Friday, 4 March 2011

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; Bardotti
2.  Non è facile avere 18 anni [Bernabini]
3.  Somigli ad un’ oca [Your baby’s gone surfin’] Duane Eddy-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; Rossi
6.  Quando sogno [On the sunny side of the street] Jimmy McHugh; 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]

In Brazil everyone knows that ‘life only starts after Carnival is over’. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere coincides with Carnival that was originally an European feast but has been ‘tropicalized’ in totum by us.  So Brazilian have the best of both worlds  – those few days before Lent when people were allowed to stuff themselves with as much food and sex as they could possibly get. 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.


Since the 1950s Americans made movies located in Italy. In 1961 there was ‘Come September’ starring teen-idols Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin along with the ‘older couple’ Gina Lollobrigida and Rock Hudson. In 1962 it was 'Rome Adventure', called 'Candelabro Italiano' in Brazil, with Troy Donahue and lovely Suzanne Pleshette along with the usual ‘older couple’ Angie Dickinson and Rossano Brazzi. It was a romantic comedy that appealed to teens and they flocked to the movie houses to see. In its sound-track released by Warner Brothers was ‘Al di là’ sung by Emilio Pericoli that reached the unthinkable # 6 position in the Billboard charts in 9 June 1962. ‘Rome adventure’ was released in Brazil a year later, in 1963, with its main theme-song going straight to number one. Brazilians were enchanted by everything Italian, even if it was seen through American lenses. Brazilians loved  Rome’s travel-logue views and its Lambrettas but mostly we fell in love with Italian modern music that was heavily influenced by the American rock’n’roll and rhythm’n’blues. That’s when the ‘Italian invasion’ started for good.

Legata a un granello di sabbia’ by Nico Fidenco which had been a big hit in Europe in 1961 was realeased and went to number one. Soon enough radio started playing ‘La partita di pallone’ with rocker Rita Pavone realead as a extended-play with 3 more songs. ‘Cuore’, a powerful ballad was next and by the end of 1963, Pavone’s 1st album hit the record shop racks and was grabbed by teens in despair.

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

When Pavone finally reached our shores for personal appearances in June 1964, and her video-taped concert was beamed at Channel 7, she was Number One in the single charts [‘Martello’], the extended-play charts [‘Adorabile’] and the album charts [‘Meus 18 anos’]. Italians ruled and Rita Pavone was their Queen.

Pavone’s second album is something special. It’s my favourite favourite album. There is a fundamental difference between the Italian version [which includes ‘Cuore’] and the Brazilian one which features ‘Datemi un martello’ as its main track.

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 transform ‘If I had a hammer’ into something more ‘palatable’ for the Italian younger set. ‘Hammer’, a folk song written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger in support of the progressive movement in the U.S.A., and it was first recorded in 1950, by The Weavers, a folk music quartet composed of Seeger, Hays, Ronnie Gilber & Fred Hellerman. It was revived by Peter, Paul & Mary going to # 10 in 8 September 1962.Trini Lopez took it even higher going to # 3 on 1st July 1963, a few weeks before the March on Washington when Martin Luther King made his ‘I have a dream’ historical speech. The song had been used as a kind of chanting hymn during the marches for the Civil Rights. Its original lyrics says:  ‘It’s a song of justice, it’s a song of freedom, it’s a song about the love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land!’ The album producer, being on the other side of the globe from the tribulations that plagued the US, thought the lyrics were too ‘heavy’ for a teenager to sing, even though Trini Lopez’s version recorded ‘live’ at the P.J.’s in L.A. was as light as a feather . Well, Bardotti’s version was even more tongue-in-cheek than mindless Trini’s. It’s the plight of a girl who’s bored at a party where they refuse to play lively surf and hully-gully and the couples only dance cheek-to-cheek. 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.

SOMIGLI AD UN’OCA [Your baby’s gone surfin’] – You look like a goose - After 'Martello' it's the rockiest track in the album. A cover of a Duane Eddy hit that maybe supplants the original. It’s pure non-sense too.  She insults her lover saying he resembles a goose [Somigli ad un’oca] and in the spoken bit she shouts all kinds of abuses even calling him a banana-eating monkey.  Rita sang this particular rocker in one of her appearances at ‘Shindig’.  Later in 1965 she sang it again in her first featured film ‘Rita, la figlia americana’.

