Connoisseurs of 1960s girl-pop have been well served in the CD era, particularly those with a preference for American or British singers. Good music, of course, is not exclusive to the English-speaking world, and collections devoted to the female vocalists of France, Japan, Spain and Germany are also available, but to the best of my knowledge their Italian counterparts have not been anthologised. If “Ciao Bella!”, released as a 24-track CD and a 12-track 180g white vinyl LP in gatefold sleeve, is the first of its kind, let’s hope it’s not the last.
In a country known for its song festivals, most notably the prestigious event held annually in Sanremo, lushly orchestrated ballads have always been especially popular, and a few exceptional examples are featured here. We open, however, with a selection of uptempo titles.
The CD version begins with Brunetta’s prized dancefloor-filler ‘Baluba Shake’ and closes with ‘Cuore’, a dramatic beat ballad by freckle-faced firebrand Rita Pavone. Star of the show is the prolific Mina, queen bee of Italy’s female singers, with three tracks: ‘No’, a jangly folk rock nugget; ‘Più Di Te’, a cover of the Tracy Dey/Bob Crewe classic ‘I Won’t Tell’; and ‘Se Telefonando’, a sophisto-pop opus courtesy of maestro Ennio Morricone.
Other highlights include the sitar-embellished ‘Il Mio Posto Qual’è’ by Ornella Vanoni, a convincing cover of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ by beat girl Caterina Caselli, Gigliola Cinquetti’s superbly orchestrated Eurovision-winner ‘Non Ho L’età (Per Amarti)’ and breathy-voiced actress Catherine Spaak’s bossa-flavoured ‘La Notte È Fatta Per Rubare’.