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Italo disco

Related: Hi NRG - Klein & MBO - Giorgio Moroder - Euro disco - European music - Italy - disco

E=MC2 - (1979) Giorgio Moroder [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Before house music, a lot of the DJs on Chicago radio were playing a lot of Italian imports because I think the Italians were the only ones that continued with the disco when it all died out everywhere else. --Juan Atkins


Italo disco was a style of electronic dance music during the 80s. Though many of the artists came from Italy as the name implies, the term is sometimes used for groups in other European countries in conjunction with euro disco. Italo disco had a more synth pop/electro feel to it than American disco, which had funk and soul roots.

The genre started at the end of the 70s when American disco was dying out (see: Disco Demolition Night) and lasted until the late 80s. The songs were very simplistic, with catchy melodies, and were often sung using vocoders or overdubs. The term italo disco was coined by Bernhard Mikulski, the founder of ZYX Records (Germany) in 1984, when ZYX released their first volume of "The Best Of Italo Disco". As with much of disco in general, italo was labeled as "gay music", which was partly responsible for it's inability to gain mass appeal. Much of the genre also featured cheesy love-song lyrics sung in heavy accents on top of monotonous synthetic rhythms, which turned many people off.

Over the years italo disco has had a cult following and is currently experiencing a renewed interest. Several online radio stations now stream the genre and underground clubs are playing the records once again. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italo_disco [Feb 2005]

Italo Disco Influence on House and Electro Clash

Gaetano Pesce

Italo history via Woebot

Forget the micro-categories for once. Italo Disco? Let's just call it Disco and be done with it. Italo as a conceptual grouping must be one of the weakest I've encountered anyway. No it's not necessarily Italian, no it's not necessarily European, it doesn't seem to have a sensible window of time (extending back and forth nearly fifteen years), it blurs deeply into Hi-NRG, New Wave Electro, Disco and even House. I'm fed up with the term frankly; if you're gonna categorise do it with panache. It's a bit of fraff innit. Likewise "Grime", but for different reasons. Grime is a crap term I've decided, and henceforth I will be referring to music of it's ilk as Garage. Not UK Garage, just Garage. I've never had trouble confusing it with the Paradise Garage or Nuggets/Pebbles variety in any context, so why should anyone else? --Matt Ingram, http://www.woebot.com/movabletype/archives/000085.html

Oh yeah, there is plenty of Italian Italian disco but some of the biggest Italian Disco records are from Canada. Make of that what you will! People site I-F's Mixed up at the Hague as THE italo-disco primer but that's just because it has a few, but really there's as much non italo, Patrick Cowley represents San Francisco, Pluton and the Humanoids' Space Invasion, which most think is Italo, is french canadian, etc etc. And I'd say you're right, Space's Magic Fly, later covered by the obviously french canadian Kebekelektrik as well as anothe frenchie, Cerrone were major influences on italo-disco, in that they were Space Disco. Also see Disco Circus by Martin Circus, 15 minutes of french funk. But that's a tangent. I'm supposed to put something together soon for a friend's site, will forward. Here's the cream of the crop of ITALIAN italo-disco, according to my tastes/whims, top o' the head, briefly from what I see as 3 period of italo, big orchestral morricone cinematic italo of 78-82, dark space electro italo of 82-84(the prime) and big pop new wave freestyle italo of 84-86: -- Matthew Ingram http://www.woebot.com/movabletype/archives/000039.html

Frequent readers might remember a feverish craving I had for Italo Disco. Actually the mission to put out forgotten classics from this period is well under way. Beyond recent, official, releases of music of the era on the "The Secret History" comp, there are avilable semi-legal things like the boot of Scotch's "Penguin Invasion" on Dig-It International, shadier records like the Automan bootlegs (which feature stuff like Kebekelektrik's "War Dance" and disco edits like "Preaches and Prunes", rumoured to be a Ron Hardy-style cut-up executed by K. Alexei back in the 80s). Furthermore there are the Music Box series of bootlegs (dedicated somewhat spuriously to reviving tracks played at the legendary club of the same name), quite a number of which I picked up early last year.

