DJ Rubens – Baia Degli Angeli, 1978

DJ Rubens Baia Degli Angeli 1978

Italy’s Adriatic coast, 1978: where the jeans where white, the sunglasses mirrored and the scooters two-stroke.

Baia Degli Angeli: mythical, white-walled, pleasure-dome for the rich and beautiful; its DJ booth housed in a glass elevator so that the selectors could service all four floors at once, dance-floors that were among the first in Europe to hear New York-style, beat-matched mixing.

DJ Rubens: The “third man” of Italy’s Afro-Cosmic scene (that drugged-out, dubbed-out satellite of the Ibizan Balearic mothership).

Daniele Baldelli and DJ Mozart were the sonic alchemists of this much-discussed, little-understood musical micro-climate…and, once the New York DJ’s had left, the Baia was their laboratory. Baldelli the hyper-prepared disciplinarian; Mozart the looser, organic improviser. Whilst each had their own approach, unpicking their individual contributions is perhaps as fruitless as arguing who was best, Morecambe or Wise?

And yet, some say that DJ Rubens was the brightest star of all – more capable than Mozart but free of the methodological constraints of Baldelli. Sadly an all-too-familiar tale of missed chances and drug-fuelled excess (“He lost it before anyone else” according to Gianni Zuffa, record-supplier to the scene), has relegated him to a minor figure in this beguiling left-turn from the dancefloor super-highway.

Unsurprisingly little survives of his work behind the decks, so we’ll have to make do with this all-too-short set that purports to be from the Baia Degli Angeli (despite him never having held a residency there).

But putting aside any doubts about historical accuracy (this is the Internet after all), sit back and enjoy a 30 minute musicological fragment from a rather special time and place.

Download: DJ Rubens – Baia Degli Angeli, 1978 (right-click)


Beniamino Gigli – Torna a Surriento

Beniamino Gigli

To mark today’s start of the Giro d’Italia here’s something that I always imagine being played on a wind-up gramophone in a crumbling Venetian palazzo, perhaps while an ageing Conte lies dying in his bed…

Download: Beniamino Gigli – Torna a Surriento (right click)

Mixage, 1983

Mixage 1983 Baby Records

With less than a week to go until the Big Day, I must admit that the festive spirit hasn’t yet infected 500MH to the same extent that it did last December. So to get proceedings started here’s the result of some Internet “research” I recently conducted.

When I learned that contemporary Italo-influenced producer, Brioski, took his early inspiration from the Mixage vinyl mix-albums that were lying around his childhood home, I felt moved to investigate further.

After a few carefully-placed clicks, and some 500MH tidy-up work I found myself listening to a fascinating instalment of this series that ran from 1983 to ’87 on Italy’s Baby Records. Mixed by Massimo Noè and Pino Santapaga, these records contain all you’d expect from an 80’s Eurodance franchise – sublime highs followed by unfathomable lows and all executed with a melodramatic, nay operatic, fervour that would make Puccini blush.

Turning to the example at hand, it was released in 1983 with a Baby Records Catalogue number of BR 56051 (the actual records were all simply titled Mixage). Musically this one ranges from an interesting Euro-medley of Jeopardy and Billie Jean..through the mega-hit Vamos a la Playa…to the Black Lace-esque nonsense of La Bionda’s One for You, One for Me. Add in a seasoning of faux-classical pretension and some basic-but-effective mixing and you’ve got a recipe for Yuletide dancing fun.

So push back the sofa, put this on the virtual gramophone and party like it’s 1983.

Download: Mixage – Side A (right click)

Download: Mixage – Side B (right click)