TI VORREI PARLARE –  I’d like to talk to you – Lovely ballad written by inspired Roby Ferrante the same youngster who  wrote ‘Alla mia età’.  Roby who wrote ‘Ogni volta’ for Paul Anka for San Remo 1965, died tragically in a car crash in 1966. ‘Ti vorrei parlare’ has been shortened by half in the album ending abruptly before the instrumental break. That’s something I’d like to know why.  If one wants to listen to the whole song one has to play the single or the many compilation albums that have been released in CD format.

SI FOSSI UN UOMO [Wenn ich ein Junge wär’] – If I were a man - That’s the cover of Rita’s German recording that went all the way to number one in late 1963.  See album ‘Ein Sonny Boy und  eine kleine Signorina’ for more information about it. The Italian cover is a 100% true to the original and sung in Italian on top of the play-back orchestrated by Werner Müller.

QUANDO SOGNO’ [On the sunny side of the street] – ‘When I dream’. Luis Enriquez transformed this evergreeen into a hully-gully and Rita shouts it all the way to the top of her lungs. It changes key at least twice getting higher and higher. That’s why some in the Italian press used to call Rita an ‘urlatrice’ [a shouter].

CHE M’IMPORTA DEL MONDO’ – What do I care about the world – The prettiest ballad in the album. It’s a very danceable masterpiece written by Luis Enriquez. Rita over-dubs herself... pretty. It came out as the A-side of ‘Datemi un martello’ that ultimately became a doube-sided hit in Italy. Even Mina sang it later.

SON FINITE LE VACANZE’ – Vacation is over – Another rocker! This time Rita is stuck in a beach resort, sort of a workers’ paradise and laments her impossibility to get in touch with her beau who stayed back in the city. Rita was a hard-working singer. She would give all her strength. She was no James Brown but she came close. She should have been dubbed the 'hardest working Italian girl in show business'. She shouts, pants, cries, jumps up and down... she twists and shouts and rocks and rolls.

BIANCO NATALE’ [‘White Christimas'] – I’d hate to be called an exaggerate but I think Pavone’s rendition of ‘Bianco Natale’, the Italian version 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 famous 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 would add that Rita’s recording is a true masterpiece because 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 bastard who only thinks of himself.  The guitar is probably played by Enrico Ciacci, singer Little Tony’s bother, who was the best session guitarrist at RCA’s stable.

SOTTO IL FRANCOBOLLOUnder the postage stamps – Music by Luis Enriquez and words by inventive Carlo Rossi who tells about this girl whose boy-friend lives out of town.  As their romance should remain a secret she’ll write how much she loves him ‘under the postage stamps’.  That’s a really original idea!  The same play-back arrangement was used as base for ‘Ce petite jeu’ recorded by Pavone in France and only released in that country.

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 bought in my life.  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. Note that this de-luxe version was expensive and was immediately discontinued. Here are the inside photos of that original release:

original Italian glossy cover 
original Italian back-cover 
sleeve with poster included.


  1. Pretty neat to hear much a song changes when it goes from artist to artist. I wonder if Trini's version was at all influenced by the song "Pink Shoelaces" by Dodie Stevens.

    1. I don't know. Probably not. 'If I had a hammer' was written much earlier in the 1950s by folk singer Pete Seeger... it is pretty much a folk song. Trini Lopez changed it into a format he was used to... and recorded 'live' with the audience clapping hands marking time. 'Pink shoelaces' is a studio recording by a teen-age girl. I don't see much similarity but then again I might be wrong.

  2. They do have the same chord progression which isn't saying much because countless songs do. I'm talking about their vocal intros specifically. While the original song was obviously the biggest contributing factor, to me Trini's and Rita's intro sound a lot more like the intro to 'Pink Shoelaces' than the intro to Pete Seeger's or Peter, Paul, and Mary's version of the song.

  3. I have to disagree on Bianco Natale/White Christmas. In my opinion, the ultimate Christmas Album was produced by Phil Spector and White Christmas sung by Darlene Love is very much a stand-out version of this song, Not that Rita's isn't very good of course.

    1. Dear John Napper, as Opinion cannot be measured in any way, I am glad to know you prefer Darlene Love's version of 'White Christmas' which by the way I have like it too, but not as MUCH as Rita Pavone's version. I would go as far as to say that Mr. Berlin could not find the right ending for his Xmas song... and Mr. Luis Enriquez found that perfect ending that was elusive to its creator. 'Bianco Natale' is actually an improvement on Irving Berlin's masterpiece.