I did a little more research and tracked down this earlier series of reissues put out in the mid-to-late eighties by the ZYX label. From 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 right up to 15. That's a hell of alot of music, and surely just the tip of the iceberg. Scary really. The thing is, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that what I've heard through recent forays "in the field" (ya dig?) doesn't really put parmesan on my fusili. There is a slight emptiness to the sound. That's never really upset me in Detroit Techno but somehow the emptiness in THAT music conveyed an ontology, a philosophy; it's a thrilling void that one finds in those records. Italo on the other hand seems a little gormless, a bit bland. I'm still hoping that the tracks (ahem) I've been promised by my esteemed colleague Dan Selzer change this perspective. I'd MUCH rather it was a goldmine of inspiring tunes. It might be worth mentioning that Optimo's DJ Twitch was sharing his own lukewarm feelings towards the genre with me the other night in Glasgow. Maybe this is one point where the retro impulse might run aground; likewise it's rumoured that Belgian New-Beat (which is currently garnering support) is also not all it's cracked up to be. How can one make such broad generalisations about Genres? Easy really.

One of the reasons I was disappointed to find Italo Disco not living up to my hopes for it was that I had finally worked out a way of getting to grips with Micro-House through it. Micro-House, I flashed, at it's best and most proper is the living extension of Italo Disco. Not a tributary of Techno as had been previously thought. Micro-House is an urbane, cosmopolitan, existential, sexy dance music. The same attributes characterised the colder European end of Disco. Just picture the Italo Disco fantasy of glitterball discos in exclusive ski resorts, of fur and yaucts, of upwardly mobile philosophy graduates from the Sorbonne dancing clutching champagne bottles; and map that onto Micro-House. Makes perfik sense dunnit. OK sure this generation of mainland Europeans are cautiosly camoflagued in combat gear, but the accoutrements of "the street" are a millimetre thin veneer. I guess it's an apposite symmetry, because I struggle to get any pleasure from Micro-House too. We'll see. --http://www.woebot.com/movabletype/archives/000072.html

Some Names

The Italian sound has names such as Jacques Fred Petrus, Celso Valli, Claudio Simonetti, Giancarlo Meo, Mauro Malavasi,Quelli Del Castello.

Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi made records with Revanche, Macho and The Peter Jacques band. Songs as I'm a man, Walking on music, You get high in N.Y. City and several more got high on international disco-charts.

Celso Valli who wrote and Quelli Del Castello who produced did the music for Tantra, Azoto, The Passengers.

Easy Going had a huge disco-hit with 'Fear' and Vivien Vee had a disco hit with 'Give me a break' in 1980. These songs came from Giancarlo Meo and Claudio Simonetti. --A Vroomen



In 1983 the term Italo Disco was heard for the first time. The German record company of Bernhard Mikulski published their first double album of the serie "Best of Italo Disco". They invented the word "Italo". Of course "Italo" is known in the meaning of "coming from Italy". But the Mikulski-company created that first combined term - Italo Disco.


But before 1983 there was already Italo Disco made. The difference is it wasnít called that way. It was just discomusic out of Italy. In the late 70's we already saw some names of producers and composers at record-labels, we know from the Italo-scene of some years after that. Letís start with the prehistory of Italo Disco: In the summer of 1978 La Bionda had a smash hit all over the world "One For You, One For Me". La Bionda produced several Italo Disco songs in the 80's. Righeira is the most successfull example. But also Aida Cooper "Stand Back" and Robert Bravo "Love Me Like I Do" were produced by La Bionda. Even in a song like "One For You, One For Me" you can already hear the Italian melodies.


One year later Jacques Fred Petrus recorded his first disco hits "Walking On Music", "Fire Night Dance" by the Peter Jacques Band, "Iím A Man" by Macho and "Music Man" by Revanche.

Mauro Malavasi was always involved. Tantra released a song called "Hills Of Katmandu" that year. A product of Celso Valli; in the 80's he produced a lot of IBIZA RECORDS-productions. "Give Me A Break" by Vivien Vee Banana Records was a smash discoteque hit in the States and Europe.

Persons involved on this product were Claudio Simonetti and Giancarlo Meo. "San Salvador" and "Soft Emotion" by Azoto are also releases of 1979. It was released on VEDETTE RECORDS and the producer was Celso Valli.


In 1980 Harry Thuman had a commercial hit with "Underwater" Baby Records. Often this song was used as a radio-tune. It is an instrumental one. Claudio Simonetti and Giancarlo Meo released a song called "Capricorn". The song was a hit in the United States. On the most famous label, DISCO MAGIC, a song called "Flood" was released by Delanua.

