Friday, 4 March 2011


1.  Scrivi [Lady love] Charlie Rich; v.: Carlo Rossi – L. Enriquez; 4+4 Nora Orlandi
2.  If you got a mind to [P.Barret-R.Mangeri] – Si quisieras - Charles Calello
3.  Splish splash [Bobby Darin-Jean Murray] – Plif, Plaf – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
4.  San Francisco de Asis [Lake-Green-Marmion; Migliacci] – Luis Enriquez
5.  Baby [When ya kiss me] Jackie DeShannon-Sheeley – ar. Sammy Lowe
6.  Tango della scuola [Lina Wertmüller-Nino Rota] – ar.: Luis Enriquez

1.  Viva la pappa col pomodoro [Lina Wertmüller-Nino Rota] – ar.: Luis Enriquez
2.  Lipstick on your collar [E.Lewis-C.Goehring] – Rouge en tu cuello – C. Calello
3.  Turn her down [B.Raleigh-M.Bargan] – Despídela – ar.:  Teacho Wiltshire
4.  Sei la mia mamma [Lina Wertmüller-Nino Rota] Eres mi madre – L. Enriquez
5.  Rubber ball [A.Orlowski-A.Schroeder] – Pelota de goma – ar.: Charles Calello
6.  Pido paz [Just once more]  Al Western;  v: Jorge Renner – Teacho Wiltshire

released in Argentina in April 1965

note that the Spanish titles are only translations of the main title. The Argentine like to translate all titles which might be confusing to the record buyer. Many times one thinks the song is sung in Spanish and it turns out it's in English. 

In June 1964, Rita tried to break into the US market where her first US single and album were released and at the same time toured Latin America extensively where she was at the top of the charts in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay and other countries.  Her personal appearances in cities like Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro were sensational with the local media and fans going into frenzies
wherever she popped up.

In April/May 1965, Rita returned to South America for a repeat performance. Brazil and Argentina each released albums to celebrate the Return of Rita Pavone to their shores. Brazil’s album was called 'RITORNA' [Rita Pavone returns] and in Argentina they called it ‘VOLVIÓ LA PECOSITA’ [The Little Freckled-one returned].

Both albums are Frankenstein-like to the extent that they were patched up with left overs from unreleased albums and singles. In the case of Argentina’s ‘Volvió la Pecosita’, it was made up with half of ‘Small Wonder’, Pavone’s second US album; three songs were taken from the Italian ‘Gian Burrasca’; two tracks sung in Spanish for the Hispanic market and ‘Scrivi’, that had been a hit the previous year.

SCRIVI’ [Write to me, please] is a tour-de-force of arranger-producer Luis Enriquez.  He transformed ‘Lady love’, a rather simple C&W Charlie Rich ballad into an elaborate multi-layered-track masterpiece. It starts slowly and goes up in a crescendo of voices, instruments and rhythmic hand-clapping  to explode in an orgy of intertwined harmonies and counter-point.  An amazing back-vocal by the 4+4 of Nora Orlandi’s girls punctuates the song all along in a quasi-call-and-response. The playback orchestration was done in Rome and sent to New York for Rita to record her voice where she was working on her American album on the 24th Street RCA’s A Studio.  It’s the story of a girl who’s far away and begs her lover to write her to relieve her loneliness.  Even though it was ‘rejected’ by the Italian record-buying public, ‘Scrivi’ was a big hit in Brazil in 1964 as a follow-up to her blockbuster ‘Datemi un martello’.  One could hear Pavone’s hits playing on the radio all day long in those times.

IF YOU GOT A MIND TO [see ‘Small Wonder’] – I remember the first time I heard this song from the Argentine album.  I had this friend who had a friend who had visited Argentina and bought her ‘Volvió la Pecosita' as a present.  I felt like up and dance to its lively rhythm. As I didn’t know a word of English then I didn’t pay much attention to the words and the tune sounded really hot to me. Charles Callelo arranges the rhythm section divinely.  The interlude used to drive me dancing-crazy.

