Friday, 4 March 2011

10. RITA, O MOSQUITO BBL 205

released only in Brazil:  June 1967  -   RCA Victor  BBL 205

1.  La zanzara [Wertmüller-Gaspari-Marcello Marrocchi-Lanati]
2.  Il geghegè  [Lina Wertmüller – Bruno Canfora]
3.  Fortissimo  [Lina Wertmüller – Bruno Canfora]
4.  Qui ritornerà [Here it comes again] [Reed-Mason; Italian words: Nistri]
5.  Strong love [D.Malone-E.J.Silvers-M.Brown]
6.  Passione [Bovio-Valente-Tagliaferri]

1.  Quanto sei antipatico [Lina Wertmüller – Bruno Canfora]
2.  ...E se domani [Giorgio Calabrese-Carlo Alberto Rossi]
3.  I wanna be loved by you [Boop-boopa-doo] – [Herbert Stolhart-Harry
Ruby-Bert Kalmar]
4.  I like you very much / Chica chica boom chic [Harry Warren-Mack Gordon]
5.  Io cerco la Titina [Daniderff]
6.  La sai troppo lunga [Claroni-Enrico Ciacci]
7.  No, no, no [David Shapiro]

Rita Pavone turned 21 years old on 23 August 1966, while she was in the midst of starring 'Rita la zanzara' (Rita the mosquito) her first technicolor film. Movie-maker Lina Wertmüller had already directed Rita in ‘Gian Burrasca’, a mini-series broadcast in the 1964-1965 winter. In October 1965, Lina wrote dialogues and songs for ‘Stasera Rita’, the TV show. In 23 April 1966, Rita was the main attraction in ‘Studio Uno ‘66’ which had dialogues by Wertmüller who also wrote ‘Fortissimo’ with Bruno Canfora.

Then in the summer of 1966, Wertmüller directed Rita in ‘Rita la zanzara’ under the pseudonym of George Brown. ‘La Zanzara’ was released in Italy later in the Fall.   Most of the musical numbers in the film were actually a re-rash of those Rita had performed in ‘Studio Uno ‘66’, especially her impersonations of Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Mina.  The plot is farce about a prep-school for well-to-do girls in Naples where Rita, who is bored to tears, is a leader of sorts and prints a rag called ‘La Zanzara’ [The Mosquito] that pokes fun at the school’s teachers and principal.  Giancarlo Giannini plays a young music teacher who’s always falling asleep during classes because he leads a double life staying out all night  being a rock singer in a band at a rock’n’roll venue. 

The film was released in Brazil in June 1967.  RCA Victor, maybe thinking of the fantastic sales of The  Beatles’A hard day’s night’, released a sound-track album coinciding with the film’s premiere. Brazilian RCA did what not even RCA Italiana had done; maybe because Italian youths hardly ever bought albums, always prefering singles, the so-called ‘45 giri’.  As all tracks in the film were recorded originally at RCA Italiana’s studios it was not difficult to assemble the phonograms and send them to Brazil to be pressed here.  That’s why ‘Rita, o Mosquito’ is a unique album; it’s only been released in Brazil.

LA ZANZARA’ – The Mosquito – Four song-writers were needed to churn out this up-tempo number that opens the film.  Maybe it was meant to be deliberately irritating and repetitive to sound like the buzzzzz of a zanzara [mosquito].  A forgetful tune that one is relieved when it’s
over.

IL GEGHEGÈ’ – like ‘Supercalifragilistic espiralidoso’ in 1965 [see Stasera Rita’ for comments], this is a made-up word that does not exist in the Italian language or any other for that matter. Wertmüller maybe thought about ‘Mary Poppins’ when she wrote this non-sense.  If Americans could come up with a new word why shouldn’t I?  Some people think there is a strong similarity between ‘Il geghegè’ and the ‘Batman Theme’ from the popular TV series that was a craze in the US and the world around 1966.  One can check it out listening to the Marketts’ ‘Batman Theme’ [# 17, in 26 Feb. 1966] or Neal Hefti’s [#35, in 5 March 1966].  The similarities could be only a coincidence but the closeness of the releasing dates is very
suspicious. Anyway, it’s a rocker and uplifts the spirits.

FORTISSIMO’ – powerful ballad written by Wertmüller and Bruno Canfora for ‘Studio Uno ‘66’ as a weekly closing song.  It was first heard by the Italian nation on 23 April 1966, a Saturday night.  It quickly became Pavone’s signature song.  Mina regretted its being given to
Pavone instead of herself that was the ‘reigning queen’ of Italy’s popular music.  Mina eventually recorded it later.  The arrangement has got all the trading marks of Canfora’s genius, especially his unique piano touch.

QUI RITORNERÀ!’ – ‘Here it comes again’ – This is another instance of the ‘cover’ being better than the original.  The Fortunes, a British quintet, took it to # 27 at Billboard in 27 November 1865, following up ‘You’ve got your troubles’ their biggest hit.  Rita sings it in
‘double-track’ which ‘fills it up’ and makes it sound better.  The bridge, in Rita’s case, is better ‘resolved’ than the original’s.  The orchestration is much richer too.  It’s a winner that was a
double-sided hit with ‘Il geghegè’.