'1981 - '1982:

That first period was an important base for the years that brought us the great music we now call Italo Disco. IL DISC started after some licensed productions with real Italo productions. 1982 is the year the sound we all love was created. To give some examples:

Masterpiece - GAZEBO (Baby / Best)

Tenax - DIANA EST (Dischi Ricordi)

Robot Is Systematic - 'LECTRIC WORKERS (Disco Magic)

The Garden - 'LECTRIC WORKERS (Disco Magic)

How Many Fill - DELANUA (Disco Magic)

Hookey - SYLVI FOSTER (Disco Magic)


You Are A Danger - GARY LOW (Il Disc)

Tequila - BO' BOSS (Il Disc)


The best Italo-year ever, was 1983. DISCO MAGIC released more than thirty 12"-es. A lot of record-labels started their production in that particular year: AMERICAN DISCO, BABALU, CRASH, CRUISIN, FLY, HISS, HOLE, ITALIAN, MANY, MEMORY, MERAK, OUT, SENSATION, TANGA, THICK and X-ENERGY.

1983 was also the summer of "Dolce Vita" by Ryan Paris (Disco Magic 117) and "Vamos A La Playa" by Righeira (CGD 15091). The Italo-virus spread as holidaymakers brought that summerhits back home. There was no way back. Italo had conquered a lot of European countries. More songs were released and became hits. Not only in Italy, but also over the frontiers; "I Like Chopin" and "Love in your eyes" by Gazebo, "Happy Children" by P. Lion, "I Want You" by Gary Low, "Somebody" by Video, "Happy Station" by Fun Fun, "Hypnotic Tango" by My Mine, "The Night" by Valerie Dore ...


In 1984 the story continues. Another large number of labels were released. The most important ones are BLOW UP, FDT, GONG, IBIZA, KEEPON MUSIK and RAM. A lof of starting labels first made covers, but with Italo style:

Bette Davis Eyes - CHINA TOWN (Crash 005, 1983)

Dance Hall Days - MAQUILLAGE (Crash 015, 1984)

Incantations - G.A.N.G. (Disco Magic 121, 1983)

T.S.O.P. - PHILADELPHIA (Disco Magic 132, 1983)

Starman - LOOPSIDE (FDT 001, 1983)

Souvenir - SAXOPHONE (FDT 009, 1984)

Stay - MARX & SPENCER (Hole 20127, 1983)

Tequila - BO' BOSS (Il Disc 1003, 1982)

Waiting For A Train - MOONBASE (Il Disc 1007, 1983)

Flash - FLASHBACK BAND (Il Disc 1010, 1983)

Souvenir - NICKY & NICKY (Lombardoni 003, 1985)

Do It Again - CLUBHOUSE (Many 501, 1983)

Superstition/Good Times - CLUBHOUSE (Many 503, 1983)

Standback - AIDA COOPER (Many 504, 1983)

Pulstar - HIPNOSIS (Memory 002, 1983)

You Should Be Dancin' - SKY CRACKERS (Memory 004, 1983)

Get Back - COCKROACH (Out 3001, 1983)

Popcorn - MAGIC MEN (Out 3003, 1983)

Big In Japan/Relax - THE COVER BAND (Sensation 8002, 1984)

Susanna - THE CONTROL BAND (Sidet 101, 1985)

Life Is Life - STARGO (Stargo 8502, 1985)

Ali Shuffle - CAMARO'S GANG (Superradio 7005, 1984)

If You Leave Me Now - SHIRLEY ROSS (Tanga 002, 1983)

I've Got The Music In Me - YVONNE KAY (X-Energy 12005, 1983)

Africa - KEY OF DREAMS (Zanza 0113, 1983)


In the Italo-scene, for real Italo-freaks, record-labels are very important. Some Italo-lovers do collect particular records just to complete their catalogue of a label. If the record is good or bad does not make any difference. Some even know the label-codes.

