I caught Raw Power at my 1st ever HC show in 1985 @CBGB's & I've been a rabid fan of Punk/HC from that boot-shaped nation ever since. There's something about the way the Italian language, or its english pronunciation, that fits raw HC/Metal & Oi! like a glove: larynx-straining vocals over music threatening to derail at any given moment, were the most extreme sounds to me, long before the advent of Grindcore/Black Metal & what have you. This is a list of stuff that I consider the cream of the crop from that era, people that follow these sounds will know the records like the back of their hands (& then some).
This list is aimed at someone that has, at best, a passing familiarity with these incredible gems that have stood the test of time. Apart from a couple of personal comments for each record, the music will do all the talking, anyway you can find info about each particular band on the web. Speaking of which, most of these 7"s are available for download on the best music blog around http://www.goodbadmusic.com/
There is also a wonderful site, filled with tons of info on bands/labels/zines. Done by people that were there during those halcyon days, check it at:
Another great resource, not in english, but has downloads to just about every Italian band:
So pop open a nice bottle of Chianti, lay out some al dente pasta w/Marinara sauce, blast the tunes & manga to your hearts content.
SHOTGUN SOLUTION- "Shotgun" Ep 1983.
I've sold a lot my records over the years, but there's no way I could let this puppy go: killer vocals, squealing guitar leads, insane subject matter (the song IKYCIMF is about a serial killer: I Keep Your Cunt In My Freezer) an over the top delivery make for a crushing ep. The back cover's great: 4 leather-clad punk/metal looking guys standing on a doorway (The Colosseum?)
CHAIN REACTION- "Gabbie" Ep 1985.
A furious 6-song gem that makes the best out of its zero production values, like most Italian HC ep's from that era. Proof positive that all you needed to come up with a scorcher was laser-like intensity of purpose, an incredibly angry singer & top-notch song-writing. Modern HC bands would do well to look to this as a blueprint/inspiration, but then again, you can't recreate such spontaneous brilliance.
NABAT- "Scenderemo Nelle Strade" Ep 1982
OI!, the bastard child of punk, was (& is) looked on unkindly in some quarters, the undeniable power of the tunes shines on this ep. These Skinheads from Bologna formed in 1979 & after various line-up changes managed to put out 2 7"s, an Lp & tracks on the classic TNT: Skins & Punks comp lp. I always loved their hard, classic sound comparable to the best British Oi! bands like Criminal Class, 4-Skins & The Oppressed.
NEGAZIONE- "Tutti Pazzi" Ep 1985
The title of this post: Tutti Pazzi, meaning "everybody crazy", can be found in this electrifying ep by a band that many in Europe credit with kick-starting the Hardcore explosion due to their relentless touring across the continent, spreading the loud & fast gospel. I was lucky to catch them in NY in 1990, even though by that time they were going in a more melodic rock direction, they still played the older stuff with conviction. The first 2 7''s & their side of the split tape w/Declino were compiled in the 90's as the "Wild Bunch" lp, but all their stuff is incredible: a singer that invokes Void/Die Kruezens vocals at their prime plus a band that can actually play their instruments, all the while not letting that get in the way of conjuring up raw & primal HC.
BULLDOZER- "Fallen Angel" Ep 1984
Italy also had a great metal scene during the 80's, with bands like Fingernails, Schizo, Ghost Rider, Necrodeath & these guys, with a mid-tempo killer blend of Motorhead/Venom metal-punk, years before that (marginal) sub-genre was coined. The artwork & lyrics scream classic dark metal subject matter, but I always loved the flipside to this 7", a song called "Another beer (is what I need)". Proving that killer riffage & inebriation go hand & hand the world over. Bulldozer are still around & have put out tons of records throughout the years.
RAW POWER- "Wop Hour" Ep 1985
My original inspiration for getting into HC a lo Italiano. I rushed to the record store after seeing them play & picked this bad boy up. In hindsight, this ep is a great midway point between the raw insanity of their '83 demo & the in your face brutality of the classic"Screams from the gutter" lp. The image of seeing them in '85 is indelibly etched in my memory; they came out looking more like a Van Halen cover band, with silk scarves, guitarist wearing spandex pants/huge hair & then they proceeded to destroy the place. Not giving a rat's ass about what a HC band is supposed to look like, letting the sonic fury speak volumes. I got the chance to revisit that experience in '98, before their guitarist & founding member Giuseppe, sadly passed away. Wop hour forever.
BASTA- "Non posso soportare questa sporca situazione" Ep 1983
This Oi! 7" always reminded me of the classic split lp by Combat 84/Last Resort. The menacing air of barely contained aggro fits the simple yet brutal tunes to a T, the singer's profile even looks like Last Resort's Roi Pearce on said lp. Other great Oi! bands from that era are Rough, Dioxina, Hope & Glory, Youth, Cani, the aforementioned Nabat & during the later part of the 80's, bands like Asociale & Klasse Kriminale took up the Boots & Braces banner with gusto. Check out the great Bootprints Across Italy comps.
CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS- "Furious Party" Ep 1985
I consider CCM, along with Raw Power & Negazione, the holy trinity of Italian HC. I love everything they did, from the raw recorded underwater feel of the "400 Fascists" 7", the split lp w/I Refuse It & their masterpiece, the out of this world "Into The Void" Lp. I just missed them when they played NY in '86, years later I became good friends with this guy from West Virginia, Java Dave, who drove them across the USA during that tour. He had nothing but good stuff to say about them: down to earth guys that lived & breathed the HC ethos, but became possessed once they got up on stage, with a manic singer who's antics earned them the tag "The Italian Germs".
UPSET NOISE- "Disperazione Nevrotica" Ep 1983
I picked this up in purely based on the label's Rome address printed on the back. It's a smoking 7" with the guitarist playing some cool harmony leads parts interspersed among the galloping trash. One can hear the crossover yet melodic direction that bands like Negazione would go on to during the later part of the 80s, their split 7" with Warfare is amazing as their '88 lp on TVOR.
WRETCHED/INDIGESTI- Split Ep 1982
This list would not be complete without the inclusion of Wretched, if Raw Power, Negazione & CCM are the holy trinity, then Wretched are like the primal, original Godhead source & shit. The energy of the out of control maelstrom contained on their 7"s & 12", could power a large metropolis. For added measure, I included the killer split with Indigesti who, on this recording, sound like the ideal adolescent HC band trashing around on their instruments, with a sound that could have easily fit on the classic US "Flex Your Head"comp.
These are my essential 10 platters, but tons of other 7"s could have been on here like the ones by Kobra, Stigmathe, Rough, Declino, Putrid Fever, Peggio Punx, I Deny, Nerorgasmo, Shocking TV, Fall Out, Reig, I Refuse It, Bed Boys, Underage, Rappresaglia, Cani, Disperazione, Upside... not to mention classic split ep's by Impact/Eu's Arse, Warfare/Upset Noise, Irah/Stalag 17...
Ok, what the hell, I have to include 1 more to my list, the granddaddy of Italian punk: the Hitler SS/Tampax split 7". This record has reached cult status due to its inclusion in the Killed By Death series. It's sloppy, raw, offensive '77 punk that laid the groundwork for the insanity to come. Thank you for reading & I say this with no political connotations whatsoever: FORZA ITALIA!!