Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Rome, Italian Style" Track of the Day: Daniele Luppi, "An Italian Story"

The traffic is surprisingly lenient to Daniele Luppi. They're letting him walk in the middle of the street. He must have bought all those drivers either pizzas or prostitutes.
Song: "An Italian Story" by film composer Daniele Luppi
Released: 2004
Why's it part of the "Rome, Italian Style" playlist?: The imaginary soundtrack Rome isn't the first time Luppi paid tribute to '60s and '70s Italian film scores with the help of many of the veteran musicians who performed on those scores. In 2004, Luppi released An Italian Story, which featured original music that he wrote to salute not just Ennio Morricone (whom Luppi feels doesn't get enough props for his more avant-garde material and his work with early synths), but also Nino Rota, Piero Umiliani, Piero Piccioni, Armando Trovajoli and Stelvio Cipriani. All of them are composers Luppi has admired since his childhood in Italy.

"Like the films themselves, the music of the era was shiny and exuberant, filled with unusual flourishes and surprising turns," wrote Italian Story liner notes author Dan Epstein about the '60s and '70s sound Luppi recaptured. "It was the joyous sound of 'la dolce vita'--a newly prosperous nation springing back to effervescent life after the forced dreariness of the Mussolini regime and the grim period of poverty and austerity that followed World War II."

Alessandro Alessandroni has claimed the late Piero Umiliani didn't give him credit for coming up with the lead vocal line in 'Mah-Na-Mah-Na.' The Umiliani tune was a theme from an obscure Italian sexploitation documentary that was made famous by the Muppets. A porno flick theme on Sesame Street? That's like that time when Emmy Jo danced around to the theme from Deep Throat during an episode of The New Zoo Revue.

For the album's breezy title track (and another track on the album, "Fashion Party"), Luppi recruited Alessandro Alessandroni--the whistler/guitarist/virtual one-man band who was responsible for many of the bizarre noises during Morricone's scores--to whistle, of course.

"I will always remember the smile on [Alessandroni's] face when he first heard [the title track]," recalled Luppi in the liner notes. "It was like, 'Here I am, playing with these great musicians once again!'"

That feeling of being reunited with old friends is also experienced by us while listening to "An Italian Story." To those of us who have dug Italian film scores since the first time we saw either Once Upon a Time in the West or maybe The Sicilian Clan, Alessandroni's whistle is like an old friend.

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