STRONG LOVE’ – The British ‘beat’ movement was all rhe rage in Italy in 1966.  Everything British was cool.  This is a Spencer Davis Group song that was actually a left-over from 1965’s ‘Stasera Rita’, TV show and album.  As reviewed before, Rita double-tracks it in a low key. She repeats the same lyrics over & over and ‘slurs’ the words of a whole verse.  Nonetheless, it is a rocker and a good dancing track.

PASSIONE’ – Passion – It’s an incredible feat recording such an old Napolitan ‘standard’.  I don’t know about Rita’s pronunciation of Napolitan but it comes across as true as ice.  It’s a tragic tale as only a 1930’s song could be.  Maybe this was a way of Rita paying homage to beautiful Naples where the movie was shot.

QUANTO SEI ANTIPATICO’How boring you are! – This is my favourite track in the album.  Music by wonderful Mr. Canfora, Studio Uno’s supreme arranger.  It’s probably the only song written especially for the movie. Melodically, in the same vein as ‘Fortissimo’ and other Canfora songs. It is a perfect specimen of pop craftsmanship.  It is a shame it has never been released in Italy.  It could have easily been number one in the charts.  That only goes to show how blind record company executives can sometimes be.

‘... E SE DOMANI’What if tomorrow... – Rita impersonates Mina, the grand dame of Italian pop!  Mina was Pavone’s opposite being very tall whereas Rita’s short.  Mina usually dressed in long black dresses and sang some songs with a slight affected American ‘accent’ which Rita
understood and took full advantage of, sending her up.  If you’ve seen the movie, notice the camera’s angles are taken from below to make the illusion Rita is also tall.  The song is a soft ballad and a real winner even though it went unnoticed at San Remo’s festival in 1965 until Mina ‘adopted’ it and took it to the top of the charts.

I WANNA BE LOVED BY YOU’ [Boop-boopa-doo] – Rita’s impersonation of Marilyn Monroe may be the best of the lot.  Musically is the best too.  A mindless chirpy nineteen-twenties number written tongue-in-cheek by Tin Pan Alley’s young pianist and song plugger Harry Rubinstein and ex-vaudeville dancer Bert Kalmar who, one day, just to amuse themselves, turned out a deliberately over-sentimental ballad which they had no intention of releasing.  Somebody did release it, and ‘Who’s sorry now?’ became their greatest hit.  Not to mention that 30 years later it launched the career of teen-ager Connie Francis, too. Marilyn sang it in ‘Some like it hot’, Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy.

I LIKE YOU VERY MUCH / CHICA CHICA BOOM CHIC’ – Rita’s character in the film, Santangelo [Saint Angel],  falls in love with her music teacher and is downhearted after finding out he’s got a steady girl-friend and doesn’t pay any attention to her.  That sets her mind into a groove of day-dreaming she is as tall as Mina, as sexy as Marilyn Monroe and, in this instance, as flamboyant and vivacious as Carmen Miranda was in her heyday of  ‘That night in Rio’ [1941].  Unfortunately, Rita mispells a few words exchanging ‘tenho’ for ‘tengo’ which is actually Spanish instead of Portuguese.  ‘Come on and sing’ becomes ‘come-ban-and-see’... which makes it interesting.  After all Miranda was notorious for ‘mangling’ the English language.  Well, Rita ended up ‘mangling’ the already ‘mangled’.  She might as well ‘mangle’ the Portuguese language too for good measure. Oh! what a mad, mad world!

IO CERCO LA TITINA’ – I don’t have enough information about this particular song.  I know it’s been associated with Charlie Chaplin’s silent films in Italy but I wouldn’t know why.  Pavone would later record a much rockier version for ‘La Vostra Rita’, her children’s album.

LA SAI TROPPO LUNGA’ – You know way too much –  Another left over from ‘Studio Uno ‘66’.  Actually, it was B-side to ‘Fortissimo’. Written by session-musician Enrico Ciacci who plays a fantastic introduction with his 12-string guitar.

NO, NO, NO’ – sung by Giancarlo Giannini in the film. In the album it’s the original The Rokes version that had been released a few years before.  Even though The Rokes are a good band I much prefer Giannini’s rockier version in the real sound-track.. 




Mosquito's back cover

5 comments:

  1. ‘IL GEGHEGÈ’ doesn't sound anything like the Batman theme to me. It does sound a lot like the bassline from Link Wray's 'Ace of Spades' though.

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  2. dear Anonymous... thanks for the information. I listened to Link Wray's 'Ace of Spades', but 'Ace of Spades' was recorded AFTER Rita Pavone's 'Il Geghegè', which was recorded EARLY 1966. 'Ace of spades' was recorded in the same 1966, but LATER... Anyway, I also listened to Link Wray's 'Batman Theme' which is fantastic...thanks for writing and having enlightened us... here's the link for Link Wray's 'Ace of Spades' on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ9-3OMxf0k

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  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRc_DEUlop0
    this is the link for Link Wray's 'Batman Theme'... awesome!!!

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  4. 'Ace of Spades' first appeared in 1962 on Link Wray's second album. It was also released on the B-side of 'Big City Stomp' as 'Poppin Popeye'. I'm sure the similarity is just a coincidence though. However, if the bassline was ripped from Link Wray, it would only make me an even bigger fan Rita Pavone.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RLrVO0ectg

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Anonymous for the additional information... You have introduced me to amazing Link Wray... it is a step forward... all the best...

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