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320 - Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It: Italo Disco

 

PERTINI DANCE (by S.C.O.R.T.A., 1984)

“What a superstar to be, is the best you can see.

Yes this is a brave man, oh. The first Italian man,

To the people in square, ‘Who is he, a king?’ – ‘Oh no’.

Well I see you just now, you’re a genius, wow.”

CHORUS:

“Let’s go. Right. Go go.

Let’s dance. Pertini super disco dance.

Let’s dance. Pertini super disco dance.

Just the music, just the music, just the music.”

The music is bad, the English is awful*, and yet the song was a hit. Apparently. In Italy, in 1984. Time and date might help explain why, because the Pertini Dance is an example of so-called Italo Disco, a primitive form of electronic music that was popular in continental Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s**. The musical outfit S.C.O.R.T.A. (‘scorta’ is Italian for ‘escort’) was responsible for the hit, and was never heard of before or after it.

The Pertini Dance was a hommage (if one can call it that) to Alessandro (‘Sandro’) Pertini (1896-1990), at that time the President of Italy (1978-1985). The eternal pipe-smoker was probably the most popular president Italy has had so far. Pertini, a socialist, was born in Liguria, elected to the first post-war Italian parliament and designated to preside of the Chamber of Deputies before becoming President of the Republic.

The record sleeve shows the whole of Italy wafting forth from Pertini’s pipe, even with separate tufts of smoke for Sicily and Sardinia. The image is of course somewhat reminiscent of Rene Magritte’s surrealist painting of a pipe, entitled La trahison des images (‘The Treachery of Images’) and adorned with the phrase Ceci n’est pas une pipe (‘This Is Not A Pipe’). Which is of course correct, as the title describes not a pipe, but a painting of one.

Many thanks to The Fashioniste for sending in this map.

* You have been warned. Here is a clip of the song on You Tube (audio only, though).

** Italo Disco describes a phenomenon in Italy in particular but all over continental Europe in general; I am not sure how much it overlaps with the term ‘Euro Disco’.

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