SPLISH SPLASH[see ‘Small Wonder’] – As already said this is an anachronic recording. Bobby Darin had already had a hit with it in 1959.  Even though it’s a ‘male’s song’, Rita tries to do the best she can. One realizes she is trying her best to pronounce those very difficult words like ‘living-room rug’ which is a mouthful for a poor kid from Italy.  An onomatopoetic song which imitates the sounds of water [splish-splash] and other sounds combinations like ‘big-bang’ rhyming with ‘the whole gang’ and ‘flip-flap they was doing the bop’. It was a helluva difficult song for a foreign kid to sing. Who was the A&R [artist & repertoire] person at RCA?  Poor little Rita walks the tigh-rope with no safety net. One can’t help but feel sorry for the Italian teen-ager who could slurr the English words in her native Italy but was now doing the ‘real thing’ in the ‘real world’! Rita knew she was in dire straits when she took the mamoth task of recording a whole album in English for the US market. She must have lost a few night’s sleep dreading the day she would step into the studio to record three or four different songs a day. Pavone should be rewarded with some bravery medal for the way she tackled all these tong-twister up-tempo rockers. She mispronounced whole sentences. She stumbled but manage not to fall flat on her face! She deserved the equivalent of an Academy Award for ‘the most corageous foreign kid in a strange land trying to command its language in uptempo numbers’.

SAN FRANCISCO DE ASIS – Rita sings this soft ballad in the original Spanish that is was written. It is a completely different recording from the ‘San Francesco’ we knew. The latter was accompanied by The Rokes' guitars and the Spanish version was orchestrated by Luis Enriquez. Lyrically, the Spanish version makes more sense because Rita stolls the spiritual qualities of the Saint, whereas in the Italian version she is a girl who is praying to the Saint to help her get her boy friend back.  Lirically I prefer the Spanish version, but musically I’d rather listen to the Rokes’ version.

BABY [When ya kiss me]  [see ‘Small Wonder'] – Jackie DeShannon of rockabilly fame is the author of this very quaint song. I always thought it was powerful in its nonsense. It took me years to finally listen to DeShannon own recording of ‘Baby’ and I think Rita’s done a spetacular job with her ma-ma-  ma-ma-yeh! Rita could be so inventive in her approach to the many different songs she kept on recording here and there. She was like a ‘bag of surprises’! No one knew what she would come up with next!  ‘Baby’ is a good example of originality.

TANGO DELLA SCUOLA’  - School's Tango - [see ‘Gian Burrasca’] – I remember so well the first time I heard ‘Tango de la escuela’. My friend Silvia, who was a big Pavone fan was also a big tango fan from earlier times. When she heard this track she raved about it saying she thought it was the best Rita had ever recorded.  I tended to agree with her. As I didn’t have the album myself  I could only listen to it at her house once a week when I visited her on Saturday afternoons. We didn’t know it was part of a ‘concept album’ [Gian Burrasca]. We thought it was just another tango, even though the ‘subject matter’ was something related to a school where children had a ‘hard time’. Little did we know that Rita was portraying a boy, a brat for that matter, who was in a boarding-school where he was subjected to a harsh treatment and this was a list of the annoyances he had to go through daily.

LIPSTICK ON YOUR COLLAR [see ‘Small Wonder] – Another anachronic song recorded earlier by Connie Francis who did a wonderful job of it. Besides, the band that accompanies Ms. Francis is really good and does a most entrancing guitar solo interlude that became part of rock history. Rita actually does a good job too. Even though she mispronounces ‘then I noticed yours was red, mine was baby pink’... well, apparently she thinks she’s done it well and everyone else pretend they haven’t noticed her ‘blooper’ she actually finishes the song still standing and proud of her performance. Rita must have had a few angels guarding her during those sessions because she rarely ‘lost’ it! She might stumble but she never actually crumbled! Charles Callelo’s arrangement is really ‘modern’ for 1964 when tambourine was introduced to pop and became a fixture. The brass section is also pretty adquate.

TURN HER DOWN  [see ‘Small Wonder'] – This Teacho Wiltshire track is my favourite English-language song in the album. I always had a penchant to liking brass sections in a popular tune. I still think one of the best ever pop songs with a good brass section is Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Keep the customer satisfied’ from 1970’s ‘Bridge over troubled water’ even though I think Stevie Wonder’s ‘Sir Duke' tops them all. But before I heard the latter I think ‘Turn her down’ was at the top of my list of ‘best brass section’. The words get in the way of Rita’s performance but I wouldn’t have known it in 1966 so I was in seventh heaven when I heard it.

