Brunetta was one of the first Italian artists to record rock’n’roll. Among her early releases were the appropriately titled “The Explosive Brunetta” and “Ciclone Brunetta” EPs and the frantic ‘Precipito’, which she performed in the film Urlatori Alla Sbarra. New stars Adriano Celentano and Mina also appeared in the movie, so she was in good company. Fast forward a few lower-profile years, she released the record for which she would become best remembered. Backed by a group named after a tribe from the Congo, Brunetta performed the somewhat non-PC ‘Baluba Shake’ at the Pesaro Song Festival in 1966, scooping top prize. These days, the track is an underground dancefloor favourite, original copies of which change hands for a pretty penny.
A tiny girl with a huge voice, freckle-faced firebrand Rita Pavone debuted in late 1962 after winning the Festival Degli Sconosciuti talent contest. She went on to storm the Italian charts six times, all before the end of 1963. ‘Cuore’, her great version of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s ‘Heart (I Hear You Beating)’, was also successfully recorded by her in French and English. By the end of 1967 she had amassed many hit singles and had starred in six lightweight films. Among her releases were several aimed at the children’s market, so buyers beware. The punk-like ‘Il Geghegè’, here, was the theme song from one of her TV specials. Surviving footage of Rita belting out the breathless number is a hyperactive op-art sight to behold. – MICK PATRICK
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