In the schedule below It's writen the start of the most important labels:


American Disco Babalu Crash Cruisin' D.I.D. Fly Music Hiss

Hole Italian Many Memory Merak Out Pongo

Proto Sensation Squish Tanga Thick Trash X-Energy


American Ariston Music Atlantide Blow Up

FDT Gong Good Vibes Ibiza

Keepon Musik RAM Renaissance Third Label


Academy Lombardoni Publ. Market Moon Ray Peecker Melody

Platonic Love Plexy Glass Ra-Re Sidet Time


B.M.S. Chapulin Digital Esquire

Flea Industry Media Power


Game Over Limited Edition One Radiorama Technology Unipress Viva


Asia Black Bird Expanded Macho Twist Again



  1. The Perfect Beats, Vol. 1 [Amazon US]
    1. Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa/Soulsonic Force 2. Play At Your Own Risk - Planet Patrol 3. Don't Go - Yaz 4. The Mexican - Jellybean 5. Bostich - Yello 6. Trans Europe Express - Kraftwerk 7. Numbers/Computer World - Kraftwerk 8. Don't Make Me Wait - Peech Boys 9. Just An Illusion - Imagination 10. Starchild - Level 42 11. A Little Bit Of Jazz - Nick Straker Band 12. Dirty Talk - Klein/M.B.O. 13. Love Money - T.W. Funkmasters 14. Bonus Track
    Part 1 of Tommy Boy's comprehensive compilation of early electro, hip-hop, and freestyle hits concentrates on the fundamentals. The collection begins as it must, with Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force's epochal "Planet Rock," a sort of Rosetta stone for producers in the decade that followed and beyond. Loved (and sampled) to this very day, "Planet Rock" cleared the way for all the tracks that follow it here (arranged chronologically), including "Walking on Sunshine" by Rocker's Revenge and Jellybean's timbale-mad upgrade of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican." But despite the limitations implied in the compilation's subtitle, "New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics, 1980-1985," the set reaches back to earlier sources, inevitably including Kraftwerk's bleats, blips, and beats. --John Sanchez

  2. New Religion a Secret History (2003) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    1. Hypnotic Tango (Instrumental Version) - My Mine 2. Problemes D'Amour - Alexander Robotnick 3. Temporary Secretary - Paul McCartney 4. Frequency 7 (Dance Mix) - Visage 5. Peut Etre...Pas - Liaisons Dangereuses 6. Secret Life - Material 7. Riot In Lagos - Riuchi Sakamoto 8. Brainwash - Telex 9. Wonderful (Disco Dub Mix) - Klein & M.B.O. 10. Hot On The Heels Of Love - Throbbing Gristle 11. I.C. Love Affair (Italian Version) - Gaz Nevada

    Oh yeah, there is plenty of Italian Italian disco but some of the biggest Italian Disco records are from Canada. Make of that what you will! People site I-F's Mixed up at the Hague as THE italo-disco primer but that's just because it has a few, but really there's as much non italo, Patrick Cowley represents San Francisco, Pluton and the Humanoids' Space Invasion, which most think is Italo, is french canadian, etc etc. And I'd say you're right, Space's Magic Fly, later covered by the obviously French Canadian Kebekelektrik as well as another Frenchie, Cerrone were major influences on Italo-disco, in that they were Space Disco. Also see Disco Circus by Martin Circus, 15 minutes of French funk. But that's a tangent. I'm supposed to put something together soon for a friend's site, will forward. Here's the cream of the crop of ITALIAN Italo-disco, according to my tastes/whims, top o' the head, briefly from what I see as 3 period of Italo, big orchestral Morricone cinematic Italo of 78-82, dark space electro italo of 82-84 (the prime) and big pop new wave freestyle Italo of 84-86: -- Dan Selzer http://www.woebot.com/movabletype/archives/000039.html

  3. Love to Love You Baby (1974) - Donna Summer [Amazon US]
    in 1974, she hit it really big with the worldwide disco hit "Love to love you baby" after meeting producer Giorgio Moroder and signing to the Oasis sub-label of Neil Bogart's Casablanca label. It is the typical disco song of the period - with Giorgio Moroder / Pete Belotte's thumping disco beat, the wah-wah guitar and the big orchestra (actually "Munich Machine"). "Need-a-man blues" is other disco track from this first Oasis album. --discofunk.com

  4. Giorgio Moroder -- E=MC2 [Amazon US]
    German reissue of the disco legend's 1980 album for Casablanca. Billed as the first electronic live-to-digital album. Eight tracks including two bonus tracks, 'Love's In You, Love's In Me' & 'Evolution'. 2001 release.
    Digitally remastered edition of the holy grail of most Moroderphiles. This was the meister producer at his peak, with 'Evolution', 'Wanna Rock You', 'In My Wildest Dreams' and of course, the title track.

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