SEI LA MIA MAMMA  - 'You're my mother - [see ‘Gian Burrasca'] – I never liked this song. I always thought it boring.  I know it played an important role in the series because that’s the opportunity for Giannino to show how much he cares for his beloved mother. But I was young and didn’t have much patience for these very-slow numbers. Especially one that sings of maternal love. This was a good number for Rita to curry favour with grown-ups who went to see her personal appearances around the world. It was a winner but not for me!

RUBBER BALL’  [see ‘Small Wonder'] – This was a favourite of mine as well. I like that drum sound in the very beginning that reminds of something ‘boucing’. Actually the female chorus repeats ‘bouncy-bouncy’ all the time. I think Rita’s version is much better than Bobby Vee’s original. It is a ‘jumpy’ song... just like a rubber ball bouncing off the wall.  I used to dance to it until I dropped.Those were the good old days. I was only 17 and rearing to go on living.

PIDO PAZ [I throw in the towel] [Just once more] – The same ‘Just once more’ play-back with Spanish words went all the way to number one in the Argentine charts. I thought it was amusing to listen to Pavone singing in Spanish a song that I already knew in English. The Spanish version keeps the intensity of the original with a lot of sexual innuendo.


1. La partita di pallone / Come te non c’è nessuno
2. Il ballo del mattone / Abbiamo 16 anni
3. Cuore / Alla mia età
4. Non è facile avere 18 anni / Son finite le vacanze
5. Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ / Sul cucuzzolo
6. Datemi un martello / Che m’importa del mondo
7. Somigli ad un’oca / Quando sogno
8. Remember me / Just once more
9. Pido Paz [Just once more] / Te imploro amor [Remember me]
10. Scrivi / Ti vorrei parlare
11. L’amore mio / San Francesco
12. Lipstick on your collar / Splish splash
13. Viva la pappa col pomodoro / Sei la mia mamma
14. Viva las papas con tomate / No lo puedo olvidar [Lui]
15. Lui / La forza di lasciarti
16. Supercalifragilistic espiralidoso / Plip
17. Stasera con te / Solo tu
18. Qui ritornerà / Il geghegè
19. Fortissimo / La sai troppo lunga
20. Gira gira / Mamma dammi la panna
21. Questo nostro amore / La zanzara

After a little research I came to the stunning conclusion that Argentina is the country where Rita Pavone had the most number of singles released.  It covers from 1963 to 1967, when Pavone left RCA Italiana. Note that I have not included ‘promotional singles’ or the 3 singles RCA Italiana released after she had left the company.  I have not included E.P.s either – extended play, singles with two songs on each side – which didn’t exist on the Italian market but were common place in all Latin America and some European countries like France, Portugal and Spain..

Argentine releases                                             Italian releases

1. La partita di pallone / Come te...                      La partita / Amore twist
2. Il ballo del mattone / Abbiamo 16 anni            Come te / Clementine
3. Cuore / Alla mia età                                           Alla mia età / Pel di carota
4. Non è facile...18 anni / Son finite....                  Cuore / Il ballo del mattone
5. Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ / Sul cucuzzolo         Non è facile 18 anni / Son finite
6. Datemi un martello / Che m’importa...              Datemi martello / Che m’importa...
7. Somigli ad un’oca / Quando sogno                 Scrivi / Ti vorrei parlare
8. Remember me / Just once more                       L’amore mio / San Francesco
9. Pido Paz  / Te imploro amor                             Viva la pappa / Sei la mia mamma
10. Scrivi / Ti vorrei parlare                                    Lui / La forza di lasciarti
11. L’amore mio / San Francesco                         Plip / Supercalifragilistic
12. Lipstick on your collar / Splish splash           Solo tu / Stasera con te
13. Viva la pappa... / Sei la mia mamma              Il geghegè / Qui ritornerà
14. Viva las papas.... / No lo puedo olvidar         Fortissimo / La sai troppo lunga
15. Lui / La forza di lasciarti                                    La zanzara / Perchè 2 non fa 3
16. Supercalifragilistic... / Plip                                Mamma panna / Col chicco
17. Stasera con te / Solo tu                                    Gira gira / Dove non so
18. Qui ritornerà / Il geghegè                                  Questo nostro.../ Una notte intera
19. Fortissimo / La sai troppo lunga                      Non dimenticar le mie parole / Da..
20. Gira gira / Mamma dammi la panna
21. Questo nostro amore / La zanzara

Rita & Palito Ortega, Argentina's King of Rock'n'roll - 1965.

No comments:

Post a Comment