia età / Il ballo del mattone

47-9485 - Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ / Okay! Okay!

47-9472 - Cuore / Amore Twist

47-9513 - Mit siebzehn soll man nicht weinen/Mein Jack, der ist 2 Meter gross

47-9531 - Datemi un martello / Che m’importa del mondo                  

47-9539 - Zwei Mädchen aus Germany / Sunshine Baby

47-9576 - Sweet sweet Rosalie / Doch du hast keine Zeit

47-9583 - Peppino aus Torino / Bye bye blue Jeans [Tchau little Boy]

47-9601 - Kiddy Kiddy kiss me / Ein Sonny Boy und eine Signorina

47-9610 - Elisabeth / Der schönste Ankerplatz
47-9630 - Ich frage meinen Papa / Wenn du deinen kleinen Bruder siehst