During the 1950s, Italian songs were enjoying an extraordinary reputation throughout the world, at least on a par to songs in Spanish and French. Numerous international artists drew on that repertoire, recording in their respective languages and at times even in an Italian that, although stilted, translated into great respect. The collection presents the Italian song in a different light, showing how the real gems were not to be found at Sanremo so much as in nightclubs, dance halls, and cinemas.
The one exception was the global success of Domenico Modugno, that took his Volare to the top of the American Hit Parade, creating a virtuosic effect with the power to seduce even the great voices of jazz (Ella Fitzgerald). Moving to the rhythm of swing is also a classic like Carina, here in a version by the British Elvis, Cliff Richard, leader of the Shadows.
The Italian-American tenor, Mario Lanza, interprets the timeless Roman song, Arrivederci Roma, while two hits by Tony Dallara, the first “screamer”, were recorded in English by two singers from beyond the English Channel: the Welsh Malcolm Vaughan (More than Ever – Come prima) and the meteoric Marlon Ryan (Wait for Me - Ti dirò).
Instrumental music was also popular, like the theme from the soundtrack of La strada, sung by the English Ronnie Hilton (Stars Shine in Your Eyes), Il silenzio by Nini Rosso, re-launched by another famous trumpet player, Eddie Calvert and Piccolissima serenata, played as an instrumental piece by one of the most beloved light music orchestras of the time, led by the Canadian (naturalized American) Percy Faith.
The case of Italian Theme (Mambo caliente) by the great arranger and conductor Angelo Giacomazzi, is an odd one. It circulated widely throughout Europe but apparently was never recorded in Italy, at least not in the sung version. Finally, two excellent international performers: the polyglot Caterina Valente, who recorded Marina in French and the “sepia Sinatra”, Nat King Cole, who appropriated Cappuccina (a swing piece by a young Pino Massara) making it the opening theme for his European tours.
Cole was very interested in the Italian repertoire, and also recorded Tu sei così amabile entirely in Italian. This song was by Athuro Cardini, a Belgian illusionist and clown of Italian origin, who we hear here in the cover by “Ivica” ?erfezi, a Croatian star who was launched thanks to a duet with Modugno in Zagreb, and later became famous in the Eastern bloc countries.